The 68th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod will be held July 29–Aug. 3, 2023, at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee. Please note a new area of the Synod website intended to help congregations with all aspects of their governance of the Synod through participation in the convention cycle: lcms.org/convention/governance.
Election of voting delegates
Bylaws 3.1.2–22.214.171.124 (2019 Handbook, pp. 99–101) set forth the primary provisions governing official voting representation at national conventions of the Synod.
- An electoral circuit consists of one or two adjacent visitation circuits, as determined by each district’s board of directors. The total number of congregations in each electoral circuit must range from 7 to 20 congregations with a total of 1,500 to 10,000 confirmed members (Bylaw 3.1.2 [a]). Exceptions to these requirements can be made only by the President of the Synod upon request of a district board of directors (Bylaw 3.1.2 [b]).
- Voting delegates are elected by the electoral circuit forum, which meets at the call of the circuit visitor(s). This meeting must be held no later than Oct. 29, 2022, nine months prior to the opening date of the convention, and must be conducted according to the procedures provided by Bylaw 126.96.36.199.
- Before the meeting of the electoral circuit forum, each congregation or multi-congregation parish (see Bylaw 2.5.5) must determine which pastor (if it has more than one) and which layperson will serve as its representatives at the forum. Congregations of a multi-congregation parish not contributing a lay voter may send an advisory representative who has a voice but not a vote. A pastor serving a congregation in an assisting capacity (Bylaw 2.5.6) is not eligible to cast that congregation’s pastoral vote.
- Prior to the meeting of the electoral circuit forum, each congregation may nominate one layperson (i.e., not a commissioned or ordained minister) from its own membership or from a sister congregation of the electoral circuit to serve as the lay delegate or alternate lay delegate to the Synod convention. The congregation must submit the name of this nominee to its circuit visitor prior to the day of the electoral circuit forum (Bylaw 188.8.131.52 [e]). Each pastor who is called and installed to a congregation of the circuit in a non-assisting capacity and who is not a specific ministry pastor is eligible for election as the circuit’s pastoral delegate.
- Electoral circuit forums must meet to conduct their business. Bylaw 184.108.40.206 (a) grants that “when in-person meetings are burdensome” e-meeting and other technologies may be used so long as they satisfy certain requirements articulated in the bylaw (suitable and made available to all participants; provision for open and fair exchange of ideas; and secure, private, and confidential voting). Delegates to the Synod convention and their alternates must be elected by ballot, which may include mechanical, electronic, or other methods of casting, recording, or tabulating votes” (Bylaw 220.127.116.11 [b]). The four persons elected by the process specifically outlined in Bylaw 18.104.22.168 (two delegates and two alternates) must come from four different congregations of the electoral circuit, and no delegate or alternate shall come from a congregation served by the pastoral delegate or alternate (Bylaw 22.214.171.124 [d], [e], [f], [h]).
- The names, addresses, email addresses, and membership congregations of elected pastoral and lay delegates and alternates must be submitted by circuit visitor(s) by Oct. 22, 2022, or as soon thereafter as possible. District secretaries must submit the registrations by Nov. 4.
Selection of nonvoting advisory delegates
Bylaws 3.1.3 and 126.96.36.199 (2019 Handbook, pp. 101–2) set forth the primary provisions for the selection of nonvoting advisory delegates to national conventions of the Synod.
- Advisory members of districts are represented at conventions of the Synod by one nonvoting advisory delegate for every 60 advisory ordained ministers and specific ministry pastors, and one nonvoting advisory delegate for every 60 commissioned ministers in the district. Fractions of these groups are to be disregarded, except that each district is entitled to at least one nonvoting advisory delegate in each category — ordained and commissioned (Bylaw 188.8.131.52).
- Advisory ordained ministers include pastors of independent congregations; pastors serving in an advisory capacity only (Bylaw 2.5.6); specific ministry pastors; rostered candidates for, and emeriti of, the pastoral office; and ordained ministers not called and installed to a congregation, serving in a capacity recognized in the Bylaws of the Synod. It is important to note that in 2019, the convention removed “assistant pastors” from Article V B, and therefore, “assistant pastors” are now eligible for election as voting delegates and cannot be considered as “advisory.” (Constitution Art. V B; Bylaws 184.108.40.206; 2.11.1–220.127.116.11; 2.13.1 [2019 Handbook, pp. 12–13, 57, 60–62, 63]).
- Advisory commissioned ministers include teachers with membership in the Synod; directors of Christian education; directors of Christian outreach; directors of family life ministry; directors of parish music; deaconesses; parish assistants; directors of church ministries; and rostered candidates for, or emeriti of, any of these offices (Constitution Art. V B; Bylaws 2.11.1–18.104.22.168 [2019 Handbook, pp. 12–13, 60–62]).
- Advisory ordained and commissioned ministers who are eligible for selection in any category under Bylaws 3.1.4–22.214.171.124 (2019 Handbook, pp. 102–3) are not to be counted in determining the number of nonvoting advisory delegates from a district, nor are they eligible to be selected or participate in the selection process (Bylaw 126.96.36.199 [c]).
- Selections of nonvoting advisory delegates are to be made by their respective groups at meetings called by the district secretary either during the district convention or at official pastor and teacher conferences. These selections must be completed no later than Oct. 29, 2022 — nine months prior to the opening day of the convention (Bylaw 188.8.131.52 [b]). District secretaries must submit the registrations by Nov. 4.
Submission of overtures
Bylaws 3.1.6 and 184.108.40.206 (2019 Handbook, pp. 103–4) define who may submit overtures to a convention of the Synod, and Bylaws 3.1.7 and 3.1.8 provide the procedure for their reception and inclusion in the business of a convention (pp. 104–6).
- Overtures are recommendations in the form of proposed resolutions requesting action by the convention. (For an electronic template that may be used to submit overtures, see lcms.org/convention/overtures). They may be submitted by a member congregation of the Synod, a convention or board of directors of a district, an official district conference of ordained and/or commissioned ministers, the faculty of an educational institution of the Synod, the Board of Directors of the Synod, a committee established by a prior convention, a visitation or electoral circuit forum, or a board or commission of the Synod as listed in Bylaws 3.2.2, 220.127.116.11, 3.2.3, and 18.104.22.168 (2019 Handbook, pp. 108–9).
- Overtures are to be submitted (with signature) to the President of the Synod no later than March 11, 2023 (20 weeks prior to the opening date of the convention). The preferred deadline for inclusion in the Convention Workbook is Feb. 11, 2023, with an emailed copy provided to the Office of the President of the Synod at email@example.com. Overtures submitted after Feb. 11 will be accepted but may not be published in the Workbook. Overtures submitted after the March 11 bylaw deadline will not be accepted for convention consideration unless a committee consisting of the President, First Vice-President, and Secretary of the Synod adjudge them to be of overriding importance and urgency and not adequately covered by documents already before the convention (Bylaw 3.1.6 [a]).
- Overtures involving capital outlay or current expenditures must be accompanied (to the extent feasible) by cost projections and the basis thereof (Bylaw 3.1.6 [b]).
- The President of the Synod, with the assistance of legal counsel, will decide which overtures will be published in the Convention Workbook. He will determine if an overture contains information that is materially in error or contains any apparent misrepresentation of truth or character and in such case will not approve its inclusion (Bylaw 22.214.171.124 [b]–[c]).
- As required by Bylaw 3.1.8 (b), the content of the Convention Workbook (convention manual, reports and overtures, the names and congregations of all voting delegates, and other information) will be posted on the Synod’s website no later than May 6, 2023 — 12 weeks prior to the opening date of the convention. Printed copies will be mailed to all delegates and alternates, officers of the Synod, and members of boards, commissions, and councils.
- All overtures accepted by the President of the Synod will be referred by him to convention floor committees appointed from the voting and advisory delegates and representatives (Bylaw 3.1.7). Floor committees will receive the comments received regarding the reports and overtures assigned to them and will meet in St. Louis prior to the convention to discuss and formulate proposed convention resolutions.
- After the Convention Workbook has been published, any member of the Synod (congregation, ordained minister, or commissioned minister) or any lay delegate to the convention may submit written comments regarding any of its content to the Secretary of the Synod by May 27, 2023 (nine weeks prior to the convention), for transmission to the appropriate convention floor committee for consideration (Bylaw 3.1.8 [c]).
- As required by Bylaw 126.96.36.199, the content of the first issue of Today’s Business (proposed resolutions of the floor committees and other convention business) will be posted on the Synod’s website as soon as possible after the floor committees have met. Printed copies will be mailed to all registered delegates, all officers of the Synod, and all members of boards, commissions, and councils.
- Responses to the proposed resolutions contained in the first issue of Today’s Business must be submitted to the chairman of the appropriate floor committee at least one week prior to the convention. Floor committees will meet at the convention site prior to the opening of the convention to review the responses received (Bylaw 188.8.131.52 [a]–[b]).
Nominations for president and for first and regional vice-presidents
Bylaws 3.12.2 and 184.108.40.206 (2019 Handbook, pp. 176–77) set forth the primary provisions governing the nomination process for the offices of President and First Vice-President. Bylaws 3.12.1 and 220.127.116.11 (2019 Handbook, pp. 175–76 and 178) set forth the provisions governing the nomination process for the office of Regional Vice-President of the Synod’s five regions: Central, East-Southeast, Great Lakes, Great Plains, and West-Southwest.
- Every member congregation of the Synod is invited to nominate, from the ordained minister roster of the Synod, two men for President and two for First Vice-President. Every member congregation is also invited to nominate, from among ordained ministers on the roster of the Synod having residence within the congregation’s designated region (Bylaw 18.104.22.168 [a]), two men for Regional Vice-President. These nominations will require an official action of the congregation and will be submitted through a secure website operated by an external contractor.
- More than 24 months prior to the 2023 convention, the Synod’s Board of Directors and Council of Presidents designated the five geographic regions required by bylaw, taking into consideration geographical and number-of-congregations information. Canadian congregations were placed as a whole into the East-Southeast Region (Bylaw 3.12.1).
- Only those congregations received into membership in the Synod according to the provisions of Bylaws 2.3.1–2.3.2 (2019 Handbook, p. 54) and reported to the Synod’s Rosters and Statistics staff by their district presidents will be eligible to participate.
- The Synod’s external election contractor will mail official instructions and credentials for submission of President and First and Regional Vice-President nominations by mid-October 2022. Each congregation will be notified of its region designation in the nomination mailing. Congregations will periodically be reminded — by emails to pastors and congregational leadership on file with LCMS Rosters and Statistics — to nominate.
- Nominations for President and First and Regional Vice-Presidents must be submitted through the designated website, with the attestation of two congregational officers, no later than Feb. 28, 2023 (five months prior to the opening date of the convention). There will be no opportunity for additional nominations at the convention (Bylaw 3.12.2 [c]).
- As required by Bylaw 22.214.171.124, the candidates for the office of President will be the five ordained ministers who received the highest number of votes in the nominating process and who consent to serve if elected. The candidates for the office of First Vice-President will be the 20 ordained ministers who received the highest number of votes and consent to serve.
- The names of the five ordained ministers residing within the boundaries of each geographic region that receive the most nominating votes and have consented to serve if elected (Bylaw 126.96.36.199 [c]) will form the slate from which the Synod convention will elect by majority vote the Regional Vice-Presidents.
Nominations for regional board members
- Bylaws 3.12.1 and 188.8.131.52 (2019 Handbook, pp. 175–76, 178–79) set forth the primary provisions governing the nomination process for regional board members. Bylaw 184.108.40.206 (2019 Handbook, pp. 115–16) requires that one lay member of the Board of Directors of the Synod be elected, on a staggered basis, from each of the five designated geographical regions. Bylaws 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168 (2019 Handbook, pp. 137, 139) stipulate that five laypersons and five individual members of the Synod are to be elected, on a staggered basis, to each of the Synod’s two mission boards, one of each category from each of the geographical regions.
- A significant change by the 2016 convention placed the regional LCMS Board of Directors, LCMS Board for National Mission and LCMS Board for International Mission positions under the responsibility of the CCN (Bylaw 22.214.171.124) and allowed for nominations to be received from inside and outside the region for which a position is open. Nominations for the regional board positions must therefore be submitted on the same form as all the other secretary, board and commission positions (see January 2022 call for nominations information from the Office of the Secretary, on behalf of the CCN, and web-available, fillable form, noted below).
- Bylaw 3.12.1 provides for residence to be the sole standard of region membership. All nominees for a particular regional position must reside within the boundaries of the region for which they are nominated.
- The Secretary of the Synod is responsible for the preliminary work of the CCN (Bylaw 126.96.36.199 ff.). This began already at least 24 months prior to the convention with the solicitation, from those agencies with positions to be filled, of descriptions of criteria for qualified candidates. With such criteria in view, the Office of the Secretary issued the first call for nominations through The Lutheran Witness and Reporter and on the Synod website 18 months prior to the original date of the convention in 2022 and issued an electronic reminder 18 months prior to the rescheduled 2023 convention.
- Descriptions of the offices, boards and commissions requiring nominations for the 2023 convention, including information regarding the eligibility of incumbents, is available here; the nomination form is available at lcms.org/convention/2023-nomination-form. The final deadline for submitting nominations will be Oct. 29, 2022.
Posted June 13, 2022