Author Topic: The thread for info on churches voting to change affiliation & all follow-up.  (Read 940892 times)

Maryland Brian

  • Guest
Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4335 on: November 24, 2010, 08:22:33 AM »
Excuse me if this has already been posted, but I just got it today.  Reported in the November CORE Newsletter is a proposal from the ELCA Council to substantially change the process for congregations to leave them.  It can be found here:  http://www.lutherancore.org/pdf/Connection-Nov-10.pdf. It would appear that someone is getting somewhat nervous.

 Destroying itself the same way TEC is falling apart.  When this passes the lawyers will get involved determining the validity of the  secretary's ruling on the imposition of constitutional changes when voted on at a CWA.  As a congregation starts the process to leave they'll have to decide if it makes more sense to expend funds on a legal process or just walk away from their buildings. If they fight, the secular media will lable them bigots.  If they leave, the synod sells the property and stays alive to sue another congregation.

 Like I was told ten years ago, "Either this church recognizes our gifts for ministry or justice demands we burn it to the ground."
« Last Edit: November 24, 2010, 08:32:21 AM by BHHughes »

Maryland Brian

  • Guest
Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4336 on: November 24, 2010, 08:26:35 AM »
Charles,

Bylaw changes do not affect the body of constitution and congregations are free to add them.  The original model constitution stated that only a congregation has the authority to change or amend the body of document.  Yes, those changes must be approved by the synod council,  but it clearly states it cannot be imposed from outside,  And that's where the lawyers get involved.

Charles_Austin

  • Guest
Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4337 on: November 24, 2010, 08:28:12 AM »
Pastor Hughes writes:
Like I was told ten years ago, "Either this church recognizes our gifts for ministry or justice demands we burn it to the ground."

I muse:
A comment Pastor Hughes often repeats, but never attributes. Got a name and place so people can check the accuracy of the quote, the status of who said it and the context of the conversation?

Maryland Brian

  • Guest
Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4338 on: November 24, 2010, 08:33:36 AM »
Pastor Hughes writes:
Like I was told ten years ago, "Either this church recognizes our gifts for ministry or justice demands we burn it to the ground."

I muse:
A comment Pastor Hughes often repeats, but never attributes. Got a name and place so people can check the accuracy of the quote, the status of who said it and the context of the conversation?

I have a name and can detail the place, time, and context.  But like some journalists, I prefer to keep my sources to myself.

Evangel

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 780
  • Rev. Mark Schimmel
    • View Profile
Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4339 on: November 24, 2010, 08:35:55 AM »
Seems to me (from my memory of the ELCA congregational constitution) that bylaw changes only required the congregation to inform the synod of the change, unlike constitutional changes which needed synod approval (or at least silence for 120 days).  Continuing resolutions require no approval or notification.

These proposed changes are hardly unexpected (sad, but not unexpected) - some prophetic voices have been advising congregations that it was only going to get more difficult to get out as time went on.
Mark Schimmel, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church, LCMC
Priddy, TX
--
ACXXIII, "Your majesty will graciously take into account the fact that, in these last times of which the Scriptures prophesy, the world is growing worse and men are becoming weaker and more infirm."

James_Gale

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 4104
    • View Profile
Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4340 on: November 24, 2010, 10:11:51 AM »
The individual who serves as the legal advisor to the Nebraska Synod Council reviews congregation's constitutions and recommends the synod council approve (or not) the amendments. This past January, the congregation where I serve as interim pastor passed a by-law (not an amendment) embedding the pre-CWA Vision and Expectations in that by-law as a standard for conduct, preaching, and teaching by its pastor. According to the congregation's constitution, the secretary informed the synod of this new by-law (which an assistant to the bishop had recommended as a reasonable approach to the situation). The advisor said that the synod council would need to review the whole constitution, because the by-law changed the constitution, changes are amendments, and amendments need review. And in the process, the council would also assure that the congregation's constitution was consistent with the current model constitution, including any recently adopted provisions. We respectfully disagreed.

Your congregation's interpretation is absolutely correct.  And it's not a close call.  The synod has no review authority of any kind except with respect to some constitutional amendments.  Amendments to the congregation's bylaws do not open the door to synodical review of the constitution.

Chuck Sampson

  • Guest
Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4341 on: November 24, 2010, 11:59:03 AM »
I have a name and can detail the place, time, and context.  But like some journalists, I prefer to keep my sources to myself.
[/quote]

 ;D ;D ;D

David M. Frye, OblSB

  • ALPB Forum Regular
  • ****
  • Posts: 273
    • View Profile
    • WideSky.biz
Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4342 on: November 24, 2010, 12:03:35 PM »
All true, Charles.

I should have mentioned that this congregation's constitution had gone through that review in 2008 with the synod and earned the seal of approval. The only "change" this year was the addition of the by-law to embed V&E pre-CWA 2009 in the expectations for life and proclamation of its pastor(s).

At the beginning of the ELCA, congregations were mandated to bring their constitutions in line with the model constitution, not in every single paragraph, but in certain things which assemblies had determined were required for ELCA congregations. Some congregations did not do so.
     Then, I have heard from some synods, the synod councils decided that when those congregations who did not properly amend their constitutions earlier made changes, that was the time to do the review that should have been done years before.
     Therefore, submitting changes put the whole constitution up for approval to see that it was in line with what we had agreed upon years before.
     Thus it is possible that when a congregation submits a constitution seeking approval on paragraph 23.4.5.6.7, an approval that might be readily granted, it might be noted that other required paragraphs are not in line with what we had agreed upon years before. So the changes are not approved because the constitution is not in order on those other key paragraphs.
     Blame irresponsible pastors who said "I don't need those idiots to approve my constitution," or who thought "well, that's just synod stuff and we don't care about that."
     Some things, improperly ignored, can come back to chomp on your rump.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2010, 02:43:19 PM by Pr. David Frye, OblSB »
David M. Frye, OblSB

+ Ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus.
+ That God may be glorified in all things.

David M. Frye, OblSB

  • ALPB Forum Regular
  • ****
  • Posts: 273
    • View Profile
    • WideSky.biz
Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4343 on: November 24, 2010, 12:06:36 PM »
And yet the communication I received from the synod said this:

Whenever a church adopts a new bylaw, they have amended the old bylaws. 
That new bylaw is not effective until itís approved by the Synod.  Right now, itís in limbo
and is not effective until approved by the Synod.  The Synod cannot approve it until I
have a chance to look at all of the bylaws and the entire constitution.

The individual who serves as the legal advisor to the Nebraska Synod Council reviews congregation's constitutions and recommends the synod council approve (or not) the amendments. This past January, the congregation where I serve as interim pastor passed a by-law (not an amendment) embedding the pre-CWA Vision and Expectations in that by-law as a standard for conduct, preaching, and teaching by its pastor. According to the congregation's constitution, the secretary informed the synod of this new by-law (which an assistant to the bishop had recommended as a reasonable approach to the situation). The advisor said that the synod council would need to review the whole constitution, because the by-law changed the constitution, changes are amendments, and amendments need review. And in the process, the council would also assure that the congregation's constitution was consistent with the current model constitution, including any recently adopted provisions. We respectfully disagreed.

Your congregation's interpretation is absolutely correct.  And it's not a close call.  The synod has no review authority of any kind except with respect to some constitutional amendments.  Amendments to the congregation's bylaws do not open the door to synodical review of the constitution.
David M. Frye, OblSB

+ Ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus.
+ That God may be glorified in all things.

Chuck

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 509
    • View Profile
Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4344 on: November 24, 2010, 12:25:50 PM »
And yet the communication I received from the synod said this:

Whenever a church adopts a new bylaw, they have amended the old bylaws. 
That new bylaw is not effective until itís approved by the Synod.  Right now, itís in limbo
and is not effective until approved by the Synod.  The Synod cannot approve it until I
have a chance to look at all of the bylaws and the entire constitution.


Your "advisor" is quite wrong, as Mr. Gale has pointed out. The relevant section of the ELCA constitution is:

9.53.03. Each congregation shall provide a copy of its governing documents to the
synod. All proposed changes in the constitution or incorporation documents
of a congregation shall be referred to the synod with which the
congregation is affiliated. The synod shall approve or disapprove the
proposed changes within 120 days of receipt thereof, and shall notify the
congregation of its decision; in the absence of a decision, the changes
shall go into effect.
The synod shall recognize that congregations may organize themselves in
a manner which they deem most appropriate.

Note particularly two points:
a) the section specifies "...proposed changes in the constitution or incorporation documents" shall be reviewed. Bylaws (and continuing resolutions) are not mentioned.
b) Normally, bylaws and continuing resolutions are the places where the "organizational details" are defined, and therefore fall under the purview of the concluding sentence.
Chuck Ruthroff

I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it. óGeorge Bernard Shaw

James_Gale

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 4104
    • View Profile
Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4345 on: November 24, 2010, 12:28:45 PM »
And yet the communication I received from the synod said this:

Whenever a church adopts a new bylaw, they have amended the old bylaws.  
That new bylaw is not effective until itís approved by the Synod.  Right now, itís in limbo
and is not effective until approved by the Synod.  The Synod cannot approve it until I
have a chance to look at all of the bylaws and the entire constitution.

This is simply wrong.  

Under Section C16.02 of the model constitution, so long as proper notice has been given, "bylaws may be adopted or amended at any legally called meeting of this congregation with a quorum present by a majority vote of those voting members present and voting."  No further steps are required for the bylaw changes to be effective.  Section C16.04 does required that "approved changes to the bylaws" be "sent by the secretary of this congregation to the synod."  However, the model constitution gives the synod no power to review or overturn the bylaw changes.  

If the drafters had wanted to give the synod review authority over bylaws, they certainly knew how to do that.  One need only look to the provisions regarding constitutional amendments to see this.

Section C17.03 provides that certain categories of constitutional amendments "shall become effective within 120 days from the date of the receipt of the notice [of the proposed amendment] by the synod unless the synod informs this congregation that the amendment is in conflict" with the constitution of the ELCA or the constitution of the synod.

The synod in this case is ignoring (or perhaps is unaware of) the clear difference between constitutional changes and bylaw changes.  The synod's position is wrong.  Your congregation is right to make this point politely but firmly.  And it is right to hold to its position on this point irrespective of what the synod does.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2010, 03:12:03 PM by James_Gale »

jrubyaz

  • Guest
Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4346 on: November 24, 2010, 01:42:07 PM »


 ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D

Pastor Hughes writes:
Like I was told ten years ago, "Either this church recognizes our gifts for ministry or justice demands we burn it to the ground."

I muse:
A comment Pastor Hughes often repeats, but never attributes. Got a name and place so people can check the accuracy of the quote, the status of who said it and the context of the conversation?

I have a name and can detail the place, time, and context.  But like some journalists, I prefer to keep my sources to myself.

Coach-Rev

  • Guest
Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4347 on: November 24, 2010, 01:43:29 PM »
At the beginning of the ELCA, congregations were mandated to bring their constitutions in line with the model constitution, not in every single paragraph, but in certain things which assemblies had determined were required for ELCA congregations. Some congregations did not do so.
     Then, I have heard from some synods, the synod councils decided that when those congregations who did not properly amend their constitutions earlier made changes, that was the time to do the review that should have been done years before.
     Therefore, submitting changes put the whole constitution up for approval to see that it was in line with what we had agreed upon years before.
     Thus it is possible that when a congregation submits a constitution seeking approval on paragraph 23.4.5.6.7, an approval that might be readily granted, it might be noted that other required paragraphs are not in line with what we had agreed upon years before. So the changes are not approved because the constitution is not in order on those other key paragraphs.
     Blame irresponsible pastors who said "I don't need those idiots to approve my constitution," or who thought "well, that's just synod stuff and we don't care about that."
     Some things, improperly ignored, can come back to chomp on your rump.

And.... not having been a part of that original "agreement," we have submitted several constitutions that are not completely in line with the model, and by the synod office's silence on them, have been adopted.  I believe they had 60 days to reply if anything was amiss, and its been, oh, 5 years now...

therefore, according to the ELCA's own constitution, it is our LEGAL constitution, and they have no standing on the matter.  And ours does not require any auto changes...
« Last Edit: November 24, 2010, 01:45:28 PM by Coach-Rev »

jrubyaz

  • Guest
Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4348 on: November 24, 2010, 01:43:53 PM »

I am sure am glad we voted to leave this year. With all the new rules and regs being proposed for congregations leaving, I can see the wagons are being circled, big time.

Anyone heard anything about "bound conscience" lately?    ::)

Jeff Ruby  

Excuse me if this has already been posted, but I just got it today.  Reported in the November CORE Newsletter is a proposal from the ELCA Council to substantially change the process for congregations to leave them.  It can be found here:  http://www.lutherancore.org/pdf/Connection-Nov-10.pdf. It would appear that someone is getting somewhat nervous.

 Destroying itself the same way TEC is falling apart.  When this passes the lawyers will get involved determining the validity of the  secretary's ruling on the imposition of constitutional changes when voted on at a CWA.  As a congregation starts the process to leave they'll have to decide if it makes more sense to expend funds on a legal process or just walk away from their buildings. If they fight, the secular media will lable them bigots.  If they leave, the synod sells the property and stays alive to sue another congregation.

 Like I was told ten years ago, "Either this church recognizes our gifts for ministry or justice demands we burn it to the ground."

David M. Frye, OblSB

  • ALPB Forum Regular
  • ****
  • Posts: 273
    • View Profile
    • WideSky.biz
Re: The thread for info on churches voting to leave the ELCA & all follow-up.
« Reply #4349 on: November 24, 2010, 02:52:51 PM »
Some additional follow-up. The Nebraska Synod e-News, June 22, 2010, included the following note:

ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS
Constitutional Amendment Guidance

Congregations wishing to make amendments to their local constitutions should be in contact with Synod legal counsel Bill Biggs prior to proceeding.

All changes to congregational constitutions will be reviewed by legal counsel. Contact with legal counsel prior to beginning the amendment process will save congregations time as they proceed with the process.

Bill Biggs can be contacted by e-mail or by phone at (402) 392-1500.


See how the language moves between "amendments" (par. 1) to "All changes" (par. 2) and then back to "amendment process" (again par. 2).

The charitable construction is that this is just the result of some quick work to meet a deadline, but "all changes" is a sweepingly wide term, especially given the previous correspondence directly from the synod's legal counsel.

For that matter, while it may be wise to be in touch with legal counsel "prior to proceeding," it certainly isn't necessary, so one wonders whether "should" is the most accurate rubric.

And yet the communication I received from the synod said this:

Whenever a church adopts a new bylaw, they have amended the old bylaws. 
That new bylaw is not effective until itís approved by the Synod.  Right now, itís in limbo
and is not effective until approved by the Synod.  The Synod cannot approve it until I
have a chance to look at all of the bylaws and the entire constitution.


Your "advisor" is quite wrong, as Mr. Gale has pointed out. The relevant section of the ELCA constitution is:

9.53.03. Each congregation shall provide a copy of its governing documents to the
synod. All proposed changes in the constitution or incorporation documents
of a congregation shall be referred to the synod with which the
congregation is affiliated. The synod shall approve or disapprove the
proposed changes within 120 days of receipt thereof, and shall notify the
congregation of its decision; in the absence of a decision, the changes
shall go into effect.
The synod shall recognize that congregations may organize themselves in
a manner which they deem most appropriate.

Note particularly two points:
a) the section specifies "...proposed changes in the constitution or incorporation documents" shall be reviewed. Bylaws (and continuing resolutions) are not mentioned.
b) Normally, bylaws and continuing resolutions are the places where the "organizational details" are defined, and therefore fall under the purview of the concluding sentence.
David M. Frye, OblSB

+ Ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus.
+ That God may be glorified in all things.