ELCA Constitution

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CONSTITUTIONS,
BYLAWS, AND
CONTINUING RESOLUTIONS
of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America®
as adopted by the Constituting Convention
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
(April 30, 1987)
and
as amended by the
First (1989), Second (1991), Third (1993), Fourth (1995),
Fifth (1997), Sixth (1999), Seventh (2001), Eighth (2003),
Ninth (2005), and Tenth (2007) Churchwide Assemblies
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Edition current as of April 2008
Copies available from Augsburg Fortress, Publishers (1-800-328-4648)
ISBN 0-8066-3596-7 binder only
ISBN 978-0-8066-4832-3 pages only
ISBN 978-0-8066-4834-7 Model Constitution for Congregations—2007
ISBN 978-0-8066-4833-0 Model Constitution for Congregations—2007 on CD-ROM
Revised as of April 12, 2008
Copyright © 2008 by Evangelical Lutheran Church in America®
(04-08) CONTENTS / 3
CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION ………………………………………… 9
RESTATED ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION OF
EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH IN AMERICA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
CONSTITUTION, BYLAWS, AND CONTINUING RESOLUTIONS
OF THE EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH IN AMERICA . . . . . . 15
Codification Explanation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Preamble . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Chapter 1 Name, Incorporation, Seal, and Location . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Chapter 2 Confession of Faith . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Chapter 3 Nature of the Church . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Chapter 4 Statement of Purpose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Chapter 5 Principles of Organization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Chapter 6 Membership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Chapter 7 Ministry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
7.10. Ministry of the Baptized People of God . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
7.20. Ordained Ministry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
7.30. Standards for Ordained Ministers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
7.40. Calls for Ordained Ministers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
7.50. Official Rosters of Laypersons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
7.60. Licensure and Synodically Authorized Ministry . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
Chapter 8 Relationships . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
8.10. Relationship between Congregations, Synods, and the
Churchwide Organization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
8.20. Relationship through Other Organizational Units . . . . . . . . . 53
8.30. Relationship with Institutions and Agencies . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
8.40. Special Interest Conferences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
8.50. Relationship with Other Lutheran Organizations . . . . . . . . . . 56
8.60. Relationship with Interchurch Agencies,
Institutions, and Councils . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
8.70. Official Church-to-church Relationships . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
8.72.10. Ecumenical Availability of Ordained Ministers . . . . . . . . . 56
Chapter 9 Congregations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
9.10. Definition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
9.20. Criteria for Recognition and Reception . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
4 / CONTENTS (04-08)
9.30. Reservation of Authority . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
9.40. Functions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
9.50. Governance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
9.60. Termination of Relationship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
9.70. Ownership of Property . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
9.80. Discipline of Congregations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
9.90. Federated or Union Congregations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
Chapter 10 Synods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
10.01.10. Names and Boundaries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
10.10. Incorporation and Constitution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
10.20. Purpose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77
10.30. Officers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79
10.32. Conflicts of Interest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
10.40. Synod Assembly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
10.50. Synod Council . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
10.60. Conferences, Clusters, Coalitions, or
Other Area Subdivisions, and Committees . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
10.70. Fiscal Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
10.80. Installation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
Chapter 11 Churchwide Organization–Definition and Purposes . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
11.10. Definition of the Churchwide Organization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
11.20. Purposes of the Churchwide Organization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
11.30. Description of the Churchwide Organization . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
11.40. General Fiscal Policies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87
Chapter 12 Churchwide Assembly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
12.10. Description and Authority of the Churchwide Assembly . . . 88
12.20. Duties of the Churchwide Assembly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
12.30. Meetings of the Churchwide Assembly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
12.40. Members of the Churchwide Assembly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
12.41.10. Voting Members . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90
12.41.20. Ex Officio Members . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90
12.41.30. Advisory Members . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91
12.41.40. Other Non-Voting Members . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91
12.50. Committees of the Churchwide Assembly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92
12.51.10. Reference and Counsel Committee . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92
12.51.20. Memorials Committee . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92
12.51.30. Nominating Committee . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92
Chapter 13 Officers of This Church . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
13.10. Officers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
13.20. Presiding Bishop . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
13.30. Vice President . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94
13.40. Secretary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94
13.50. Treasurer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
13.60. Death, Resignation, or Disability of an Officer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
13.70. Officers of Predecessor Continuing Corporations . . . . . . . . . 99
(04-08) CONTENTS / 5
Chapter 14 Church Council . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100
14.10. Purpose and Meetings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100
14.20. Responsibilities of the Church Council . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100
14.30. Composition of the Church Council . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102
14.40. Church Council Committees . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103
Chapter 15 Churchwide Offices and Administration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106
15.10. Offices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106
15.11.02. Administrative Team . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106
15.11.03. Responsibility for Planning and Evaluation . . . . . . . . . . . 106
15.11.A04. Duties of the Executive for Administration . . . . . . . . . . . 106
15.11.B05. Responsibility for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations 107
15.11.C05. Responsibility for Federal Chaplaincy Ministries . . . . . . 108
15.11.D05. Responsibility for Human Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108
15.11.E05. Responsibility for Anti-Racism and Diversity Training . . 109
15.11.F05. Responsibility for Research and Evaluation . . . . . . . . . . . 109
15.11.G05. Responsibility for Synodical Relations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110
15.11.H05. Responsibility for Worship and Liturgical Resources . . . 110
15.20. Staff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111
15.30. Conference of Bishops . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
Chapter 16 Program Units of the Churchwide Organization . . . . . . . . . . . 114
16.10. Program Units . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114
16.12.10. Program Committees . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114
16.12.A05. Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Mission Unit . 115
16.12.B05. Global Mission Unit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116
16.12.C06. Vocation and Education Unit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117
16.12.D06. Church in Society Unit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121
16.12.E07. Multicultural Ministries Unit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123
16.20. Separately Incorporated Program Units . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124
16.30. Publishing House of the ELCA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124
16.40. Women’s Organization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 126
Chapter 17 Service Units of the Churchwide Organization . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
17.10. Service Units . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
17.21.A06. Communication Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
17.30. Church Periodical . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 130
17.40. Foundation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America . 131
17.41.B05. Development Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133
17.50. Mission Investment Fund of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America . . . . . . . . . . . 133
17.60. Board of Pensions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135
Chapter 18 Regions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 138
Chapter 19 Nominations and Election Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 140
19.10. Nomination and Election Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 142
19.20. Nominating Committee . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 142
19.30. Election of Officers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145
19.40. Terms of Office . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 146
6 / CONTENTS (04-08)
19.50. Experience and Expertise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 146
19.60. Other Matters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147
Chapter 20 Consultation, Discipline, Appeals, and Adjudication . . . . . . . 154
20.10. Consultation and Discipline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154
20.20. Ordained Ministers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 156
20.22. Lay Rostered Ministers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160
20.30. Congregations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163
20.40. Members of Congregations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 164
20.50. Recall or Dismissal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 168
20.60. Committee on Appeals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172
20.70. Definitions and Guidelines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 176
20.80. Adjudication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 176
Chapter 21 Indemnification . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 178
Chapter 22 Amendments, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions . . . . . . . . 179
22.10. Amendments to Constitution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179
22.20. Bylaws . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179
22.30. Continuing Resolutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179
CONSTITUTION FOR SYNODS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 181
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 182
Chapter 1 Name and Incorporation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183
Chapter 2 Status . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183
Chapter 3 Territory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183
Chapter 4 Confession of Faith . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183
Chapter 5 Nature of the Church . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 184
Chapter 6 Statement of Purpose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185
Chapter 7 Synod Assembly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 188
Chapter 8 Officers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191
S8.10. Bishop . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191
S8.20. Vice President . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 193
S8.30. Secretary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 194
S8.40. Treasurer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 194
S8.50. General Provisions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 195
Chapter 9 Nominations and Elections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 196
Chapter 10 Synod Council . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197
Chapter 11 Committees (names of other organizational units) . . . . . . . . . 198
Chapter 12 Conferences, Clusters, Coalitions, or Other Area Subdivisions . . . 199
Chapter 13 Congregations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 200
Chapter 14 Ordained Ministers and Lay Rostered Ministers . . . . . . . . . . . 202
Chapter 15 Financial Matters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 206
Chapter 16 Indemnification . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 208
Chapter 17 Adjudication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 209
Chapter 18 Amendments, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions . . . . . . . . . . 210
(04-08) CONTENTS / 7
MODEL CONSTITUTION FOR CONGREGATIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 213
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 214
Codification Explanation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 215
Preamble . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 217
Chapter 1 Name and Incorporation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 217
Chapter 2 Confession of Faith . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 217
Chapter 3 Nature of the Church . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 218
Chapter 4 Statement of Purpose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 219
Chapter 5 Powers of the Congregation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 220
Chapter 6 Church Affiliation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 221
Chapter 7 Property Ownership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 223
Chapter 8 Membership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 224
Chapter 9 The Pastor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 225
Chapter 10 Congregation Meeting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 229
Chapter 11 Officers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 229
Chapter 12 Congregation Council . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230
Chapter 13 Congregation Committees . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 233
Chapter 14 Organizations within the Congregation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 234
Chapter 15 Discipline of Members and Adjudication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 234
Chapter 16 Bylaws . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 236
Chapter 17 Amendments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 236
Chapter 18 Continuing Resolutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 237
Chapter 19 Indemnification . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 237
Chapter 20 Parish Authorization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 238

(04-08) INTRODUCTION / 9
INTRODUCTION
The basic commitments of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America (ELCA) as well as its organizational outline, structural patterns,
and rubrics for governance are reflected by this church’s constitutions,
bylaws, and continuing resolutions. These documents govern our life
together as congregations, synods, and churchwide organization.
We find ourselves consulting these documents again and again to
guide, direct, and assist us. They express for us, as a church body, our
understanding of the nature of the Church. They contain our statement of
purpose and our principles of organization. They define our membership,
our relationships, and our operating patterns.
While we recognize that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
officially began operation as a church body on January 1, 1988, through the
uniting of three predecessor bodies, we realize that our roots reach deep into
the soil of the Lutheran Confessions and we draw constant nourishment
from our biblical foundations. We are a particular gathering of people
known as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. As part of the
whole Church of Christ, we announce and declare the teachings of the
prophets and apostles and seek to confess in our time the faith once
delivered to the saints.
THE REV. LOWELL G. ALMEN
Secretary
Day of commemoration
for Henry Melchior Muhlenberg
October 7, 2007

(04-08) ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION / 11
RESTATED
ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION
OF
EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH IN
AMERICA®
ARTICLE I
The name of this corporation shall be:
EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH IN AMERICA
ARTICLE II
This corporation (sometimes referred to herein as the “Church”) is organized and
shall be operated exclusively for religious purposes and, specifically, this corporation
shall constitute a Lutheran church the purpose and functions of which shall be as
specified from time to time in the Constitution of this corporation.
Within the framework and limitations of these purposes, the Church is organized
and shall be operated exclusively for religious purposes and shall have such powers
as are consistent with the foregoing purposes, including the power to acquire and
receive funds and property of every kind and nature whatsoever, whether by purchase,
conveyance, lease, gift, grant, bequest, legacy, devise, or otherwise, and to own, hold,
expend, make gifts, grants, and contributions of, and to convey, transfer, and dispose
of any funds and property and the income therefrom for the furtherance of the
purposes of the Church hereinabove set forth, or any of them, and to lease, mortgage,
encumber, and use the same, and such other powers which are consistent with the
foregoing purposes and which are afforded to the Church by the Minnesota Nonprofit
Corporation Act, and by any future laws amendatory thereof and supplementary
thereto.
12 / ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION (04-08)
ARTICLE III
This corporation shall not afford pecuniary gain, incidentally or otherwise, to its
members, and no part of the net income or net earnings of this corporation shall inure
to the benefit of any member, private shareholder, or individual, and no substantial
part of its activities shall consist of carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting
to influence legislation. This corporation shall not participate in, or intervene in
(including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on
behalf of any candidate for public office.
This corporation shall not lend any of its assets to any officer, director, or member
of this corporation or guarantee to any other person the payment of a loan made to an
officer, director, or member of this corporation.
All references in these Articles of Incorporation to sections of the Internal Revenue
Code of 1954 include any provisions thereof adopted by future amendments thereto
and any cognate provisions in future Internal Revenue codes to the extent such
provisions are applicable to this corporation.
ARTICLE IV
The period of duration of corporate existence of this corporation shall be perpetual.
ARTICLE V
The registered office of this corporation shall be located at 405 Second Avenue
South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401.
ARTICLE VI
The management and direction of the business of the Church shall be vested in a
board of directors which shall be known and designated as the Church Council. The
terms of office, method of election, powers, authorities, and duties of the members of
the Church Council, the time and place of their meetings, and such other regulations
with respect to them as are not inconsistent with the express provisions of these
Articles of Incorporation shall be as specified from time to time in the bylaws of the
Church, which shall be known to the Church as its Constitution.
ARTICLE VII
The Church Council shall consist of thirty-seven (37) persons. The names and
addresses of the members of the Church Council and the expiration date of their
respective terms of office, are as follows:
Expiration Date of Term—
Close of the Church’s
Name Post Office Address Convention in the Year:
Names of the members of the Church Council elected at the Constituting
Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and, in the case of the
treasurer, at the first meeting of the Church Council, were filed in the Restated
Articles of Incorporation and appear in the minutes of the convention and council
meeting.
(04-08) ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION / 13
ARTICLE VIII
Except as otherwise provided in the Church’s Constitution, the Church shall have
no members with voting rights.
Whenever, and to the extent that, the Church’s Constitution provides that voting
rights shall be exercised by individuals elected, appointed, or otherwise designated to
serve as voting members of an assembly of the Church, then the voting members of
this Church for purposes of the laws of the State of Minnesota shall be the persons
who were most recently seated as the voting members of an assembly of the Church.
Members of congregations of the Church shall not, as such, have any voting rights
with respect to this corporation.
ARTICLE IX
For purposes of the laws of the State of Minnesota, only the Church’s Constitution
shall be treated as the bylaws of this corporation, and none of this corporation’s
governing documents other than these Articles of Incorporation and the Church’s
Constitution need be subject to the procedures specified by law or otherwise for the
amendment of articles of incorporation or bylaws.
ARTICLE X
Members of this corporation shall not be personally liable for the payment of any
debts or obligations of this corporation of any nature whatsoever, nor shall any of the
property of the members be subject to the payments of the debts or obligations of this
corporation to any extent whatsoever.
ARTICLE XI
This corporation shall have no capital stock.
ARTICLE XII
These Articles of Incorporation may be amended from time to time in the manner
prescribed by law.
ARTICLE XIII
In the event of the dissolution of this corporation any surplus property remaining
after the payment of its debts shall be disposed of by transfer to one or more
corporations, associations, institutions, trusts, community chests, or foundations
organized and operated exclusively for one or more of the purposes of this
corporation, and described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954,
in such proportions as the Church Council of this corporation shall determine.
Notwithstanding any provision herein to the contrary, nothing herein shall be
construed to affect the disposition of property and assets held by this corporation upon
trust or other condition, or subject to any executory or special limitation, and such
property, upon dissolution of this corporation, shall be transferred in accordance with
the trust, condition, or limitation imposed with respect to it.

CONSTITUTION, BYLAWS,
AND CONTINUING RESOLUTIONS
of the
EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
IN AMERICA®

(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION / 17
CONSTITUTION, BYLAWS,
AND CONTINUING RESOLUTIONS
of the
EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
IN AMERICA®
CODIFICATION EXPLANATION
The provisions of the Constitution, the Bylaws, and the Continuing Resolutions that pertain to the
same matter have been placed together. This arrangement requires that the three types of material be
identified by means other than physical separation.
The three types of provisions are identified by the following devices:
a. All constitutional provisions are printed in bold face type.
b. All bylaw provisions are printed in light face type.
c. All continuing resolutions are printed in italic type.
d. A numerical codification indicates general subject, constitutional provisions, bylaw provisions,
and continuing resolutions.
Major sections are designated as chapters. The chapters are numbered 1 through 22. The chapter
designation becomes the first number in the codification sequence and is followed by a period. Thus
provisions in “Chapter 14. Church Council” are preceded by “14.”.
General subjects normally are titled and designated by a number ending in zero. Thus, a subdivision
of Chapter 16 that contains provisions regarding the program units is codified and titled “16.10. Program
Units.” When subjects that are bylaw provisions only are titled, the same principles would apply within
the third number sequence, e.g., 16.12.10. Program Committees.
Constitutional provisions are codified with two sets of numbers, the chapter number and a two-digit
number preceding the second period in the codification. Thus, one constitutional provision related to the
presiding bishop of this church is 13.21.
Bylaw provisions are codified with three sets of numbers: the chapter number; the related
constitutional provision number; and a two-digit bylaw number. Thus, one bylaw provision related to the
secretary of this church is codified as 13.41.01.
Continuing resolutions also are codified with three sets of numbers except that the third set is preceded
by a capital letter. Thus, a continuing resolution might be numbered 16. to designate the chapter; 16.11. to
designate the subject matter within the chapter; and the third set might be numbered A07. in the codification
16.11.A07. to indicate by the “A” that it is the first continuing resolution regarding that subject and by the
“07” that it was adopted in 2007.
When many related provisions are parts of a unit that are considered inseparable, they normally are
lettered “a,” “b,” “c,” etc. When related provisions are part of a unit but considered separable, such as a list
of duties, they are normally numbered in sequence. If the related provisions cannot be clearly judged to be
separable or inseparable, preference will be given to a number sequence.
If chapter numbers are considered the major sequence number, constitution numbers as a fraction of
the chapter number, and bylaw numbers as a fraction of the constitution number, then the codification can
be said to provide a progressive sequence. Thus, 8.31. will precede 8.33.01., and 9.21.01. will precede 9.22.
Provisions in the Constitution for Synods are prefaced with “S,” and those in the Model Constitution
for Congregations with “C.”
In these governing documents, with the exception of the “Restated Articles of Incorporation,”
“Church” with a capital letter is used in references to the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. In
references to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the words “church” and “this church” in lower
case letters are employed.
18 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 1 (04-08)
PREAMBLE
Convinced that the Holy Spirit is leading us toward unity in the household of God, we
of The American Lutheran Church, The Association of Evangelical Lutheran
Churches, and the Lutheran Church in America give thanks to God for the faith we
share together in Christ and, by adopting this constitution, form a new church, in the
name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Chapter 1.
NAME, INCORPORATION, SEAL, AND LOCATION
1.01. The name of this church shall be Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America.
1.01.01. The name, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, as used herein,
refers, in general references, to this whole church, including its three
primary expressions–congregations, synods, and the churchwide
organization. The name, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, is also
the name of the corporation of the churchwide organization to which
specific references are made herein.
1.02. For the purposes of this constitution and the accompanying bylaws,
the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is hereafter designated
as “this church.”
1.11. This church shall be incorporated.
1.21.01. The seal of this church is a cross with three united flames emanating from
the base of the cross and three entwined circles beside the cross. The year
of the constituting convention of this church is included at the base of the
cross. The name of this church forms the circular outer edge of the seal.
1.31.01. The principal office of this church shall be located in Chicago, Illinois.
1.31.02. This church may maintain offices in such other locations as the
Churchwide Assembly or the Church Council shall determine.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 2 / 19
Chapter 2.
CONFESSION OF FAITH
2.01. This church confesses the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
2.02. This church confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the Gospel
as the power of God for the salvation of all who believe.
a. Jesus Christ is the Word of God incarnate, through whom
everything was made and through whose life, death, and
resurrection God fashions a new creation.
b. The proclamation of God’s message to us as both Law and
Gospel is the Word of God, revealing judgment and mercy
through word and deed, beginning with the Word in creation,
continuing in the history of Israel, and centering in all its fullness
in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
c. The canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the
written Word of God. Inspired by God’s Spirit speaking through
their authors, they record and announce God’s revelation
centering in Jesus Christ. Through them God’s Spirit speaks to
us to create and sustain Christian faith and fellowship for service
in the world.
2.03. This church accepts the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New
Testaments as the inspired Word of God and the authoritative source
and norm of its proclamation, faith, and life.
2.04. This church accepts the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds as
true declarations of the faith of this church.
2.05. This church accepts the Unaltered Augsburg Confession as a true
witness to the Gospel, acknowledging as one with it in faith and
doctrine all churches that likewise accept the teachings of the
Unaltered Augsburg Confession.
2.06. This church accepts the other confessional writings in the Book of
Concord, namely, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the
Smalcald Articles and the Treatise, the Small Catechism, the Large
Catechism, and the Formula of Concord, as further valid
interpretations of the faith of the Church.
2.07. This church confesses the Gospel, recorded in the Holy Scripture and
confessed in the ecumenical creeds and Lutheran confessional
writings, as the power of God to create and sustain the Church for
God’s mission in the world.
20 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 3 (04-08)
Chapter 3.
NATURE OF THE CHURCH
3.01. All power in the Church belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ, its head.
All actions of this church are to be carried out under his rule and
authority.
3.02. The Church exists both as an inclusive fellowship and as local congregations gathered for worship and Christian service. Congregations
find their fulfillment in the universal community of the Church, and
the universal Church exists in and through congregations. This
church, therefore, derives its character and powers both from the
sanction and representation of its congregations and from its inherent
nature as an expression of the broader fellowship of the faithful. In
length, it acknowledges itself to be in the historic continuity of the
communion of saints; in breadth, it expresses the fellowship of
believers and congregations in our day.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 4 / 21
Chapter 4.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
4.01. The Church is a people created by God in Christ, empowered by the
Holy Spirit, called and sent to bear witness to God’s creative, redeeming, and sanctifying activity in the world.
4.02. To participate in God’s mission, this church shall:
a. Proclaim God’s saving Gospel of justification by grace for
Christ’s sake through faith alone, according to the apostolic
witness in the Holy Scripture, preserving and transmitting the
Gospel faithfully to future generations.
b. Carry out Christ’s Great Commission by reaching out to all
people to bring them to faith in Christ and by doing all ministry
with a global awareness consistent with the understanding of God
as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier of all.
c. Serve in response to God’s love to meet human needs, caring for
the sick and the aged, advocating dignity and justice for all people, working for peace and reconciliation among the nations, and
standing with the poor and powerless and committing itself to
their needs.
d. Worship God in proclamation of the Word and administration of
the sacraments and through lives of prayer, praise, thanksgiving,
witness, and service.
e. Nurture its members in the Word of God so as to grow in faith
and hope and love, to see daily life as the primary setting for the
exercise of their Christian calling, and to use the gifts of the Spirit
for their life together and for their calling in the world.
f. Manifest the unity given to the people of God by living together
in the love of Christ and by joining with other Christians in
prayer and action to express and preserve the unity which the
Spirit gives.
4.03. To fulfill these purposes, this church shall:
a. Receive, establish, and support those congregations, ministries,
organizations, institutions, and agencies necessary to carry out
God’s mission through this church.
b. Encourage and equip all members to worship, learn, serve, and
witness; to fulfill their calling to serve God in the world; and to
be stewards of the earth, their lives, and the Gospel.
c. Call forth, equip, certify, set apart, and oversee an ordained ministry of Word and Sacrament and such other forms of ministry
that will enable this church to fulfill its mission.
d. Seek unity in faith and life with all Lutherans within its boundaries and be ready to enter union negotiations whenever such
unity is manifest.
22 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 4 (04-08)
e. Foster Christian unity by participating in ecumenical activities,
contributing its witness and work and cooperating with other
churches which confess God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
f. Develop relationships with communities of other faiths for
dialogue and common action.
g. Lift its voice in concord and work in concert with forces for good,
to serve humanity, cooperating with church and other groups
participating in activities that promote justice, relieve misery,
and reconcile the estranged.
h. Produce and publish worship materials for corporate, family, and
personal use and resources for education, witness, service, and
stewardship.
i. Establish and maintain theological seminaries, schools, colleges,
universities, and other educational institutions to equip people for
leadership and service in church and society.
j. Assure faithfulness to this church’s confessional position and
purpose and provide for resolution of disputes.
k. Publish a periodical and make use of the arts and public communication media to proclaim the Gospel and to inform, interpret,
and edify.
l. Study social issues and trends, work to discover the causes of
oppression and injustice, and develop programs of ministry and
advocacy to further human dignity, freedom, justice, and peace
in the world.
m. Establish, support, and recognize institutions and agencies that
minister to people in spiritual and temporal needs.
n. Work with civil authorities in areas of mutual endeavor, maintaining institutional separation of church and state in a relation
of functional interaction.
o. Provide structures and decision-making processes for this church
that foster mutuality and interdependence and that involve
people in making decisions that affect them.
p. Support the mission of this church by arranging for and encouraging financial contributions for its work, management of its
resources, and processes of planning and evaluation.
q. Provide fair personnel practices and adequate compensation,
benefits, and pensions for those employed by this church.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 5 / 23
Chapter 5.
PRINCIPLES OF ORGANIZATION
5.01. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America shall be one church.
This church recognizes that all power and authority in the Church
belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ, its head. Therefore, all actions of
this church by congregations, synods, and the churchwide
organization shall be carried out under his rule and authority in
accordance with the following principles:
a. The congregations, synods, and churchwide organization shall act
in accordance with the Confession of Faith set forth in Chapter
2 of this constitution and with the Statement of Purpose set forth
in Chapter 4.
b. This church, in faithfulness to the Gospel, is committed to be an
inclusive church in the midst of division in society. Therefore, in
their organization and outreach, the congregations, synods, and
churchwide units of this church shall seek to exhibit the inclusive
unity that is God’s will for the Church.
c. The congregations, synods, and churchwide organization of this
church are interdependent partners sharing responsibly in God’s
mission. In an interdependent relationship primary responsibility
for particular functions will vary between the partners.
Whenever possible, the entity most directly affected by a decision
shall be the principal party responsible for decision and
implementation, with the other entities facilitating and assisting.
Each congregation, synod, and separately incorporated unit of
the churchwide organization, as well as the churchwide
organization itself, is a separate legal entity and is responsible for
exercising its powers and authorities.
d. Each congregation and synod in its governing documents shall
include the Confession of Faith and Statement of Purpose and
such structural components as are required in this constitution.
Beyond these common elements, congregations and synods shall
be free to organize in such manner as each deems appropriate for
its jurisdiction.
e. The Church Council shall establish an ongoing process to review
the function of the structural organization of this church and to
develop recommendations for changes.
f. Except as otherwise provided in this constitution and bylaws, the
churchwide organization, through the Church Council, shall
establish processes that will ensure that at least 60 percent of the
members of its assemblies, councils, committees, boards, and
other organizational units shall be laypersons; that as nearly as
possible, 50 percent of the lay members of these assemblies,
24 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 5 (04-08)
councils, committees, boards, or other organizational units shall
be female and 50 percent shall be male, and that, where possible,
the representation of ordained ministers shall be both female and
male. At least 10 percent of the members of these assemblies,
councils, committees, boards, or other organizational units shall
be persons of color and/or persons whose primary language is
other than English. Processes shall be developed that will assure
that in selecting staff there will be a balance of women and men,
persons of color and persons whose primary language is other
than English, laypersons, and persons on the roster of ordained
ministers. This balance is to be evident in terms of both executive
staff and support staff consistent with the inclusive policy of this
church.
g. Except as otherwise provided in this constitution and bylaws,
synods, through synodical councils, shall establish processes that
will ensure that at least 60 percent of the members of their
assemblies, councils, committees, boards, and other organizational units shall be laypersons; that, as nearly as possible, 50
percent of the lay members of their assemblies, councils, committees, boards, or other organizational units shall be female and
50 percent shall be male, and that, where possible, the representation of ordained ministers shall be both female and male.
Each synod shall establish processes that will enable it to reach
a minimum goal that 10 percent of the membership of its
assemblies, councils, committees, boards, or other organizational
units be persons of color and/or persons whose primary language
is other than English.
h. Leaders in this church should demonstrate that they are servants
by their words, life-style, and manner of leadership. Leaders in
this church will recognize their accountability to the Triune God,
to the whole Church, to each other, and to the organization of this
church in which they have been asked to serve.
i. As a steward of the resources that God has provided, this church
shall organize itself to make the most effective use of its resources
to accomplish its mission.
j. Each assembly, council, committee, board, task force, or other
body of the churchwide organization or any churchwide units
shall be conclusively presumed to have been properly constituted,
and neither the method of selection nor the composition of any
such assembly, council, committee, board, task force, or other
body may be challenged in a court of law by any person or be
used as the basis of a challenge in a court of law to the validity or
effect of any action taken or authorized by any such assembly,
council, committee, board, task force, or other body.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 5 / 25
5.01.A87. It shall be a goal of this church that within 10 years of its establishment
its membership shall include at least 10 percent people of color and/or
primary language other than English.
5.01.B87. With regard to the minimum goal that 10 percent of the membership of
synod assemblies, councils, committees, boards, and/or other organizational units be persons of color and/or persons whose primary
language is other than English, it is understood that initially there may be
exceptions to the attainment of this goal based on the makeup of the
membership within a particular synod. By the time of its second assembly,
each synod shall establish a plan to attain this goal within 10 years.
5.01.C00. The term, “persons of color and/or persons whose primary language is
other than English,” shall be understood to mean African American,
Black, Arab and Middle Eastern, Asian and Pacific Islander, Latino,
American Indian, and Alaska Native people. This definition, however,
shall not be understood as limiting this church’s commitment to inclusive
participation in its life and work.
26 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 6 (04-08)
Chapter 6.
MEMBERSHIP
6.01. The members of this church shall be the baptized members of its
congregations.
6.02. The voting members of this church shall be those persons elected to
serve as members of the Churchwide Assembly. Membership in a
congregation does not, in itself, confer voting rights in this
corporation.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 7 / 27
Chapter 7.
MINISTRY
7.10. MINISTRY OF THE BAPTIZED PEOPLE OF GOD
7.11. This church affirms the universal priesthood of all its baptized
members. In its function and its structure this church commits itself
to the equipping and supporting of all its members for their ministries
in the world and in this church. It is within this context of ministry
that this church calls some of its baptized members for specific
ministries in this church.
7.20. ORDAINED MINISTRY
7.21. Within the people of God and for the sake of the Gospel ministry
entrusted to all believers, God has instituted the office of ministry of
Word and Sacrament. To carry out this ministry, this church calls
and ordains qualified persons.
7.22. An ordained minister of this church shall be a person whose commitment to Christ, soundness in the faith, aptness to preach, teach,
and witness, and educational qualifications have been examined and
approved in the manner prescribed in the documents of this church;
who has been properly called and ordained; who accepts and adheres
to the Confession of Faith of this church; who is diligent and faithful
in the exercise of the ministry; and whose life and conduct are above
reproach. An ordained minister shall comply with the constitution of
this church.
7.23. The standards for acceptance and continuance of pastors in the
ordained ministry of this church shall be set forth in the bylaws.
7.24. The secretary of this church shall maintain a roster containing the
names of ordained ministers who qualify on the basis of constitutional
provisions 7.22., 7.23., 7.30., and 7.31., and related bylaws.
7.30. STANDARDS FOR ORDAINED MINISTERS
7.31. In accordance with the description of an ordained minister stated in
7.22., pastors as ordained ministers shall be governed by the following
standards, policies, and procedures.
7.31.10. Basic Standards
7.31.11. Persons admitted to and continued in the ordained ministry of this church
shall satisfactorily meet and maintain the following, as defined by this
church in its governing documents and in policies developed by the
appropriate churchwide unit, reviewed by the Conference of Bishops, and
adopted by the Church Council:
a. commitment to Christ;
b. acceptance of and adherence to the Confession of Faith of this
church;
28 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 7 (04-08)
c. willingness and ability to serve in response to the needs of this
church;
d. academic and practical qualifications for ministry, including leadership abilities and competence in interpersonal relationships;
e. commitment to lead a life worthy of the Gospel of Christ and in so
doing to be an example in faithful service and holy living;
f. receipt and acceptance of a letter of call; and
g. membership in a congregation of this church.
7.31.12. Consistent with the faith and practice of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America,
a. Every ordained minister shall:
1) preach the Word;
2) administer the sacraments;
3) conduct public worship;
4) provide pastoral care;
5) seek out and encourage qualified persons to prepare for the
ministry of the Gospel;
6) witness to the Kingdom of God in the community, in the nation,
and abroad; and
7) speak publicly to the world in solidarity with the poor and
oppressed, calling for justice and proclaiming God’s love for the
world.
b. Each ordained minister with a congregational call shall, within the
congregation:
1) offer instruction, confirm, marry, visit the sick and distressed,
and bury the dead;
2) supervise all schools and organizations of the congregation;
3) impart knowledge of this church and its wider ministry through
distribution of its periodicals and other publications;
4) endeavor to increase the support given by the congregation to the
work of the churchwide organization and synod of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America;
5) install regularly elected members of the Congregation Council;
and
6) with the council, administer discipline.
7.31.13. Preparation and Approval. Except as provided below, a candidate for
ordination as a pastor shall have:
a. membership in a congregation of this church and registration, by its
pastor and council, of the candidate with the candidacy committee;
b. been endorsed by and under the guidance and supervision of the
appropriate committee for at least a year before being approved for
ordination;
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 7 / 29
c. satisfactorily completed the requirements for the Master of Divinity
degree from an accredited theological school in North America,
including practical preparation, as defined by the appropriate churchwide unit, such as internship and supervised clinical work;
d. completed at least one year of residency in a seminary of this church
or of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, except when
waived by the appropriate committee in consultation with the faculty
of a seminary of this church or of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in Canada;
e. been recommended for approval by the faculty of a seminary of this
church or of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada;
f. been examined and approved by the appropriate committee according
to criteria, policies, and procedures established by the appropriate
churchwide unit after consultation with the Conference of Bishops
and adoption by the Church Council;
g. been recommended to a congregation or other entity by the bishop of
the synod to which the candidate has been assigned for first call in
accordance with the procedures recommended by the appropriate
churchwide unit, reviewed by the Conference of Bishops, and
adopted by the Church Council; and
h. received and accepted a properly issued and attested letter of call.
7.31.14. Admission under Other Circumstances. Candidates for ordination as
pastors or for reception who by reason of (a) age and prior experience, (b)
ordination in another Lutheran church body, or (c) ordination in another
Christian church body, whether in North America or abroad, shall be
approved by the candidacy committee for ordination or reception according to criteria, policies, and procedures recommended by the appropriate
churchwide unit, reviewed by the Conference of Bishops, and adopted by
the Church Council. In preparing such criteria, policies, and procedures,
the appropriate churchwide unit shall consult with the seminaries of this
church and, as appropriate, with other churchwide units.
7.31.15. Reinstatement. A person seeking reinstatement to the ordained ministry
as a pastor, whether having served previously in this church or in one of
its predecessor bodies, shall be registered by the pastor and council of the
congregation of which such a person is a member with the candidacy
committee of the synod in which the person was last rostered or, upon
mutual agreement of the synodical bishops involved, after consultation
with and approval by the secretary of this church, with the candidacy
committee of the synod of current residence. The person then shall be
interviewed, examined, and approved by the candidacy committee under
criteria, policies, and procedures recommended by the appropriate churchwide unit, reviewed by the Conference of Bishops, and adopted by the
Church Council. In this process, the committee shall review the circumstances related to the termination of earlier service together with sub-
30 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 7 (04-08)
sequent developments. The person is reinstated after receiving and accepting a letter of call to serve as a pastor in this church.
7.31.16. On Leave from Call. An ordained minister of this church, serving under
a regularly issued letter of call, who leaves the work of that ministry
without accepting another regularly issued letter of call, may be retained
on the roster of ordained ministers of this church, upon endorsement by
the synodical bishop, by action of the Synod Council in the synod of
which the ordained minister is a member, under policy developed by the
appropriate churchwide unit, reviewed by the Conference of Bishops, and
adopted by the Church Council.
a. Normative Pattern: By annual action of the Synod Council in the
synod of which a member, upon endorsement by the synodical
bishop, an ordained minister who is without a current letter of call
may be retained on the roster of ordained ministers of this church for
a maximum of three years, beginning at the completion of an active
call.
b. Study Leave: By annual action of the Synod Council in the synod of
which a member, with the approval of the synodical bishop and in
consultation with the appropriate churchwide unit, an ordained minister engaged in graduate study, in a field of study that will enhance
service in the ordained ministry, may be retained on the roster of
ordained ministers of this church for a maximum of six years.
c. Family Leave: An ordained minister who has been in active service
under call for at least three years may request leave for family
responsibilities. By annual action of the Synod Council in the synod
of which a member, upon endorsement by the synodical bishop, such
an ordained minister who is without a current letter of call and who
requests leave for the birth or care of a child or children of the
ordained minister or the care of an immediate family member (child,
spouse, or parent) with a serious health condition may be retained on
the roster of ordained ministers of this church—under policy
developed by the appropriate churchwide unit, reviewed by the
Conference of Bishops, and adopted by the Church Council—for a
maximum of six years beginning at the completion of an active call.
d. Exception to these limits for the purpose of serving the needs of this
church may be granted in accordance with established policy of this
church by the Synod Council in the synod of current roster after
having received approval by the Conference of Bishops.
7.31.17. Ordination in Unusual Circumstances. For pastoral reasons in unusual
circumstances, a synodical bishop may provide for the ordination by
another pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America of an
approved candidate who has received and accepted a properly issued, duly
attested letter of call for the office of ordained ministry. Prior to
authorization of such an ordination, the bishop of the synod of the
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 7 / 31
candidate’s first call shall consult with the presiding bishop as this
church’s chief ecumenical officer and shall seek the advice of the Synod
Council. The pastoral decision of the synodical bishop shall be in accordance with policy developed by the appropriate churchwide unit, reviewed
by the Conference of Bishops, and adopted by the Church Council.
7.31.20. Invitation to Service
7.31.21. In accord with bylaw 8.72.11. and following, an ordained minister of a
church body with which a relationship of full communion has been
established by the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America may serve contractually in a ministry setting of this
church under a “Letter of Invitation to Service” upon the authorization of
the bishop of the synod in which such service occurs.
7.40. CALLS FOR ORDAINED MINISTERS
7.41. Letters of Call. Letters of call to ordained ministers of this church or
properly approved candidates for this church’s roster of ordained
ministers shall be issued in keeping with this church’s constitutions,
bylaws, and continuing resolutions as well as policies regarding such
calls developed by the appropriate churchwide unit, reviewed by the
Conference of Bishops, and approved by the Church Council.
7.41.10. General Categories
7.41.11. Service under Call. An ordained minister of this church shall serve
under a letter of call properly extended by a congregation, a synodical
council or assembly, the Church Council, or the Churchwide Assembly.
a. Calls may be extended for stated periods of time and for shared-time
ministry by the appropriate calling body under criteria recommended
by the appropriate churchwide unit, reviewed by the Conference of
Bishops, and adopted by the Church Council.
b. Ordained ministers serving as interim pastors appointed by the
synodical bishop may serve under a letter of call, according to
policies developed by the appropriate churchwide unit, reviewed by
the Conference of Bishops, and approved by the Church Council. A
call to interim ministry shall be a term call extended by the Synod
Council upon recommendation of the synodical bishop.
7.41.12. Initial Call to Congregational Service. Because the responsibilities of
the office of the ordained ministry are most clearly focused in the
congregational pastorate, experience in which is deemed by this church
to be invaluable for all other ordained service, initial service of at least
three years shall be in the parish ministry in this church. Exceptions may
be granted under criteria and procedures recommended by the appropriate
churchwide unit, reviewed by the Conference of Bishops, and adopted by
the Church Council.
7.41.13. Calls to Non-Congregational Service. Calls to serve in institutions,
agencies, and other entities inside and outside this church may be
extended where there is an identifiable relationship of the work to the
32 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 7 (04-08)
purpose of the ordained ministry. Such calls involve, for example, the
care of the Word, the administration of the sacraments, pastoral care, and
activities closely associated with those tasks including oversight in the
church and in inter-Lutheran and inter-church agencies and institutions.
Care is to be exercised so that positions in the church and in the world that
can be filled adequately and appropriately by the laity not be filled by
ordained ministers for their convenience or status. Synodical councils and
the Church Council may seek the advice of the Conference of Bishops in
specific situations.
7.41.14. Non-Stipendiary Service Under Call. When it is deemed necessary for
the mission needs of this church, a letter of call may be issued by the
Synod Council—according to criteria, policies, and procedures recommended by the appropriate churchwide unit, reviewed by the Conference
of Bishops, and adopted by the Church Council—to an ordained minister
for non-stipendiary service after the Synod Council has sought and
received approval by the Conference of Bishops. Care is to be exercised
so that positions in the church and in the world that can be filled
adequately and appropriately by the laity not be filled by ordained
ministers for their convenience, status, or personal preference. A call to
non-stipendiary service is to be reviewed at least annually by the Synod
Council and continued only as warranted for the ministry needs of this
church. Such a call may be terminated by the Synod Council when it is
deemed to be fulfilling no longer the mission needs of this church.
7.41.15. Calls to Serve in Unusual Circumstances. When it is deemed to be in
the interests of this church in the care of the Gospel, ordained ministers
may be called for a stated period of time, not to exceed three years, to
minister on behalf of this church while employed in an occupation outside
the traditional range of the ordained ministry. Such calls may be extended
by a Synod Council or the Church Council upon recommendation by the
Conference of Bishops according to criteria and procedures recommended
by the appropriate churchwide unit, reviewed by the Conference of
Bishops, and adopted by the Church Council. Such calls shall be reviewed
annually.
7.41.16. Calls in Predecessor Church Bodies. Accountability for specific calls
to service extended in predecessor church bodies shall be exercised
according to the policies and procedures of this church.
7.41.17. Retirement. Ordained ministers may retire upon attainment of age 60, or
after 30 years on the roster of ordained ministers of this church or one of
its predecessor bodies, or may be designated as disabled, and continue to
be listed on the roster of ordained ministers of this church, upon
endorsement by the synodical bishop, by action of the Synod Council in
the synod in which the ordained minister is listed on the roster.
a. The policies and procedures for granting retired status or for
designation of disability on the roster of ordained ministers shall be
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 7 / 33
developed by the appropriate churchwide unit, reviewed by the
Conference of Bishops, and adopted by the Church Council.
b. If an ordained minister who has been granted retired status resides at
too great a distance from any congregation of this church to be able
to sustain an active relationship with that congregation, the bishop of
the synod in which the ordained minister is listed on the roster may
grant permission for the ordained minister to hold membership in a
congregation or parish of a church body with which a relationship of
full communion has been declared and established by the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America.
7.41.18. Retention of Roster Records. When an ordained minister is removed
from that roster of this church, the roster record shall be retained by the
secretary of this church and the synodical bishop shall invite the person
at the time of removal to provide, annually, appropriate current information for the roster record.
7.42. Each pastor on the roster of ordained ministers of this church shall
be related to that synod:
a. to which the congregation issuing the call to the ordained
minister is related;
b. which issues a letter of call to the ordained minister;
c. on whose roster the ordained minister was listed at the time of the
issuance of a letter of call from the Church Council;
d. on whose roster the ordained minister, if a seminary teacher or
administrator, was assigned by the seminary board, subject to
approval by the synodical bishop and Synod Council of each
affected synod, to promote proportionate representation of
faculty and administration in each synod of its region;
e. on whose roster the ordained minister was listed at the time of the
issuance of a call to federal chaplaincy or on the roster of the
synod of current address, if approved by the synodical bishop
and received by the Synod Council;
f. in which the ordained minister, upon receiving a call from this
church, serves as a deployed staff person or on the roster of one
of the synods to which the ordained minister is deployed;
g. on whose roster the ordained minister was listed when placed on
leave from call;
h. on whose roster the ordained minister, if designated as disabled,
was listed when last called or the synod of current address, upon
application by the ordained minister for transfer and the mutual
agreement of the synodical bishops involved after consultation
with and approval by the secretary of this church; or
i. on whose roster the ordained minister, if granted retired status,
was listed when last called or the synod of current address, upon
application by the ordained minister for transfer and the mutual
34 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 7 (04-08)
agreement of the synodical bishops involved after consultation
with and approval by the secretary of this church.
7.42.01. If the service of an ordained minister who receives and accepts a letter of
call from this church, under 7.42.c., would be enhanced through transfer
of roster status from the previous synod of roster to the synod of current
address, such a transfer may be authorized upon mutual agreement of the
synodical bishops involved after consultation with and approval by the
secretary of this church.
7.42.02. In unusual circumstances, the transfer of an ordained minister who is on
leave from call may be authorized upon mutual agreement of the
synodical bishops involved after consultation with and approval by the
secretary of this church.
7.42.03. In certain circumstances for the sake of the ministry and mission needs of
this church, the transfer of an ordained minister serving under call in the
churchwide organization may be authorized, at the initiative of the
presiding bishop of this church, upon mutual agreement of the synodical
bishops involved in such a transfer after consultation with and approval
by the secretary of this church.
7.43. A letter of call issued by a Synod Council or the Church Council to an
ordained minister of this church shall be either co-terminus with, or
not longer than, the duration of the service or employment for which
the call was issued. With the exception of persons designated as
employees of a synod or the churchwide organization, such a call does
not imply any employment relationship or contractual obligation in
regard to employment on the part of the Synod Council or Church
Council issuing the call. The recipient of such a call remains subject
to this church’s standards and discipline for ordained ministry, as
contained in this church’s constitution, bylaws, and continuing
resolutions and in the policy and procedure documents of this church.
7.43.01. When the Synod Council or the Church Council, as the calling source,
determines that the service or employment no longer fulfills the criteria
under which a call was issued, the Synod Council or the Church Council
shall vacate the call and direct that the individual be placed on leave from
call or, if such leave status is not granted, the individual shall be removed
from the roster of ordained ministers.
7.44. Each synod shall maintain a roster containing the names of those
ordained ministers who are related to it on the basis of 7.42. of this
constitution.
7.44.A05. Sources of Calls for Ordained Ministers
a. Principles for Sources of Calls
1) A “call” is an action by expressions of this church, as specified
in the “Table of Sources of Calls for Ordained Ministers,”
through which a person is asked to serve in a specified ministry.
Such an action is attested in a “letter of call.”
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 7 / 35
2) Interdependence within the body of this church suggests that any
action of one of its entities affects other entities. Therefore,
interdependence is expressed in all calls extended within this
church.
3) A call expresses a relationship between this church and the
person called involving mutual service, support, accountability,
supervision, and discipline.
4) A letter of call is issued by that expression of this church
authorized to do so which is most directly involved in accountability for the specified ministry.
5) Decisions on calls for ministries in unusual circumstances not
otherwise provided for but deemed to be in the interests of this
church’s care of the Gospel are referred to the Conference of
Bishops for recommendation to the appropriate calling body.
b. Table of Sources of Calls for Ordained Ministers
Setting Calling Body
1.0 Congregational ministry
1.1 Single congregation Congregation meeting
1.11 Pastor
1.12 Senior Pastor
1.13 Associate/assistant pastor
1.14 Co-pastor
1.15 Shared-time pastor
1.2 Multiple-congregation Congregation meetings,
parish acting on a common proposal
1.21 Pastor
1.22 Other pastoral
arrangements
1.3 Coalition and cluster Synod Council
ministry
1.4 Congregations
beyond ELCA
1.41 Independent Synod Council
Lutheran congregation
1.42 Overseas indepen- Church Council upon request
dent Lutheran of appropriate churchwide
congregation unit
1.43 Other Synod Council or Church
Council
1.5 Interim pastor Synod Council
1.6 Pastor in a congregation Synod Council
under development
36 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 7 (04-08)
2.0 Synodical ministry
2.1 Bishop Synod Assembly
2.2 Assistant to bishop Synod Council
2.3 Shared staff by two or One of the participating
more synods synods
2.4 Synod staff partially Synod Council
supported by grants from
churchwide units
3.0 Regional ministry
3.1 Staff Church Council
3.2 Shared synodical- Church Council
churchwide staff
4.0 Churchwide ministry
4.1 Presiding bishop Churchwide Assembly
and secretary
4.2 Treasurer Church Council
4.3 Presiding bishop’s staff Church Council
4.4 Office staff Church Council
4.5 Unit executive director Church Council
4.6 Section executive Church Council
4.7 Other churchwide unit staff Church Council
5.0 Chaplaincy and institutional
ministry
5.1 Institution/agency related Synod Council
or unrelated to a synod
5.2 Institution/agency related Synod Council of one of
more than one synod the synods
5.3 ELCA-related institution/ Church Council upon request
agency of appropriate churchwide
unit
5.4 Federal agency/institution Church Council
5.5 Military Church Council
6.0 Campus ministry
6.1 Staff Synod Council
7.0 Church camp ministry
7.1 Staff Synod Council
8.0 Ecumenical ministry
8.1 Related to a synod Synod Council
8.2 Related to more than Synod Council of one of
one synod the synods
8.3 National/international Church Council
organization
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 7 / 37
9.0 Inter-Lutheran ministry
9.1 Related to a synod Synod Council
9.2 Related to more than Synod Council of one of
one synod the synods
9.3 National/International Church Council
10.0 Educational ministry
10.1 ELCA-related seminary Church Council upon request
chaplain/faculty/admini- of appropriate churchwide
strator unit
10.2 Chaplain/faculty/admini- Church Council upon request
strator of seminary of appropriate churchwide
unrelated to ELCA unit
10.3 ELCA-related college Synod Council of the synod
chaplain/faculty/admini- in which college is located
strator
10.4 Chaplain/faculty/admini- Synod Council of the synod
strator of a college in which college is located
unrelated to ELCA
10.5 ELCA-related school Congregation of which the
chaplain/faculty/admini- school is a part or, if related
strator to several congregations,
Synod Council of the synod
in which the school is
located
10.6 Chaplain/faculty of a school Synod Council of the synod
unrelated to ELCA in which school is located
10.7 Director/staff of a Synod Council in which the
continuing education main office of center is
center related to located upon the request of
churchwide unit appropriate churchwide unit
11.0 Missionary ministry
11.1 Outside United States Church Council upon request
of appropriate churchwide
unit
11.2 Within United States Church Council upon request
of appropriate churchwide
unit
12.0 Other
12.1 Non-stipendiary service Synod Council upon approval
under call by the Conference of Bishops
12.2 Unusual ministries Synod Council or Church
(as in conjunction with Council upon recommendaoccupations and in tion by the Conference of
approved situations not Bishops
otherwise specified)
38 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 7 (04-08)
7.45. In keeping with the historic discipline and practice of the Lutheran
church and to be true to a sacred trust inherent in the nature of the
pastoral office, no ordained minister of this church shall divulge any
confidential disclosure received in the course of the care of souls or
otherwise in a professional capacity, nor testify concerning conduct
observed by the ordained minister while working in a pastoral
capacity, except with the express permission of the person who has
given confidential information to the ordained minister or who was
observed by the ordained minister, or if the person intends great
harm to self or others.
7.46. The provisions for termination of the mutual relationship between an
ordained minister and a congregation shall be as follows:
a. The call of a congregation, when accepted by a pastor, shall
constitute a continuing mutual relationship and commitment
which, except in the case of the death of the pastor, shall be
terminated only following consultation with the synodical bishop
and for the following reasons:
1) mutual agreement to terminate the call or the completion of
a call for a specific term;
2) resignation of the pastor, which shall become effective, unless
otherwise agreed, 30 days after the date on which it was submitted;
3) inability to conduct the pastoral office effectively in that congregation in view of local conditions, without reflection on
the competence or the moral and spiritual character of the
pastor;
4) the physical or mental incapacity of the pastor;
5) disqualification of the pastor through discipline on grounds
of doctrine, morality, or continued neglect of duty;
6) the dissolution of the congregation; or
7) suspension of the congregation as a result of discipline
proceedings.
b. When allegations of physical or mental incapacity of the pastor
or ineffective conduct of the pastoral office have come to the
attention of the bishop of the synod, the bishop in his or her sole
discretion may investigate—or when such allegations have been
brought to the synod’s attention by an official recital of allegations by the Congregation Council or by a petition signed by at
least one-third of the voting members of the congregation, the
bishop shall investigate—such conditions personally in company
with a committee of two ordained ministers and one layperson.
c. In case of alleged physical or mental incapacity competent
medical testimony shall be obtained. When such disability is
evident, the synodical bishop with the advice of the committee
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 7 / 39
shall declare the pastorate vacant. Upon the restoration of a
disabled pastor to health, the bishop of the synod shall take steps
to enable the pastor to resume the ministry, either in the
congregation last served or in another field of labor.
d. In the case of alleged local difficulties that imperil the effective
functioning of the congregation, all concerned persons shall be
heard, after which the synodical bishop together with the
committee described in 7.46.b. shall decide on the course of action
to be recommended to the pastor and the congregation. If they
agree to carry out such recommendations, no further action shall
be taken by the synod. If either party fails to assent, the
congregation may dismiss the pastor at a legally called meeting
after consultation with the synodical bishop, either (a) by a twothirds majority vote of the voting members present and voting
where the bishop and the committee did not recommend
termination of the call, or (b) by a simple majority vote of the
voting members present and voting where the bishop and the
committee recommended termination of the call.
e. If, in the course of proceedings described in 7.46.d., the committee concludes that there may be grounds for disciplinary action,
the committee shall make recommendations concerning disciplinary action to the synodical bishop who may bring charges, in
accordance with the provisions of the constitution and bylaws of
the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
f. If, following the appointment of the committee described in
7.46.b. or d., it should become apparent that the pastoral office
cannot be conducted effectively in the congregation(s) being
served by the ordained minister due to local conditions, the
synodical bishop may temporarily suspend the pastor from
service in the congregation(s) without prejudice and with pay
provided through a joint synodical and churchwide fund and
with housing provided by the congregation(s).
7.47. Ordained ministers shall be subject to discipline as set forth in
Chapter 20 of this constitution and bylaws.
7.47.01. No person who belongs to any organization other than the Church which
claims to possess in its teachings and ceremonies that which the Lord has
given solely to the Church shall be ordained or otherwise received into the
ministry of this church, nor shall any person so ordained or otherwise
received by this church be retained in its ministry who subsequently joins
such an organization. Violation of this rule shall make such minister
subject to discipline.
40 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 7 (04-08)
7.50. OFFICIAL ROSTERS OF LAYPERSONS
7.51. This church may establish rosters of laypersons on which the names
may be listed of those who qualify for such according to the bylaws
and continuing resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America.
7.51.01. The standards of acceptance and continuance on the lay rosters of this
church as defined herein shall be included in the bylaws.
7.51.02. Under constitutional provision 7.51., those persons previously rostered as
commissioned church staff (The American Lutheran Church), deaconesses
(The Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches), deaconesses (The
American Lutheran Church), deacons (The Association of Evangelical
Lutheran Churches), lay professional leaders (the Lutheran Church in
America), and commissioned teachers (The Association of Evangelical
Lutheran Churches) shall be retained as associates in ministry of this
church (except for removals in accord with the governing documents,
criteria, policies, and procedures of this church) in the recognized
category of ministry of their previous church body for as long as they are
in good standing according to the standards, criteria, policies, and procedures of this church. Accountability for specific calls shall be exercised
according to the policies and procedures of this church. Such persons may
resign from the roster or may elect to be rostered in another ELCA
category by meeting the appropriate criteria established by the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America and by relinquishing their previous roster
category.
7.51.03. Associates in Ministry. This church shall maintain a lay roster of
associates in ministry of those commissioned—according to the standards,
criteria, policies, and procedures of this church—for such service within
the life of this church in positions of Word and service on behalf of all of
God’s people. Associates in ministry are to be faithful to Jesus Christ,
knowledgeable of the Word of God and the Confessions of this church,
respectful of the people of God, and responsive to needs in a changing
world as they serve in congregations and other ministry settings. The
roster of associates in ministry, in addition to those listed in bylaw
7.51.02., shall be composed of:
a. those certified during the period of January 1, 1988, through
September 1, 1993, as associates in ministry of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America; and
b. those who are approved, subsequent to September 1, 1993, as
associates in ministry in this church according to policies and
procedures developed by the appropriate churchwide unit, reviewed
by the Conference of Bishops, and adopted by the Church Council.
c. Upon receipt and acceptance of a valid, regularly issued letter of call,
a newly approved candidate shall be commissioned, according to the
proper service orders of this church, as an associate in ministry.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 7 / 41
Accountability for specific calls shall be exercised according to the
policies and procedures of this church. Such persons may resign from the
roster or may elect to be rostered in another ELCA category by meeting
the appropriate criteria established by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America and by relinquishing their previous roster category.
7.51.04. Deaconesses of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. This
church shall maintain a lay roster of the deaconesses of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America of those consecrated—according to the
standards, criteria, policies, and procedures of this church—for such
service within the life of this church in positions of Word and service on
behalf of all of God’s people. Deaconesses are to be faithful to Jesus
Christ, knowledgeable of the Word of God and the Confessions of this
church, respectful of the people of God, and responsive to needs in a
changing world. They are to be theologically trained to serve in
congregations and other ministry settings.
a. A newly approved candidate for this roster shall be consecrated,
according to the proper service orders of this church, as a deaconess
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
b. As used herein, references to deaconesses of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America mean members of the Deaconess
Community of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America listed on
this church’s official rosters of laypersons as deaconesses of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
c. Unless otherwise specified, all constitutional provisions, bylaws, and
continuing resolutions regarding associates in ministry of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, except for the service order
of consecration as a deaconess of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America, shall apply to those on the lay roster of this church as
deaconesses of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
7.51.05. Diaconal Ministers. This church shall establish and maintain a lay roster
of diaconal ministers of those consecrated—according to the standards,
criteria, policies, and procedures of this church— for service on behalf of
this church in positions of Word and service that exemplify the servant
life and that seek to equip and motivate others to live it. Diaconal
ministers are to be faithful to Jesus Christ, knowledgeable of the Word of
God and the Confessions of this church, respectful of the people of God,
and responsive to needs in a changing world. Such diaconal ministers
shall seek in a great variety of ways to empower, equip, and support all
the baptized people of God in the ministry of Jesus Christ and the mission
of God in the world.
a. Upon approval as a candidate for the lay roster of diaconal ministers,
and upon receipt and acceptance of a valid, regularly issued letter of
call, the candidate shall be consecrated, according to the service
orders of this church, as a lay diaconal minister.
42 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 7 (04-08)
b. All constitutional provisions, bylaws, and continuing resolutions
regarding associates in ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America shall apply to those on the lay roster of diaconal ministers
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
7.52. The standards of acceptance and continuance as associates in ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal ministers of this church shall be
included in the bylaws.
7.52.10. Standards for the Official Rosters of Laypersons
7.52.11. Associates in ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal ministers shall be
governed by the following:
a. Basic Standards. Persons approved and continued as associates in
ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal ministers of this church shall
satisfactorily meet and maintain the following:
1) commitment to Christ;
2) acceptance of and adherence to the Confession of Faith of this
church;
3) willingness and ability to serve in response to the needs of this
church;
4) academic and practical qualifications for the position, including
leadership abilities and competence in interpersonal relationships;
5) commitment to lead a life worthy of the Gospel of Christ and in
so doing to be an example in faithful service and holy living;
6) receipt and acceptance of a letter of call; and
7) membership in a congregation of this church.
b. Preparation and Approval of an Associate in Ministry. A
candidate for approval and commissioning as an associate in ministry
of this church shall have:
1) membership in a congregation of this church and registration by
its pastor and council of the candidate with the appropriate
synodical candidacy committee;
2) been under the guidance and supervision of the appropriate
synodical candidacy committee for at least a year before being
approved by the committee;
3) completed the academic and practical preparation for the work
for which approved according to criteria and procedures established by the appropriate churchwide unit;
4) been examined and approved by the appropriate synodical candidacy committee according to procedures established by the
appropriate churchwide unit after consultation with the seminaries and colleges of this church that offer programs designed
to prepare persons for rostered service as associates in ministry;
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 7 / 43
5) received and accepted a properly issued and attested letter of
call; and
6) been commissioned, according to the rite of this church, as an
associate in ministry.
c. Preparation and Approval of a Deaconess of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America. A candidate for approval and
consecration as a deaconess of this church shall have:
1) membership in a congregation of this church and registration by
its pastor and council of the candidate with the appropriate
synodical candidacy committee;
2) been under the guidance and supervision of the synodical
candidacy committee for at least a year before being approved by
the synodical candidacy committee for call and consecration;
3) completed the academic and practical preparation for the work
for which approved according to criteria and procedures
established by the appropriate churchwide unit;
4) been examined and approved by the synodical candidacy
committee according to procedures established by the appropriate churchwide unit after consultation with the Deaconess
Community of the ELCA and the seminaries and colleges of this
church that offer programs designed to prepare persons for
rostered service as deaconesses of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America;
5) completed the required formation component, as defined by the
appropriate churchwide unit, in the preparation program for
service as a deaconess of this church;
6) been recommended for call by the bishop of the synod to which
the candidate has been assigned in accordance with procedures
recommended by the appropriate churchwide unit, reviewed by
the Conference of Bishops, and adopted by the Church Council;
7) received and accepted a properly issued and attested letter of
call; and
8) been consecrated, according to the rite of this church, as a
deaconess.
d. Preparation and Approval of a Diaconal Minister. A candidate
for approval and consecration as a diaconal minister of this church
shall have:
1) membership in a congregation of this church and registration by
its pastor and council of the candidate with the appropriate
synodical candidacy committee;
2) been granted entrance to candidacy by and under the guidance
and supervision of the synodical candidacy committee for at
44 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 7 (04-08)
least a year before being approved by the synodical candidacy
committee for consecration;
3) demonstrated competence in at least one area of specialization
or expertise according to guidelines established by the appropriate churchwide unit;
4) completed a first theological degree from an accredited theological school in North America;
5) completed approved work in Lutheran studies as defined by the
appropriate churchwide unit;
6) completed the required formation component in the preparation
program for Lutheran diaconal ministry as defined by the appropriate churchwide unit;
7) completed an approved internship or practical preparation as
defined by the appropriate churchwide unit;
8) been examined and approved by the appropriate synodical
candidacy committee according to criteria, policies, and procedures established by the appropriate churchwide unit for such
candidacy;
9) been recommended for call by the bishop of the synod to which
the candidate has been assigned in accordance with procedures
recommended by the appropriate churchwide unit, reviewed by
the Conference of Bishops, and adopted by the Church Council;
10) received and accepted a properly issued and attested letter of
call; and
11) been consecrated, according to the rite of this church, as a
diaconal minister.
7.52.12. Approval under Other Circumstances. A candidate may, for reasons
of age or prior experience, be granted approval under criteria and procedures which permit certain equivalencies as defined by the appropriate
churchwide unit.
7.52.13. Reinstatement. A person seeking reinstatement as an associate in
ministry, whether having previously served in this church or in one of its
predecessor bodies, a deaconess of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America, or a diaconal minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America shall be endorsed by the pastor and council of the congregation
of this church of which such a person is a member, and interviewed,
examined, and approved for reinstatement by the synodical candidacy
committee under criteria and procedures recommended by the appropriate
churchwide unit, reviewed by the Conference of Bishops, and adopted by
the Church Council. In this process, the committee shall review the
circumstances related to the termination of earlier service together with
subsequent developments. The person is reinstated after receiving and
accepting a letter of call in this church.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 7 / 45
a. Any person removed from a lay roster that existed on December 31,
1987, as cited herein, who seeks to return to active lay roster status
must apply for acceptance to a roster of this church under the standards, criteria, policies, and procedures that apply to the official
rosters of laypersons, as identified in 7.51.03.b. This same requirement shall apply to those certified during the period of January 1,
1988, through September 1, 1993, as associates in ministry of this
church.
b. A person on the roster of a previous church body or a person on the
roster of associates in ministry of this church, who was so certified
during the period between January 1, 1988, and September 1, 1993,
shall relinquish such a roster category upon being received and
accepted on another roster of this church.
7.52.14. Maintenance of Lay Rosters. Each synod shall maintain a lay roster or
rosters containing the names of those related to the synod as members of
its congregations who have been approved as associates in ministry,
deaconesses of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and diaconal
ministers—according to the bylaws and continuing resolutions of this
church—for inclusion on such a roster or rosters.
a. To promote proportionate representation of the rostered faculty and
administration in each synod related directly to a seminary of this
church, an associate in ministry, a deaconess, or a diaconal minister,
if a seminary teacher or administrator, shall be assigned to the roster
of a synod by the seminary board, subject to approval by the
synodical bishop and Synod Council of the affected synod.
b. For the sake of the ministry and mission needs of this church, an
associate in ministry, a deaconess, or a diaconal minister, serving
under call in the churchwide organization, may be assigned to a synod,
at the initiative of the presiding bishop of this church, upon mutual
agreement of the synodical bishops involved after consultation with
and approval by the secretary of this church.
7.52.15. The secretary of this church shall maintain the lay rosters of associates in
ministry, deaconesses of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,
and diaconal ministers on which shall be listed the names of those who
qualify according to the constitution, bylaws, and continuing resolutions
of this church.
7.52.20. Service as Rostered Laypersons
7.52.21. Service under Call. An associate in ministry, deaconess, or diaconal
minister of this church shall serve under a letter of call properly extended
by a congregation, synod, or the churchwide organization.
a. A call may be extended either for indefinite or stated periods of time
by the appropriate calling body for service in a congregation, synod,
or churchwide unit, in an institution or agency of this church, or in
another setting in a category of work as provided by continuing
resolution 7.52.A05.
46 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 7 (04-08)
b. Regular, valid calls in this church shall be in accord with criteria,
policies, and procedures recommended by the appropriate churchwide
unit, reviewed by the Conference of Bishops, and adopted by the
Church Council.
c. An associate in ministry, deaconess, or diaconal minister serving
under call to a congregation shall be a member of that congregation.
In a parish of multiple congregations, an associate in ministry,
deaconess, or diaconal minister shall be a member of one of the
congregations being served.
7.52.22. On Leave from Call. An associate in ministry, deaconess, or diaconal
minister of this church, serving under a regularly issued letter of call, who
leaves the work of that call without accepting another regularly issued
letter of call, may be retained on the roster of associates in ministry,
deaconesses, or diaconal ministers of this church, upon endorsement by
the synodical bishop, by action of the Synod Council in the synod of
which a member, under policy developed by the appropriate churchwide
unit, reviewed by the Conference of Bishops, and adopted by the Church
Council.
a. Normative Pattern: By annual action of the Synod Council in the
synod of which a member, upon endorsement by the synodical
bishop, an associate in ministry, deaconess, or diaconal minister who
is without a current letter of call may be retained on the roster of
associates in ministry, deaconesses, or diaconal ministers of this
church for a maximum of three years, beginning at the completion of
an active call.
b. Study Leave: By annual action of the Synod Council in the synod of
which a member, with the approval of the synodical bishop and in
consultation with the appropriate churchwide unit, an associate in
ministry, deaconess, or diaconal minister engaged in graduate study
appropriate for service in this church may be retained on the roster of
associates in ministry, deaconesses, or diaconal ministers of this
church for a maximum of six years.
c. Family Leave: An associate in ministry, deaconess, or diaconal
minister who has been in active service under call for at least three
years may request leave for family responsibilities. By annual action
of the Synod Council in the synod of which a member, upon endorsement by the synodical bishop, such a rostered layperson who is
without a current letter of call and who requests leave for the birth or
care of a child or children of the rostered layperson or the care of an
immediate family member (child, spouse, or parent) with a serious
health condition may be retained on the roster of associates in
ministry, deaconesses, or diaconal ministers of this church—under
policy developed by the appropriate churchwide unit, reviewed by the
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 7 / 47
Conference of Bishops, and adopted by the Church Council—for a
maximum of six years, beginning at the completion of an active call.
d. Exception to these limits for the purpose of serving the needs of this
church may be granted in accordance with established policy of this
church by the Synod Council in the synod of current roster after
having received approval by the Conference of Bishops.
7.52.23. Issuance and Termination of the Call of an Associate in Ministry,
Deaconess, or Diaconal Minister.
a. A letter of call to an associate in ministry, deaconess, or diaconal
minister of this church shall be issued in keeping with this church’s
constitutions, bylaws, and continuing resolutions as well as policies
regarding such calls developed by the appropriate churchwide unit,
reviewed by the Conference of Bishops, and approved by the Church
Council. In the case of alleged local difficulties that imperil the
effective functioning of the congregation, the synodical bishop,
following appropriate consultation, will recommend a course of
action to the pastor, lay rostered person, and the congregation. If they
agree to carry out such recommendations, no further action shall be
taken by the synod. If any party fails to assent, the congregation may
dismiss the associate in ministry, deaconess, or diaconal minister
under criteria, policies, and procedures recommended by the
appropriate churchwide unit, reviewed by the Conference of Bishops,
and adopted by the Church Council.
b. A letter of call issued by a Synod Council or the Church Council to
an associate in ministry, deaconess, or diaconal minister of this
church shall be either co-terminus with, or not longer than the duration of, the service or employment for which the call was issued.
With the exception of persons designated as employees of a synod or
the churchwide organization, such a call does not imply any employment relationship or contractual obligation in regard to employment
on the part of the Synod Council or Church Council issuing the call.
The recipient of such a call remains subject to this church’s standards
and discipline for associates in ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal
ministers, as contained in this church’s constitution, bylaws, and continuing resolutions and in the policy and procedure documents of this
church.
c. When the Synod Council or the Church Council, as the calling
source, determines that the service or employment no longer fulfills
the criteria under which a call was issued, the Synod Council or the
Church Council shall vacate the call and direct that the individual be
placed on leave from call or, if such leave status is not granted, the
individual shall be removed from the roster of associates in ministry,
deaconesses, or diaconal ministers.
48 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 7 (04-08)
d. The call of a congregation, when accepted by an associate in
ministry, deaconess, or diaconal minister, shall constitute a
continuing mutual relationship and commitment which, except in the
case of the death of the individual, shall be terminated only following
consultation with the synodical bishop in accordance with policy
developed by the appropriate churchwide unit, reviewed by the
Conference of Bishops, and adopted by the Church Council of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
7.52.24. Retirement. Associates in ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal ministers
may retire upon attainment of age 60, or after 30 years on a roster of this
church or one of its predecessor bodies, or may be designated as disabled,
and continue to be listed on the roster of associates in ministry,
deaconesses, or diaconal ministers of this church, upon endorsement by
the synodical bishop, by action of the Synod Council in the synod in
which the associate in ministry, deaconess, or diaconal minister is listed
on the roster.
a. The policies and procedures for granting retired status or for
designation of disability on the official rosters of laypersons shall be
developed by the appropriate churchwide unit, reviewed by the
Conference of Bishops, and adopted by the Church Council.
b. If an associate in ministry, deaconess, or diaconal minister who has
been granted retired status resides at too great a distance from any
congregation of this church to be able to sustain an active relationship
with that congregation, the bishop of the synod in which the associate
in ministry, deaconess, or diaconal minister is listed on the roster may
grant permission for the individual to hold membership in a
congregation or parish of a church body with which a relationship of
full communion has been declared and established by the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America.
7.52.25. Retention of Roster Records. When an associate in ministry, deaconess,
or diaconal minister is removed from the roster of this church, the roster
record shall be retained by the secretary of this church and the synodical
bishop shall invite the person at the time of removal to provide, annually,
appropriate current information for the roster record.
7.52.26. Non-Stipendiary Service Under Call. When necessary for the mission
needs of this church, a letter of call may be issued by the Synod Council—
according to criteria, policies, and procedures recommended by the
appropriate churchwide unit, reviewed by the Conference of Bishops, and
adopted by the Church Council—to an associate in ministry, deaconess,
or diaconal minister for non-stipendiary service after the Synod Council
has sought and received approval by the Conference of Bishops. A call to
non-stipendiary service is to be reviewed at least annually by the Synod
Council and continued only as warranted for the ministry needs of this
church. Such a call may be terminated by the Synod Council when it is
deemed to be fulfilling no longer the mission needs of this church.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 7 / 49
7.52.A05. Sources of Calls for Associates in Ministry, Deaconesses, and Diaconal
Ministers
a. The principles governing sources of calls for ordained ministers
shall, as appropriate, also govern sources of letters of call for
associates in ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal ministers of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
b. Table of Sources of Call for Associates in Ministry, Deaconesses, and
Diaconal Ministers
Setting Calling Body
1.0 Congregational ministry
1.1 Single congregation Congregation meeting
1.2 Multiple-congregation Congregation meetings, acting
parish on a common proposal
1.3 Coalition and clusters Synod Council
1.4 Other congregations
1.41 Independent Synod Council
Lutheran
1.42 Other Synod Council
2.0 Synodical ministry Synod Council
3.0 Regional ministry Church Council
4.0 Churchwide ministry
4.1 Officer’s staff Church Council
4.2 Unit executive director Church Council
4.3 Section executive Church Council
4.4 Other churchwide unit staff Church Council
5.0 Social ministry institutions
5.1 Institution/agency related Synod Council
or unrelated to a synod
5.2 Institution/agency related Synod Council of one of the
to more than one synod synods
5.3 ELCA-related institution/ Church Council upon request
agency of appropriate churchwide unit
5.4 Other Church Council
6.0 Campus ministry
6.1 Staff Synod Council
7.0 Church camp ministry
7.1 Staff Synod Council
8.0 Ecumenical ministry
8.1 Related to a synod Synod Council
8.2 Related to more than Synod Council of one of
one synod the synods
8.3 National/international Church Council
organization
50 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 7 (04-08)
9.0 Inter-Lutheran ministry
9.1 Related to a synod Synod Council
9.2 Related to more than Synod Council of one of
one synod the synods
9.3 National/international Church Council
organization
10.0 Educational ministry
10.1 ELCA-related seminary Church Council upon request
of appropriate churchwide unit
10.2 Seminary unrelated Church Council upon request
to ELCA of appropriate churchwide unit
10.3 ELCA-related college Synod Council of the synod
in which college is located
10.4 College unrelated to ELCA Synod Council of the synod
in which college is located
10.5 ELCA-related school Congregation of which the
school is a part or, if related
to several congregations,
Synod Council of the synod in
which the school is located
10.6 School unrelated to ELCA Synod Council of the synod
in which school is located
10.7 Director/staff of a Synod Council of the synod
continuing education in which the main office of
center related to the center is located upon the
appropriate churchwide request of appropriate
churchwide unit
11.0 Missionary ministry
11.1 Outside United States Church Council upon request
of appropriate churchwide unit
11.2 Within United States Church Council upon request
of appropriate churchwide unit
12.0 Other
12.1 Non-stipendiary service Synod Council upon approval
under call by the Conference of Bishops
12.2 Unusual ministries Synod Council or Church
(as in conjunction with Council upon recommendaoccupations and in tion by Conference of Bishops
approved situations not
otherwise specified)
7.53. Persons on the lay rosters of this church as defined herein shall be
subject to discipline as set forth in the Constitution, Bylaws, and
Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 7 / 51
7.60. LICENSURE AND SYNODICALLY AUTHORIZED MINISTRY
7.61.01. When need exists to render Word and Sacrament ministry for a
congregation or ministry of this church where it is not possible to provide
appropriate ordained pastoral leadership, the synodical bishop—acting
with the consent of the congregation or ministry, in consultation with the
Synod Council, and in accord with standards and qualifications developed
by the appropriate churchwide unit, reviewed by the Conference of
Bishops, and approved by the Church Council—may authorize a person
who is a member of a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America to offer this ministry. Such an individual shall be supervised
by a pastor appointed by the synodical bishop; such service shall be
rendered during its duration under the sacramental authority of the bishop
as the synod’s pastor. Such an individual will be trained and licensed to
fulfill this ministry for a specified period of time and in a given location
only. Authorization, remuneration, direct supervision, and accountability
are to be determined by the appropriate synodical leadership according to
churchwide standards and qualifications for this type of ministry.
Authorization for such service shall be reviewed annually and renewed
only when a demonstrated need remains for its continuation.
7.61.02. When needed to provide for diaconal ministry as part of a congregation
or ministry of this church where it is not possible for such ministry to be
provided by appropriately rostered lay ministry, the synodical bishop—
acting with the consent of the congregation or ministry, in consultation
with the Synod Council, and in accord with standards and qualifications
developed by the appropriate churchwide unit, reviewed by the
Conference of Bishops, and approved by the Church Council—may
authorize a non-rostered person who is a member of a congregation of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to offer such non-sacramental
ministry. Such an individual shall be supervised by an ordained minister
appointed by the synodical bishop and shall be trained and authorized to
fulfill a particular ministry for a specific period of time in a given location
only. Authorization, remuneration, direct supervision, and accountability
are to be determined by the appropriate synodical leadership according to
churchwide standards and qualifications for this type of ministry.
Authorization for such service shall be reviewed annually and renewed
only when a demonstrated need remains for its continuation.
52 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 8 (04-08)
Chapter 8.
RELATIONSHIPS
8.10. RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CONGREGATIONS, SYNODS,
AND THE CHURCHWIDE ORGANIZATION
8.11. This church shall seek to function as people of God through congregations, synods, and the churchwide organization, all of which shall
be interdependent. Each part, while fully the church, recognizes that
it is not the whole church and therefore lives in a partnership
relationship with the others.
8.12. The congregation shall include in its mission a life of worship and
nurture for its members, and outreach in witness and service to its
community.
8.13. The synod shall provide for pastoral care of the congregations,
ordained ministers, associates in ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal
ministers within its boundaries. It shall develop resources for the life
and mission of its people and shall enlarge the ministries and extend
the outreach into society on behalf of and in connection with the
congregations and the churchwide organization.
8.14. The churchwide organization shall implement the extended mission
of the Church, developing churchwide policies in consultation with
the synods and congregations, entering into relationship with governmental, ecumenical, and societal agencies in accordance with accepted
resolutions and/or in response to specific agreed-upon areas of
responsibility.
8.15. Since congregations, synods, and the churchwide organization are
partners that share in God’s mission, all share in the responsibility to
develop, implement, and strengthen the financial support program of
this church.
8.16. In faithful participation in the mission of God in and through this
church, congregations, synods, and the churchwide organization—as
interdependent expressions of this church—shall be guided by the
biblical and confessional commitments of this church. Each shall
recognize that mission efforts must be shaped by both local needs and
global awareness, by both individual witness and corporate endeavor,
and by both distinctly Lutheran emphases and growing ecumenical
cooperation.
8.17. References herein to the nature of the relationship between the three
primary expressions of this church—congregations, synods, and the
churchwide organization—as being interdependent or as being in a
partnership relationship describe the mutual responsibility of these
expressions in God’s mission, and the fulfillment of the purposes of
this church as described in Chapter 4, and do not imply or describe
the creation of partnerships, co-ventures, agencies, or other legal
relationships recognized in civil law.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 8 / 53
8.20. RELATIONSHIP THROUGH OTHER ORGANIZATIONAL UNITS
8.21. Conferences, clusters, coalitions, or other area subdivisions shall serve
to assist the congregations and synods in exercising their mutual
responsibilities.
8.30. RELATIONSHIP WITH INSTITUTIONS AND AGENCIES
8.31. Seminaries. This church shall sponsor, support, and provide for
oversight of seminaries for the preparation of persons for the
ordained and other ministries and for continuing study on the part of
ordained ministers and laypersons.
8.31.01. Each seminary shall be a seminary of this church, shall be incorporated,
and shall be governed by its board of directors consistent with policies
established by the Church Council. Amendments to the governing
documents of each seminary and each seminary cluster shall be submitted,
upon recommendation of the appropriate unit of the churchwide organization, to the Church Council for approval.
8.31.02. The board of directors of each seminary shall be nominated and elected
to terms as specified in the governing documents of the respective
seminaries, and shall consist of 20-30 members, as follows:
a. At least one-fifth nominated, in consultation with the seminaries, by
the appropriate churchwide unit and elected by the Church Council;
b. Two members elected by the bishops of the supporting synods from
among their number; and
c. The remaining members elected by the supporting synods, in consultation with the seminaries, with the number to be elected by each
synod set forth in the governing documents of the seminary.
Elections shall be so arranged that the terms of all directors of any given
seminary elected in any year shall commence simultaneously.
8.31.03. In accordance with the governing documents of each seminary, the board
of directors shall elect the president of the seminary in consultation with
the presiding bishop of this church and the appropriate unit of the
churchwide organization as designated by the Church Council, elect and
retain faculty and administrative officers, and approve educational policies
and programs for persons preparing for public ministry. The board shall
exercise all other normal governance functions, including the granting of
degrees, holding title to and managing all seminary property and assets,
receiving gifts and bequests, establishing salaries for faculty and administrative officers, providing for the financial resources and fiscal contracts
required to operate the seminary, and shall have authority to recruit
students throughout this church.
8.31.04. The seminaries shall receive churchwide and synodical financial support.
The amount of such support shall be determined through a consultation
process involving seminaries, synods, and the appropriate unit of the
churchwide organization as designated by the Church Council.
54 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 8 (04-08)
8.31.05. To implement financial support by this church, synods shall be assigned
to specific seminaries in such manner as to attain equitable distribution of
synods. Normally, all synods in a given region will be assigned to one
seminary. Churchwide funds shall be distributed according to a formula
developed by the appropriate churchwide unit and approved by the
Church Council.
8.31.06. Seminaries shall provide for their remaining financial requirements through
tuition, fees, endowment income, and fund-raising programs. Fund-raising
in the congregations of supporting synods, however, shall be conducted
only upon approval of the synods.
8.31.07. Aid to students preparing for the ministries of this church shall be
administered by the seminaries under guidelines developed by the
appropriate churchwide units in consultation with the presidents of the
seminaries and adopted by the Church Council.
8.32. Colleges and Universities. This church shall express its responsibility
for higher education through its colleges and universities, the appropriate churchwide unit as determined by the Church Council, and its
synods. While variation is possible in college or university relationships across this church, this church recognizes the desirability of
some degree of uniformity of relationship for colleges and universities
within the same region.
8.32.01. The relationship of this church to its colleges and universities shall be
guided by policies fostering educational institutions dedicated to the
Lutheran tradition wherein such institutions are an essential part of God’s
mission in the world; faithful to the will of God as institutions providing
quality instruction in religion and a lively ministry of worship, outreach,
and service; diligent in their preparation of leaders committed to truth,
excellence, and ethical values; and pledged to the well-being of students
in the development of mind, body, and spirit.
8.32.02. Colleges and universities of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
may relate to this church in various ways, including relationship with the
Churchwide Assembly, a synodical assembly, or a corporation whose
voting members are, or have been elected by, synodical assemblies, other
organizational units (conferences, clusters, etc.), or congregations.
Subject to approval by the appropriate synods, a college or university may
be owned by a not-for-profit corporation (1) that has voting members, at
least 90 percent of whom shall consist of members of the biennial
Churchwide Assembly, and (2) that shall hold the biennial meeting of
such a corporation in conjunction with the Churchwide Assembly for the
purpose of electing or ratifying members of the governing board and
approving amendments to the governing documents. At least 60 percent
of the members of the governing boards of the corporations that meet in
conjunction with the Churchwide Assembly shall be members of this
church.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 8 / 55
8.32.03. Primary responsibility for recruiting members for its board belongs to
each college or university of this church. This responsibility is best
exercised when appropriate structures of this church are substantially
involved. The college or university and the appropriate synods shall
determine how many of the college or university board members are to be
elected or ratified by the approved form of relationship as provided in
8.32.02.
8.32.04. The responsibility for initiating changes in constitutional documents rests
with each college or university of this church. Each college or university
will reach agreement with the appropriate structures of this church as
identified in 8.32.02. regarding changes in constitutional documents. This
church’s participation may range from prior consultation to final approval.
8.32.05. Representation of members of this church on college or university boards,
limitation of terms for board members, whether or not college or
university presidents shall be members of this church, and representation
of bishops of synods on college or university boards shall be determined
by each institution and the appropriate synods.
8.33. Institutions and Agencies. This church shall seek to meet human
needs through encouragement of its people to individual and
corporate action, and through establishing, developing, recognizing,
and supporting institutions and agencies that minister to people in
their spiritual and temporal needs.
8.33.01. Through membership in Lutheran Services in America and the appropriate
churchwide unit as designated by the Church Council, this church shall,
with affiliated social ministry organizations, develop criteria for their
ministries, establish affiliations and alliances within this church and
within society, and carry out a comprehensive social ministry witness.
8.40. SPECIAL INTEREST CONFERENCES
8.41. This church cherishes the diversity of cultural and linguistic groups
as they are brought together in the geographic synods, recognizing,
however, that certain groups, for historical reasons, may be able to
meet needs and share resources through special interest conferences,
which for the present cannot occur in the regular life within the
geographic synods.
8.41.01. Because of both official and informal international contacts with other
churches, the Batak Special Interest Conference of North America, Danish
Special Interest Conference, Finnish (Suomi) Special Interest Conference,
German Lutheran Conference in North America, and Hungarian Special
Interest Conference shall relate to this church under the authority of the
presiding bishop of this church through an executive or designated unit as
determined by the presiding bishop. Official contacts and relationships of
the special interest conferences with leaders and representatives of other
churches shall be coordinated through the Office of the Presiding Bishop.
56 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 8 (04-08)
8.50. RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER LUTHERAN ORGANIZATIONS
8.51. This church shall not, in any manner, be responsible for the debts or
liabilities of other Lutheran organizations, institutions, or agencies,
whether independent of or affiliated with this church.
8.60. RELATIONSHIP WITH INTERCHURCH AGENCIES,
INSTITUTIONS, AND COUNCILS
8.61. The congregations, synods, social ministry institutions and agencies,
and churchwide organization may establish or affiliate with interchurch agencies and councils in relationships that will reflect this
church’s objectives of sharing with other faith communities in study,
dialogue, and common action, in accordance with adopted policies
governing such associations.
8.61.01. Policies governing ecumenical, inter-Lutheran, and interfaith activities
shall be recommended by the presiding bishop of this church to the
Churchwide Assembly for its adoption.
8.61.02. Formal membership in interchurch agencies and/or councils shall be by
action of the Churchwide Assembly in all relationships involving national
or international involvement, by the Synod Assembly in its geographic
area, and by congregations in community settings, with each affiliation by
any congregation, synod, or churchwide organization to be in accordance
with the policies of this church.
8.70. OFFICIAL CHURCH-TO-CHURCH RELATIONSHIPS
8.71. This church may establish official church-to-church relationships and
agreements. Establishment of such official relationships and agreements shall require a two-thirds vote of the voting members present
and voting in a Churchwide Assembly.
8.72. Policies and procedures to implement church-to-church relationships
of full communion established by action of a Churchwide Assembly
may be recommended by the appropriate officer or churchwide unit,
reviewed by the Conference of Bishops, and adopted by the Church
Council.
8.72.10. Ecumenical Availability of Ordained Ministers
8.72.11. An ordained minister of this church, serving temporarily in a church body
with which a relationship of full communion has been declared and
established by a Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America, may be retained on the roster of ordained
ministers—upon endorsement by the synodical bishop and by action of
the Synod Council in the synod in which the ordained minister is listed on
the roster—under policy developed at the direction of the presiding bishop
and secretary, reviewed by the Conference of Bishops, and adopted by the
Church Council.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 8 / 57
a. A letter of call may be issued to an ordained minister of this church,
serving temporarily in such a church body, by the Church Council of
the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America or a Synod Council, in
accord with the Table of Sources of Calls (ELCA churchwide
continuing resolution 7.44.A05.b.).
b. A letter of call may be issued to an associate in ministry, deaconess,
or diaconal minister of this church, serving temporarily in such a
church body, by the Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America or a Synod Council, in accord with the Table of
Sources of Calls (ELCA churchwide continuing resolution
7.52.A05.b.).
c. A letter of call issued by the Church Council or a Synod Council for
service in a church body with which a relationship of full communion
has been established by the Churchwide Assembly shall be governed
by churchwide constitutional provision 7.43. and churchwide bylaw
7.43.01.
d. A letter of call to an ordained minister of this church or to an
associate in ministry, deaconess, or diaconal minister who serves in
a congregation of another church body, under a relationship of full
communion, or an institution of such a church body on the territory
of the synod, may be issued by the Synod Council. A letter of call to
an ordained minister of this church or to an associate in ministry,
deaconess, or diaconal minister who serves in a national or international agency or institution of another church body, under a
relationship of full communion, may be issued by the Church
Council.
8.72.12. An ordained minister of a church body with which a relationship of full
communion has been declared and established by a Churchwide Assembly
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America may be authorized by the
synodical bishop to serve in a congregation or employing entity of this
church. Such service shall be rendered under a contract between the
congregation or employing entity and the ordained minister in a form
proposed by the synodical bishop and approved by the congregation or
employing entity. Any such service shall be in accord with churchwide
policies developed at the direction of the presiding bishop and secretary,
reviewed by the Conference of Bishops, and adopted by the Church
Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
8.72.13. Whenever an ordained minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America is to serve or is serving in a church body with which a relationship of full communion has been declared and established by the Churchwide Assembly, or whenever an ordained minister of a church body with
which a relationship of full communion has been so declared and established is to serve or is serving in this church, a full sharing of relevant
information concerning such ordained minister’s experience and fitness
for ministry is expected between the synodical bishop (or other appro-
58 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 8 (04-08)
priate office or entity) of this church and the appropriate person, office, or
entity in the other church. Relevant information related to fitness for
ministry shall include, but is not limited to, any information concerning
disciplinary proceedings or allegations that could result, or could have
resulted, in disciplinary proceedings.
8.72.14. An ordained minister from a church body with which a relationship of full
communion has been declared and established by a Churchwide Assembly
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America may be granted the
privilege of both voice and vote in the Synod Assembly during the period
of that ordained minister’s service in a congregation of this church, in
accord with ELCA churchwide bylaw 8.72.12.
8.72.15. The availability of ordained ministers from a church body with which a
relationship of full communion has been declared and established by a
Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
shall be understood normally in three categories: availability to serve in
an occasional situation; availability to meet an extended need, including
service in “yoked parish” settings; and availability for a transfer of roster
status.
a. Occasional service: An occasional situation is defined as one in
which an ordained minister of a church body with which a relationship of full communion exists may be asked to preach or administer
the sacraments in an ELCA congregation on an occasional basis with
the authorization of the synodical bishop.
b. Extended service: An ordained minister of a church body with which
a relationship of full communion exists may be invited to serve as the
pastor of an ELCA congregation for an extended period of time, yet
remain an ordained minister of his or her present church body. Such
a person would be expected to preach, teach, and administer the
sacraments in an ELCA congregation in a manner that is consistent
with the Confession of Faith of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America and to live in a manner consistent with the ministerial policy
of this church. Such service shall be rendered only as authorized by
the synodical bishop in order to serve the ministry and mission needs
of the ELCA in a given situation.
c. Transfer: An ordained minister of a church body with which a
relationship of full communion exists who seeks to serve indefinitely
within the ordained ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America may apply for admission to the roster of ordained ministers
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and be approved
through the candidacy process for admission to the roster. Such an
ordained minister would then become an ELCA pastor upon receipt
and acceptance of a regular call and installation in an ELCA
congregation or other setting.
d. Roster status in more than one church body is precluded in the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. As required by ELCA
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 8 / 59
churchwide constitutional provision 7.22. and bylaw 7.31.11.,
ordained ministers on the roster of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America must accept and adhere to this church’s Confession of
Faith, as well as abide by this church’s standards and policies for
ordained ministers.
8.72.16. An ordained minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,
while serving in an ecumenical setting, remains subject to the standards,
policies, and discipline of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
An ordained minister of a church body with which a relationship of full
communion exists is understood by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America as subject to the standards, policies, and discipline of the church
body in which the ordained minister is rostered or holds ministerial
membership. Such an ordained minister, while serving in an ELCA congregation or other ministry, is expected to abide by the standards and
policies of this church related to ordained ministers.
8.73. This church acknowledges the relationship established through the
Lutheran World Federation as a communion of member churches
which confess the triune God, agree in the proclamation of the Word
of God, and are united in pulpit and altar fellowship. The bylaws on
ecumenical availability of ordained ministers under relationships of
full communion shall apply to such service within this church of
ordained ministers from other member churches of the Lutheran
World Federation.
8.74. This church, in accord with constitutional provision 2.05., acknowledges as one with it in faith and doctrine all churches that accept the
teaching of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession and understands that
altar and pulpit fellowship with congregations and other entities of
such churches may be locally practiced. Local practice of altar and
pulpit fellowship, in accord with churchwide constitutional provision
2.05., is subject to the approval of the Synod Council, upon endorsement by the synodical bishop. Notice of such approval is to be given
to the presiding bishop as the chief ecumenical officer of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
8.75. Synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and units of
the churchwide organization are encouraged to engage in cooperative
work, wherever possible, with churches that accept the teachings of
the Unaltered Augsburg Confession. Units engaging in this work
shall advise the presiding bishop of such developments.
60 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 9 (04-08)
Chapter 9.
CONGREGATIONS
9.10. DEFINITION
9.11. A congregation is a community of baptized persons whose existence
depends on the proclamation of the Gospel and the administration of
the sacraments and whose purpose is to worship God, to nurture its
members, and to reach out in witness and service to the world. To this
end it assembles regularly for worship and nurture, organizes and
carries out ministry to its people and neighborhood, and cooperates
with and supports the wider church to strive for the fulfillment of
God’s mission in the world.
9.20. CRITERIA FOR RECOGNITION AND RECEPTION
9.21. This church shall recognize, receive, and maintain on the roster those
congregations which by their practice as well as their governing
documents:
a. preach the Word, administer the sacraments, and carry out
God’s mission;
b. accept this church’s Confession of Faith;
c. agree to the Statement of Purpose of this church;
d. agree to call pastoral leadership from the clergy roster of this
church in accordance with the call procedures of this church
except in special circumstances and with the approval of the
synodical bishop;
e. agree to be responsible for their life as a Christian community;
and
f. agree to support the life and work of this church.
9.21.01. Approval of the synodical bishop, as required in 9.21.d., involves the
bishop’s attesting that a candidate for the roster of ordained ministers of
this church has been approved, in conformity with the governing
documents and policies of this church, through the synodical candidacy
process for first call as a seminary graduate or for call in this church
through approval for reception into this church from another Lutheran
church body or another Christian church body. Consultation with the
synodical bishop in accordance with the call procedures and governing
documents of this church and the synod is required for the calling of
pastoral leadership from among persons on the roster of ordained
ministers of this church or persons who are approved as eligible
candidates for the roster of ordained ministers of this church.
9.21.02. Under special circumstances, subject to the approval of the synodical
bishop and the concurrence of the congregation, an ordained minister of
a church body with which the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
officially has established a relationship of full communion by action of a
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 9 / 61
Churchwide Assembly may serve temporarily under contract as pastor of
a congregation of this church.
9.22. All congregations of this church shall abide by the provisions of 9.21.,
9.62., and 7.46. The judgment on whether a congregation meets the
criteria listed in 9.21. shall be made by this church through the synod
of this church in whose territory the congregation is located.
9.23. In accord with constitutional provision 9.21.d. and bylaw 9.21.01. and
without invoking the provisions of Chapter 20, a congregation that
maintains as its pastor an ordained minister who has resigned or been
removed from this church’s roster of ordained ministers or that calls
as its pastor one who has not been approved for the roster of ordained
ministers may be removed from the roster of congregations of this
church by the Synod Council upon recommendation of the synodical
bishop.
9.24. A recognized and received congregation that is part of this church
shall, when legally possible, be incorporated and may:
a. own property and be responsible for its care; and
b. call or employ staff.
9.25. A congregation newly formed by this church and any congregation
seeking recognition and reception by this church shall:
a. Accept the criteria for recognition and reception as a congregation of this church, fulfill the functions of the congregation, and
accept the governance provisions as provided in Chapter 9 of the
ELCA constitution and bylaws.
b. Adopt governing documents that include fully and without alterations the Preamble, Chapter 1, where applicable, and all required
provisions of Chapters 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19
in the Model Constitution for Congregations consistent with
requirements of this constitution and the Constitution for Synods
of this church. Bylaws and continuing resolutions, appropriate
for inclusion in these chapters and not in conflict with these
required provisions in the Model Constitution for Congregations,
the constitution of the synod, or the Constitution, Bylaws, and
Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America, may be adopted as described in Chapters 16 and 18 of
the Model Constitution for Congregations.
c. Accept the commitments expected of all congregations of the
ELCA as stated in *C6.01., *C6.02., and *C6.03. of the Model
Constitution for Congregations.
If a congregation is a member of another church body, the leaders of
the congregation first should consult with the appropriate authorities
of that church body before taking action to leave its current church
body. After such consultation, leaders of the congregation should
make contact with the ELCA synod bishop or staff where the
congregation is located.
62 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 9 (04-08)
Recognition and reception into this church of transferring or independent congregations by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
is based on the judgment of the synod and action by the synod
through the Synod Council and Synod Assembly. The synod bishop
shall provide for prompt reporting of such additions to the secretary
of this church for addition to the register of congregations.
9.30. RESERVATION OF AUTHORITY
9.31. Congregations of this church shall have authority in all matters that
are not assigned by the constitution and bylaws of this church to
synods and the churchwide organization.
9.40. FUNCTIONS
9.41. The congregation shall:
a. Provide services of worship at which the Word of God is
preached and the sacraments are administered.
b. Provide pastoral care and assist all members to participate in this
ministry.
c. Challenge, equip, and support all members in carrying out their
calling in their daily life and in their congregation.
d. Teach the Word of God.
e. Witness to the reconciling Word of God in Christ, reaching out
to all people.
f. Respond to human need, work for justice and peace, care for the
sick and the suffering, and participate responsibly in society.
g. Motivate its members to provide financial support for the
congregation’s ministry and the ministry of the synod and the
churchwide organization.
h. Foster and participate in interdependent relationships with other
congregations, the synod, and the churchwide organization.
i. Foster and participate in ecumenical relationships consistent with
churchwide policy.
9.50. GOVERNANCE
9.51. Each congregation shall structure itself in such a way as to involve its
members in fulfilling the definition, purpose, and functions of a
congregation.
9.52. The governing documents of congregations recognized at the establishment of this church shall continue to govern such congregations.
When such a congregation wishes to amend any provision of its
governing documents, the governing documents of that congregation
shall be so amended to conform to 9.25.b. The synod responsible for
the review of such amendments may permit, for good cause, a congregation to retain particular unamended provisions in the congre-
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 9 / 63
gation’s governing documents that were in force at the establishment
of this church.
9.52.A93. The Church Council, in cooperation with the synods, shall provide an
ongoing process for congregations whose governing documents have been
accepted into this church under 9.52. to review those documents and
compare them with the required elements of the Model Constitution for
Congregations listed in 9.25.b., applicable to the extent provided in 9.52.
to congregations recognized and received by this church as of January 1,
1988. Congregations are encouraged to resolve significant conflicts
between their governing documents and the Model Constitution for
Congregations.
9.53. Each congregation shall have governing documents, no terms of
which shall conflict with provision 9.21. Subject to the provisions of
9.52., these documents shall contain the elements listed in the bylaws.
9.53.01. The governing documents of congregations shall include:
a. the Confession of Faith;
b. the Statement of Purpose;
c. provisions describing the congregation’s relationship to this church;
d. a process for calling a pastor;
e. a listing of the duties of a pastor;
f. provisions describing the role of the pastor in the governance of the
congregation;
g. a process for removal of a pastor;
h. provisions regulating the disposition of property;
i. a legislative process;
j. an enumeration of officers with definition of authority and functions
of each;
k. a definition of each structural component (e.g., committees, boards);
and
l. a process for the discipline of members.
9.53.02. A Model Constitution for Congregations shall be provided by this church.
Amendments to the Model Constitution for Congregations shall be made
in the same manner as prescribed in Chapter 22 for amendments of the
bylaws of this church.
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.
64 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 9 (04-08)
9.53.04. Each congregation shall take the necessary steps to protect its members
and this church from liability.
9.53.05. Congregations shall normally maintain a fiscal year of January 1 through
December 31.
9.53.06. A congregation considering a relocation shall confer with the bishop of
the synod in which it is territorially located before any steps are taken
leading to such action. The approval of the Synod Council shall be
received before any such action is effected.
9.53.07. Congregations shall have the right to petition this church. Petitions shall
be addressed to the synod to which the congregation relates for response
by the synod, or, at the discretion of the synod, for forwarding to the
Churchwide Assembly.
9.60. TERMINATION OF RELATIONSHIP
9.61. The relationship between a congregation and this church may be
terminated in one of the following ways:
a. The congregation takes action to dissolve.
b. The congregation ceases to exist.
c. The congregation is no longer recognized by this church under
the disciplinary provisions of Chapter 20.
d. The congregation terminates its relationship according to the
procedure outlined in 9.62.
e. The membership of the congregation becomes so scattered or
diminished in numbers as to make it impracticable for such congregation to fulfill the purposes for which it was organized. In
such case, the synod, in order to protect the property from waste
and deterioration, through the Synod Council or trustees
appointed by it, may take charge and control of the property of
the congregation to hold, manage, and convey the same on behalf
of the synod. The congregation shall have the right to appeal the
decision to the Synod Assembly.
9.62. A congregation may terminate its relationship with this church by the
following procedure:
a. A resolution indicating desire to terminate its relationship must
be adopted at a legally called and conducted special meeting of
the congregation by a two-thirds majority of the voting members
present.
b. The secretary of the congregation shall submit a copy of the
resolution to the synodical bishop and shall mail a copy of the
resolution to voting members of the congregation. This notice
shall be submitted within 10 days after the resolution has been
adopted.
c. The bishop of the synod shall consult with the congregation
during a period of at least 90 days.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 9 / 65
d. If the congregation, after consultation, still desires to terminate
its relationship, such action may be taken at a legally called and
conducted special meeting by a two-thirds majority of the voting
members present, at which meeting the synodical bishop or an
authorized representative shall be present. Notice of the meeting
shall be mailed to all voting members at least 10 days in advance
of the meeting.
e. A certified copy of the resolution to terminate its relationship
shall be sent to the synodical bishop, at which time the relationship between the congregation and this church shall be
terminated.
f. Notice of termination shall be forwarded by the synodical bishop
to the secretary of this church and published in the periodical of
this church.
g. Congregations which had been members of the Lutheran Church
in America shall be required, in addition to the foregoing
provisions in 9.62., to receive synodical approval before terminating their membership in this church.
h. Congregations that are established by the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America shall be required, in addition to the foregoing
provisions in 9.62., to receive synodical approval before terminating their membership in this church.
9.70. OWNERSHIP OF PROPERTY
9.71. Subject to the provisions of 9.52., the following shall govern the
ownership of property by congregations of this church:
a. Title to property shall reside in the congregation. The congregation may dispose of its property as it determines, subject to any
self-accepted indebtedness or other self-accepted restrictions.
b. Title to the undisposed property of a congregation that ceases to
exist shall pass to the synod of this church to which the congregation is related.
c. Title to the property of a congregation that is no longer recognized by this church as a result of discipline shall continue to
reside in the congregation.
d. Title to the property of a congregation that has acted to terminate
its relationship with this church by the provisions of 9.62. to
relate to another Lutheran church body shall continue to reside
in the congregation.
e. Title to the property of a congregation that has acted to terminate
its relationship with this church by the provisions of 9.62. to
become independent or to relate to a non-Lutheran church body
shall continue to reside in the congregation only with the consent
of the Synod Council. The Synod Council, after consultation with
66 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 9 (04-08)
the congregation by an established synodical process, may give
approval to the request to become independent or to relate to a
non-Lutheran church body, in which case title shall remain with
the majority of the congregation. If the Synod Council fails to
give such approval, title shall remain with those members who
desire to continue as a congregation of this church.
9.80. DISCIPLINE OF CONGREGATIONS
See Chapter 20.
9.90. FEDERATED OR UNION CONGREGATIONS
9.91. A synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America may
authorize a particular congregation or recognized ministry related to
the synod to form a federated congregation or union congregation
with a congregation or recognized ministry of a church body with
which a relationship of full communion has been established by a
Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America, or a synod may organize a federated congregation or union
congregation, with the synod acting in concert with a comparable
ecclesiastical entity of another church body or church bodies with
which a relationship of full communion has been established by a
Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America.
9.91.01. A federated congregation is one congregation that is formed and maintained with the approval of both the synod in which the congregation is
located and the comparable ecclesiastical entity of one or more church
bodies with which a relationship of full communion has been established.
A federated congregation shall conduct its life and work under a plan of
agreement adopted by the federated congregation in accord with policy of
the synod in which the federated congregation is located and the comparable entity or entities of a church body or church bodies with which a
relationship of full communion has been declared by the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America, in accord with 8.71. and 9.91.
a. The plan of agreement shall follow, as clearly as is practicable, the
model provisions developed by the secretary of this church, after
consultation with the appropriate churchwide unit or units and
Conference of Bishops, and approved by the Church Council, and
such a plan of agreement shall be subject to the constitutions of each
church body involved.
1) Whenever the constitutions of the respective church bodies
differ, the mandatory provisions of one shall apply in all cases
when the others are permissive.
2) Whenever conflicting mandatory provisions or conflicting
permissive provisions exist, petition shall be made to the appropriate governing bodies of the church bodies involved to resolve
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 9 / 67
the conflict under the internal procedures of the respective
church bodies.
b. The plan of agreement of a federated congregation shall be consistent
with the commitments made by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America in church-to-church resolutions and documents for the
continuing relationship of full communion.
c. The plan of agreement of each federated congregation shall be
subject to review and ratification by the Synod Council of the synod
in which the federated congregation is located.
d. Implementation of the plan of agreement of a federated congregation
shall be guided by policies and procedures developed in consultation
with the appropriate churchwide unit or units by the Office of the
Secretary, reviewed by the Conference of Bishops, and approved by
the Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
e. A federated congregation shall be incorporated, when legally
possible, under the laws of the state of location. A federated congregation shall take the necessary steps to protect its members and the
related church bodies from liability.
9.91.02. A union congregation may be formed by two separate congregations that
shall continue to exist as separate but cooperating entities. The separate
congregations in a union congregation shall be related to their respective
church bodies that have established a relationship of full communion in
accord with 8.71. and 9.91. A union congregation shall conduct its life
and work under a plan of agreement approved by the two separate congregations upon recommendation of the synod in which the congregation
is located, with the synod acting in concert with the comparable
ecclesiastical entity of a church body with which a relationship of full
communion exists.
a. The plan of agreement of a union congregation shall follow, as
clearly as is practicable, the model provisions of such a plan of
agreement developed by the secretary of this church, after consultation with the appropriate churchwide unit or units and Conference
of Bishops, and approved by the Church Council, and such a plan of
agreement for a union congregation shall be subject to the constitutions of each church body involved.
b. The plan of agreement of a union congregation shall be consistent
with the commitments made by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America in church-to-church resolutions and documents for the
continuing relationship of full communion.
c. The plan of agreement of a union congregation shall be subject to
review and ratification by the Synod Council of the synod in which
the union congregation is located.
d. Implementation of the plan of agreement of a union congregation
shall be guided by policies and procedures developed in consultation
68 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 9 (04-08)
with the appropriate churchwide unit or units by the Office of the
Secretary, reviewed by the Conference of Bishops, and approved by
the Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
e. Each congregation in a union congregation shall take the necessary
steps to protect its members and the related church body from
liability.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 10 / 69
Chapter 10.
SYNODS
10.01. This church shall be divided into synods, the names and boundaries
of which shall be determined by the Churchwide Assembly and
included in the bylaws.
10.01.10. Names and Boundaries
10.01.11. The names and boundaries of the synods shall be:
Synod 1.A—Alaska. The state of ALASKA.
Synod 1.B—Northwest Washington. The counties of Island, King (north),
San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Whatcom in the state of WASHINGTON.
Synod 1.C—Southwestern Washington. The counties of Clallam, Clark,
Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, King (south), Kitsap, Lewis, Mason,
Pacific, Pierce, Skamania, Thurston, Wahkiakum in the state of
WASHINGTON.
Synod 1.D—Eastern Washington-Idaho. The state of IDAHO; the
counties of Adams, Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Columbia, Douglas, Ferry,
Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend
Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Walla Walla, Whitman, Yakima in the state of
WASHINGTON.
Synod 1.E—Oregon. The state of OREGON; and the city of Tulelake in
the state of CALIFORNIA.
Synod 1.F—Montana. The state of MONTANA; and the counties of Big
Horn, Park, Sheridan, and Washakie in the state of WYOMING.
Synod 2.A—Sierra Pacific. The counties of Alameda, Alpine, Amador,
Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Fresno,
Glenn, Humboldt, Inyo, Kings, Lake, Lassen, Madera, Marin, Mariposa,
Mendocino, Merced, Modoc, Mono, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Placer,
Plumas, Sacramento, San Benito, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Mateo,
Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma,
Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, Yolo, Yuba in the
state of CALIFORNIA; the counties of Churchill, Douglas, Elko, Eureka,
Humboldt, Lander, Lyon, Mineral, Pershing, Storey, Washoe, White Pine
and the consolidated municipality of Carson City in the state of
NEVADA.
Synod 2.B—Southwest California. The counties of Kern, Los Angeles,
San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura in the state of CALIFORNIA.
Synod 2.C—Pacifica. The counties of Imperial, Orange, Riverside, San
Bernardino, San Diego in the state of CALIFORNIA; the state of
HAWAII.
Synod 2.D—Grand Canyon. The state of ARIZONA; the counties of
Clark, Esmeralda, Lincoln, Nye in the state of NEVADA.
70 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 10 (04-08)
Synod 2.E—Rocky Mountain. The states of COLORADO; NEW
MEXICO; UTAH; and WYOMING, excluding the counties of Big Horn,
Park, Sheridan, and Washakie; the counties of Brewster, Culberson, El
Paso, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Loving, Presidio, Reeves, Ward, Winkler in
the state of TEXAS.
Synod 3.A—Western North Dakota. The counties of Adams, Benson (the
town/parishes of Esmond), Billings, Bottineau, Bowman, Burke, Burleigh,
Divide, Dunn, Emmons, Golden Valley, Grant, Hettinger, Kidder
(excluding the Woodworth Parish of Pettibone), Logan (excluding the
towns/ parishes of Fredonia and Gackle), McHenry, McIntosh, McKenzie,
McLean, Mercer, Morton, Mountrail, Oliver, Pierce, Renville, Rolette,
Sheridan, Sioux, Slope, Stark, Towner, Ward, Wells, Williams in the state
of NORTH DAKOTA; and the parishes of Lemmon, Lodgepole, Ralph,
and Shadehill in the state of SOUTH DAKOTA.
Synod 3.B—Eastern North Dakota. The counties of Barnes, Benson (east
of and including the towns/ parishes of Maddock and Leeds), Cass,
Cavalier, Dickey, Eddy, Foster, Grand Forks, Griggs, Kidder (the
Woodworth Parish of Pettibone), LaMoure, Logan (the towns/parishes of
Fredonia and Gackle), Nelson, Pembina, Ramsey, Ransom, Richland,
Sargent, Steele, Stutsman, Traill, Walsh in the state of NORTH
DAKOTA.
Synod 3.C—South Dakota. The state of SOUTH DAKOTA.
Synod 3.D—Northwestern Minnesota. The counties of Becker, Beltrami,
Clay, Clearwater, Douglas, Grant, Hubbard, Kittson, Lake of the Woods,
Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Otter Tail, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake,
Roseau, Todd, Traverse, Wadena, Wilkin in the state of MINNESOTA.
Synod 3.E—Northeastern Minnesota. The counties of Aitkin, Carlton,
Cass, Cook, Crow Wing, Itasca, Kanabec, Koochiching, Lake, Mille Lacs,
Morrison, Pine, St. Louis in the state of MINNESOTA.
Synod 3.F—Southwestern Minnesota. The counties of Benton, Big Stone,
Brown, Chippewa, Cottonwood, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle,
Lincoln, Lyon, McLeod, Martin, Meeker, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles,
Pipestone, Pope, Redwood, Renville, Rock, Sherburne (part), Sibley,
Stearns, Stevens, Swift, Watonwan, Wright (part), Yellow Medicine in the
state of MINNESOTA.
Synod 3.G—Minneapolis Area. The counties of Anoka, Carver,
Hennepin, Isanti, Scott, Sherburne (part), Wright (part) in the state of
MINNESOTA.
Synod 3.H—Saint Paul Area. The counties of Chisago, Dakota, Ramsey,
Washington in the state of MINNESOTA.
Synod 3.I—Southeastern Minnesota. The counties of Blue Earth, Dodge,
Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Le Sueur, Mower,
Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca, Winona in the state of
MINNESOTA.
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Synod 4.A—Nebraska. The state of NEBRASKA.
Synod 4.B—Central States. The states of MISSOURI and KANSAS.
Synod 4.C—Arkansas-Oklahoma. The states of ARKANSAS and
OKLAHOMA.
Synod 4.D—Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana. The counties of
Andrews, Archer, Armstrong, Bailey, Baylor, Bell, Borden, Bosque,
Bowie, Briscoe, Brown, Callahan, Camp, Carson, Cass, Castro, Childress,
Clay, Cochran, Coke, Coleman, Collin, Collingsworth, Comanche,
Concho, Cooke, Coryell, Cottle, Crosby, Dallam, Dallas, Dawson, Deaf
Smith, Delta, Denton, Dickens, Donley, Eastland, Ector, Ellis, Erath,
Falls, Fannin, Fisher, Floyd, Foard, Franklin, Gaines, Garza, Glasscock,
Gray, Grayson, Gregg, Hale, Hall, Hamilton, Hansford, Hardeman,
Harrison, Hartley, Haskell, Hemphill, Henderson, Hill, Hockley, Hood,
Hopkins, Howard, Hunt, Hutchinson, Irion, Jack, Johnson, Jones,
Kaufman, Kent, King, Knox, Lamar, Lamb, Lampasas, Limestone,
Lipscomb, Lubbock, Lynn, McCulloch, McLennan, Marion, Martin,
Midland, Mills, Mitchell, Montague, Moore, Morris, Motley, Navarro,
Nolan, Ochiltree, Oldham, Palo Pinto, Panola, Parker, Parmer, Potter,
Rains, Randall, Reagan, Red River, Roberts, Rockwall, Runnels, Rusk,
San Saba, Scurry, Shackelford, Sherman, Smith, Somervell, Stephens,
Sterling, Stonewall, Swisher, Tarrant, Taylor, Terry, Throckmorton, Titus,
Tom Green, Upshur, Van Zandt, Wheeler, Wichita, Wilbarger, Wise,
Wood, Yoakum, Young in the state of TEXAS; the parishes of Bienville,
Bossier, Caddo, Caldwell, Catahoula, Claiborne, Concordia, DeSoto, East
Carroll, Franklin, Grant, Jackson, LaSalle, Lincoln, Madison, Morehouse,
Natchitoches, Ouachita, Red River, Richland, Sabine, Tensas, Union,
Webster, West Carroll, Winn in the state of LOUISIANA.
Synod 4.E—Southwestern Texas. The counties of Aransas, Atascosa,
Bandera, Bastrop, Bee, Bexar, Blanco, Brooks, Burnet, Caldwell,
Calhoun, Cameron, Comal, Crane, Crockett, De Witt, Dimmit, Duval,
Edwards, Frio, Gillespie, Goliad, Gonzales, Guadalupe, Hays, Hidalgo,
Jackson, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Karnes, Kendall, Kenedy, Kerr, Kimble,
Kinney, Kleberg, La Salle, Lavaca, Lee, Live Oak, Llano, McMullen,
Mason, Maverick, Medina, Menard, Milam, Nueces, Pecos, Real,
Refugio, San Patricio, Schleicher, Starr, Sutton, Terrell, Travis, Upton,
Uvalde, Val Verde, Victoria, Webb, Willacy, Williamson, Wilson, Zapata,
Zavala in the state of TEXAS.
Synod 4.F—Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast. The counties of Anderson,
Angelina, Austin, Brazoria, Brazos, Burleson, Chambers, Cherokee,
Colorado, Fayette, Fort Bend, Freestone, Galveston, Grimes, Hardin,
Harris, Houston, Jasper, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Matagorda,
Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Newton, Orange, Polk, Robertson, Sabine,
San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity, Tyler, Walker, Waller,
Washington, Wharton in the state of TEXAS; the parishes of Acadia,
72 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 10 (04-08)
Allen, Ascension, Assumption, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Calcasieu,
Cameron, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Iberia, Iberville,
Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, LaFourche, Livingston, Orleans,
Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, Rapides, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena,
St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary,
St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, Vermilion, Vernon, Washington,
West Baton Rouge, West Feliciana in the state of LOUISIANA.
Synod 5.A—Metropolitan Chicago. The counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane,
Lake in the state of ILLINOIS.
Synod 5.B—Northern Illinois. The counties of Boone, Bureau, Carroll, De
Kalb, Grundy, Henderson, Henry, Jo Daviess, Kendall, Knox, La Salle,
Lee, McHenry, Mercer, Ogle, Putnam, Rock Island, Stephenson, Warren,
Whiteside, Will, Winnebago in the state of ILLINOIS.
Synod 5.C—Central/Southern Illinois. The counties of Adams, Alexander,
Bond, Brown, Calhoun, Cass, Champaign, Christian, Clark, Clay, Clinton,
Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, De Witt, Douglas, Edgar, Edwards,
Effingham, Fayette, Ford, Franklin, Fulton, Gallatin, Greene, Hamilton,
Hancock, Hardin, Iroquois, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Jersey, Johnson,
Kankakee, Lawrence, Livingston, Logan, McDonough, McLean, Macon,
Macoupin, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Mason, Massac, Menard, Monroe,
Montgomery, Morgan, Moultrie, Peoria, Perry, Piatt, Pike, Pope, Pulaski,
Randolph, Richland, St. Clair, Saline, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott, Shelby,
Stark, Tazewell, Union, Vermilion, Wabash, Washington, Wayne, White,
Williamson, Woodford in the state of ILLINOIS.
Synod 5.D—Southeastern Iowa. The counties of Appanoose, Benton,
Boone, Cedar, Clarke, Clinton, Dallas (east), Davis, Decatur, Des Moines,
Henry, Iowa, Jackson (south), Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Jones, Keokuk,
Lee, Linn, Louisa, Lucas, Madison, Mahaska, Marion, Marshall, Monroe,
Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story (south), Tama (south), Van
Buren, Wapello, Warren, Washington, Wayne in the state of IOWA.
Synod 5.E—Western Iowa. The counties of Adair, Adams, Audubon,
Buena Vista, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Cherokee, Clay, Crawford, Dallas
(west), Dickinson, Emmet, Fremont, Greene, Guthrie, Hamilton (west),
Hancock, Harrison, Humboldt, Ida, Kossuth, Lyon, Mills, Monona,
Montgomery, O’Brien, Osceola, Page, Palo Alto, Plymouth, Pocahontas,
Pottawattamie, Ringgold, Sac, Shelby, Sioux, Taylor, Union, Webster,
Winnebago, Woodbury, and Wright (west) in the state of IOWA.
Synod 5.F—Northeastern Iowa. The counties of Allamakee, Black Hawk,
Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Cerro Gordo, Chickasaw, Clayton, Delaware,
Dubuque, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Grundy, Hamilton (east), Hardin,
Howard, Jackson (north), Mitchell, Story (north), Tama (north),
Winneshiek, Worth, Wright (east) in the state of IOWA.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 10 / 73
Synod 5.G—Northern Great Lakes. The counties of Florence, Forest, Iron,
Marinette, Oneida, Vilas in the state of WISCONSIN; the counties in the
Upper Peninsula in the state of MICHIGAN.
Synod 5.H—Northwest Synod of Wisconsin. The counties of Ashland,
Barron, Bayfield, Buffalo (north), Burnett, Chippewa, Clark, Douglas,
Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson (north), Marathon (west), Pepin, Pierce, Polk,
Price, Rusk, St. Croix, Sawyer, Taylor, Trempealeau (north), Washburn,
Wood (northwest corner) in the state of WISCONSIN.
Synod 5.I—East-Central Synod of Wisconsin. The counties of Brown,
Calumet, Door, Fond Du Lac, Green Lake, Kewaunee, Langlade, Lincoln,
Manitowoc, Marathon (east), Marquette, Menominee, Oconto, Outagamie,
Portage, Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Winnebago, Wood (southeast)
in the state of WISCONSIN.
Synod 5.J—Greater Milwaukee. The counties of Kenosha, Milwaukee,
Ozaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Washington, Waukesha in the state of
WISCONSIN.
Synod 5.K—South-Central Synod of Wisconsin. The counties of
Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Grant, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Lafayette,
Richland, Rock, Sauk, Walworth in the state of WISCONSIN.
Synod 5.L—La Crosse Area. The counties of Adams, Buffalo (south),
Crawford, Jackson (south), Juneau, La Crosse, Monroe, Trempealeau
(south), Vernon in the state of WISCONSIN; and parishes in or near the
towns of La Crescent, Caledonia, and Spring Grove in the state of
MINNESOTA.
Synod 6.A—Southeast Michigan. The counties of Genesee, Lapeer,
Lenawee, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Saint Clair,
Washtenaw, Wayne in the state of MICHIGAN.
Synod 6.B—North/West Lower Michigan. The counties of Alcona,
Allegan, Alpena, Antrim, Arenac, Barry, Bay, Benzie, Berrien, Branch,
Calhoun, Cass, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Clare, Clinton, Crawford, Eaton,
Emmet, Gladwin, Grand Traverse, Gratiot, Hillsdale, Huron, Ingham,
Ionia, Iosco, Isabella, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kalkaska, Kent, Lake,
Leelanau, Manistee, Mason, Mecosta, Midland, Missaukee, Montcalm,
Montmorency, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Ogemaw, Osceola, Oscoda,
Otsego, Ottawa, Presque Isle, Roscommon, St. Joseph, Saginaw, Sanilac,
Shiawassee, Tuscola, Van Buren, Wexford in the state of MICHIGAN.
Synod 6.C—Indiana-Kentucky. The states of INDIANA and
KENTUCKY.
Synod 6.D—Northwestern Ohio. The counties of Allen, Auglaize,
Crawford, Defiance, Erie, Fulton, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Huron, Lucas,
Marion, Mercer, Morrow, Ottawa, Paulding, Putnam, Sandusky, Seneca,
Van Wert, Williams, Wood, Wyandot in the state of OHIO.
Synod 6.E—Northeastern Ohio. The counties of Ashland, Ashtabula,
Carroll, Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Harrison, Holmes, Jefferson,
74 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 10 (04-08)
Lake, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Richland, Stark, Summit,
Trumbull, Tuscarawas, Wayne in the state of OHIO.
Synod 6.F—Southern Ohio. The counties of Adams, Athens, Belmont,
Brown, Butler, Champaign, Clark, Clermont, Clinton, Coshocton, Darke,
Delaware, Fairfield, Fayette, Franklin, Gallia, Greene, Guernsey,
Hamilton, Highland, Hocking, Jackson, Knox, Lawrence, Licking, Logan,
Madison, Meigs, Miami, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Muskingum,
Noble, Perry, Pickaway, Pike, Preble, Ross, Scioto, Shelby, Union,
Vinton, Warren, Washington in the state of OHIO.
Synod 7.A—New Jersey. The state of NEW JERSEY.
Synod 7.B—New England. The states of CONNECTICUT; MAINE;
MASSACHUSETTS; NEW HAMPSHIRE; RHODE ISLAND; and
VERMONT; and the counties of Clinton, Essex, and Franklin in the state
of NEW YORK.
Synod 7.C—Metropolitan New York. The counties of Bronx, Dutchess,
Kings, Nassau, New York, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Richmond,
Rockland, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster, Westchester in the state of NEW
YORK.
Synod 7.D—Upstate New York. The counties of Albany, Allegany,
Broome, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Chemung, Chenango,
Columbia, Cortland, Delaware, Erie, Fulton, Genesee, Greene, Hamilton,
Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Livingston, Madison, Monroe, Montgomery,
Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, Orleans, Oswego, Otsego,
Rensselaer, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Schuyler,
Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Warren, Washington, Wayne,
Wyoming, Yates in the state of NEW YORK.
Synod 7.E—Northeastern Pennsylvania. The counties of Berks, Bradford,
Carbon, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Northampton, Pike,
Schuylkill, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Wayne, Wyoming in the state of
PENNSYLVANIA.
Synod 7.F—Southeastern Pennsylvania. The counties of Bucks, Chester,
Delaware, Montgomery, Philadelphia in the state of PENNSYLVANIA.
Synod 7.G—Slovak Zion. A non-geographic synod consisting of
congregations distinctively Slovak in language or antecedents.
Synod 8.A—Northwestern Pennsylvania. The counties of Armstrong
(part), Cameron, Clarion, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Indiana, Jefferson,
McKean, Mercer, Potter, Venango, Warren in the state of
PENNSYLVANIA.
Synod 8.B—Southwestern Pennsylvania. The counties of Allegheny,
Armstrong (part), Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Lawrence,
Washington, Westmoreland in the state of PENNSYLVANIA.
Synod 8.C—Allegheny. The counties of Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Centre,
Clearfield, Huntingdon, Somerset in the state of PENNSYLVANIA.
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Synod 8.D—Lower Susquehanna. The counties of Adams, Cumberland,
Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, York in the state
of PENNSYLVANIA.
Synod 8.E—Upper Susquehanna. The counties of Clinton, Columbia,
Juniata, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, Tioga,
Union in the state of PENNSYLVANIA.
Synod 8.F—Delaware-Maryland. The state of DELAWARE; the city of
Baltimore and the counties of Allegany, Anne Arundel, Baltimore,
Caroline, Carroll, Cecil, Dorchester, Frederick, Harford, Howard, Kent,
Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Talbot, Washington, Wicomico, Worcester in
the state of MARYLAND; the counties of Accomack, Northampton in the
state of VIRGINIA.
Synod 8.G—Metropolitan Washington, D.C. The District of Columbia;
the counties of Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince Georges, St. Mary’s
in the state of MARYLAND; the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun,
Prince William, and the independent cities within the territory of these
counties in the state of VIRGINIA; BERMUDA.
Synod 8.H—West Virginia-Western Maryland. The county of Garrett in
the state of MARYLAND; the state of WEST VIRGINIA.
Synod 9.A—Virginia. The counties of Albemarle, Alleghany, Amelia,
Amherst, Appomattox, Augusta, Bath, Bedford, Bland, Botetourt,
Brunswick, Buchanan, Buckingham, Campbell, Caroline, Carroll, Charles
City, Charlotte, Chesterfield, Clarke, Craig, Culpeper, Cumberland,
Dickenson, Dinwiddie, Essex, Fauquier, Floyd, Fluvanna, Franklin,
Frederick, Giles, Gloucester, Goochland, Grayson, Greene, Greensville,
Halifax, Hanover, Henrico, Henry, Highland, Isle of Wight, James City,
King and Queen, King George, King William, Lancaster, Lee, Louisa,
Lunenburg, Madison, Mathews, Mecklenburg, Middlesex, Montgomery,
Nelson, New Kent, Northumberland, Nottoway, Orange, Page, Patrick,
Pittsylvania, Powhatan, Prince Edward, Prince George, Pulaski,
Rappahannock, Richmond, Roanoke, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Russell,
Scott, Shenandoah, Smyth, Southampton, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Surry,
Sussex, Tazewell, Warren, Washington, Westmoreland, Wise, Wythe,
York, and the independent cities within the territory of these counties in
the state of VIRGINIA.
Synod 9.B—North Carolina. The state of NORTH CAROLINA.
Synod 9.C—South Carolina. The state of SOUTH CAROLINA.
Synod 9.D—Southeastern. The states of ALABAMA; GEORGIA;
MISSISSIPPI; and TENNESSEE.
Synod 9.E—Florida-Bahamas. The state of FLORIDA; the BAHAMAS.
Synod 9.F—Caribbean. The commonwealth of PUERTO RICO; the
territory of the VIRGIN ISLANDS.
76 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 10 (04-08)
10.02. Each congregation, except those which are in partnership with the
Slovak Zion Synod, shall establish a relationship with the synod in
whose territory it is located.
10.02.01. The Slovak Zion Synod shall continue as a nongeographic synod of this
church. In all other respects it shall be bound by the provisions of the
constitution and bylaws of this church. In addition, it shall enter into
relationships with geographic synods in order to provide opportunities for
congregations, ordained ministers, and other leaders to share in the
programmatic services of such synods, workshops, and conferences. It
shall also periodically review and evaluate its ministries to ascertain their
continuing effectiveness.
10.02.02. Any congregation in a border area desiring to change its synod relationship may do so upon approval of the synod assemblies of the synods
concerned, which shall report any such change to the Churchwide
Assembly.
10.02.03. Within the territory of each geographic synod, the synod—in keeping with
criteria, policies, and procedures proposed by the secretary of this church,
after consultation with the appropriate churchwide unit or units, and
approved by the Church Council—may acknowledge certain authorized
worshiping communities such as developing ministries, preaching points,
or chapels as related to the synod and part of the synod’s life and mission.
Such authorized worshiping communities of the synod shall accept and
adhere to the Confession of Faith and Statement of Purpose of this church,
shall be served by leadership under the criteria of this church, and shall be
subject to the discipline of this church.
10.10. INCORPORATION AND CONSTITUTION
10.11. Each synod shall be incorporated. The articles of incorporation of
each synod in existence on January 1, 1988, shall continue to govern
such synods. The articles of incorporation of each synod organized
after December 31, 1987, shall be submitted to the Church Council
for ratification before filing. Amendments to the articles of incorporation of all synods shall be submitted to the Church Council for
ratification before filing.
10.12. Each synod shall have a constitution, which shall become effective
upon ratification by the Church Council. Amendments thereto shall
be subject to like ratification, provided, however, that an amendment
which is identical to a provision of the Constitution for Synods shall be
deemed to have been ratified upon its adoption and the Church
Council shall be given prompt notification of its adoption.
10.13. The Constitution for Synods contains mandatory provisions that
incorporate and record therein provisions of the constitution and
bylaws of this church. Amendments to mandatory provisions
incorporating constitutional provisions of this church shall be made
in the same manner as prescribed in Chapter 22 for amendments to
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 10 / 77
the constitution of this church. Amendments to mandatory provisions
incorporating bylaw provisions of this church and amendments to
non-mandatory provisions shall be made in the same manner as
prescribed in Chapter 22 for amendments to the bylaws of this
church. Non-mandatory provisions shall not be inconsistent with the
constitution and bylaws of this church.
10.20. PURPOSE
10.21. Each synod, in partnership with the churchwide organization, shall
bear primary responsibility for the oversight of the life and mission
of this church in its territory. In fulfillment of this role, the synod
shall:
a. Provide for the pastoral care of congregations, ordained
ministers, associates in ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal
ministers in the synod, including:
1) approving candidates for the ordained ministry in cooperation with the appropriate seminaries of this church, which
may be done through multi-synodical committees;
2) authorizing ordinations and ordaining on behalf of this
church;
3) approving associates in ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal
ministers, which may be done through multi-synodical
committees;
4) authorizing the commissioning of associates in ministry, the
consecration of deaconesses, and the consecration of diaconal
ministers of this church; and
5) consulting in the calling process for ordained ministers,
associates in ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal ministers.
b. Provide for leadership recruitment, preparation, and support in
accordance with churchwide standards and policies, including:
1) nurturing and supporting congregations and lay leaders;
2) seeking and recruiting qualified candidates for the rostered
ministries of this church;
3) making provision for pastoral care, call or appointment
review, and guidance;
4) encouraging and supporting persons on the rosters of this
church in stewardship of their abilities, care of self, and
pursuit of continuing education to undergird their effectiveness of service; and
5) supporting recruitment of leaders for this church’s colleges,
universities, seminaries, and social ministry organizations.
c. Provide for discipline of congregations, ordained ministers, and
persons on the official lay rosters; as well as for termination of
call, appointment, adjudication, and appeals consistent with the
78 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 10 (04-08)
procedures established by this church in Chapter 20 of the ELCA
constitution and bylaws.
d. Foster organizations for youth, women, and men, and organizations for language or ethnic communities.
e. Plan for the mission of this church in the synod, initiating and
developing policy, and implementing programs, consistent with
churchwide policy, including:
1) ecumenical guidance and encouragement;
2) development of new ministries, redevelopment of existing
ministries, and support and assistance in the conclusion, if
necessary, of a particular ministry;
3) leadership and encouragement of congregations in their
evangelism efforts;
4) development of relationships to and participation in planning
for the mission of social ministry organizations and ministries;
5) encouragement of financial support for the work of this
church by individuals and congregations;
6) provision for resources for congregational life;
7) assistance to the members of its congregations in carrying
out their ministries in the world; and
8) interpretation of social statements in a manner consistent
with the interpretation given by the churchwide unit which
assisted in the development of the statement, and suggestion
of social study issues through (a) Synod Assembly memorials
to the Churchwide Assembly or (b) resolutions for referral
from the Synod Assembly through the Synod Council to the
Church Council and (c) Synod Council resolutions addressed
to the Church Council or for referral to a unit of the churchwide organization through the Church Council’s Executive
Committee.
f. Promote interdependent relationships among congregations,
synods, and the churchwide organization, and enter into partnership with other synods in the region.
g. Participate in churchwide programs and develop support for the
ministry of the churchwide organization.
h. Foster the grouping of congregations in conferences, clusters,
coalitions, or other area subdivisions for mission purposes.
i. Support relationships with and provide partnership funding on
behalf of colleges, universities, and campus ministries.
j. Foster relationships with and provide partnership funding on
behalf of social ministry organizations.
k. Maintain relationships with and provide partnership funding on
behalf of seminaries and continuing education centers.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 10 / 79
l. Foster supporting relationships with camps and other outdoor
ministries.
m. Foster supporting relationships with preschools, elementary
schools, and secondary schools operated by congregations of the
synod.
n. Interpret the work of this church to congregations and to the
public.
o. Respond to human need, work for justice and peace, care for the
sick and the suffering, and participate responsibly in society.
p. Provide for archives in conjunction with other synods.
q. Cooperate with other synods and the churchwide organization in
creating, using, and supporting regions to carry out those
functions of the synod which can best be done cooperatively with
other synods and the churchwide organization.
10.22. In the event that this church or any synod of this church is charged
with liability for any contingent debt, liability, or obligation arising or
resulting from acts or omissions of any synod of the Lutheran Church
in America, or The Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, or
district of The American Lutheran Church, occurring prior to
January 1, 1988, the Church Council is authorized and empowered
to determine whether and to what extent this church or such synod of
this church shall be indemnified or reimbursed for any such debt,
liability, or obligation by one or more synods of this church. In
making its determination with respect to indemnification or reimbursement, the Church Council shall consider the nature of the
activity which gave rise to the debt, liability, or obligation, the situs of
that activity, and such other factors as the Church Council deems
appropriate under the circumstances in order that such debt, liability,
or obligation may be discharged in a manner that is fair and equitable
to this church’s congregations, synods, and churchwide organization.
For purposes of this provision, a “contingent” debt, liability, or obligation means a debt, liability, or obligation (a) the amount of which
had not been ascertained by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America on December 31, 1987, or (b) the existence of which was
unknown to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on
December 31, 1987.
10.30. OFFICERS
10.31. The officers of each synod shall be a bishop, a vice president, a
secretary, and a treasurer.
a. As the synod’s pastor, the bishop shall:
1) Oversee and administer the work of the synod.
2) Preach, teach, and administer the sacraments in accord with
the faith of this church.
80 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 10 (04-08)
3) Provide pastoral care and leadership for the synod, its congregations, its ordained ministers, its associates in ministry,
its deaconesses, and its diaconal ministers.
4) Advise and counsel its related institutions and organizations.
5) Be its chief ecumenical officer.
6) Exercise supervision over the work of the other officers.
7) Preside at all meetings of the Synod Assembly and be the
chief executive officer of the synod; provide for the preparation of the agenda of the Synod Assembly, Synod Council,
and the Executive Committee; see to it that the constitution
and bylaws of the synod are duly observed, and that the
actions of the synod in conformity therewith are carried into
effect; coordinate the work of all synodical staff members;
and appoint all committees for which provision is not otherwise made.
8) Coordinate the use of the resources available to the synod as
it seeks to promote the health of this church’s life and
witness in the areas served by the synod.
9) Exercise solely this church’s power to ordain (or provide for
the ordination by another synodical bishop of) approved
candidates who have received and accepted a properly
issued, duly attested letter of call for the office of ordained
ministry (and as provided in the bylaws of this church); to
commission approved candidates who have received and
accepted a properly issued, duly attested letter of call for
service as an associate in ministry; to consecrate approved
candidates who have received and accepted a properly
issued, duly attested letter of call for service as a deaconess;
and to consecrate approved candidates who have received
and accepted a properly issued, duly attested letter of call for
service as a diaconal minister; and shall install (or provide
for the installation of):
a) the pastors of all congregations of the synod;
b) ordained ministers called to extraparish service within
this church;
c) associates in ministry rostered in the synod;
d) deaconesses of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America rostered in the synod; and
e) diaconal ministers of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America rostered in the synod.
10) Be ex officio a member of the Churchwide Assembly and a
member of all committees and any other organizational units
of the synod.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 10 / 81
11) Submit a report to each regular meeting of the Synod
Assembly concerning the synod’s life and work.
12) Interpret and advocate the mission and theology of the whole
church.
b. The vice president shall chair the Synod Council. In the event of
the death, resignation, or disability of the bishop, the vice
president shall convene the Synod Council to arrange for the
conduct of the duties of the bishop until a new bishop shall be
elected, or, in the case of temporary disability, until the bishop
resumes full performance of the duties of the office.
10.31.01. The bishop shall be elected by the Synod Assembly. The bishop shall be
a pastor who is an ordained minister of this church. The bishop may have
as many assistants as the synod shall authorize.
10.31.02. The vice president shall be elected by the Synod Assembly. The vice
president shall be a layperson. The vice president shall not receive a salary
for the performance of the duties of the office.
10.31.03. The secretary shall be elected by the Synod Assembly. The secretary may
be either a layperson or an ordained minister.
10.31.04. The treasurer shall be elected by the Synod Assembly. The treasurer may
be either a layperson or an ordained minister.
10.31.05. The bishop of the synod shall be elected to a term of six years and may be
reelected. The other officers shall be elected to a term as defined by each
synod, but not to exceed six years, and may be reelected.
10.31.06. Each officer shall be a voting member of a congregation of the synod,
except that the bishop need not be a member of a congregation of the
synod at the time of election.
10.32. CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
10.32.01. The following procedures shall govern matters of potential conflicts of
interest for synodical bishops:
a. Whenever a synodical bishop determines that a matter of the kind
described in 10.32.01.b. may require his or her determination or
action with respect to a related individual as defined in 10.32.01.c.,
the synodical bishop shall withdraw from personal involvement in
such matter and shall so notify the presiding bishop. The presiding
bishop shall then appoint another synodical bishop from the same
region to handle the matter to conclusion. In dealing with such
matter, the appointed bishop shall exercise all of the functions and
authority to the same extent as if the appointed bishop were the
elected bishop of the withdrawing bishop’s synod.
b. Matters include any proceedings under Chapter 20, proceedings
under provision 7.46. (†S14.13.), candidacy, reinstatement, and
similar matters where determinations or actions by the synodical
bishop could change, limit, restrict, approve, authorize, or deny the
82 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 10 (04-08)
related individual’s ministry on one of the official rosters of this
church.
c. A related individual is one who, with respect to the synodical bishop,
is a spouse, parent, son, daughter, sibling, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew,
grandparent, grandchild, or in-law (parent, son, daughter, or sibling
of a spouse, spouse of a sibling, or the parent or sibling of the spouse
of a sibling).
10.33. INTEGRITY OF MINISTRY
10.33.01. Ordained ministers previously under call to the churchwide organization
or to a synod shall respect the integrity of the ministry in which they no
longer serve and shall not interfere with or exercise the functions of the
office or position in which they no longer serve unless invited to do so by
the presiding bishop or Church Council in the churchwide organization or,
in the synods, by the bishop or the Synod Council.
10.40. SYNOD ASSEMBLY
10.41. Each synod shall have a Synod Assembly, which shall be its highest
legislative authority, and which shall meet at least biennially. Special
meetings may be called as needed. With the exception of ordained
ministers on the roster of synods other than their synod of residence,
each member of the Synod Assembly, the Synod Council, a board,
committee, or other organizational unit of the synod shall be a voting
member of a congregation of the synod.
10.41.01. Membership of the Synod Assembly, of which at least 60 percent of the
voting membership shall be composed of laypersons, shall be constituted
as follows:
a. All ordained ministers under call on the roster of the synod in
attendance at the Synod Assembly shall be voting members.
b. All associates in ministry, deaconesses of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America, and diaconal ministers, under call, on the lay
roster or rosters of the synod shall have both voice and vote as lay
voting members in the Synod Assembly, in addition to the voting
membership of lay members of congregations provided in item
10.41.01.c.
c. A minimum of one lay member elected by each congregation with
fewer than 175 baptized members and a minimum of two lay
members elected by each congregation with 175 or more baptized
members related to the synod, normally one of whom shall be male
and one of whom shall be female, shall be voting members. The
Synod Council shall establish a formula to provide additional lay
representation from congregations on the basis of the number of
baptized members in the congregation. The Synod Council shall seek
to ensure that, as nearly as possible, 50 percent of the lay members of
the assembly shall be female and 50 percent shall be male. Additional
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 10 / 83
members from each congregation normally shall be equally divided
between male and female.
d. Voting membership shall include the officers of the synod.
10.41.02. Synods may establish processes that permit retired ordained ministers on
the roster of the synod to serve as voting members of the Synod
Assembly, consistent with bylaw 10.41.01. above.
10.41.03. Synods may establish processes that permit ordained ministers on the
roster of the synod who are on leave from call to serve as voting members
of the Synod Assembly, consistent with bylaw 10.41.01. above.
10.41.04. Synods may establish processes that permit representatives of mission
settings formed with the intent of becoming chartered congregations and
authorized worshiping communities of the synod, under bylaw 10.02.03.,
to serve as voting members of the Synod Assembly, consistent with bylaw
10.41.01.
10.41.05. Synods may establish processes that permit Synod Council voting
members who are not otherwise serving as voting members of the Synod
Assembly the privilege of both voice and vote as members of the Synod
Assembly.
10.50. SYNOD COUNCIL
10.51. Each synod shall have a Synod Council, which shall be its board of
directors, and which shall serve as the interim legislative authority
between meetings of the Synod Assembly, except that it may not take
any action which is reserved exclusively for the Synod Assembly or
which is in conflict with action taken by the Synod Assembly.
10.52. The Synod Council shall consist of the four officers of the synod, 10
to 24 other members, and at least one youth, all elected by the Synod
Assembly. Each person elected to the Synod Council shall be a voting
member of a congregation of the synod, with the exception of
ordained ministers on the roster of the synod who reside outside the
territory of the synod. The process for election and the term of office
when not otherwise specified herein shall be determined by each
synod. A member of the Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America from the synod, unless otherwise elected as a
voting member of the Synod Council, may serve as an advisory
member of the Synod Council with voice but not vote.
10.60. CONFERENCES, CLUSTERS, COALITIONS,
OR OTHER AREA SUBDIVISIONS, AND COMMITTEES
10.61. Opportunities for groupings of congregations and institutions in
specified geographic areas of the synod shall be provided by the synod
to foster interdependent relationships among congregations, institutions, the synod, and churchwide units for mission purposes. These
groupings may be formed as conferences, clusters, coalitions, or other
area subdivisions.
84 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 10 (04-08)
10.62. Each synod may establish such boards, committees, task forces, and
other organizational forms as it deems necessary to carry out effectively the functions assigned to the synod.
10.63. Each synod shall have an executive committee, a consultation committee, and a committee on discipline. Each synod also shall establish a
mutual ministry committee to provide support and counsel to the
bishop.
10.70. FISCAL POLICY
10.71. Each synod shall remit to the churchwide organization a percentage
of all donor-unrestricted receipts contributed to it by the congregations of the synod, such percentage to be determined by the Churchwide Assembly. Individual exceptions may be made by the Church
Council upon request of a synod.
10.72. Each synod shall arrange to have an annual audit of its financial
records conducted by a certified public accountant firm selected by
the Synod Council. The audited annual financial report shall be
submitted by the synod to the churchwide Office of the Treasurer and
to the congregations of the synod. Synodical financial reports shall be
in a format approved by the churchwide Office of the Treasurer in
order to attain uniformity in reporting.
10.73. Each synod shall have the fiscal year of February 1 through
January 31.
10.74. Each synod shall maintain adequate, continuous insurance coverage
in accordance with standards recommended by the churchwide
organization. Insurance programs offered or endorsed by the
churchwide organization shall be deemed to fulfill this obligation.
10.80. INSTALLATION
10.81.01. The presiding bishop of this church, or a bishop appointed by the
presiding bishop of this church, shall preside for the installation into
office, in accord with the policy and approved rite of this church, of each
newly elected synodical bishop.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 11 / 85
Chapter 11.
CHURCHWIDE ORGANIZATION—DEFINITION AND PURPOSES
11.10. DEFINITION OF THE CHURCHWIDE ORGANIZATION
11.11. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America shall have a churchwide organization that shall function interdependently with the
congregations and synods of this church. The churchwide organization shall serve on behalf of and in support of this church’s
members, congregations, and synods in proclaiming the Gospel,
reaching out in witness and service both globally and throughout the
territory of this church, nurturing the members of this church in the
daily life of faith, and manifesting the unity of this church with the
whole Church of Jesus Christ.
11.12. The churchwide organization shall be an instrument for accomplishing the purposes of this church, as defined by Chapter 4 of this
constitution, that are shared with and supported by the members,
congregations, and synods of this church. In keeping with this
church’s purposes, it shall develop churchwide policy, set standards
for leadership, establish criteria for this church’s endeavors, and
coordinate the work of this church. It shall be a means for the sharing
of resources throughout this church, and shall provide programs and
services as determined by this church.
11.20. PURPOSES OF THE CHURCHWIDE ORGANIZATION
11.21. In fulfillment of the purposes of this church, the churchwide organization shall:
a. Undergird the worship life of this church as the Word of God is
preached and the sacraments are administered.
b. Provide resources to equip members to worship, learn, serve, and
witness in their ministry in daily life.
c. Support and establish policy for this church’s mission and
coordinate planning and evaluation for that mission throughout
the world, including participation with other churches.
d. Witness to the Word of God in Christ by united efforts in
proclaiming the Gospel, responding to human need, caring for
the sick and suffering, working for justice and peace, and
providing guidance to members on social matters.
e. Foster interdependent relationships among congregations,
synods, and the churchwide organization to implement the
mission of this whole church.
f. Provide for the ordained ministry and other rostered ministries
of this church.
g. Oversee and establish policy for this church’s relationship to
seminaries, colleges, universities, schools, and other education
endeavors, and provide support as appropriate.
86 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 11 (04-08)
h. Establish and reflect this church’s ecumenical stance and its
relationship to other churches, and direct this church’s policy for
relationship with persons of other faiths.
i. Develop and administer policies for this church’s relationship to
social ministry organizations and cooperate with public and
private agencies that enhance human dignity and justice.
j. Determine and implement policy for this church’s relationship to
governments.
k. Provide for a comprehensive financial support system for this
church’s mission and for the administration of financial
resources necessary for fulfillment of the particular responsibilities of the churchwide organization.
l. Provide planned giving opportunities for the financial support of
this church, its congregations, synods, agencies, and institutions
through the establishment of a foundation.
m. Provide pension and other benefits plans for this church.
n. Provide a church publishing house.
o. Provide archives for the retention of its valuable records, and
coordinate archival activity in the synods, regions, institutions,
and agencies of this church.
p. Provide and monitor a system of discipline, appeals, and
adjudication.
q. Establish and operate other programs and activities, as determined by this church, on behalf of and in support of the
congregations and synods of this church.
11.30. DESCRIPTION OF THE CHURCHWIDE ORGANIZATION
11.31. The legislative function of the churchwide organization shall be
fulfilled by the Churchwide Assembly as described in Chapter 12 of
this church’s constitution, bylaws, and continuing resolutions.
11.32. The Church Council shall exercise interim legislative authority and
shall serve as the board of directors of the corporation.
11.33. Leadership of this church shall be vested in the officers, the Churchwide Assembly, the Church Council, boards, and executive directors
of churchwide administrative units. The full-time officers shall be the
presiding bishop of this church, secretary of this church, and
treasurer of this church. The vice president shall be non-salaried and
shall serve as chair of the Church Council.
11.34. The churchwide organization shall carry out its duties through
functional elements known as units. Units shall be responsible to the
Churchwide Assembly and the Church Council in the interim
between regular meetings of the assembly.
11.35. Each program unit shall relate to a program committee and each
separately incorporated unit shall be governed by a board.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 11 / 87
11.40. GENERAL FISCAL POLICIES
11.41. Within the limits established by the Churchwide Assembly in the
constitution and bylaws, the Church Council, as the board of
directors of the churchwide organization, shall establish the fiscal
policies of this church.
11.41.01. A single treasury shall be maintained for the receipt and disbursement of
funds for the churchwide organization and its units receiving budgetary
support, except as otherwise provided in the constitution and bylaws or as
approved by the Church Council.
11.41.02. Within the policies established by the Churchwide Assembly and the
Church Council, the management and investment of the funds of the
churchwide organization and its units receiving budgetary support shall
be the responsibility of the Office of the Treasurer.
11.41.03. On the basis of estimated income, and upon advice of the Office of the
Presiding Bishop and the Office of the Treasurer, in consultation with the
units receiving support from the churchwide budget, the Church Council
shall authorize expenditures within the budget for the fiscal year and the
units may incur financial obligations up to the specified amounts.
Expenditure authorizations shall be subject to revision, in light of
changing conditions, by the Church Council, upon the advice of the Office
of the Presiding Bishop and the Office of the Treasurer.
11.41.04. The Church Council shall establish a working capital fund to be
administered by the Office of the Treasurer within the policies established
by the Church Council.
11.41.05. The fiscal year for the churchwide organization shall be February 1
through January 31.
11.41.06. No churchwide appeal to congregations or individuals of this church for
the raising of funds shall be conducted by this church or churchwide units
without the consent of the Churchwide Assembly, following consultation
with the Conference of Bishops. No appeal to selected congregations and
individuals of this church for the raising of funds shall be conducted by
this church or churchwide units without the consent of the Church
Council, following consultation with either the Conference of Bishops or
specific synods as appropriate. Proposals for such special appeals shall be
presented to the Church Council through the appropriate council committee with recommendations by the Office of the Presiding Bishop.
88 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 12 (04-08)
Chapter 12.
CHURCHWIDE ASSEMBLY
12.10. DESCRIPTION AND AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCHWIDE ASSEMBLY
12.11. The Churchwide Assembly shall be the highest legislative authority
of the churchwide organization and shall deal with all matters which
are necessary in pursuit of the purposes and functions of this church.
The powers of the Churchwide Assembly are limited only by the
provisions of the Articles of Incorporation, this constitution and
bylaws, and the assembly’s own resolutions.
12.12. Any matter for which adoption by a vote of two-thirds of those voting
in a prior Churchwide Assembly was required by the constitution or
bylaws of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America shall require
a two-thirds vote to be amended or repealed by a subsequent
Churchwide Assembly.
12.12.01. A social statement, which is developed by the appropriate churchwide unit
and presented to the Churchwide Assembly as a proposed social statement
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, shall require for adoption
a vote of two-thirds of those voting members present and voting in a
Churchwide Assembly. The text of a proposed social statement shall be
approved and recommended to the assembly by the Church Council.
12.20. DUTIES OF THE CHURCHWIDE ASSEMBLY
12.21. The Churchwide Assembly shall:
a. Review the work of the churchwide officers, and for this purpose
require and receive reports from them and act on business
proposed by them.
b. Review the work of the churchwide units, and for this purpose
require and receive reports from them and act on business
proposed by them.
c. Receive and consider proposals from synod assemblies.
d. Establish churchwide policy.
e. Adopt a budget for the churchwide organization.
f. Elect officers, board members, and other persons as provided in
the constitution or bylaws.
g. Establish churchwide units to carry out the functions of the
churchwide organization.
h. Have the sole authority to amend the constitution and bylaws.
i. Fulfill other functions as required in the constitution and bylaws.
j. Conduct such other business as necessary to further the purposes
and functions of the churchwide organization.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 12 / 89
12.30. MEETINGS OF THE CHURCHWIDE ASSEMBLY
12.31. The assembly shall meet biennially in regular session. Special
meetings may be called by a two-thirds vote of the Church Council.
The purpose for a special meeting shall be stated in the notice.
12.31.01. The time and place of the Churchwide Assembly shall be determined by
the Church Council. The time and place for the next regular assembly
normally shall be announced at the preceding assembly.
12.31.02. The secretary shall give notice of the time and place of each regular assembly
by publication thereof at least 60 days in advance in this church’s periodical.
The secretary shall give written notice of a special assembly to the bishop of
each synod upon the issuance of a call thereof and shall publish the same in
this church’s periodical at least 30 days in advance of the special assembly.
Written notice shall be mailed to all voting members not more than 30 days
nor less than 10 days in advance of any meeting.
12.31.03. At least 20 days prior to an assembly the secretary shall prepare and
distribute to each congregation and to the voting members-elect a
pre-assembly report.
12.31.04. The arrangements for agenda, program, and worship shall be under the
supervision of the presiding bishop.
12.31.05. Physical arrangements for churchwide assemblies shall be made by the
secretary or by an assembly manager working under the secretary’s
supervision. Such committees as may be necessary to facilitate the
planning for and operation of the assembly may be established by the
secretary in consultation with the presiding bishop.
12.31.06. The churchwide organization shall be responsible for the costs of the
Churchwide Assembly, including reasonable costs for travel, housing, and
board for voting and advisory members.
12.31.07. At least one-half of all persons elected as voting members must be present
at a meeting to constitute a quorum for the legal conduct of business. If
such a quorum is not present, those voting members present may adjourn
the meeting to another time and place, provided that only those persons
eligible to vote at the original meeting may vote at the adjourned meeting.
12.31.08. Proxy and absentee voting shall not be permitted at a Churchwide
Assembly.
12.31.09. The Churchwide Assembly shall use parliamentary procedures in
accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order, latest edition, unless otherwise
ordered by the assembly.
12.40. MEMBERS OF THE CHURCHWIDE ASSEMBLY
12.41. The voting members of the Churchwide Assembly shall be the voting
members of this church. The requirements for voting members of the
assembly and other members shall be specified in the bylaws.
90 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 12 (04-08)
12.41.10. Voting Members
12.41.11. Each synod shall elect one voting member of the Churchwide Assembly
for every 5,800 baptized members in the synod. In addition, each synod
shall elect one voting member for every 50 congregations in the synod.
The synodical bishop, who is ex officio a member of the Churchwide
Assembly, shall be included in the number of voting members so determined. There shall be at least two voting members from each synod. The
secretary shall notify each synod of the number of assembly members it
is to elect.
12.41.12. The secretary of each synod shall submit to the secretary of this church at
least nine months before each regular Churchwide Assembly a certified
list of the voting members elected by the Synod Assembly. If a voting
member elected by the Synod Assembly is unable to serve, the name of
an eligible person chosen by the Synod Council shall be submitted by the
secretary of the synod to the secretary of this church. If a vacancy occurs
or exists within 30 days or less of the convening of the Churchwide
Assembly or during the meeting of the Churchwide Assembly, the
synodical bishop may submit the name of an eligible person to the
secretary of this church. The individual whose name is submitted to the
secretary of this church shall be registered and seated by the Credentials
Committee as a voting member from the synod.
12.41.13. Each voting member of the Churchwide Assembly shall be a voting
member of a congregation of this church. Any such voting member
(except a rostered person described in in 7.42.b., c., d., or e., or 7.52.14.)
shall cease to be a member of the assembly if no longer a voting member
of a congregation of this church within the synod from which elected. The
criterion for voting membership in the congregation from which the voting
member is elected shall be in effect regarding minimum age for that
voting member.
12.41.14. Voting members elected through the process of 12.41.11. through
12.41.13. shall begin serving with the opening of a regular Churchwide
Assembly and shall continue serving until voting members are seated at
the next regular Churchwide Assembly.
12.41.15. Except as defined in 12.41.21., employees of the churchwide organization,
including those serving under call, appointment, employment agreement,
or contract, shall not be eligible for election and service as voting
members of the Churchwide Assembly.
12.41.20. Ex Officio Members
12.41.21. The officers of this church and the bishops of the synods shall serve as
ex officio members of the Churchwide Assembly. They shall have voice
and vote.
12.41.22. Unless otherwise determined by the synod, the synodical vice president
shall serve as a voting member of the Churchwide Assembly.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 12 / 91
12.41.30. Advisory Members
12.41.31. Members of the Church Council, unless elected as voting members, shall
serve as advisory members of the Churchwide Assembly. Likewise,
program committee chairpersons and board chairpersons or their
designees, unless elected as voting members, shall serve as advisory
members of the Churchwide Assembly. In addition, executive directors
of churchwide program units, executive directors of churchwide service
units, executives for sections related to the officers, presidents of
separately incorporated churchwide units, the executive for administration, and executive assistants to the presiding bishop shall serve as
advisory members of the Churchwide Assembly.
12.41.32. Advisory members shall have voice but not vote.
12.41.40. Other Non-Voting Members
12.41.41. Other categories of non-voting members may be established by the
Churchwide Assembly.
12.41.A89. Presidents of the colleges, universities, and seminaries of this church,
unless elected as voting members of the assembly, shall have voice but not
vote.
12.41.B07. Faculty Resource Persons. A representative of the faculty of each
seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America shall be
appointed by the president of each seminary to serve as a seminary faculty
resource person for each Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America. In addition, a teaching theologian who is
a member of a congregation of this church and who is teaching at a
college or university of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America may
be appointed by the steering committee of the Association of Teaching
Theologians in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to serve as
a faculty resource person. Faculty resource persons shall have voice, if
so granted in the assembly’s rules, but not vote in plenary sessions of the
assembly. Travel, food, and housing costs for the faculty resource
persons shall be an expense of the assembly. Other expenses will be the
responsibility of the individual or sending institution.
12.41.C04. Congregation Observers. Each congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America may register with the secretary of this church one
congregation observer for the Churchwide Assembly prior to May 31 in
the year of a Churchwide Assembly.
a. Provision shall be made for such an individual to have reserved
seating in the observers section of the plenary hall. Such congregation observers will receive a copy of the report of recommendations for assembly action and also materials distributed on the
plenary floor to voting members, advisory members, and non-voting
members during the assembly. Such observers shall have neither
voice nor vote in plenary sessions of the assembly.
92 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 12 (04-08)
b. A registration fee shall be established by the secretary of this church
for registration and related costs, including enabling observers to
receive the same meals as are provided for voting members.
c. Transportation costs, housing, other meals, and related expenses
shall be the responsibility of the registered observer or sending congregation.
12.50. COMMITTEES OF THE CHURCHWIDE ASSEMBLY
12.51. The Churchwide Assembly shall have a Reference and Counsel
Committee, a Memorials Committee, and a Nominating Committee.
The description of these committees shall be in the bylaws. The
Churchwide Assembly may authorize such other committees as it
deems necessary.
12.51.10. Reference and Counsel Committee
12.51.11. A Reference and Counsel Committee, appointed by the Church Council,
shall review all proposed changes or additions to the constitution and
bylaws and other items submitted that are not germane to items contained
in the stated agenda of the assembly.
12.51.20. Memorials Committee
12.51.21. A Memorials Committee, appointed by the Church Council, shall review
memorials from synodical assemblies and make appropriate recommendations
for assembly action.
12.51.30. Nominating Committee
12.51.31. A Nominating Committee, elected by the Churchwide Assembly, shall
nominate two persons for each position for which an election will be held
by the Churchwide Assembly and for which a nominating procedure has
not otherwise been designated in the constitution and bylaws of this
church.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 13 / 93
Chapter 13.
OFFICERS OF THIS CHURCH
13.10. OFFICERS
13.11. This church shall have as its officers the presiding bishop, vice
president, secretary, and treasurer.
13.20. PRESIDING BISHOP
13.21. This church shall have a presiding bishop who, as its pastor, shall be
a teacher of the faith of this church and shall provide leadership for
the life and witness of this church. The presiding bishop shall be an
ordained minister of this church. The presiding bishop may be male
or female, as may all other officers of this church. The presiding
bishop shall:
a. Be the president and chief executive officer of the corporation,
overseeing the work of the churchwide organization.
b. Be the chief ecumenical officer of this church and its primary
representative in the national and international interchurch
agencies in which this church holds membership.
c. Provide for the preparation of the agenda for the Churchwide
Assembly, Church Council, Executive Committee, Conference of
Bishops, and Cabinet of Executives, and preside at the Churchwide Assembly.
d. Provide leadership and care for the bishops of the synods.
e. Supervise the work of the other officers.
f. Provide for the preparation of the budget for the churchwide
organization.
g. Nominate and direct the work of the executive for administration.
h. Coordinate and supervise the work of executives of churchwide
units.
i. Appoint members of all churchwide committees for which
election procedures are not provided.
j. Be responsible for the chaplaincies of this church in federal
agencies, institutions, and armed forces and provide for the
pastoral care of those called to these ministries.
k. Recommend legal counsel to the Church Council.
l. Serve as an advisory member, with voice but not vote, on all
committees of this church and all boards or committees of
churchwide units, or designate a person to serve as the presiding
bishop’s representative.
13.22. The presiding bishop shall be elected by the Churchwide Assembly to
a six-year term.
94 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 13 (04-08)
13.22.01. The presiding bishop shall be elected as provided in Chapter 19 and shall
take office on the first day of the third month after election.
13.22.02. The presiding bishop shall be a full-time, salaried position.
13.22.A04. Ecumenical Representatives
Ecumenical representatives shall be chosen by the presiding bishop of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America according to the following
pattern:
a. The presiding bishop, in consultation with the Executive Committee
of the Church Council, shall appoint members of delegations to
national and international inter-church entities in which this church
holds membership.
b. The presiding bishop, in consultation with the Executive Committee
of the Church Council, shall appoint members of inter-Lutheran,
inter-faith, and ecumenical discussions, including bilateral dialogues
and conversations, in which this church participates.
c. All such appointments shall be reported to the Church Council as
information.
13.30. VICE PRESIDENT
13.31. The vice president of this church shall be a layperson who shall serve
as chair of the Church Council and, in the event the presiding bishop
is unable to do so, as chair of the Churchwide Assembly. The vice
president shall serve under the presiding bishop of this church,
providing leadership as specified in provision 11.33. of this church’s
constitution, bylaws, and continuing resolutions.
13.32. The vice president shall be elected by the Churchwide Assembly to a
six-year term and shall be a voting member of a congregation of this
church.
13.32.01. The vice president shall be elected as provided in Chapter 19 and shall
take office on the first day of the third month after election.
13.32.02. The vice president shall serve without salary.
13.40. SECRETARY
13.41. The secretary of this church shall serve under the presiding bishop of
this church, providing leadership, as specified in Chapter 11 of this
church’s constitution, bylaws, and continuing resolutions, and shall
fulfill the normal functions of the secretary of a corporation.
13.41.01. The secretary, as the recording officer of this church, shall keep the
minutes, have responsibility for rosters, records, and reporting of
parochial statistics, oversee the archives, attest to all documents that
require such signature, be the custodian of the seal, and perform other
duties as prescribed by the Constitutions, Bylaws, and Continuing
Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 13 / 95
13.41.02. The secretary shall:
a. Be responsible for the minutes and records of the Churchwide
Assembly, Church Council, Executive Committee, Conference of
Bishops, and Cabinet of Executives, and shall receive complete
minutes for permanent record of all boards and committees of the
churchwide organization.
b. Maintain the rosters of ordained ministers, all other rostered persons,
congregations, and synods.
c. Provide for the publication of official documents and policies of this
church, pre-assembly reports, assembly minutes, a directory of
congregations, rostered persons, and entities of this church, and other
informational and statistical material.
d. Receive the annual report of the congregations in a form devised by
the secretary, summarize the information, and make the summary
available to this church.
e. Coordinate the use of legal services by the churchwide organization.
f. Be responsible for the archives of this church.
g. Implement and operate a records management system for the
churchwide organization.
h. Arrange for and manage meetings of the Churchwide Assembly and
Church Council.
i. Have custody of the seal, maintain a necrology, and attest documents.
j. Provide library and reference services for the churchwide office.
13.41.03. The secretary, in consultation with the presiding bishop, shall be responsible for preparation and research of amendments to the Constitution,
Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America, as well as the Constitution for Synods and the Model
Constitution for Congregations, to be proposed by the Church Council for
action by the Churchwide Assembly in accordance with provisions of
Chapter 22.
13.41.04. The secretary shall prepare interpretations, as necessary, of the
Constitutions, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America. If a board, committee, or synod disagrees
with the interpretations, as rendered, the objecting entity may appeal the
secretary’s interpretation to the Church Council.
13.41.05. The secretary shall provide staff services to the Nominating Committee
of the Churchwide Assembly and the nomination process of the Church
Council; shall be responsible for declaring an interim vacancy resulting
from the resignation, death, or disability of a member of a board,
committee, or council; and shall arrange for an election by the Church
Council to fill the vacancy consistent with Chapter 19.
96 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 13 (04-08)
13.41.A03. Responsibilities for Risk Management
The Office of the Secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,
in collaboration with the treasurer of this church, shall provide and manage
insurance (exclusive of life and health) programs for the churchwide
organization and shall make available insurance programs to congregations,
synods, regions, and related institutions, agencies, and organizations.
Recommendations on standards for adequate, continuous insurance coverage
to be maintained by synods, as required in constitutional provision 10.74.,
shall be provided.
13.42. The secretary shall be elected by the Churchwide Assembly to a
six-year term and shall be a voting member of a congregation of this
church.
13.42.01. The secretary shall be elected as provided in Chapter 19 and shall take
office on the first day of the third month after election.
13.42.02. The secretary shall be a full-time, salaried position.
13.50. TREASURER
13.51. The treasurer of this church shall serve under the presiding bishop of
this church, providing leadership as specified in Chapter 11 of this
church’s constitution, bylaws, and continuing resolutions, and shall
fulfill the normal functions of the treasurer of a corporation.
13.51.01. The treasurer shall propose policy for review and action by the Church
Council and provide for the implementation, within such policies, of the
financial, accounting, insurance, property management, investment, and
money management systems, and related services for the units of the
churchwide organization.
13.52. The treasurer shall be elected by the Church Council to a six-year
term and shall be a voting member of a congregation of this church.
13.52.01. The treasurer shall be elected as provided in Chapter 19 and shall take
office on the first day of the third month after election.
13.52.02. The treasurer shall be a full-time, salaried position.
13.52.03. The Church Council, by a two-thirds vote, may dismiss the treasurer for
cause.
13.52.A05. Responsibilities of the Office of the Treasurer
a. This office shall be related to the treasurer, who shall be its full-time
executive officer.
b. This office shall have the sole authority and responsibility to
establish and maintain banking relationships.
c. This office shall have the authority to borrow; issue bonds, notes,
certificates, or other evidence of obligation; or increase contingent
liabilities within the overall limits determined by the Churchwide
Assembly and the more restrictive limits established by the Church
Council. No churchwide board or program committee shall make a
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 13 / 97
commitment that binds the churchwide organization to an outside
lending or other similar institution or which creates a liability of this
church to such an institution without prior approval of the Office of
the Treasurer.
d. This office, through the Budget and Finance Committee of the Church
Council, shall recommend to the Church Council a certified public
accounting firm to audit the financial records of the churchwide
organization. Synodical financial reports shall be submitted to this
office for compilation.
e. This office shall provide for internal audit procedures of the churchwide organization.
f. This office shall provide legal documents pertaining to the financial
and property management matters of the churchwide organization.
These legal documents shall be signed by the officers authorized by
the Church Council.
g. This office shall be authorized, within policies established by this
church, to purchase or otherwise acquire title to real property; to
mortgage, lease, sell, or otherwise dispose of the same; and to act on
behalf of the units of the churchwide organization after receiving
their direction regarding the purchase or disposition of real property.
h. This office shall provide for a common system of financial reporting
from synods and regions.
i. This office shall provide, upon request, a financial management
system for synods.
j. This office shall provide, upon request, counsel in financial matters
to the women’s organization, congregations, synods, regions, and
institutions.
k. This office, within the policies established by the Church Council,
shall assure the implementation of a donor gift acknowledgment
process in consultation with the Foundation of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America.
l. This office, in consultation with the Foundation of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America, shall recommend:
1) approved policy for the valuation process for noncash gifts;
2) the management of assets of life-income agreements;
3) the establishment and management of memorial funds received
by the foundation; and
4) the distribution of earned-income payments to remainder beneficiaries as regulated by the life-income, trust, and other fiduciary
donor agreements.
m. This office shall provide for the management of capital funds.
98 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 13 (04-08)
n. This office shall manage capital loan funds established by the Church
Council. The management shall be within policies established jointly by
the Office of the Treasurer and other affected churchwide units.
o. This office, in collaboration with the Office of the Secretary, shall
examine the risk management and insurance needs of the churchwide
organization and synods.
13.52.B05. Responsibility for Information Technology
The treasurer shall provide for information technology in support of the
work of this church and the operation of Chicago-based churchwide units.
In so doing, the treasurer shall have an executive for information technology, appointed by the treasurer, who shall be responsible for the development and review of guidelines and policies for computer standards,
security of electronic data, application development, data storage and
data retrieval, and shall enable use of electronic technologies for churchwide staff to assist in support of congregations, synods, and related institutions and agencies of this church.
13.52.C05. Responsibility for Operational Support
The treasurer shall make provision for facilities management in support
of the operation of the Lutheran Center and the function of Chicago-based
churchwide units and, in so doing, the treasurer shall maintain management services with an executive for management services appointed by the
treasurer who shall be responsible for building management for the
churchwide organization and the coordination of central services for
Chicago-based churchwide units.
13.60. DEATH, RESIGNATION, OR DISABILITY OF AN OFFICER
13.61. Should the presiding bishop die, resign, or be unable to serve, the vice
president shall convene the Church Council to arrange for the appropriate care of the responsibilities of the presiding bishop until an
election of a new presiding bishop can be held or until the presiding
bishop is able to serve again. The term of the successor presiding
bishop, elected by the next Churchwide Assembly, or a special
meeting of the Churchwide Assembly called for the purpose of
election, shall be six years, with the subsequent election to take place
at the assembly closest to the expiration of such a term.
13.62. Should the vice president, secretary, or treasurer die, resign, or be
unable to serve, the presiding bishop, with the approval of the
Executive Committee of the Church Council, shall arrange for the
appropriate care of the responsibilities of the officer until an election
of a new officer can be held or until the officer is able to serve again.
The term of the successor vice president or secretary, elected by the
next Churchwide Assembly, shall be six years. The Church Council
shall elect the successor treasurer for a term of six years.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 13 / 99
13.63. The Executive Committee of the Church Council shall determine
whether an officer is unable to serve; the officer may appeal the
decision of the Executive Committee by requesting a hearing before
the Church Council. A meeting to determine the ability of an officer
to serve shall be called upon the request of at least three members of
the Executive Committee and prior notice of the meeting shall be
given to the officer in question.
13.70. OFFICERS OF PREDECESSOR CONTINUING CORPORATIONS
13.71. Whenever an existing but inactive corporate entity that previously
functioned as a predecessor or more remote predecessor of this
church or as an incorporated board, agency, or synod related to such
predecessors, and such entity is otherwise without officers or
directors, the officers of this church shall constitute the directors of
such entity and shall hold the same office as they hold in this church.
100 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 14 (04-08)
Chapter 14.
CHURCH COUNCIL
14.10. PURPOSE AND MEETINGS
14.11. This church shall have a Church Council which shall be the board of
directors of this church and shall serve as the interim legislative
authority between meetings of the Churchwide Assembly.
14.12. The Church Council shall meet at least two times each year.
14.13. “Interim legislative authority” is defined to mean that between
meetings of the Churchwide Assemblies, the Church Council may
exercise the authority of the Churchwide Assembly so long as:
a. the actions of the Church Council do not conflict with the actions
of and policies established by the Churchwide Assembly; and
b. the Church Council is not precluded by constitutional or bylaw
provisions from taking action on the matter.
14.14. The Church Council shall elect the treasurer of this church.
14.15. The Church Council shall fulfill responsibilities for elections as
provided in the Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of
the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and, in the event that a
vacancy on the council or on a board or committee of the churchwide
organization is declared by the secretary of this church, the Church
Council shall elect a member to serve the balance of the term.
14.16. The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
may remove for cause a voting member of the Church Council, other
than an officer, at a duly held regular meeting by the affirmative vote
of two-thirds of the voting members of the Church Council, provided
that at least 30 days written notice shall be given to each voting
member of the Church Council that removal of a specific member of
the Church Council will be on the agenda for such a meeting. The
Church Council may remove an advisory member for cause, provided
notice has been given as specified in this provision, by a majority vote
of the voting members of the council.
14.20. RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE CHURCH COUNCIL
14.21. The specific duties of the Church Council shall be listed in the bylaws.
14.21.01. The Church Council shall act on the policies proposed by churchwide
units, subject to review by the Churchwide Assembly.
14.21.02. The Church Council shall review the procedures and programs of the
churchwide units to assure that churchwide purposes, policies, and
objectives are being fulfilled. Each unit shall recommend policy and
develop strategies in its particular areas of responsibility after consultation
with other units of the churchwide organization and affected synods,
congregations, agencies, and institutions.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 14 / 101
a. Policies related to the day-to-day functioning of the unit or to the
specific responsibilities of the unit that have no implications for other
units, congregations, synods, agencies, or institutions may be approved by the unit, subject to ratification by the Church Council.
b. All other policies shall be submitted to the Church Council for
approval.
14.21.03. The Church Council shall review all recommendations from churchwide
units for consideration by the Churchwide Assembly.
14.21.04. The Church Council may adopt policies in accord with this church’s
constitutions, bylaws, and continuing resolutions.
14.21.05. The Church Council, upon recommendation of the presiding bishop, shall
submit budget proposals for approval by the Churchwide Assembly and
authorize expenditures within the parameters of approved budgets.
14.21.06. The Church Council shall adopt personnel policies for this church. Salary
structures of churchwide units shall be within the personnel policies of
this church, unless exceptions are granted by the Church Council.
14.21.07. Consistent with applicable personnel policies, churchwide units will have
staff persons, some of whom shall be executive staff and others of whom
shall be support staff. In conformity with this church’s commitment to
inclusive practice, churchwide units will assure that staff include a balance
of women and men, persons of color and persons whose primary language
is other than English, laypersons, and persons on the roster of ordained
ministers. This balance is to be evident in terms of both executive staff
and support staff consistent with the inclusive policy of this church.
14.21.08. The Church Council shall report its actions to the Churchwide Assembly.
14.21.09. Proxy and absentee voting shall not be permitted at meetings of the
Church Council.
14.21.10. OTHER DUTIES OF THE CHURCH COUNCIL
14.21.11. The Church Council shall act on resolutions from synod councils.
14.21.12. The Church Council shall provide for the installation of the churchwide
officers. At the installation of a newly elected presiding bishop of this
church, the presiding minister shall be the retiring presiding bishop of this
church or, where that is not possible, a synodical bishop designated by the
Church Council.
14.21.13. The Church Council shall establish ranges for the salaries for the presiding
bishop, secretary, and treasurer.
14.21.14. The Church Council, acting through the designated churchwide unit, shall
have responsibility for the corporate social responsibility of this church
and shall have the authority to file shareholder resolutions and cast proxy
ballots thereon on stocks held by the churchwide units that are not
separately incorporated. In addition, the Church Council may make
recommendations to the churchwide units that are separately incorporated
concerning the filing of shareholder resolutions and the casting of ballots
on stocks held by those units.
102 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 14 (04-08)
14.21.15. The Church Council shall determine, unless otherwise specified in this
church’s bylaws, the appropriate churchwide unit for the fulfillment of
particular program or policy responsibilities identified in the bylaws.
14.21.16. The Church Council shall establish the criteria and policies for the
relationship between this church and independent, cooperative, and related
Lutheran organizations. The policies adopted by the Church Council shall
be administered by the appropriate unit of the churchwide organization.
The determination of which organization shall relate to a specific unit of
the churchwide organization shall be made by the Church Council.
14.21.20. ELECTIONS BY THE CHURCH COUNCIL
14.21.21. Unless otherwise specified in this constitution and bylaws, the Church
Council shall elect the executive director for each churchwide program
unit to a four-year term in consultation with and with the approval of the
presiding bishop of this church. Nomination of a candidate for election
shall be made by the presiding bishop after consultation with the appropriate program committee for each position. The presiding bishop, as
chief executive officer, shall arrange within the policy of this church for
an annual review of each executive director. A unit executive director
shall be eligible for reelection. The employment of the executive director
may be terminated jointly by the presiding bishop of this church and the
Executive Committee of the Church Council. With the prior consent of
the presiding bishop of this church, the Church Council may elect two
executive directors for a program unit in the manner provided in this
bylaw.
14.21.22. The Church Council shall arrange the process for all elections as specified
in this constitution and bylaws for churchwide units to assure conformity
with established criteria.
14.30. COMPOSITION OF THE CHURCH COUNCIL
14.31. The voting members of the Church Council shall consist of the four
churchwide officers and 33 other persons, elected by the Churchwide
Assembly.
14.32. Church Council members shall be elected to one six-year term and
shall not be eligible for consecutive reelection.
14.32.01. The Church Council shall have as liaison members nine synodical
bishops, each elected by the Conference of Bishops to one four-year term.
One bishop shall be elected from each region. In addition, the chair of the
Conference of Bishops shall be present for meetings of the Church
Council.
14.32.02. The Church Council shall have two youth advisory members, each elected
by the board of the youth organization of this church to a three-year term.
14.32.03. The Church Council shall have as advisory members each president, or
the designated representative of the president, of the African American
Lutheran Association in the ELCA, the Association of Lutherans of Arab
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 14 / 103
and Middle Eastern Heritage, the Association of Asians and Pacific
Islanders in the ELCA, the Association of Latino Ministries in the ELCA,
the American Indian and Alaska Native Association in the ELCA, and the
European-American Association in the ELCA.
14.32.04. One individual representing this church’s seminaries, one individual
representing the ELCA-related colleges and universities, and one individual representing the social ministry organizations, chosen by the respective associations of these institutions and agencies, shall serve as advisory
members of the Church Council.
14.32.05. Advisory members of the Church Council shall have voice but not vote.
14.32.A05. The chairs of the program committees for the Evangelical Outreach and
Congregational Mission unit, Global Mission unit, Vocation and Education
unit, Church in Society unit, and Multicultural Ministries unit shall serve
as advisory members of the Church Council with voice but not vote. In
addition, the chairs of the respective boards of trustees of the separately
incorporated program units (i.e., Publishing House of the ELCA and
Women of the ELCA) shall serve as advisory members of the Church
Council with voice by not vote.
14.32.B05. The chair of the consulting committee on work on behalf of women—as
provided in continuing resolution 16.12.D05.d. as part of the Church in
Society unit—shall serve as an advisory member of the Church Council
with voice but not vote.
14.32.C05. One voting member of the Church Council shall be selected in each
biennium to serve as a liaison with voice but not vote on each program
committee of the program units. In addition, a member of the Church
Council, upon invitation, may serve as liaison for the respective boards
of trustees of the separately incorporated program units (i.e., Publishing
House of the ELCA and Women of the ELCA).
14.32.D05. One voting member of the Church Council shall be selected in each
biennium to serve—in accord with bylaw 17.31.11.—as a member of the
Advisory Committee for the Church Periodical.
14.40. CHURCH COUNCIL COMMITTEES
14.41. The Church Council shall establish committees and nominate or elect
such persons as necessary to carry out the functions assigned to it.
The description of such committees shall be set forth in the bylaws
and continuing resolutions.
14.41.10. Executive Committee
14.41.11. The Church Council shall have an Executive Committee composed of the
churchwide officers and seven members of the Church Council elected by
the council. The vice president of this church shall chair this committee.
The Executive Committee shall:
a. perform those functions of the Church Council assigned to it by the
Church Council;
104 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 14 (04-08)
b. transmit resolutions from synods to the appropriate unit or units of
the churchwide organization;
c. fulfill the responsibilities of the Church Council related to nominations, with staff services for the nomination and election processes of
the Church Council provided by the Office of the Secretary;
d. provide advice and counsel for the officers;
e. review the work of the officers and, with the absence of the salaried
officers from such deliberations, set salaries of the presiding bishop,
secretary, and treasurer within the ranges established by the Church
Council; and
f. demonstrate concern for the spiritual, emotional, and physical wellbeing of the full-time salaried officers of this church.
14.41.A05. Budget and Finance Committee
A Budget and Finance Committee shall be composed of members of the
Church Council elected by the council and the treasurer of this church as
an ex officio member of the committee. This committee shall have staff
services provided by the Office of the Presiding Bishop and the Office of
the Treasurer. The committee shall prepare and present a comprehensive
budget to the Church Council for its consideration and presentation to the
Churchwide Assembly. In addition, the committee shall relate to the work
of the Office of the Treasurer and the Development Services unit.
14.41.B05. Legal and Constitutional Review Committee
A Legal and Constitutional Review Committee shall be composed of
members of the Church Council elected by the council, shall include the
secretary of this church as an ex officio member of the committee, and
shall have staff services provided by the Office of the Secretary. This
committee shall provide ongoing review of legal and constitutional
matters. It shall review all proposed amendments to the constitutions,
bylaws, and continuing resolutions.
14.41.C05. Planning and Evaluation Committee
A Planning and Evaluation Committee shall be composed of members of
the Church Council elected by the council and shall have staff services
provided by the Office of the Presiding Bishop. This committee shall assist
the presiding bishop in coordinated, strategic planning for the work of the
churchwide organization. This committee also shall be responsible for
the ongoing evaluation of churchwide units and the structure of the
churchwide organization, making recommendations to the Churchwide
Assembly through the Church Council. This committee shall establish a
process for a periodic review of all churchwide units. Further, in consultation with the executive for administration, this committee shall evaluate
and report annually to the Church Council and biennially to the Churchwide Assembly on how the churchwide organization complies with and
implements commitments and policies adopted by the Churchwide
Assembly and the Church Council.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 14 / 105
14.41.D99. Program and Services Committee
A Program and Services Committee shall be composed of members of the
Church Council elected by the council and shall have staff services provided by the Office of the Presiding Bishop. This committee shall assist
the council in assuring that churchwide purposes, policies, and objectives
are being fulfilled through the programs and services of the units of the
churchwide organization. All churchwide policies and strategies recommended by units that have implications for congregations, synods, other
churchwide units, or institutions and agencies of this church shall be
considered by this committee for recommendation to the Church Council.
14.41.E02. Audit Committee
An Audit Committee—composed of six members appointed by the Budget
and Finance Committee and approved by the Church Council for twoyear, renewable terms—shall assist the Budget and Finance Committee
and the Church Council in fulfilling oversight of the churchwide organization’s accounting and financial reporting, internal control systems, and
audit functions, consistent with its responsibilities as specified in the
charter recommended by the Audit Committee, reviewed by the Budget
and Finance Committee, and approved by the Church Council. A minimum of two members of the Audit Committee shall be members of the
Budget and Finance Committee. The chair of the Audit Committee shall
be a member of the Budget and Finance Committee and shall be appointed by the chair of the Budget and Finance Committee. In consultation
with the executive for administration, the Audit Committee approves the
appointment and dismissal of the director for internal auditing.
14.41.F07. Board Development Committee
A Board Development Committee—composed of six members, at least one
of whom shall be a member of the Executive Committee—shall be
appointed by the Executive Committee of the Church Council for twoyear, renewable terms to assist the presiding bishop and the Church
Council in developing and implementing efforts to help members of the
Church Council to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the
council’s role and fiduciary responsibility as the board of directors of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The executive for administration shall relate to this committee, with staff services provided by the
Office of the Presiding Bishop. Members appointed to the Board
Development Committee shall be eligible for service on other committees
of the Church Council.
106 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 15 (04-08)
Chapter 15.
CHURCHWIDE OFFICES AND ADMINISTRATION
15.10. OFFICES
15.11. An office is a unit of the churchwide organization directly related to
and under the authority of a full-time officer of this church. Each
office is related to the Church Council through the officer, who
reports to the Church Council in the interim between regular
meetings of the Churchwide Assembly. Each office may have
executive assistants to undergird the officer in the performance of
specified functions that are the responsibility of that officer.
15.11.01. There shall be the following offices:
a. Office of the Presiding Bishop;
b. Office of the Secretary; and
c. Office of the Treasurer.
15.11.02. Administrative Team. The presiding bishop, secretary, treasurer, and
executive for administration shall function as an administrative team,
directed by the presiding bishop. This administrative team shall assist the
presiding bishop in the fulfillment of the presiding bishop’s responsibilities for oversight, management, supervision, and coordination in the
operation of the churchwide organization.
15.11.03. Responsibility for Planning and Evaluation. The Office of the Presiding
Bishop shall provide coordinated, strategic planning for, and review and
evaluation of, the work of the churchwide organization and shall
coordinate this planning process with the budget-development process.
15.11.A04. Duties of the Executive for Administration
The executive for administration shall be accountable to the presiding
bishop and shall serve as chief administrator of the churchwide organization. The executive for administration shall be elected by the Church
Council upon nomination of the presiding bishop and shall have an
appointment coterminous with the term of the presiding bishop. At the
direction of the presiding bishop, the executive for administration shall:
a. supervise the day-to-day functioning of the churchwide organization
and coordinate the work of churchwide units;
b. coordinate the strategic planning and day-to-day staff activities
within the Office of the Presiding Bishop and the functioning of the
administrative team;
c. facilitate the interdependent functioning of churchwide units in the
fulfillment of the responsibilities assigned to them;
d. develop the budget for the churchwide organization and report to the
Church Council and the Churchwide Assembly through the Budget
and Finance Committee of the Church Council with regard to the
preparation of the budget;
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 15 / 107
e. provide staff services and documentation to the Planning and
Evaluation Committee of the Church Council; and
f. oversee the coordination of central services for Chicago-based
churchwide units.
15.11.B05. Responsibility for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations
Responsibility for ecumenical and inter-religious relations shall be
exercised by the Office of the Presiding Bishop.
a. An executive for ecumenical and inter-religious relations, appointed
by the presiding bishop, shall coordinate the ecumenical, interLutheran, and inter-religious activities of this church, and shall
recommend, through the presiding bishop, policies relative thereto
to the Church Council and the Churchwide Assembly. To fulfill these
responsibilities, the executive for ecumenical and inter-religious
relations shall:
1) assist the presiding bishop of this church in carrying out the
presiding bishop’s role as the chief ecumenical officer of this
church;
2) administer the ecumenical, inter-Lutheran, and inter-religious
discussions (including bilateral dialogues) in which this church
is involved;
3) administer (including personnel and financial support) the
membership of this church in ecumenical organizations, such as
World Council of Churches, National Council of the Churches
of Christ in the U.S.A., and Lutheran World Federation;
4) study and give advice in matters of fellowship and unity with
other Lutheran churches;
5) guide the process of reception of theological agreements;
6) encourage the study of theological topics of common concern;
and
7) assist the synods, congregations, and churchwide units of this
church in carrying out their ecumenical, inter-Lutheran, and
inter-religious responsibilities by giving guidance and by
preparing guidelines for action.
b. From time to time as necessary, the Executive Committee of the
Church Council shall convene as the U.S.A. National Committee of
the Lutheran World Federation. In serving in such capacity, the
committee shall be augmented by the members of this church and the
Lithuanian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Diaspora who serve as
voting members of the council of the Lutheran World Federation.
One staff member of the Global Mission unit shall serve as a
consultant to the U.S.A. National Committee of the Lutheran World
Federation.
108 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 15 (04-08)
15.11.C05. Responsibility for Federal Chaplaincy Ministries
To assist in the fulfillment of constitutional provision 13.21.j., the
presiding bishop shall have a staff member appointed by the presiding
bishop who shall be an assistant to the presiding bishop of this church to
carry out duties related to the chaplaincies of this church in the U.S.
armed forces, the Veterans Affairs Administration, and other federal
agencies and institutions. The assistant to the presiding bishop for federal
chaplaincy ministries shall:
a. supervise the operation of the Bureau for Federal Chaplaincy
Ministries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America;
b. fulfill the requirements for endorsement of candidates for services in
federal chaplaincies; and
c. seek periodically the advice and counsel of the inter-Lutheran
committee for federal chaplaincies whose members of this church
shall be appointed by the presiding bishop.
15.11.D05. Responsibility for Human Resources
Responsibility for human resources shall be exercised by the Office of the
Presiding Bishop to provide management of the personnel policies for the
churchwide organization, except as otherwise determined, including
equal-employment opportunity and affirmative action, recruitment, interview, and selection, compensation and benefits, fair-employment practices, staff position description, performance evaluation, and training.
a. To fulfill these responsibilities, the executive for human resources
shall:
1) recommend personnel policies, procedures, and standards to the
presiding bishop for submission to the Church Council, and,
upon approval by the Church Council, be responsible for the
implementation, administration, and evaluation of personnel
policies, procedures, and standards for units, as applicable, of
the churchwide organization;
2) guide the recruitment, personnel interviews, and process of
selection of staff;
3) authorize necessary research to update compensation packages
and make recommendations to the Church Council for upgrading pension and other benefits plans;
4) make employee assistance programs, such as family-crisis
counseling and retirement-planning services, available to the
employees of this church;
5) recommend policy and procedures to the Church Council for
ongoing performance evaluation;
6) provide for just and equitable employee-relations practices,
including grievance procedures, and provide employee services
appropriate to the churchwide office;
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7) maintain personnel records for all employees, including
employee-performance evaluations; and
8) offer such policies to the synods and congregations as guidelines
and be available to counsel and advise the synods as requested.
b. The executive for human resources shall be appointed by the
presiding bishop.
15.11.E05. Responsibility for Anti-Racism and Diversity Training
Responsibility for anti-racism and diversity training shall be exercised by
the Office of the Presiding Bishop in working toward the goal of full
partnership and participation of African American, Black, Arab and
Middle Eastern, Asian and Pacific Islander, Latino, American Indian, and
Alaska Native people in the life of this church and society. To fulfill this
responsibility, the Office of the Presiding Bishop, in collaboration with the
Human Resources section and the Multicultural Ministries unit, shall
assist the churchwide organization and other expressions of this church
to dismantle racism and to minister in a diverse and pluralistic context.
15.11.F05. Responsibility for Research and Evaluation
Responsibility for research and evaluation shall be exercised by the Office
of the Presiding Bishop to provide reliable and valid research, relevant
information, and appropriate evaluation related to the purposes of this
church in order to assist the presiding bishop, other leaders, and staff of
the churchwide organization to accomplish their duties.
a. To fulfill these responsibilities, the executive for research and
evaluation shall:
1) recommend research and evaluation policies, processes, procedures, and standards through the presiding bishop to the
Church Council and implement them upon approval by the
Church Council.
2) serve as the center for this church in the area of research and
evaluation by:
a) conducting systematic, ongoing research on issues,
attitudes, and contextual developments;
b) conducting individual research projects on behalf of the
churchwide organization and its units;
c) overseeing the development and execution of research plans
for each unit; and
d) providing consultation to all churchwide units on matters
related to research and evaluation.
3) undertake at the direction of the presiding bishop coordinated
comprehensive research and evaluation of the work of the
churchwide organization.
4) provide interpretation of the results of research conducted or
reviewed in support of the work of churchwide units.
110 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 15 (04-08)
5) provide the churchwide organization, its units, and other
expressions of this church with demographic data and analysis.
6) offer upon request counsel and advice about research and
evaluation to congregations, synods, regions, agencies, and
institutions of this church.
b. The executive for research and evaluation shall be appointed by the
presiding bishop.
15.11.G05. Responsibility for Synodical Relations
Responsibility for synodical relations shall be exercised by the Office of
the Presiding Bishop to coordinate the relationships between the churchwide organization and synods, develop and implement synodicalchurchwide consultations and services, render support for synodical
bishops and synodical staff, and provide staff services for the Conference
of Bishops. To fulfill these responsibilities, an executive for synodical
relations, appointed by the presiding bishop, shall:
a. relate to the Conference of Bishops in fulfillment of the conference’s
assigned responsibilities and provide staff services for development
of programs and other needs;
b. relate to the Bureau for Federal Chaplaincy Ministries and the assistant to the presiding bishop of this church for federal chaplaincy
ministries;
c. plan and coordinate synodical-churchwide consultations and churchwide participation in synodical assemblies;
d. provide for synodical services, including assistance to synods for
organizational concerns, long-range planning, and ongoing
evaluation;
e. direct efforts for growth and strength in mission-support contributions from congregations for synodical and churchwide ministries;
f. coordinate the interaction of churchwide units with synodical
responsibilities and programs; and
g. oversee churchwide participation in regions.
15.11.H05. Responsibility for Worship and Liturgical Resources
Responsibility for leadership of the worship life of this church shall be
exercised by the Office of the Presiding Bishop. In so doing, efforts shall
be undertaken to support the worship ministry of this church, oversee the
development and review of worship resources intended for use throughout
this church, and recommend, through the presiding bishop, policies
related to worship and sacramental practices to the Church Council and
the Churchwide Assembly.
a. To fulfill these responsibilities, the executive for worship and
liturgical resources, appointed by the presiding bishop, shall:
1) assist the presiding bishop of this church in carrying out the role
of presiding over the ministry of Word and Sacrament;
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2) introduce and interpret worship resources developed for use
throughout this church;
3) direct this church’s process for liturgical review in accord with
policy adopted by the Church Council;
4) study and advise this church in matters of sacramental practices;
5) assist the synods, congregations, and churchwide units of this
church in carrying out the ministry of worship, maintaining a
network of partners in order to be responsive to the diversity of
worship practices within this church;
6) develop and implement worship for churchwide assemblies and
other churchwide events;
7) represent the presiding bishop and the churchwide organization
to other church bodies on matters related to worship; and
8) be responsible for the Lutheran Center Chapel and for providing
worship opportunities for the churchwide organization.
b. The executive for worship and liturgical resources shall provide,
through the Publishing House of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America, worship resources and shall support the development of a
variety of congregational resources that are consistent with the
proclamation, prayer, worship, and sacramental practices of this
church.
15.20. STAFF
15.21. The churchwide units shall employ staff according to churchwide
policy.
15.21.01. The presiding bishop shall recommend to the Church Council the
personnel policies of this church. Such policies shall be binding on all
churchwide units unless exceptions are granted by the Church Council or
specified in the constitution and bylaws of this church.
15.21.02. Approval by the presiding bishop, upon recommendation of the executive
for administration, shall be required to authorize staff positions in
churchwide units.
15.21.A05. Staffing Assumptions
Wherever practical, staff should be shared between churchwide units and
synods, either as deployed staff or shared-time staff. When staff are
“deployed” or are “shared synodical-churchwide” staff, this shall occur
only after all affected organizations of this church in use of such staff
have agreed to the purposes and details of such an arrangement.
a. Deployed staff shall be understood to mean fully funded by the
deploying churchwide unit(s).
b. Shared synodical-churchwide staff shall be understood to mean
shared funding by the deploying churchwide unit(s) and the synod(s).
112 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 15 (04-08)
15.21.B05. Appointment by Presiding Bishop
The executive for a unit, section, or function for whom selection is not
otherwise provided in the bylaws shall be appointed by the presiding
bishop for a defined term to a maximum of four years. The appointment
may be renewed for a defined term upon the decision of the presiding
bishop. Service of an executive for a unit, section, or function, who was
appointed by the presiding bishop, may be terminated by the presiding
bishop, consistent with the personnel policies of the churchwide
organization.
15.30. CONFERENCE OF BISHOPS
15.31. The Conference of Bishops shall be composed of the bishops of the
synods, the presiding bishop of this church, and the secretary of this
church.
15.31.01. The Conference of Bishops shall report to the Church Council, and may
make recommendations to the presiding bishop of this church and to the
Church Council. Members of the conference shall assemble at least two
times each year.
15.31.02. Staff services for the functions and responsibilities of the conference shall
be provided by the Office of the Presiding Bishop.
15.31.03. The responsibilities of the Conference of Bishops shall be enumerated in
a continuing resolution. The resolution may be amended by majority vote
of the Churchwide Assembly or by a two-thirds vote of the Church
Council. Should the conference disagree with the action of the Church
Council, it may appeal the decision to the Churchwide Assembly.
15.31.A07. Responsibilities of the Conference of Bishops
The Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America shall provide opportunities for worship, spiritual renewal, and
theological enrichment for those elected to the office of bishop of a synod,
the presiding bishop of this church, and the secretary of this church. To
fulfill these responsibilities, the Conference of Bishops shall:
a. be a forum in which goals, objectives, and strategies may be developed and shared concerning pastoral leadership, care, and counsel
for the synods;
b. review recommendations from the appropriate churchwide unit
pertaining to standards for the admission to the rosters of ordained
ministers, associates in ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal
ministers, and for their retention on those rosters;
c. review recommendations and foster programs, in consultation with
the appropriate churchwide unit, pertaining to policies related to
ordained ministers, associates in ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal
ministers, and their families for pastoral care in such areas as call
review, guidance, mobility, intervention, discipline, rehabilitation,
and spiritual growth;
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d. work with the appropriate churchwide unit in the processes for first
call for candidates for the ordained ministry of this church, first call
for persons certified as associates in ministry, deaconesses, and
diaconal ministers, mobility of rostered persons, and pastoral care;
e. carry out programs, under the leadership of the appropriate churchwide unit, related to ordained ministers, associates in ministry,
deaconesses, and diaconal ministers, and their families for pastoral
care, including call review, guidance, mobility, intervention, discipline, rehabilitation, and spiritual growth;
f. offer programs for orientation and continuing education for bishops,
officers, and their spouses;
g. assist the bishops in their role as teachers by being a forum for
serious reflections on the theological and ethical implications of
issues that affect the life of this church;
h. participate in the development and study of ecumenical documents
and assist the bishops to promote the unity of this church through
leadership and ecumenical worship, fellowship, and interaction; and
i. assist the bishops in their role as leaders in fostering support for the
work of this church by being a forum for discussion of annual
mission-support plans and serving as a means of providing advice
and counsel to the Church Council in the council’s responsibility for
approval of those plans.
15.31.B03. Organization of the Conference of Bishops
The Conference of Bishops may establish committees as the members,
from time to time, may determine to assist in fulfillment of assigned
responsibilities. Quadrennially, the Conference of Bishops shall elect a
chair and vice chair to preside at meetings and serve as ex officio members of the executive committee of the conference with the presiding
bishop and secretary. Three synodical bishops also shall be elected by
the conference as members of the executive committee.
15.31.C03. Staff Services for the Conference of Bishops
Staff services for meetings of the Conference of Bishops shall be provided
by the Office of the Presiding Bishop and the Office of the Secretary. The
executive assistant to the presiding bishop for synodical ministries shall
coordinate the operation of the Conference of Bishops.
114 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 16 (04-08)
Chapter 16.
PROGRAM UNITS OF THE CHURCHWIDE ORGANIZATION
16.10. PROGRAM UNITS
16.11. A program unit is a unit of the churchwide organization to which is
assigned responsibility for a major, identified portion of the program
of this church.
16.11.A05. Program Units
Program units of the churchwide organization—which shall function in
cooperation, coordination, and collaboration—are the:
a. Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Mission unit;
b. Global Mission unit;
c. Vocation and Education unit;
d. Church in Society unit;
e. Multicultural Ministries unit;
f. Publishing House of the ELCA unit; and
g. Women of the ELCA unit.
16.12. Each unit shall be responsible to the Churchwide Assembly and will
report to the Church Council in the interim. The policies, procedures,
and operation of each unit shall be reviewed by the Church Council
in order to assure conformity with the governing documents of this
church and with Churchwide Assembly actions.
16.12.10. Program Committees
16.12.11. Each program committee, which normally shall meet two times each year,
shall function as specified in this church’s constitution, bylaws, and
continuing resolutions regarding its responsibilities in relation to a
particular unit of the churchwide organization.
16.12.12. Each program committee shall be composed of 15 persons elected to one
six-year term, with no consecutive reelection, and with one-third of the
members being elected every biennium, as provided in Chapter 19. The
presiding bishop of this church, or the presiding bishop’s designee, shall
serve as an advisory member of each program committee. The Conference
of Bishops shall select one bishop to serve as an advisory member of each
program committee. A member of the Church Council shall be appointed
by the Church Council to serve as a liaison member of each program
committee with voice but not vote.
16.12.13. Each program committee shall review proposed policies and strategies for
its areas of responsibility in the preparation of such policies and strategies
for submission by the executive director of the unit to the appropriate
committee of the Church Council, for presentation to the Church Council.
16.12.14. Proxy and absentee voting shall not be permitted.
16.12.15. Each program committee shall seek to ensure that the unit operates within
the expenditure authorization established by the Church Council.
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16.12.16. The responsibilities of the program units shall be enumerated in continuing resolutions.
16.12.A05. Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Mission Unit
The Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Mission unit shall foster
and facilitate the efforts of congregations, synods, and related institutions
and agencies in reaching out in witness to the Gospel to people in all
contexts and cultures within the territory of this church. It will do so by
equipping existing congregations and ministries; developing new ministries and congregations; seeking to renew strategic ministries; and
working with congregations and synods in programs and strategies for
renewal and evangelical outreach. To fulfill these responsibilities, this
program unit shall:
a. develop, coordinate, and carry out programs of evangelism, faith
formation, and discipleship, including life-long learning and focus on
prayer, and implementation of the evangelism strategy.
b. recommend policy for, and then foster and facilitate, development of
new ministries and congregations.
c. recommend policy as well as foster and facilitate work for renewal
of strategic ministries. To do so, this program unit will:
1) function in cooperation with synods and congregations; and
2) have primary responsibility in working with synods to determine
where and when new congregations of this church shall be
developed and to recommend ministries for recognition and
reception as congregations of this church.
d. establish, support, and plan, in partnership with the Multicultural
Ministries unit, for the outreach and discipleship of this church
among persons of color and those whose primary language is other
than English and, in so doing:
1) have primary responsibility for development of partnerships with
people of African American, Black, Arab and Middle Eastern,
Asian and Pacific Islander, Latino, American Indian, and Alaska
Native ethnic heritage that help this church to bring the Gospel
to all people; and
2) assist in the leadership development and support of African
American, Black, Arab and Middle Eastern, Asian and Pacific
Islander, Latino, American Indian, and Alaska Native leaders.
e. develop and deliver programs to enable members and congregations
to respond financially in support of this church’s ministry in congregations, synods, agencies, institutions, and the churchwide organization, and, in so doing:
1) foster stewardship education endeavors;
2) work in coordination with the efforts of the Development
Services unit; and
116 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 16 (04-08)
3) provide, upon request, counsel and assistance to congregations,
synods, agencies, and institutions of this church to develop and
strengthen financial stewardship.
f. relate to the Mission Investment Fund.
g. be responsible for representing this church in churchwide
cooperative planning for outreach and discipleship together with
other church bodies and ecumenical organizations serving in the
geographic territory of this church’s synods.
h. cooperate, under the coordination of the Global Mission unit, with
Lutheran church bodies based in other nations that desire to carry
out ministry in the U.S.A., and consult with synods of this church in
planning and implementing such ministry.
i. cooperate with other churchwide units and the synods of this church
in providing programs of education for domestic mission and for
witness to persons of other religions.
j. support specialized outreach ministries, such as border and maritime
ministries in partnership with other churchwide units.
k. relate on behalf of the churchwide organization to Lutheran Men in
Mission as a self-supporting entity.
l. develop resources for congregational use in partnership with the
Publishing House of the ELCA and other appropriate churchwide
units.
m. develop multilingual and culture-specific programs and resources in
cooperation with the Multicultural Ministries unit, Publishing House
of the ELCA, and other churchwide units.
n. be responsible, in coordination with synods and appropriate
churchwide units, for the Mission Partners, Mission Founders, and
Mission Builders programs for support of new and renewing
congregations.
16.12.B05. Global Mission Unit
The Global Mission unit shall be responsible for this church’s mission in
other countries and shall be the channel through which churches in other
countries engage in mission to this church and society. To fulfill these
responsibilities, this program unit shall:
a. engage the members and resources of this church in mission outside
the territory of this church through involvement in evangelism,
witness, education, promotion of justice, service, relief, and development. In so doing, the unit will:
1) establish relationships and cooperate in mission with Lutheran
and other Christian churches, agencies, institutions, mission
societies, and movements in other countries;
2) develop and recommend policies and programs for this church’s
mission in other countries;
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3) facilitate contacts and the exchange of human and material
resources among churches, institutions, and agencies outside the
U.S.A. with which this unit cooperates;
4) recruit, call, prepare, and send missionary personnel, including
volunteers;
5) develop personnel policies for long-term missionaries in consultation with the Human Resources section of the Office of the
Presiding Bishop, and administer such policies after their
approval by the Church Council;
6) participate in development and relief with Lutheran World
Relief, the Lutheran World Federation, and other ecumenical
organizations and agencies;
7) administer the allocation of funds to combat hunger outside the
U.S.A. in accordance with World Hunger Program guidelines,
in consultation with the Church in Society unit; and
8) cooperate with global companions in promoting justice and the
equitable sharing of resources and enable the perspectives of
companions to enhance and deepen the ELCA’s public witness.
b. be responsible for this church’s relationship to mission societies,
organizations, and movements in North America that focus on
mission in other countries.
c. foster global leadership-development programs and administer
international scholarship programs on behalf of this church, in
cooperation with the Lutheran World Federation and churches in
other countries.
d. encourage and enable companion churches to build this church’s
capacity for mission in the U.S.A. and coordinate their work with
program units, synods, and congregations.
e. cooperate with other units of this church, under the coordination of
the executive for ecumenical and inter-religious relations, in
programs of education about and witness to persons of other faiths
within the territory of this church.
f. share with this church insights and expertise gained from Christian
relationships around the globe and inter-cultural experiences.
g. provide programs of global mission education and global companionship for this church in cooperation with other churchwide units
and the synods of this church.
h. work in collaboration with appropriate churchwide units for border
and immigrant ministries.
16.12.C06. Vocation and Education Unit
The Vocation and Education unit shall be responsible for development
and support of faithful, wise, and courageous leaders whose vocations
serve God’s mission in the world; and shall assist this church and its
118 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 16 (04-08)
institutions in equipping people to practice their callings under the Gospel
for the sake of the world. To fulfill these responsibilities, this program
unit shall:
a. articulate and exemplify for this church a guiding vision that
cultivates the Lutheran understanding of the vocation of all the
baptized and the place of education and knowledge in the context of
faith; and, thereby,
1) initiate and promote theological reflection among all people of
this church;
2) urge continuing attention in this church to the callings of every
Christian for service of the neighbor in daily life;
3) advocate for a vocation-based understanding of servant leadership that recognizes the work of Christians in the world and in
the Church; collaborate with other churchwide units, institutions, and synods to assist this church in identifying, inviting,
and equipping potential leaders for callings in the Church and
the world;
4) encourage this church and its members to express the faith by
supporting and nurturing public, private, and parochial
education; and
5) give focused attention to the multicultural, racial, economic,
gender, and age diversity of God’s people.
b. relate to and assist ministries, organizations, programs, and movements that support members of this church in discerning and
practicing their callings under the Gospel; and, thereby,
1) nurture efforts of congregations, synods, and related institutions
and agencies to engage youth in the ongoing witness and service
of this church;
2) guide and support the Lutheran Youth Organization, which shall
operate with youth leadership elected by its members and with
a constitution submitted by the Lutheran Youth Organization for
possible approval by the Church Council, and review policies,
budget requests, and resolutions of the Lutheran Youth
Organization and submit recommendations on such matters, as
appropriate, to the Church Council;
3) relate on behalf of the churchwide organization to outdoor
ministries;
4) support involvement of young adults in the life of this church and
their preparation for leadership and service in the world;
5) foster, in coordination with synods, campus ministries at public
and non-ELCA colleges and universities, in accordance with the
established campus ministry policies and procedures;
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6) foster relationships with Lutheran student movements, ecumenical student movements, and other denominational campus
ministries; and
7) relate on behalf of the churchwide organization to ministries that
seek to encourage and support vocation-based understandings
of Christian identity in daily life.
c. be a steward of the educational institutions and networks of this
church; and, thereby,
1) relate on behalf of the churchwide organization to early childhood education centers, elementary schools, and secondary
schools operated by ELCA congregations or associations of
congregations;
2) nurture relationships on behalf of the churchwide organization
with the colleges and universities of this church;
3) facilitate this church’s sponsorship, support, and provision for
oversight of seminaries;
4) develop and monitor—in consultation with synods, seminaries,
and other churchwide units—standards for education and formation programs that prepare persons for rostered ministry;
5) encourage and facilitate the theological education network of
this church for cooperation, coordination, and collaboration
among its seminaries and clusters, colleges and universities, lifelong learning programs, and other theological education
providers;
6) convene a regular convocation of theologians involved in the
teaching ministry of this church, including representatives from
the churchwide staff and the synodical bishops; and, in partnership with the Multicultural Ministries unit, convene a regular
gathering of teaching theologians of color; and
7) represent the colleges, universities, and schools of this church in
public policy matters, in consultation with the Church in Society
unit, and encourage, support, and promote relationships with
associations and entities related to higher education and to
schools.
8) convene a council of college and university presidents and
gather regularly the presidents of ELCA seminaries to explore
shared needs and concerns; and
9) provide risk management services for the colleges, universities,
and seminaries of this church.
d. facilitate the calling forth and support of leaders for mission, provide
them with life-long learning opportunities, and coordinate the planning, policies, and procedures by which persons will be recruited,
120 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 16 (04-08)
prepared, evaluated, and deployed for rostered ministry; and,
thereby,
1) monitor the leadership needs and opportunities of this church
and sustain a vision of adaptable, diverse, and inter-connected
cadres of rostered and other leaders as means to serving God’s
mission for the world;
2) recommend and monitor, in consultation with the Conference of
Bishops, ecclesiastical standards for admission of persons to and
the continuation of persons on this church’s roster of ordained
ministers and its rosters of commissioned associates in ministry,
consecrated deaconesses, and consecrated diaconal ministers;
3) develop and monitor—in consultation with the Office of the
Secretary, the Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations section
of the Office of the Presiding Bishop, and the Conference of
Bishops—policies for the orderly exchange of ordained ministers
between churches with which the ELCA has established a
relationship of full communion;
4) oversee and support a candidacy system for this church, in
cooperation with the synods and seminaries, for the recruitment,
preparation, evaluation, and support of candidates for these
rosters;
5) facilitate the provision of opportunities for rostered and other
leaders to be healthy, faithful, and engaged in continued
learning;
6) assist synods and seminaries in providing programs and
resources for maintaining healthy boundaries and preventing
and responding to sexual misconduct by rostered persons;
7) assist synods, institutions, and other churchwide units in preparing and supporting persons for various ministries, including
mission development, ministries of chaplaincy, pastoral care and
clinical education, and synodically authorized ministries;
8) collaborate with the Multicultural Ministries unit and other
churchwide units, synods, and institutions of this church in the
identification, recruitment, development, and support of African
American, Black, Arab and Middle Eastern, Asian and Pacific
Islander, Latino, American Indian, and Alaska Native leadership, particularly for discerning calls to rostered or authorized
ministry and with focused attention on young adults and women;
9) foster, in cooperation with other churchwide units and synods,
the leadership of women and women of color or primary
language other than English;
10) assist this church in inclusive ministry with and among persons
with disabilities;
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11) relate to and advise the Deaconess Community of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; and
12) implement processes, in consultation with the Conference of
Bishops, for helping this church match the resources of its
leadership rosters with mission opportunities of congregations
and other ministries, including the assignment to synods of
approved candidates for rostered ministry, and the mobility of
rostered persons within the ELCA.
16.12.D06. Church in Society Unit
The Church in Society unit shall assist this church to discern, understand,
and respond to the needs of human beings, communities, society, and the
whole creation through direct human services and through addressing
systems, structures, and policies of society, seeking to promote justice,
peace, and the care of the earth. To fulfill these responsibilities, this
program unit shall:
a. develop and coordinate this church’s theological and ethical study
and analysis of social issues as part of its social witness.
b. develop this church’s social statements for action by the Church
Council and Churchwide Assembly; and prepare, in consultation with
the Office of the Presiding Bishop and appropriate churchwide units,
messages and resolutions on social issues for action by the Church
Council.
c. support, encourage, and facilitate communication among formal and
informal networks of people throughout this church committed to
study, service, and advocacy concerning social issues.
d. work to enable this church to realize the full participation of women;
to create equal opportunity for women of all cultures; to foster
partnership between men and women; to assist this church to address
sexism; and to advocate justice for women in this church and society.
In so doing, this program unit shall:
1) present a program plan annually to the Church Council and
biennially to the Churchwide Assembly on these efforts; and
2) convene a consulting committee related to this task.
e. devote attention, in cooperation with other units, to concerns for
peace and the environment.
f. develop—through this church’s membership in Lutheran Services in
America and in cooperation with synods, congregations, churchwide
units, community and social ministry organizations, other church
bodies, and institutions—a comprehensive system for human services
to carry out this church’s ministry with persons in poverty and other
persons with limited options and special needs. To do so, this
program unit will:
1) recommend overall policy for the social ministry activity of this
church;
122 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 16 (04-08)
2) establish criteria to grant and maintain affiliation with social
ministry organizations, and administer the granting of affiliation
to such organizations;
3) provide, through Lutheran Services in America, a comprehensive
range of technical and programmatic support services for social
ministry organizations;
4) administer this church’s participation in Lutheran Services in
America and recommend to the Church Council election of this
church’s members to the board of Lutheran Services in America;
5) maintain standards, in cooperation with the appropriate program unit, for chaplains serving in affiliated social ministry
organizations;
6) work with the Mission Investment Fund in the administration of
loans to affiliated social ministry organizations; and
7) support the Office of the Secretary in maintaining the list of
affiliated social ministry organizations that seek and qualify for
participation in this church’s group tax exemption.
g. coordinate this church’s relationship with community organizations
and community-economic development activities in cooperation with
the Multicultural Ministries unit.
h. direct and implement this church’s public-policy advocacy to
national and international governmental bodies in consultation with
other churchwide units, and coordinate its public-policy advocacy to
state governmental bodies. To do so, this program unit will:
1) maintain a Washington, D.C., office on behalf of this church, for
advocacy to the U.S. and foreign governments;
2) maintain the Lutheran Office for World Community in New York,
on behalf of this church, for advocacy to the United Nations and
other international and national governmental bodies; and shall
represent, at the request of the Lutheran World Federation, the
concerns of the Lutheran World Federation in the United
Nations; and
3) establish and maintain, in partnership with synods and social
ministry organizations, state public-policy offices for advocacy
to state governments on behalf of this church.
i. give expression to this church’s concern for corporate social responsibility, both in its internal affairs and its interaction in the broader
society. To do so, this program unit will:
1) exercise, at the direction of the Church Council, the rights of this
church as a corporate shareholder on issues of social concern
on stocks held by the churchwide units that are not separately
incorporated. In addition, the Church Council may make recommendations to the churchwide units that are separately incor-
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 16 / 123
porated concerning the filing of shareholder resolutions and the
casting of proxy ballots on stocks held by those units;
2) facilitate the formation of an Advisory Committee on Corporate
Social Responsibility that will include representatives from the
Board of Pensions, the Church Council, and other units of this
church and that will give counsel and advice to all appropriate
units of this church on corporate social responsibility; and
3) work with national ecumenical groups on issues of corporate
responsibility.
j. be responsible for this church’s program to combat world hunger;
administer, in cooperation with appropriate units, a hunger grants
program to combat hunger and poverty in the United States through
relief and development; administer hunger education and hunger
advocacy grants; and direct this church’s hunger education in
cooperation with appropriate churchwide units.
k. relate on behalf of this church to Lutheran Immigration and Refugee
Service and the Lutheran Disaster Response.
l. coordinate this church’s domestic disaster response.
16.12.E07. Multicultural Ministries Unit
The Multicultural Ministries unit shall guide the churchwide organization
in the multicultural dimensions of its work. To fulfill these responsibilities, this program unit shall:
a. foster programs of the churchwide organization with synods, regions,
and agencies and institutions as they identify, develop, and
strengthen the multicultural dimensions of their work.
b. coordinate the churchwide implementation of ethnic-specific ministry
strategies.
c. review and monitor all churchwide programs to maintain and
enhance the ELCA’s central commitment in becoming an anti-racist,
multicultural church.
d. present annually to the Church Council and biennially to the
Churchwide Assembly a program plan, including ongoing evaluation
of the churchwide organization’s work in the area of multicultural
ministries.
e. provide programs of multicultural education and education on racial
justice for this church in cooperation with ecumenical and global
multicultural ministry partners.
f. relate to and assist the African American Lutheran Association in the
ELCA, the American Indian and Alaska Native Lutheran Association
in the ELCA, the Association of Lutherans of Arab and Middle
Eastern Heritage, the Association of Asians and Pacific Islanders in
the ELCA, the Association of Latino Ministries in the ELCA, and the
European-American Association in the ELCA, and encourage and
124 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 16 (04-08)
support associations in their relationship with other churchwide
units.
g. convene and guide an internal multicultural ministries alliance of all
program areas in the churchwide organization.
h. cooperate with other churchwide units and appropriate synods to
undergird maritime ministries.
i. work with other program units and synods in ethnic specific leadership development.
j. work with other appropriate program units for border and immigrant
ministries.
k. work with the Church in Society unit in its coordination of ethnicspecific and racial-justice advocacy.
l. provide advice, counsel, and recommendations to other churchwide
units concerning the development of multicultural and communityspecific programs and resources.
m. assist this church in developing and implementing cooperative efforts
among the African American, Black, Arab and Middle Eastern, Asian
and Pacific Islander, Latino, American Indian, Alaska Native, and
European-American communities in society, in other Christian
communions, and in other religious traditions.
n. assist this church in working toward the goal of full partnership and
participation of African American, Black, Arab and Middle Eastern,
Asian and Pacific Islander, Latino, American Indian, and Alaska
Native people in the life of this church and society.
16.20. SEPARATELY INCORPORATED PROGRAM UNITS
16.21. Provision shall be made and maintained for the separate incorporation of the Publishing House of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America and the Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America as program units of the churchwide organization.
16.30. PUBLISHING HOUSE OF THE ELCA
16.31. This church shall have a publishing house to carry out the publishing
ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The Publishing House of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America shall
be incorporated. The president of the corporation shall serve as its
chief executive officer. Upon authorization of the Church Council,
portions of the activities of this church’s publishing house may be
conducted through separate corporations.
16.31.01. This publishing house shall have a board of trustees of 15 members,
elected for one six-year term with no consecutive reelection and with
one-third elected every two years as provided in Chapter 19.
a. The board of trustees shall be composed of laypersons with expertise
in publishing, education, business management, finance and invest-
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 16 / 125
ment, and ordained ministers with expertise in rural, urban, and
suburban parish ministry in small and large congregations and
advanced theological study.
b. The presiding bishop shall serve as an advisory member of the board
of trustees, with voice but not vote, or shall designate a person to
serve as the presiding bishop’s representative as provided in
constitutional provision 13.21.
c. The Conference of Bishops shall elect one bishop to serve as an
advisory member of the board of the publishing house with voice but
not vote.
d. The board of trustees of the publishing house shall serve as the board
of any separate corporation of this church’s publishing house and the
president of the publishing house shall be the chief executive officer
of any such corporation.
16.31.02. Constitutional provision 16.12. and bylaws 14.21.02., 14.21.03., 16.12.11.,
and 16.12.14. shall apply to this publishing house.
16.31.03. The president shall be elected by the board of trustees of the Publishing
House of the ELCA to a four-year term in consultation with and with the
approval of the presiding bishop of this church. Nomination of a candidate
for president shall be made jointly by the presiding bishop and the search
committee of the board. The board, together with the presiding bishop,
shall arrange for an annual review of the president. The president shall be
eligible for reelection. The board shall establish the salary of the president
with the concurrence of the presiding bishop. The president may be
terminated at any time jointly by the board of trustees of the Publishing
House of the ELCA and the presiding bishop of this church, following
recommendation by the executive committee of the board of trustees.
16.31.04. The specific responsibilities of this publishing house shall be enumerated
in a continuing resolution. The continuing resolution may be amended by
a majority vote of the Churchwide Assembly or a two-thirds vote of the
Church Council. Should the board disagree with the action of the Church
Council, it may appeal the decision to the Churchwide Assembly.
16.31.A05. Responsibilities of the Publishing House of the ELCA
The Publishing House of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America—
also known as Augsburg Fortress, Publishers—shall:
a. be responsible for the publishing, production, and distribution of
publications to be sold to accomplish the mission of this church.
b. work in close cooperation with congregations, synods, and the
churchwide organization to provide a diversity of published
resources.
c. relate to other churchwide units through resource planning groups.
Materials published to assist congregations in fulfilling their life in
mission shall be developed in coordination with other appropriate
126 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 16 (04-08)
churchwide units. Development costs will be paid by the unit developing the publication.
d. develop, produce, and distribute materials required to carry out its
functions.
e. be financed from the distribution of materials, not from the budget of
this church.
f. create, develop, and publish a diversity of resources in various media;
make available other publications, materials, and church supplies;
produce the official documents and publications of this church; and
produce materials in a manner that assures their ready availability.
g. establish a distribution center, as well as utilize other means for the
wide distribution of resources within and beyond this church.
h. manage its finances and other resources in a manner that assures the
continuity and extension of its activities. This publishing house shall
maintain its own accounting, data processing, personnel, pension,
and other functions essential to a cohesive, efficient, and effective
operation.
i. identify and nurture talented authors, composers, artists, and others
involved in creating various media.
j. produce and distribute the church periodical in accord with
provisions of this church’s constitution, bylaws, and continuing
resolutions.
k. determine its necessary financial reserves, appropriations, and publishing subsidies.
l. make available resources to meet unique language and cultural needs.
m. provide for production and distribution services for materials that
originate in churchwide units, including the option of providing for
competitive printing costs and delivery from independent printers,
with costs for these services paid by the originating unit.
16.40. WOMEN’S ORGANIZATION
16.41. This church shall have a women’s organization to assist its women to
commit themselves to full discipleship, affirm their gifts, and support
each other in their particular callings.
16.41.01. Membership of this organization shall be women of this church who wish
to participate through local and other groupings that affirm the purposes
of this organization. This organization shall function in local, synodical,
and churchwide settings.
16.41.02. This organization shall be incorporated, self-supporting financially, and
shall manage its own assets within the policies of this church. The
personnel policies and salary structures of the churchwide organization
shall be followed.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 16 / 127
16.41.03. Constitutional provision 16.12. and bylaws 14.21.02., 14.21.03., 14.21.06.,
16.12.11., 16.12.13, and 16.12.14. shall apply to this organization. Bylaw
14.21.07. shall apply to the women’s organization with the exception of
the balance provisions for women and men and for laypersons and persons
on the roster of ordained ministers.
16.41.04. This organization shall have a board of 21 members elected by the
assembly of this organization for one three-year term with eligibility for
one consecutive reelection. At least 10 percent of the members of this
board shall be persons of color or primary language other than English.
No more than one elected board member shall be from any one synod.
Board members are to serve with the perspective of the interdependence
of all units of this church. In the event of a vacancy, the board shall elect
a member to serve the balance of the term. The Conference of Bishops
shall select one bishop to serve as an advisory member of the board of this
organization with voice but not vote.
16.41.05. The board of this organization shall meet at least two times per year and
shall be responsible to the assembly that elected it. The assembly of this
organization shall be representative of local and other groupings of
women who are members of the women’s organization. Upon two
successive absences that have not been excused by the board, a board
member’s position shall be declared vacant and the board shall arrange for
election to fill the vacancy under Article I, Section 4, Item 9, of the
constitution and bylaws of the women’s organization.
16.41.06. This organization’s board shall elect its executive director to a four-year
term in consultation with and with the approval of the presiding bishop of
this church. This board, together with the presiding bishop, shall arrange
for an annual review of the executive director. The executive director shall
be eligible for reelection. Consistent with applicable personnel policies,
the board shall establish the salary of the executive director with the
concurrence of the presiding bishop. The board may terminate the
employment of the executive director in consultation with and with the
approval of the presiding bishop of this church.
16.41.07. The specific responsibilities of the women’s organization shall be
enumerated in a continuing resolution. The continuing resolution may be
amended by a majority of the Churchwide Assembly or two-thirds of the
Church Council. Should the board disagree with the action of the Church
Council, it may appeal the decision to the Churchwide Assembly.
16.41.A05. Responsibilities of the Women’s Organization
The Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, as the
program unit for the women’s organization, shall:
a. enable its members to grow through biblical study, theological
reflection, and prayer.
b. cooperate with other units of this church in advocating for the
oppressed and voiceless, urging change in systems and structures
128 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 16 (04-08)
that exclude and alienate, and working for peace and justice as
messengers of hope.
c. provide for development and distribution of resources for and to its
members, including a magazine.
d. facilitate local initiative in creating programs and identifying
alternative structural models that encourage and support flexibility.
e. design and implement a leadership development program for its
members, assisting its members to identify, develop, and express their
gifts for ministry.
f. develop networks for communication among women locally,
ecumenically, and globally.
g. relate to other women’s organizations ecumenically and globally.
h. work interdependently with all units of this church in program
development, research, and planning in order to enhance the
ministries and participation of women in church and in society.
i. develop working arrangements in areas of mutual responsibility with
the Publishing House of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 17 / 129
Chapter 17.
SERVICE UNITS OF THE CHURCHWIDE ORGANIZATION
17.10. SERVICE UNITS
17.11. A service unit is a unit of the churchwide organization to which is
assigned particular identified responsibility for services on behalf of
churchwide programs and, in certain units, for specific services to
members, congregations, synods, and related institutions and
agencies.
17.11.A05. Identification of Service Units
The service units of the churchwide organization are:
a. Communication Services;
b. The Lutheran magazine;
c. Foundation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America;
d. Development Services;
e. Mission Investment Fund of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America; and
f. Board of Pensions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
17.12. Separate incorporation shall be maintained for the Foundation of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Mission Investment
Fund of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Board
of Pensions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, in
addition to the Publishing House of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America and the Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America.
17.20.01. Accountability of Service Units
17.21.01. Except as otherwise stated in bylaws, the requirements of constitutional
provision 16.12. and bylaws 14.21.01. through 14.21.07. and 16.12.14.
shall apply to service units of the churchwide organization.
17.21.A06. Communication Services
The Communication Services unit shall interpret the work of this church,
provide for this church’s presence in public media, and coordinate the
communication activities of this church’s units.
a. To fulfill these responsibilities, the Communication Services unit shall:
1) implement an overall communication strategy for this church
and recommend communication policies, procedures, and
standards under the oversight of the presiding bishop and with
the approval of the Church Council;
2) maintain a news and information service to gather and disseminate news about this church and its members, and respond
to inquiries about this church, its policies, and its programs;
3) interpret the work of the churchwide organization to the
members of this church and the public;
130 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 17 (04-08)
4) develop and carry out a communication system for sharing
information and resources among congregations, synods,
regions, and the churchwide organization;
5) provide administrative and budget counsel for The Lutheran
magazine;
6) cooperate with the network of resource centers of this church.
7) coordinate multimedia production for the churchwide organization;
8) develop, promote, and distribute public media-ministry programs of this church;
9) make appropriate provisions for translation, as determined by
policy established by the Church Council, of church communication into languages other than English and into non-visual and
non-verbal versions;
10) provide public relations counsel and support to this church; and
11) maintain relationships with communication offices of other
church bodies and ecumenical agencies and engage in cooperative efforts as appropriate.
b. The executive director for communication services shall be appointed
by the presiding bishop and be accountable to the presiding bishop.
17.30. CHURCH PERIODICAL
17.31. The church periodical, The Lutheran, shall be published by this
church through the Publishing House of the ELCA and shall be
identified as a magazine of this church.
17.31.01. An advisory committee for The Lutheran shall have the responsibility for
the church periodical. The advisory committee, in consultation with the
presiding bishop of this church, shall nominate the editor for the church
periodical.
17.31.02. The Church Council shall elect the editor of the church periodical by a
two-thirds vote to a four-year term. The editor shall be eligible for
reelection. Employment of the editor may be terminated jointly by the
presiding bishop of this church and a two-thirds vote of the members of
the Church Council present and voting.
17.31.03. The editor shall be responsible to the Church Council. The editor shall
select the editorial staff of the church periodical and shall be solely
responsible for the periodical’s editorial content.
17.31.04. Official notices of this church shall be published in the periodical.
17.31.10. Advisory Committee for the Church Periodical
17.31.11. The advisory committee of the church periodical shall be composed of
nine members elected by the Church Council.
a. The members of the advisory committee of the church periodical,
who shall be nominated through the Church Council’s nomination
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 17 / 131
process, shall include persons chosen for their understanding of
periodical publishing.
b. Each member of the advisory committee for The Lutheran shall be
elected for one six-year term, with no consecutive reelection and with
one-third of the members elected every two years.
c. The terms of office of persons so elected to regular terms on the
advisory committee of the church periodical shall begin on the first
day of the month following each regular meeting of the Churchwide
Assembly.
d. The Church Council shall appoint one voting member of the council
to serve as an advisory member of this committee.
e. The Conference of Bishops shall elect one bishop to serve as an
advisory member of this committee.
17.31.12. The specific responsibilities of the advisory committee shall be specified
in a continuing resolution.
17.31.A06. The publishing house, in consultation with the editor, shall produce and
distribute the church periodical, and provide such services as mutually
agreed by the president of the publishing house and the editor of the
church periodical.
17.31.B05. The advisory committee of the church periodical shall:
a. develop editorial and advertising guidelines.
b. receive periodic reports from the editor.
c. consult with the editor from the perspective of the expertise of
committee members.
d. be responsible, together with the presiding bishop of this church, for
the annual performance review of the editor.
17.40. FOUNDATION OF THE EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH IN AMERICA
17.41. This church shall provide major gift and deferred giving programs
for individual donors, pooled investment services for endowment
funds of this church and its related congregations, synods, agencies,
and institutions, and educational and support services in major gift
and deferred giving programs to congregations, synods, agencies, and
institutions of this church. These programs and activities may be
conducted through a separate corporation known as the Foundation
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
17.41.01. The program and activities of the Foundation of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America shall be coordinated with the Development Services
unit of the churchwide organization.
17.41.02. The Foundation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America shall
have a board of trustees that shall be comprised of nine persons elected to
six-year terms by the Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America, with no consecutive reelection and with one-third of the
132 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 17 (04-08)
members elected each biennium. In addition to the treasurer of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the board may identify advisors
as it may deem appropriate from time to time. A synodical bishop elected
by the Conference of Bishops shall serve as an advisory member of the
board with voice but not vote.
17.41.03. The president of the Foundation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America shall be elected by the board of trustees to a four-year term in
consultation with and with the approval of the presiding bishop of this
church. The president shall be eligible for reelection. The employment of
the president may be terminated jointly by the board of trustees of the
Foundation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the
presiding bishop of this church.
17.41.04. The board of trustees of the Foundation of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America shall consult with the Office of the Treasurer with
regard to the assessment of management fees or provision of other assets
available for the budget of the foundation.
17.41.05. Constitutional provision 16.12. and bylaws 14.21.02., 14.21.03., 14.21.07.,
16.12.11., 16.12.13., and 16.12.14. shall apply to the operation of the
Foundation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
17.41.06. The specific responsibilities of the Foundation of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America shall be enumerated in a continuing
resolution.
17.41.A05. Responsibilities of the Foundation
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Foundation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America shall:
a. conduct—on behalf of this church, its congregations, synods, churchwide units, and institutions—a program of major gifts and deferred
giving.
b. provide consultation, support, and guidance to members of this
church in the areas of major gifts and deferred giving.
c. provide coordination and support in major gifts and deferred giving
to this church, including congregations, synods, churchwide organization, and agencies and institutions.
d. provide educational materials, seminars, and workshops in the area
of deferred giving.
e. coordinate its programs and ministries with the objectives and programs of other stewardship and financial-resource development
activities of this church.
f. consult with the Office of the Treasurer in the recommendation and
establishment within that office of policies and procedures for
processes governing valuation of noncash gifts, the management of
assets of life-income agreements and endowment funds, and the
distribution of earned-income payments to donors and to remainder
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 17 / 133
beneficiaries as regulated by life-income, trust, and other fiduciary
donor agreements.
g. engage—in cooperation with congregations, synods, and agencies
and institutions of this church—in efforts to:
1) identify and cultivate prospective major and deferred-gift donors;
2) seek gifts, bequests, and investments for the Mission Investment
Fund of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America;
3) seek gifts, bequests, and investments for endowment funds that
support ministries of this church; and
4) coordinate the programs of the Foundation of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America with the ministry objectives of the
churchwide organization and the synods of this church.
h. offer pooled investment services for endowment funds of this church
and its congregations, synods, agencies, and institutions.
i. provide assistance for the establishment and growth of mission
endowment funds in congregations.
j. coordinate the operation of the Foundation of the ELCA with the
Development Services unit.
17.41.B05. Development Services
The Development Services unit shall oversee and direct efforts for support
of the churchwide ministries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America; and coordinate the work of development for the churchwide
organization.
a. To accomplish these responsibilities, the Development Services unit
shall:
1) develop and maintain an integrated donor database to enhance
coordination of the various gift opportunities offered to members
and congregations of this church through the churchwide organization; and
2) determine the pattern of staff leadership for the various development efforts and programs.
b. All solicitations of restricted gifts for any of the churchwide
ministries shall be coordinated by the Development Services unit.
c. Operation of the Foundation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America shall be coordinated with the Development Services unit.
d. The executive director for development services shall be appointed
by the presiding bishop and be accountable to the presiding bishop.
17.50. MISSION INVESTMENT FUND
OF THE EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH IN AMERICA
17.51. This church shall have a fund, known as the Mission Investment Fund
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, to provide investment opportunities to individuals, congregations, synods, institutions,
134 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 17 (04-08)
agencies, and organizations, and administer loans to congregations,
synods, the churchwide organization, and other organizations and
institutions that are related to this church. The Mission Investment
Fund of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America shall be
incorporated.
17.51.01. The Mission Investment Fund of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America shall have a board of trustees of nine members, who shall be
elected by the Churchwide Assembly for six-year terms with no consecutive reelection and with one-third elected each biennium as provided
in Chapter 19.
17.51.02. Unless the Church Council determines that the treasurer of this church
shall be the president of the Mission Investment Fund corporation, the
president shall be elected by the board of trustees of the Mission Investment Fund of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to a four-year
term in consultation with and with the approval of the presiding bishop of
this church. Nomination of a candidate for president of the Mission
Investment Fund shall be made jointly by the presiding bishop and the
search committee of the board. The board, together with the presiding
bishop, shall arrange for an annual review of the president. The president
shall be eligible for reelection. The employment of the president may be
terminated jointly by the board of trustees of the Mission Investment Fund
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the presiding bishop
of this church, following recommendation by the executive committee of
the board of trustees.
17.51.03. Constitutional provision 16.12. and bylaws 14.21.02., 14.21.03., 14.21.06.,
14.21.07., 16.12.11., 16.12.13., and 16.12.14. shall apply to the operation
of the Mission Investment Fund of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America.
17.51.04. The specific responsibilities of the Mission Investment Fund of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America shall be enumerated in a
continuing resolution.
17.51.A05. Operation of the Mission Investment Fund of the ELCA
The Mission Investment Fund of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America shall:
a. have primary responsibility for the development, administration, and
promotion of Mission Investments.
b. relate to the Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Mission unit,
which shall request real estate acquisition for new and existing
ministries within the limits of the capital funds available and within
established criteria.
c. provide expertise for management of real property and execute all
necessary documents for the acquisition and disposition of such
property.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 17 / 135
d. establish, in consultation with the Evangelical Outreach and
Congregational Mission unit, an annual capital budget for ministry
development.
e. have responsibility, within established guidelines for determining
which congregations shall receive loans, the amount of each loan,
and the repayment schedule; and shall confer with the Evangelical
Outreach and Congregational Mission unit on any loans to
developing ministries.
f. execute the loans, ensure safekeeping for the legal documents,
provide accounting services for the repayment, and supervise
collection.
g. offer building and architectural consultative services to new congregations entering first-unit construction, to congregations relocating
with synodical approval, to other congregations, and to other
organizations and institutions that are affiliated with this church.
17.60. BOARD OF PENSIONS
17.61. This church shall have a church pension and other benefits plans unit.
This Board of Pensions shall be incorporated. The president of the
corporation shall serve as its chief executive officer.
17.61.01. The Churchwide Assembly shall:
a. approve the documents governing the ELCA Pension and Other
Benefits Program that have been referred by the Church Council; and
b. refer any amendments to the ELCA Pension and Other Benefits
Program initiated by the Churchwide Assembly to the Board of
Pensions for recommendation before final action by the Church
Council, assuring that no amendment shall abridge the rights of
members with respect to their pension accumulations.
17.61.02. The Church Council shall:
a. review policy established by the board and take action on any policy
that would change significantly the documents establishing and
governing the ELCA Pension and Other Benefits Program.
b. approve any changes in the ELCA Pension and Other Benefits
Program when there is to be:
1) a significant increase in cost to the employers or members; or
2) a significant increase or decrease in benefits to the members.
c. refer any amendments to the ELCA Pension and Other Benefits
Program initiated by the Church Council to the board for recommendation before final action by the Church Council, assuring that no
amendment shall abridge the rights of members with respect to their
pension accumulations.
d. refer, as it deems appropriate, proposed amendments to the ELCA
Pension and Other Benefits Program to the Churchwide Assembly for
final action.
136 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 17 (04-08)
17.61.03. The Board of Pensions shall have a board of trustees composed of 15
persons elected for one six-year term with no consecutive reelection and
with one-third elected each biennium as provided in Chapter 19.
a. The board of trustees of the Board of Pensions shall include persons
with expertise in investments, insurance, and pensions, and four
persons who are members of the plans, at least one of whom shall be
a lay plan member or lay recipient of plan benefits and at least one of
whom shall be an ordained minister who is a plan member.
b. The presiding bishop shall serve as an advisory member of the board
of trustees, with voice but not vote, or shall designate a person to
serve as the presiding bishop’s representative as provided in
constitutional provision 13.21.
c. The Conference of Bishops shall elect one bishop to serve as an
advisory member of the board of trustees with voice but not vote.
d. The treasurer of this church shall serve as an advisory member of the
board of trustees with voice but not vote.
17.61.04. The board shall organize itself as it deems necessary.
17.61.05. Constitutional provision 16.12. and bylaws 14.21.02., 14.21.07., 16.12.11.,
and 16.12.14. shall apply to this board.
17.61.06. The president shall be elected by the board of trustees of the Board of
Pensions to a four-year term in consultation with and with the approval of
the presiding bishop of this church. Nomination of a candidate for
president shall be made jointly by the presiding bishop and the search
committee of the board. The board, together with the presiding bishop,
shall arrange for an annual review of the president. The president shall be
eligible for reelection. The board shall establish the salary of the president
with the concurrence of the presiding bishop. The president may be
terminated at any time jointly by the board of trustees of the Board of
Pensions and the presiding bishop of this church, following recommendation by the executive committee of the board of trustees.
17.61.07. The specific responsibilities of the Board of Pensions shall be enumerated
in continuing resolutions. Such continuing resolutions may be amended
by a majority vote of the Churchwide Assembly or by a two-thirds vote
of the Church Council. Should the board disagree with the action of the
Church Council, it may appeal the decision to the Churchwide Assembly.
17.61.A05. Responsibilities of the Board of Pensions
The Board of Pensions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America shall:
a. manage and operate the Pension and Other Benefits Program for this
church and plans for other organizations operated exclusively for
religious purposes, and shall invest the assets according to fiduciary
standards set forth in the plans and trusts.
b. provide pension, health, and other benefits exclusively for the benefit
of eligible members working within the structure of this church and
other organizations operated exclusively for religious purposes.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 17 / 137
c. provide summary plan descriptions outlining all benefits to be provided as a part of the ELCA Pension and Other Benefits Program.
d. report to the appropriate committee of the Church Council on the
financial effect of changes to the ELCA Pension and Other Benefits
Program.
e. report to the Churchwide Assembly through the Church Council, with
the Church Council making comments on all board actions needing
approval of the Churchwide Assembly.
f. maintain appropriate communication with other units of this church.
g. be self-supporting, except for certain ELCA minimum pensions and
post-retirement health benefits of certain ELCA retirees, with all
costs being paid from the administrative and management charges to
the employers and members utilizing the plans and from investment
income.
h. manage its finances in a manner that assures an efficient and
effective administration of the plans for pension and other benefits.
The board shall maintain its own accounting, data processing,
personnel, and other administrative functions essential to the ongoing
work of this organization.
i. not be responsible, nor assume any liability for, health-insurance
programs provided by colleges and universities of this church
through voluntary employees’ beneficiary associations or similar
arrangements.
j. manage and operate those portions of The American Lutheran
Church and Lutheran Church in America plans requiring
continuation in this church.
k. provide an appeal process with the Board of Pensions to enable
members in the plans to appeal decisions.
l. make editorial and administrative changes and routine modifications
to the ELCA Pension and Other Benefits Program, as well as
changes required to comply with federal and state law.
m. set contribution rates for the ELCA Survivor Benefits Plan, the ELCA
Disability Benefits Plan, and the ELCA Medical and Dental Benefits
Plan, and establish interest crediting rates for the ELCA Retirement
Plans.
n. manage assets, as requested, for the ELCA and other organizations
operated exclusively for religious purposes.
17.61.B05. The Corporate Social Responsibility Committee of the Board of Pensions
shall receive advice and counsel from the Advisory Committee on
Corporate Social Responsibility formed by the appropriate churchwide
unit and within the context of fiduciary responsibility for ELCA assets
make appropriate recommendations to the board.
138 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 18 (04-08)
Chapter 18.
REGIONS
18.01. This church shall have regions as a partnership between groups of
synods and the churchwide organization for the purpose of exercising
mutual responsibilities.
18.01.A08. The regions shall be numbered 1 through 9 and comprised of the
following synods (as designated in bylaw 10.01.11.):
Region 1—Alaska Synod; Northwest Washington Synod; Southwestern
Washington Synod; Eastern Washington-Idaho Synod; Oregon Synod;
and Montana Synod.
Region 2—Sierra Pacific Synod; Southwest California Synod; Pacifica
Synod; Grand Canyon Synod; and Rocky Mountain Synod.
Region 3—Western North Dakota Synod; Eastern North Dakota Synod;
South Dakota Synod; Northwestern Minnesota Synod; Northeastern
Minnesota Synod; Southwestern Minnesota Synod; Minneapolis Area
Synod; Saint Paul Area Synod; and Southeastern Minnesota Synod.
Region 4—Nebraska Synod; Central States Synod; Arkansas-Oklahoma
Synod; Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod; Southwestern Texas
Synod; Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod.
Region 5—Metropolitan Chicago Synod; Northern Illinois Synod;
Central/Southern Illinois Synod; Southeastern Iowa Synod; Western Iowa
Synod; Northeastern Iowa Synod; Northern Great Lakes Synod; Northwest Synod of Wisconsin; East-Central Synod of Wisconsin; Greater
Milwaukee Synod; South-Central Synod of Wisconsin; and La Crosse
Area Synod.
Region 6—Southeast Michigan Synod; North/West Lower Michigan
Synod; Indiana-Kentucky Synod; Northwestern Ohio Synod; Northeastern
Ohio Synod; and Southern Ohio Synod.
Region 7—New Jersey Synod; New England Synod; Metropolitan New
York Synod; Upstate New York Synod; Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod;
Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod; and Slovak Zion Synod.
Region 8—Northwestern Pennsylvania Synod; Southwestern Pennsylvania
Synod; Allegheny Synod; Lower Susquehanna Synod; Upper Susquehanna
Synod; Delaware-Maryland Synod; Metropolitan Washington, D.C.,
Synod; and West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod.
Region 9—Virginia Synod; North Carolina Synod; South Carolina Synod;
Southeastern Synod; Florida-Bahamas Synod; and Caribbean Synod.
18.10.10. Functions
18.11.11. The regions shall be a means for coordinated responses by synods and the
churchwide organization to mission and program opportunities within the
region.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 18 / 139
18.11.A91. In fulfilling the region’s function and the purposes of this church, each
region may assist in:
a. planning for this church’s participation in God’s mission in the
region, with special attention to the opportunities for outreach with
the Gospel;
b. providing for ongoing dialogue between the synods of the region and
churchwide units for the purpose of identifying functions that may be
done together;
c. forming resource planning groups to recommend resources and
services needed for congregations;
d. facilitating, when requested, relationships with colleges, universities,
and campus ministries and partnership funding responsibilities of the
synods and churchwide organization on behalf of colleges, universities, and campus ministries;
e. facilitating gatherings of synodical bishops, synodical staff, and
regional staff; and
f. coordinating the work of the churchwide staff within the territory of
the region.
18.11.B91. Additional functions may include:
a. relating to seminaries;
b. relating to camps and other outdoor ministries;
c. developing communication plans and projects;
d. planning for and coordinating continuing education programs;
e. providing for various services to congregations;
f. facilitating global mission education and interpretation;
g. providing for stewardship and evangelism events;
h. providing for events for the growth and equipping of God’s people
for their ministries in the world;
i. compiling lists of personnel that may be used by synods for interim
ministries;
j. providing a financial service bureau for the cooperating synods for
banking, payroll, accounts payable, and accounts receivable;
k. providing for regional archives, associated with institutions of this
church wherever possible;
l. coordinating resources for youth ministry;
m. assisting synods in facilitating the mobility of ordained ministers and
associates in ministry and providing such resources as crisisintervention services and psychodiagnostic-treatment programs;
n. facilitating, when requested, relationships with social ministry organizations and assisting in advocacy work; and
o. addressing other functions, as deemed appropriate by synods and the
churchwide organization.
140 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 18 (04-08)
18.11.12. The region shall be a forum where the synods and the churchwide
organization may study, plan, and share together in developing common
programs unique to the region. Responsibilities carried out together will
vary from region to region depending on the decision of the synods and
churchwide units.
18.11.13. Additional programs or services may be developed in each region upon
the request of two or more synods, or upon the request of the churchwide
organization and one or more synods, providing that each requesting
synod and the churchwide organization supply the necessary financial
support for the services requested.
18.11.14. The funding of the region shall be shared by the participating synods and
the churchwide organization according to a cost allocation as decided
jointly by the synods and the churchwide organization.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 19 / 141
Chapter 19.
NOMINATIONS AND ELECTION PROCESS
19.01. The Churchwide Assembly shall elect the presiding bishop, vice
president, and secretary of this church and such other persons as the
constitution and bylaws may require, according to procedures set
forth in the constitution and bylaws of this church.
19.02. The members of the Church Council shall be elected by the Churchwide Assembly. Each biennium the Church Council shall determine
how this church’s commitment to inclusive representation will affect
the next election to the Church Council. The Nominating Committee
shall invite each eligible synod to submit suggested nominees and shall
then nominate persons who fulfill the categories assigned by the
Church Council. Excluding the churchwide officers, there shall not
be more than one member of the Church Council from a synod nor
shall more than two-thirds of the synods in a region have members on
the Church Council at the same time. The Church Council shall have
at least one member from each region. The terms of office of persons
elected to regular terms on the Church Council by the Churchwide
Assembly shall begin at the conclusion of the Churchwide Assembly
at which such persons were elected.
19.03. In the event an interim vacancy on a board, committee, or council is
declared by the secretary of this church, the Church Council shall
elect a member to serve the balance of the term.
19.04. Other than elections of officers and executive directors of units,
elections shall be for one six-year term, without consecutive reelection, and with one-third of the members of the Church Council
and of each board, program committee, or advisory committee elected
each biennium.
19.04.A05. Implementation Process
To implement the adjustment in the size of the program committees and
boards, the Churchwide Assembly shall engage in the following pattern
of elections:
a. Commencing in 2005, the Churchwide Assembly shall elect five
persons to fill the vacant positions on the program committees
related to the Global Mission unit and Church in Society unit. Those
committees, therefore, shall each have 19 persons in the 2005-2006
biennium, 17 persons in the 2007-2008 biennium, and 15 persons
from 2009 forward.
b. Commencing in 2005, the Churchwide Assembly shall elect fifteen
persons to the program committee for the Evangelical Outreach and
Congregational Mission unit and fifteen persons to the program
committee for the Vocation and Education unit. On each of those
committees, five persons shall be elected to two-year terms, five
142 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 19 (04-08)
persons to four-year terms, and five persons to six-year terms. In
2007, five persons shall be elected to those program committees to
six-year terms.
c. Commencing in 2005, the Churchwide Assembly shall elect five
persons to fill vacant positions on the board of trustees of the
Publishing House of the ELCA and five persons to fill vacant
positions on the board of trustees of the Board of Pensions. These
boards, therefore, shall each have 19 persons in the 2005-2006
biennium, 17 persons in the 2007-2008 biennium, and 15 persons
from 2009 forward.
d. This continuing resolution shall expire upon the adjournment of the
2009 Churchwide Assembly.
19.05. Each nominee for an elected or appointed position in this church shall
be a voting member of a congregation of this church.
19.05.01. Each voting member of the Church Council, board, program committee,
or advisory committee of this church shall cease to be a member of the
Church Council, board, program committee, or advisory committee if no
longer a voting member of a congregation of this church. Upon two
successive absences that have not been excused by the Church Council,
board, program committee, or advisory committee, a member’s position
shall be declared vacant by the secretary of this church, who shall arrange
for election by the Church Council to fill the unexpired term.
19.05.02. For purposes of nomination to and service on the Church Council, a
program committee, or a board of a churchwide unit, “synodical membership” shall be defined as follows:
a. A layperson shall be recorded in the synod that includes the congregation in which such a person holds membership, with the recognition that such a person shall reside within the territory of the synod
or in an area immediately adjacent to the territory in the case of
border areas.
b. An ordained minister shall be recorded in the synod on whose roster
such an ordained minister’s name is maintained.
c. A diaconal minister, associate in ministry, or deaconess shall be
recorded in the synod on whose roster such a rostered layperson’s
name is maintained.
19.05.03. A board of trustees of a separately incorporated churchwide unit of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America may remove a trustee from the
board at a duly held meeting by the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the
total number of trustees, provided that not less than five and not more than
thirty days written notice shall be given to each trustee that removal of a
specific trustee will be on the agenda for such a meeting. No such
removal of a trustee shall be effective without the approval of the Church
Council by a majority of those present and voting. The decision of the
Church Council is final.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 19 / 143
19.10. NOMINATION AND ELECTION CONSIDERATIONS
19.11.01. In the nomination and election process the following general considerations shall be observed:
a. It shall be the responsibility of the Church Council to assure that this
church maintain its commitment to inclusive representation.
b. In all elections by the Churchwide Assembly, other than for the
presiding bishop, vice president, and secretary, a majority of the votes
cast on the first ballot shall be necessary for election. If an election
does not occur on the first ballot, the names of the two persons
receiving the highest number of votes cast shall be placed on the
second ballot. On the second ballot, a majority of the legal votes cast
shall be necessary for election.
c. Members of the Church Council and the boards or committees of
churchwide units who have served less than one-half of a term shall
be eligible for election to one full term to be served consecutively
upon the conclusion of the partial term.
d. Before electing a member to a vacancy on a board or committee, the
Church Council shall consult with the board or committee.
e. On the final ballot for the election of the presiding bishop, vice
president, and secretary of this church, when only two names appear
on the ballot, a majority of the legal votes cast shall be necessary for
election.
f. The Conference of Bishops shall select one bishop from each region
to serve a four-year term as an advisory member of the Church
Council. Each biennium the Conference of Bishops shall select a
bishop to serve as an advisory member of each board, program
committee, and advisory committee of the churchwide organization.
No synodical bishop shall serve as a voting member of the Church
Council or of a board or committee of any churchwide unit.
g. The youth organization of this church shall elect for terms of two
years two persons to serve as advisory members of the Church
Council.
h. An advisory member of a board, committee, or the Church Council
shall have voice but not vote.
19.20. NOMINATING COMMITTEE
19.21.01. There shall be a Nominating Committee consisting of 18 members elected
by the Churchwide Assembly. Each member shall be elected to one
six-year term and shall not be eligible for consecutive reelection. Six
members of the committee shall be elected each biennium. The Church
Council shall place in nomination the names of two persons for each
position. The committee shall consist of at least one member but no more
than three members from any region. Nominations from the floor shall
also be permitted, but each floor nomination shall be presented as an
144 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 19 (04-08)
alternative to a specific category named by the Church Council and shall
therefore meet the same criteria as the persons against whom the nominee
is nominated. In the materials provided in advance to each member of the
assembly, the Church Council shall set forth the criteria applicable to each
category that must be met by persons nominated from the floor.
19.21.02. The Nominating Committee shall nominate two persons for each council,
board, or committee position, according to the process described in
continuing resolutions, for which an election will be held by the Churchwide Assembly. Nominations from the floor, where permitted in the
nomination process, shall be presented as an alternative to a specific
category named by the Nominating Committee and shall therefore meet
the same criteria as the persons against whom the nominee is nominated.
In the materials provided in advance to each member of the assembly, the
Nominating Committee shall set forth the criteria applicable to each
category that must be met by persons nominated from the floor.
19.21.03. In each case in which there are floor nominations, there shall be a
preliminary ballot that shall include the names of the nominees presented
by the Nominating Committee or the Church Council, and the person or
persons nominated from the floor, where permitted. The names of the two
persons receiving the highest number of votes cast shall be placed on the
final ballot.
19.21.04. It shall be the responsibility of the Church Council to make certain that
every synod has at least one person serving on the churchwide boards or
committees. Among those persons elected by the assembly, no more than
two persons from any one synod shall serve on any one board or
committee.
19.21.05. The Nominating Committee shall strive to ensure that all persons
nominated for any position possess the necessary competence and
experience for the position. All persons elected to any position, whether
nominated by the Nominating Committee or not, shall strive to represent
this church and not just a particular geographic area.
19.21.A98. The Nominating Committee shall strive to ensure that at least two of the
voting membership of the Church Council shall have been younger than
30 years of age at the time of their election.
19.21.B05. On behalf of the Nominating Committee, the secretary of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America—in the first half of the biennium preceding
each regular meeting of the Churchwide Assembly—shall solicit from
eligible synods on a rotating basis the names of two persons in specified
categories, in keeping with the representation principles of this church,
for possible election to the Church Council. Upon their selection by the
assemblies of the respective synods, the names of the two persons shall be
presented to the Nominating Committee for submission to the Churchwide
Assembly. In the event that any nominee withdraws or is disqualified
from possible service, the Nominating Committee shall submit a
replacement name from the same synod as the original nominee. In the
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 19 / 145
event that the vacancy occurs subsequent to the preparation of the report
of the Nominating Committee to the Churchwide Assembly, a floor
nomination shall be provided from the same synod as the original
nominee. Except as provided herein, no floor nominations for positions
on the Church Council shall be permitted at the Churchwide Assembly.
19.21.C05. For purposes of nominations for the Church Council on a rotating basis,
the following pairing of synods shall be observed insofar as possible:
Alaska Synod and Northwest Washington Synod; Eastern WashingtonIdaho Synod and Montana Synod; Southwestern Washington Synod and
Oregon Synod; Sierra Pacific Synod and Southwest California Synod;
Pacifica Synod and Grand Canyon Synod; Rocky Mountain Synod and
South Dakota Synod; Western North Dakota Synod and Eastern North
Dakota Synod; Northwestern Minnesota Synod and Northeastern
Minnesota Synod; Southwestern Minnesota Synod and Southeastern
Minnesota Synod; Minneapolis Area Synod and Saint Paul Area Synod;
Nebraska Synod and Central States Synod; Arkansas-Oklahoma and
Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod; Southwestern Texas Synod
and Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod; Northwest Synod of Wisconsin
and Northern Great Lakes Synod; East-Central Synod of Wisconsin and
South-Central Synod of Wisconsin; La Crosse Area Synod and
Northeastern Iowa Synod; Western Iowa Synod and Southeastern Iowa
Synod; Northern Illinois Synod and Central/Southern Illinois Synod;
Metropolitan Chicago Synod and Greater Milwaukee Synod; North/West
Lower Michigan Synod and Southeast Michigan Synod; Indiana-Kentucky
Synod and Northwestern Ohio Synod; Northeastern Ohio Synod and
Southern Ohio Synod; New Jersey Synod and New England Synod and
Slovak Zion Synod; Metropolitan New York Synod and Upstate New York
Synod; Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod and Southeastern Pennsylvania
Synod; Northwestern Pennsylvania Synod and Allegheny Synod;
Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod and West Virginia-Western Maryland
Synod; Upper Susquehanna Synod and Lower Susquehanna Synod;
Delaware-Maryland Synod and Metropolitan Washington, D.C., Synod;
Virginia Synod and North Carolina Synod; South Carolina Synod and
Southeastern Synod; Florida-Bahamas Synod and Caribbean Synod.
19.21.D05. In each biennium in preparation for the Churchwide Assembly, the
secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America—on behalf of
the Nominating Committee—shall solicit from synods names of persons
to serve on the program committees of the following units: Evangelical
Outreach and Congregational Mission, Global Mission, Church in
Society, and Vocation and Education. Three names of persons in specified
categories shall be submitted in each biennium by designated Synod
Assemblies of synods in which no person currently with a continuing term
sits on the Church Council or the particular program committee. Two
nominees shall be chosen by the Nominating Committee, after reviewing
the synodical submission, to address matters of balance, representation,
146 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 19 (04-08)
and expertise in the composition of the program committees. Floor
nominations in specified categories shall be permitted at the Churchwide
Assembly.
19.30. ELECTION OF OFFICERS
19.31.01. The churchwide officers shall be elected as follows:
a. The presiding bishop shall be elected by the Churchwide Assembly
by ecclesiastical ballot. Three-fourths of the votes cast shall be
necessary for election on the first ballot. If no one is elected, the first
ballot shall be considered the nominating ballot. Three-fourths of the
votes cast on the second ballot shall be necessary for election. The
third ballot shall be limited to the seven persons (plus ties) who
received the greatest number of votes on the second ballot, and
two-thirds of the votes cast shall be necessary for election. The
fourth ballot shall be limited to the three persons (plus ties) who
receive the greatest number of votes on the third ballot, and 60
percent of the votes cast shall be necessary for election. On subsequent ballots, a majority of the votes cast shall be necessary for
election. These ballots shall be limited to the two persons (plus ties)
who receive the greatest number of votes on the previous ballot.
b. The vice president shall be elected by the Churchwide Assembly.
The election shall proceed without oral nominations. If the first
ballot for vice president does not result in an election, it shall be
considered a nominating ballot. On the first ballot, three-fourths of
the votes cast shall be required for election. Thereafter only such
votes as are cast for persons who received votes on the first or
nominating ballot shall be valid. On the second ballot, three-fourths
of the votes cast shall be required for election. On the third ballot,
the voting shall be limited to the seven persons (plus ties) receiving
the greatest number of votes on the second ballot and two-thirds of
the votes cast shall be necessary for election. On the fourth ballot,
voting shall be limited to the three persons (plus ties) receiving the
greatest number of votes on the previous ballot and 60 percent of the
votes cast shall elect. On subsequent ballots, voting shall be limited
to the two persons (plus ties) receiving the greatest number of votes
on the previous ballot and a majority of votes cast shall elect.
c. The secretary shall be elected by the Churchwide Assembly. The
election shall proceed without oral nominations. If the first ballot for
secretary does not result in an election, it shall be considered a
nominating ballot. On the first ballot, three-fourths of the votes cast
shall be required for election. Thereafter only such votes as are cast
for persons who received votes on the first or nominating ballot shall
be valid. On the second ballot, three-fourths of the votes cast shall be
required for election. On the third ballot, the voting shall be limited
to the seven persons (plus ties) receiving the greatest number of votes
on the second ballot and two-thirds of the votes cast shall be
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 19 / 147
necessary for election. On the fourth ballot, voting shall be limited
to the three persons (plus ties) receiving the greatest number of votes
on the previous ballot and 60 percent of the votes cast shall elect. On
subsequent ballots, voting shall be limited to the two persons (plus
ties) receiving the greatest number of votes on the previous ballot and
a majority of the votes cast shall elect.
d. The treasurer shall be elected by a two-thirds vote of the Church
Council.
19.40. TERMS OF OFFICE
19.41.01. The terms of office of persons elected to regular terms on a committee or
board by the Churchwide Assembly shall begin at the conclusion of the
assembly at which such persons were elected. The commencement of
terms of office of persons elected to regular terms by the Churchwide
Assembly on the board of trustees of the Publishing House of the ELCA
and the board of trustees of the Board of Pensions shall be specified in the
bylaws of these separately incorporated entities.
19.41.02. The terms of office of persons elected to regular terms on the Nominating
Committee of the Churchwide Assembly, the Committee on Discipline,
and the Committee on Appeals shall begin at the conclusion of the
Churchwide Assembly at which such persons were elected, except as may
be specified in continuing resolutions with respect to particular pending
discipline matters.
19.41.A91. With respect to committees that consider disciplinary cases or appeals:
a. Any member of the churchwide Committee on Discipline who has
been appointed to serve on a discipline hearing committee for a
particular pending case shall continue to serve to discharge that
appointment notwithstanding that his or her successor has been
subsequently elected at a Churchwide Assembly.
b. Any member of the synodical Committee on Discipline who is serving
at the time that the Executive Committee of the Church Council
appoints members from the churchwide Committee on Discipline to
a discipline hearing committee shall continue as a member of that
discipline hearing committee for the particular pending case,
notwithstanding that his or her successor has been subsequently
elected at a Synod Assembly.
c. Any member of the Committee on Appeals who is serving at the time
that an appeal is made shall continue to serve to decide that appeal,
notwithstanding that his or her successor has been subsequently
elected at a Churchwide Assembly.
19.50. EXPERIENCE AND EXPERTISE
19.51.01. The Churchwide Assembly shall elect all members of each program
committee and the board of trustees of the Publishing House of the ELCA,
the board of trustees of the Mission Investment Fund, and the board of
148 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 19 (04-08)
trustees of the Board of Pensions. The Nominating Committee shall seek
to ensure that these committees and boards have within their membership
persons with the expertise and experience essential to the fulfillment of
the work of the unit.
19.51.02. The program committee for the Multicultural Ministries unit shall consist
of 15 persons, 14 of whom shall be elected to six-year terms by the
Churchwide Assembly. The committee shall include two persons from
each of the following communities: African American or Black; Arab and
Middle Eastern; Asian and Pacific Islander; Latino; American Indian and
Alaska Native; European-American; and multiracial or biracial. One
person shall be elected to a three-year term on the committee by the
Multicultural Advisory Committee of the Lutheran Youth Organization.
19.51.A06. Nomination for Multicultural Ministries Program Committee
In each biennium in preparation for the Churchwide Assembly, the
secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America—on behalf of
the Nominating Committee—shall solicit from the ELCA ethnic
associations names of persons for possible election to serve on the
program committee for the Multicultural Ministries unit. The names of
two persons in specified categories shall be presented in each biennium
by designated associations to the Nominating Committee for submission
to the Churchwide Assembly. Nominations to vacant terms designated for
multiracial or biracial and Caucasian members shall be determined in the
customary manner by the Nominating Committee. Floor nominations in
specified categories shall be permitted at the Churchwide Assembly.
19.60. OTHER MATTERS RELATED TO NOMINATIONS AND ELECTIONS
19.61.01. The Church Council shall from time to time, by continuing resolution,
establish committees and procedures for the conduct of elections at the
Churchwide Assembly.
19.61.02. No member of the Church Council, a committee of the Church Council,
a board, a program committee, or other committee of the churchwide
organization shall receive emolument for such service, nor shall any
member be simultaneously an officer of this church, an elected member
of the Church Council, or a voting member of a committee or board of the
churchwide organization.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the payment by this
church of the costs of insurance on behalf of a person who is or was a
member of the Church Council, a committee of the Church Council, a
board, or committee against any liability asserted against and incurred by
such person in or arising from that capacity, whether or not this church
would have been required to indemnify such person against the liability
under provisions of law or otherwise.
19.61.03. No employee of the churchwide organization of this church or its regions,
nor any individual under contract to any unit of the churchwide organ-
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 19 / 149
ization or a region shall be eligible for nomination to or membership on
the Church Council, a program or advisory committee, a board, the
Committee on Appeals, the Committee on Discipline, or the churchwide
Nominating Committee during the period of employment or service under
contract. (The phrase “under contract” shall not mean short-term contracts
for specific, limited purposes, usually not to exceed six months.)
19.61.04. No spouse, parent, son, daughter, sibling, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew,
grandparent, grandchild, or in-law (parent, son, or daughter of a spouse,
or spouse of a sibling) of an executive director or of an executive staff
member of the churchwide organization shall be eligible for nomination
to or membership on the Church Council, board, or committee that
oversees the unit in which the person’s relative is employed.
19.61.05. No person employed by an entity, agency, or institution supervised by a
board or committee of the churchwide organization shall be a member of
that supervising board or committee, except the full-time salaried officers
as specified in the Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of
the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
19.61.A94. Ecclesiastical Ballot. An “ecclesiastical ballot” for the election of officers
(other than treasurer) of the churchwide organization of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America is an election process:
a. in which on the first ballot the name of any eligible individual may be
submitted for nomination by a voting member of the assembly;
b. through which the possibility of election to office exists on any ballot
by achievement of the required number of votes cast by voting
members of the assembly applicable to a particular ballot;
c. that precludes spoken floor nominations;
d. in which the first ballot is the nominating ballot if no election occurs
on the first ballot;
e. in which the first ballot defines the total slates of nominees for possible
election on a subsequent ballot, with no additional nominations;
f. that does not preclude, after the reporting of the first ballot, the right
of persons nominated to withdraw their names prior to the casting of
the second ballot;
g. in which any name appearing on the second ballot may not be
subsequently withdrawn;
h. that does not preclude an assembly’s adoption of rules that permit,
at a defined point in the election process and for a defined period of
time, speeches to the assembly by nominees or their representatives
and/or a question-and-answer forum in which the nominees or their
representatives participate; and
i. in which the number of names that appear on any ballot subsequent
to the second ballot shall be determined in accordance with
provisions of the governing documents.
150 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 19 (04-08)
19.61.B98. Nominations Desk and Nominations Form
a. Nominations from the floor at the Churchwide Assembly shall be
made at the Nominations Desk, which shall be maintained under the
supervision of the secretary of this church.
b. A nomination from the floor shall be made by using the form
provided by the secretary of this church. Nomination forms may be
obtained from the Nominations Desk at times prescribed in the
assembly’s Rules of Organization and Procedure. This form is also
included in each voting member’s registration materials.
c. The required form to be used in making nominations from the floor
shall include the nominee’s name, address, phone number, gender,
lay or clergy status, white or person of color or primary language
other than English status, congregational membership, synodical
membership, and affirmation of willingness to serve, if elected; the
name, address, and synodical membership of the voting member who
is making the nomination; and such other information as the
secretary of this church shall require.
d. For purposes of nomination procedures, “synodical membership” means:
1) In the case of a layperson, the synod that includes the congregation in which such person holds membership; and
2) In the case of an ordained minister, the synod on whose roster
such ordained minister’s name is maintained.
19.61.C05. Floor Nominations
a. Floor nominations for positions on a board or committee of a churchwide unit require, in addition to the nominator, the written support
of at least ten other voting members. Floor nominations for the
Church Council, the Nominating Committee, or other churchwide
committee to be elected by the Churchwide Assembly require, in
addition to the nominator, the written support of at least twenty other
voting members.
b. A nomination from the floor for any position (other than presiding
bishop, vice president, and secretary) shall be made by filing the
completed nomination form with the Nominations Desk at times
prescribed in the assembly’s Rules of Organization and Procedure.
c. Nominations will be considered made in the order in which filed at
the Nominations Desk.
19.61.D05. Restrictions on Floor Nominations for Boards
a. Nominations from the floor for positions on churchwide boards or
committees shall comply with criteria and restrictions established by
the Nominating Committee and set forth in materials provided to
each voting member of the assembly.
b. So long as the number of incumbent members from a given synod
serving on a board or committee with terms not expiring plus the
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 19 / 151
number of positions on the same board or committee to which
individuals from the same synod already have been nominated
(whether by the Nominating Committee or from the floor) total less
than the maximum number of two individuals from the same synod
who may serve on that board or committee, an individual from the
same synod may be nominated for another position on that board or
committee, provided other criteria and restrictions are met. Individuals from the same synod may be nominated for a position on a board
or committee to which individuals from the same synod already have
been nominated, provided other criteria and restrictions are met.
19.61.E05. Restriction on Nominations for Church Council
Nominations for positions on the Church Council shall comply with
criteria and restrictions established by the Church Council and
Nominating Committee and set forth in materials provided to each voting
member of the assembly.
19.61.F98. Restriction on Floor Nominations for Nominating Committee
a. Nominations from the floor for positions on the Nominating
Committee shall comply with criteria and restrictions established by
the Church Council and set forth in materials provided to each voting
member of the assembly.
b. So long as the number of incumbent members from a given region
serving on the Nominating Committee with terms not expiring plus
the number of Nominating Committee positions to which individuals
from the same region have already been nominated (whether by the
Church Council or from the floor) total less than the maximum
number of three individuals from the same region who may serve on
the Nominating Committee, an individual from the same region may
be nominated for another Nominating Committee position, provided
other criteria and restrictions are met. Provided other criteria and
restrictions are met, individuals may be nominated for a Nominating
Committee position for which someone from the same region has
already been nominated.
19.61.G02. Election Procedures Utilizing the Common Ballot
a. The common ballot is used in those elections when the ecclesiastical
or nominating ballot is not used.
b. For the first common ballot, the exact number of ballot forms equal
to the number of voting members from each synod will be given to the
bishop of that synod. The bishop of the synod, or his or her designee,
will be responsible for distributing the ballot forms to each of the
voting members from the synod.
c. Upon recommendation of the chair and with the consent of the
assembly, the second common ballot may be conducted by electronic
device. Unless the second common ballot is conducted by electronic
152 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 19 (04-08)
device, the distribution of ballot forms for the second common ballot
will be in the same manner as the first common ballot.
d. Any discrepancy between the number of ballots given to a synodical
bishop and the number of voting members (including the synodical
bishop) from such synod must be reported by the synodical bishop to
the Elections Committee.
e. Each ticket for which an election is held will be considered a
separate ballot.
f. A voting member may vote for only one nominee on each ticket.
g. Failure to vote for a nominee for every ticket does not invalidate a
ballot for the tickets for which a nominee is marked.
h. Ballots must be marked in accordance with the instructions presented
in plenary session.
i. Ballot forms should not be folded.
j. Marked ballot forms must be deposited at the designated Ballot
Stations at certain exits of the hall in which plenary sessions are held.
k. If a ballot is damaged so that it cannot be scanned, a replacement
ballot may be obtained at the Ballot Station upon surrender of the
damaged ballot.
l. Unless otherwise ordered by the assembly, polls for the first common
ballot close at the time designated in the assembly’s Rules of
Organization and Procedure.
m. On each ticket for which balloting is conducted by electronic device,
the polls will remain open for a reasonable time, as determined by
the chair, to permit members to record their votes.
n. Unless the second ballot is conducted by electronic device, polls for
the second common ballot close at the time designated in the
assembly’s Rules of Organization and Procedure or as otherwise
ordered by the assembly.
o. On the second ballot, whether by common ballot or by electronic
device, the first position on each ticket shall be given to the nominee
who received the greatest number of votes on the first ballot. If two
nominees are tied for the highest vote, the first position on the ticket
shall be determined by draw by the chair of the Elections Committee.
19.61.H07. Election Procedures Utilizing the Ecclesiastical Ballot
a. For each election by ecclesiastical or nominating ballot, the exact
number of appropriate ballot sets equal to the number of voting
members from each synod will be given to the bishop of that synod.
The bishop of the synod, or his or her designee, will be responsible
for distributing the ballot sets to each of the voting members from the
synod.
b. Unless otherwise ordered by the chair, one of the numbered ballots
from the appropriate ballot set is to be used on each ballot for
elections determined by ecclesiastical or nominating ballot. The
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 19 / 153
chair will announce the number of the ballot from the appropriate
ballot set that is to be used for each ballot. Failure to use the correct
numbered ballot will result in an illegal ballot.
c. On the first two ballots for each office being selected by ecclesiastical
or nominating ballot, both the first and last names of a nominee
should be used. Members should endeavor to use correct spelling
and should provide, on the first ballot, any additional accurate information identifying the nominee, such as title, synod, or residence.
d. On the third and subsequent ballots conducted by written ballot, only
the last name of the nominee need be used, provided there is no other
nominee with the same or similar name.
e. A member may vote for only one nominee on each ballot.
f. Ballots should not be marked prior to the time the chair advises the
voting members to do so.
g. Written ballots should not be folded.
h. Written ballots will be collected from the voting members in accordance with instructions from the Elections Committee or from the chair.
i. When the results of the first ballot are presented, the chair will
announce when and how persons nominated may withdraw their
names prior to the casting of the second ballot.
j. Whenever the number of names of nominees that will appear on a
ballot is nine or less, on recommendation of the chair and with the
consent of the assembly, voting may be by means of electronic device.
k. When voting by electronic device, the first position on each ballot
shall be given to the nominee who received the greatest number of
votes on the immediately preceding ballot, with the remaining
positions assigned to the other nominees in descending order of the
number of votes received on the immediately preceding ballot. If two
or more nominees were tied with the same vote on the immediately
preceding ballot, their respective positions shall be determined by
draw by the chair of the Elections Committee.
l. On each ticket for which balloting is conducted by electronic device,
the polls will remain open for a reasonable time, as determined by
the chair, to permit voting members to record their votes.
19.61.I98. Breaking Ties in Elections
a. On the ballot for the election of the presiding bishop, vice president,
and secretary, when only two names appear, the marked ballot of the
treasurer shall be held by the chair of the Elections Committee and
shall be counted only where necessary to break a tie that would
otherwise exist.
b. On the first common ballot, the blank ballots of the treasurer and vice
president shall be held by the chair of the Elections Committee to be
presented to the treasurer for her or his vote only in those elections
where a tie would otherwise exist, and to be presented to the vice
154 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 19 (04-08)
president for his or her vote only in those elections to break a tie
remaining after the ballot of the treasurer has been counted.
c. On the second common ballot, the marked ballot of the treasurer
shall be held by the chair of the Elections Committee and shall be
counted only where necessary to break a tie that would otherwise
exist.
19.61.J00. A former full-time or part-time employee of the churchwide organization
shall not be eligible, for a minimum of six years subsequent to such
employment, for nomination or election to the board or committee related
to the churchwide unit in which the employee served.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 20 / 155
Chapter 20.
CONSULTATION, DISCIPLINE, APPEALS, AND ADJUDICATION
20.10. CONSULTATION AND DISCIPLINE
20.11. There shall be set forth in the bylaws a process of discipline governing
officers, ordained ministers, diaconal ministers, associates in ministry,
deaconesses, congregations, and members of congregations. Except as
provided in 20.18. or 20.19., such process shall assure due process and
due protection for the accused, other parties, and this church. Since
synods have responsibility for admittance of persons into the ordained
ministry of this church or onto other rosters of this church and have
oversight of pastoral and congregational relationships, the disciplinary process shall be a responsibility of the synod on behalf of this
church and jointly with it.
20.12. As used in this constitution and bylaws, due process means the right
to be given specific written notice of the charges against any person
or entity of this church, the right to testify in person or remain silent
(at the election of the accused), the right to call witnesses and introduce documentary evidence concerning the pending charges, the right
to confront and cross-examine all witnesses in support of such charges,
the right to a hearing before a discipline hearing committee as provided in 20.13., the right to a written decision of the discipline hearing
committee as provided in the bylaws, and the right to be treated with
fundamental procedural fairness. Any violation of these rights shall
be grounds for reversal of an unfavorable finding and the right to a
new hearing.
20.12.01. “Fundamental procedural fairness” means and includes: avoidance by
committee members of written communications to or from either the
accused or accuser(s) without copy to the other; avoidance by committee
members of oral communications with either the accused or accuser(s)
outside the presence of the other; maintaining decorum during the hearing;
allowing both the accuser(s) and the accused to present their cases without
unnecessary interruptions; keeping a verbatim record of the hearing, made
either by a stenographer or court reporter or tape recording; allowing both
the accuser(s) and the accused to be accompanied at the hearing by a
representative (who may, but need not, be an attorney) who also may
participate in the proceedings; impartiality of the committees that consider
the charges; and the right to be treated in conformity with the governing
documents of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
20.13. The accused shall be entitled to a hearing before a discipline hearing
committee as described in the bylaws. If the accused is a congregation,
the hearing shall be open to the public unless both the accuser and the
accused agree to a hearing not open to the public. If the accused is an
individual, the hearing shall not be open to the public unless both the
accusers and the accused agree to a public hearing. At a hearing not
156 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 20 (04-08)
open to the public, a limited number of concerned persons may attend
as provided in the bylaws.
20.13.01. In a hearing not open to the public,
a. the accuser and the accused may each be represented by not more
than two representatives who may present or assist in the presentation
of the evidence; and
b. the discipline hearing committee may permit attendance by a limited
number of persons, with the consent of both the accused and the
accuser.
20.13.02. Irrespective of whether a hearing is or is not open to the public, the
discipline hearing committee may decide that witnesses (other than the
accused and the accuser) shall be permitted in the hearing only when
testifying. A witness may be accompanied by a friend or advocate.
20.14. Once a charge against a person or entity has been considered by a
discipline hearing committee, that person or entity shall not be
required to answer that charge again except under the circumstances
set forth in the bylaws.
20.14.01. The circumstances in which a person or entity shall be required to answer
again charges before a discipline hearing committee shall be limited to the
following:
a. The Committee on Appeals has ordered a rehearing as its disposition
of a timely appeal to it.
b. The Committee on Appeals has ordered a further hearing after either
an accuser or an accused has petitioned for a further hearing on the
basis of newly discovered evidence or testimony that was not
available at the time of the original hearing.
20.14.02. After a charge against a person or entity has been considered by a
discipline hearing committee, evidence related to that charge may be
introduced at a subsequent hearing before another discipline hearing
committee on a different but related charge. Charges are “related” if they
involve similar alleged conduct on the part of the accused.
20.15. The procedures for consultation and discipline set forth in the bylaws
shall be the exclusive means of resolving all matters pertaining to the
discipline of congregations of this church. Neither this church nor a
synod of this church shall institute legal proceedings in which conduct
described in provision 20.31.01. is the basis of a request for relief
consisting of suspension of that congregation from this church or
removal of that congregation from the roll of congregations of this
church. A congregation of this church shall not institute legal
proceedings against this church or a synod of this church seeking
injunctive or other relief against the imposition or enforcement of any
disciplinary action against that congregation.
20.16. It is the intent of this church that all matters of discipline should be
resolved internally to the greatest extent possible. It is the policy of
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 20 / 157
this church not to resort to the civil courts of this land until all
internal procedures and appeals have been exhausted, except for
emergency situations involving a significant imminent risk of physical
injury or severe loss or damage to property.
20.17. None of the provisions of this chapter is intended nor shall be construed to limit the authority of a Synod Council to remove, under the
bylaws of this church, from the rosters of this church an ordained
minister or other person who is without regular call and not retired,
for any reason, even though such reason might also be the basis for
disciplinary proceedings under this chapter.
20.18. The authority to administer private censure and admonition upon an
individual or public censure and admonition upon a congregation is
inherent in the office of bishop. Proceedings under this chapter or any
other provision of the constitutions and bylaws of this church or of its
synods are not required for the exercise of such authority.
20.19. Where the written notice of charges specifically requests that the
discipline to be imposed shall consist of suspension for not more than
three months (during which time requirements for evaluation,
therapy, continuing education, or similar experience may be imposed), the due process and due protection provisions of this
constitution shall apply only as specified in the bylaws.
20.20. ORDAINED MINISTERS
20.21.01. Ordained ministers shall be subject to discipline for:
a. preaching and teaching in conflict with the faith confessed by this
church;
b. conduct incompatible with the character of the ministerial office;
c. willfully disregarding or violating the functions and standards established by this church for the office of Word and Sacrament;
d. willfully disregarding the provisions of the constitution or bylaws of
this church; or
e. willfully failing to comply with the requirements ordered by a discipline hearing committee under 20.23.08.
20.21.02. The disciplinary actions which may be imposed are:
a. private censure and admonition by the bishop of the synod;
b. suspension from the office and functions of the ordained ministry in
this church for a designated period or until there is satisfactory evidence of repentance and amendment; or
c. removal from the ordained ministry of this church.
20.21.03. Charges against an ordained minister which could lead to discipline must
be specific and in writing, subscribed to by the accuser(s), and be made
by one or more of the following:
a. at least two-thirds of the members of the congregation’s council,
submitted to the synodical bishop;
158 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 20 (04-08)
b. at least one-third of the voting members of the congregation, submitted to the synodical bishop;
c. at least two-thirds of the members of the governing body to which the
ordained minister, if not a parish pastor, is accountable, submitted to
the synodical bishop;
d. at least 10 ordained ministers of the synod on whose roster the
accused ordained minister is listed, submitted to the synodical bishop;
e. the synodical bishop; or
f. the presiding bishop of this church, but only with respect to an accused who is a synodical bishop (or who was a synodical bishop at
any time during the 12 months preceding the filing of written charges),
submitted to the secretary of this church.
20.21.04. When there are indications that a cause for discipline may exist and before
charges are made, efforts shall be made by the bishop of the synod to
resolve the situation by consultation; for assistance in these efforts, the
bishop may utilize either a consultation panel or an advisory panel as
herein provided:
a. When requested by the synodical bishop, a consultation panel consisting of five persons (three ordained ministers and two laypersons)
appointed from the members of the Consultation Committee of the
synod by the synodical bishop, or, at the request of the synodical
bishop, by the Synod Council’s Executive Committee or other committee authorized to do so by the Synod Council, shall assist the
synodical bishop in efforts to resolve a situation by consultation.
b. When requested by the synodical bishop, an advisory panel consisting of five persons (three ordained ministers and two laypersons)
appointed by the synodical bishop shall assist the synodical bishop in
efforts to resolve a situation by consultation.
20.21.05. If appointed, a consultation panel or advisory panel shall advise the
synodical bishop as to whether or not the bishop should bring charges or
may make other recommendation for resolution of the controversy that
would not involve proceedings before a discipline hearing committee. To
these ends, the panel may meet with complaining witnesses as well as
with the concerned ordained minister. If requested by the synodical
bishop, members of the panel also may assist, as representatives of the
accuser, in the presentation of evidence and examination of witnesses
before a discipline hearing committee.
20.21.06. When charges are brought other than by the synodical bishop or the
presiding bishop of this church, the synodical bishop may refer such
charges to a consultation panel as provided in 20.21.04.a.
a. If as a result of meeting with a consultation panel the charges are
withdrawn by the accuser(s), no further proceedings shall be required.
b. Upon recommendation of the consultation panel that the charges be
dismissed, the synodical bishop may dismiss the charges, in which
case no further proceedings shall be required.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 20 / 159
c. Upon recommendation of the consultation panel that some of the
allegations supporting the charges be stricken, the synodical bishop
may strike some or all of such allegations, and further proceedings
shall be required on the remaining allegations.
d. In the case of charges that do not anticipate disciplinary action, the
consultation panel shall submit a report in writing to the synodical
bishop that sets forth the action or actions recommended by the
consultation panel, and the synodical bishop shall convey the
recommendations to the parties. If either party does not accept the
recommendations, that party may appeal to the Synod Council, whose
decision shall be final.
e. In the case of charges that anticipate disciplinary action that have not
been withdrawn or dismissed as a result of 20.21.06.a. or b. above,
the charges shall be referred to a discipline hearing committee for a
hearing.
f. The work of a consultation panel under this section shall be
completed within 30 days from the time the panel was constituted.
20.21.07. When charges are brought by a synodical bishop or the presiding bishop
of this church, or when charges are brought other than by a synodical
bishop and have not been withdrawn or dismissed or otherwise disposed
of as provided in 20.21.06., the synodical bishop or the presiding bishop,
as appropriate, shall deliver a copy of the charges to the accused and the
secretary of this church.
20.21.08. A discipline hearing committee shall be convened to conduct a hearing.
The voting members of this committee shall be composed of 12 persons
of whom six shall be selected by the Synod Council’s Executive
Committee from the Committee on Discipline of the synod and six shall
be selected from the churchwide Committee on Discipline under the
process described in 20.21.12. The rules authorized in 20.21.16. shall
establish the method, based upon the remainder of the term, for
determining which members of the synodical committee shall serve as the
voting members and which shall serve as alternates. A hearing officer
selected from the churchwide Committee of Hearing Officers under the
process described in 20.21.14. shall preside as the non-voting chair of the
discipline hearing committee.
20.21.11. The churchwide Committee on Discipline shall consist of 36 persons, 19
of whom shall be laypersons and 17 of whom shall be ordained ministers,
elected by the Churchwide Assembly for a term of six years, each without
consecutive reelection, to serve as needed on a discipline hearing
committee in any of the synods in this church.
20.21.12. The accused shall have the privilege of selecting two persons (one clergy
and one lay) and their alternates of the six persons from the churchwide
Committee on Discipline to serve on a discipline hearing committee. The
remaining four persons (two clergy and two lay) and their alternates, or
160 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 20 (04-08)
six, if the accused does not exercise the privilege, and their alternates shall
be selected by the Executive Committee of the Church Council.
20.21.13. The churchwide Committee of Hearing Officers shall consist of nine
persons elected by the Church Council for a term of six years, each
without consecutive reelection, to serve as needed on a discipline hearing
committee in any of the synods of this church.
20.21.14. The presiding bishop of this church shall select one member of the
churchwide Committee of Hearing Officers to serve as the non-voting
chair of a discipline hearing committee.
20.21.15. The presiding bishop of this church may appoint one or more persons as
facilitators to make arrangements for, and to provide technical assistance
to, a discipline hearing committee.
20.21.16. The Church Council shall appoint three members from the Committee on
Appeals who shall recommend rules of procedure for the performance of
the duties of hearing officers and discipline hearing committees. The rules
shall become effective when ratified by the Church Council.
20.21.17. In each specific case for which a discipline hearing committee has been
constituted, the committee shall, within 60 days after the secretary of this
church has given notice of the selection by the Executive Committee of
the Church Council of the members of the churchwide Committee on
Discipline to serve on a discipline hearing committee, meet with the
accused and the accuser(s) to hold a hearing. The committee shall render
its written decision within 15 days after the committee concludes the
hearing. The 60-day period may be extended one or more times to a
specified date by a written stipulation signed by the accuser(s), the
accused, and the hearing officer prior to the expiration of the original
60-day period or prior to the extended specified date.
20.21.18. Written notice of the date, time, and place of the hearing and a copy of the
charges shall be delivered to the accused and to the accuser(s) at least 20
days prior to the date of the hearing.
20.21.19. At the hearing, the accuser(s) may present evidence in support of the
charges and thereafter the accused shall be entitled to present evidence.
The accused and the accuser(s), or other person acting on behalf of either
of them, shall be entitled to question the other party or any of the
witnesses appearing on behalf of the other party. A verbatim record shall
be made by a stenographer or by tape recording of the hearing.
20.21.21. The discipline hearing committee shall render its decision in writing. The
written decision shall be in two parts:
a. Findings of Fact. In this part, the committee shall set forth what it has
found to be the relevant facts, that is, what it believes to be the truth
of the matter.
b. Determination. In this part, the committee shall state whether, based
upon the facts that it has found, it believes discipline should be
imposed and, if so, what discipline it has chosen to impose.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 20 / 161
20.21.22. The decision of the discipline hearing committee shall be made by a
majority vote of its members who were present at the hearing. The
decision of the discipline hearing committee shall be final on the date it
is issued by the committee. Within 30 days, one of the parties may appeal
to the Committee on Appeals and may request the Committee on Appeals
to stay the effective date of the decision. A stay may be granted in whole
or in part and subject to such conditions, if any, as the Committee on
Appeals may require. The decisions of the Committee on Appeals shall be
final.
20.21.23. If there are indications that a cause for discipline exists or if in the course
of the proceedings it should become apparent to the bishop of the synod
that the pastoral office cannot be conducted effectively in the congregation(s) being served by the ordained minister due to local conditions or
that local conditions may be adversely affected by the continued service
by the ordained minister, the bishop of the synod may temporarily
suspend the pastor from service in the congregation(s) without prejudice
and with pay provided through a joint synodical and churchwide fund and
with housing provided by the congregation(s).
20.21.24. If there are indications that a cause for discipline exists or if in the course
of proceedings it becomes apparent to the bishop of the synod that the
circumstances require, the bishop of the synod may temporarily suspend
an ordained minister serving under letter of call issued other than by a
congregation from the office and functions of ordained ministry without
prejudice and without affecting compensation and housing.
20.22. LAY ROSTERED MINISTERS
20.22.01. Laypersons on official rosters shall be subject to discipline for:
a. confessing and teaching in conflict with the faith confessed by this
church;
b. conduct incompatible with the standards for the rostered ministries of
this church;
c. willfully disregarding or violating the functions and standards
established by this church for the lay roster or rosters;
d. willfully disregarding the provisions of the constitution or bylaws of
this church; or
e. willfully failing to comply with the requirements ordered by a
discipline hearing committee under 20.23.08.
20.22.02. The disciplinary actions that may be imposed are:
a. private censure and admonition by the bishop of the synod;
b. suspension from the role and functions of an associate in ministry, a
deaconess, or a diaconal minister for a designated period or until
there is satisfactory evidence of repentance and amendment; or
c. removal from the official roster for laypersons of this church.
162 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 20 (04-08)
20.22.03. Charges against a layperson on an official roster of this church that could
lead to discipline must be specific and in writing, subscribed to by the
accuser(s), and be made by one or more of the following:
a. at least two-thirds of the members of the Congregation Council of the
congregation in which the layperson is serving, submitted to the
synodical bishop;
b. at least one-third of the voting members of the congregation in which
the layperson is serving, submitted to the synodical bishop;
c. at least two-thirds of the members of the governing body to which the
layperson is accountable, submitted to the synodical bishop;
d. at least 10 ordained ministers or laypersons on official rosters of the
synod on whose roster the accused layperson is listed, submitted to
the synodical bishop; or
e. the synodical bishop.
20.22.04. When there are indications that a cause for discipline exists, efforts shall
be made by the bishop of the synod to resolve the situation by consultation
in the same manner as set forth above for ordained ministers in 20.21.04.
through 20.21.06.
20.22.05. If those efforts fail, the procedures for discipline shall be the same as that
set forth above for ordained ministers in 20.21.07. through 20.21.22.
20.22.06. If there are indications that a cause for discipline exists or if in the course of the
proceedings it should become apparent to the bishop of the synod that the
role and function of the associate in ministry, deaconess, or diaconal
minister cannot be conducted effectively in the congregation(s) being served
by a rostered layperson due to local conditions or that local conditions
may be adversely affected by the continued service by a rostered
layperson, the bishop of the synod may temporarily suspend a rostered
layperson from service in the congregation(s) without prejudice and with
pay provided through a joint churchwide-synodical-congregation fund.
20.22.07. If there are indications that a cause for discipline exists or if in the course
of proceedings it becomes apparent to the bishop of the synod that the
circumstances require, the bishop of the synod may temporarily suspend
a rostered layperson serving under letter of call issued other than by a
congregation from the office and functions of a rostered layperson without
prejudice and without affecting compensation.
20.23. LIMITED DISCIPLINE
20.23.01. Where the written charges specify that the accuser will not seek, in the
case of an ordained minister, removal from the ordained ministry of this
church or suspension from the office and functions of the ordained
ministry in this church for a period exceeding three months, or, in the case
of a layperson on one of the rosters of this church, removal from such
roster or suspension from the role and functions of a person on such roster
for a period not exceeding three months, 20.23.01. through 20.23.09. shall
apply to the exclusion of 20.21.08. through 20.21.24. and 20.22.05.
through 20.22.07.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 20 / 163
20.23.02. The voting members of a discipline hearing committee convened to conduct a hearing on charges described in 20.23.01. shall be six members of the
synod’s Committee on Discipline selected by the Executive Committee
of the Synod Council. A hearing officer selected from the churchwide
Committee of Hearing Officers by the secretary of this church shall
preside as the nonvoting chair of the discipline hearing committee
described in this 20.23.02.
20.23.03. The secretary of this church may appoint one or more persons as facilitators to make arrangements for, and to provide technical assistance to, a
discipline hearing committee considering charges described in 20.23.01.
20.23.04. Three members of the Committee on Appeals, appointed by the Church
Council, shall develop rules of procedure for the performance of the duties
of hearing officers and discipline hearing committees considering charges
described in 20.23.01. The rules become effective when adopted by the
Church Council.
20.23.05. In each case for which a discipline hearing committee has been constituted, the committee shall, within 60 days after the secretary of this church
has given notice of the selection of the hearing officer to serve on a discipline hearing committee, commence a meeting or series of meetings with
the accused and the accuser(s) to receive testimony or other evidence offered
by the accused or the accuser(s). The 60-day period may be extended one
or more times to a specified date by a written stipulation signed by the
accuser(s), the accused, and the hearing officer prior to the expiration of
the original 60-day period or prior to the extended specified date.
20.23.06. Written notice of the date, time, and place of the first meeting of the
discipline hearing committee at which testimony will be received, and a
copy of the charges, shall be delivered to the accused and to the accuser(s)
at least 20 days prior to the date of the meeting.
20.23.07. The discipline hearing committee shall decide, consistent with rules
adopted under 20.23.04., to what extent the accused shall be able to
confront or cross-examine witnesses testifying on behalf of the accuser
and to what extent the accuser shall be able to confront or cross-examine
witnesses testifying on behalf of the accused. A verbatim record shall be
made by tape recording of all meetings of the committee at which
testimony is presented. The accused and the accuser may be accompanied
at the meeting(s) by a friend or advisor. Such friend or advisor shall not
participate in the proceedings before the committee.
20.23.08. The discipline hearing committee shall conclude its meeting(s) and render
its decision in writing within 45 days of the commencement of the
meeting for which written notice was given under 20.23.06. The written
decision shall be in two parts:
a. Findings of Fact. In this part, the committee shall set forth what it has
found to be the relevant facts, that is, what it believes to be the truth
of the matter.
164 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 20 (04-08)
b. Determination. In this part, the committee shall state whether, based
upon the facts that it has found, it believes discipline should be imposed
and if so, which one or more of the following should be imposed:
1) private censure and admonition by the synodical bishop.
2) suspension for a period not exceeding three months from the
office and functions of the ordained ministry in the case of an
ordained minister or from the role and functions of a rostered
layperson in the case of a layperson on a roster of this church.
3) participation in such programs of evaluation, therapy, continuing
education, or similar experience as the committee may direct.
4) referral of written charges (amended to reflect additional evidence
presented to the committee) to a discipline hearing committee
convened under 20.21.08. through 20.21.24. or 20.22.05. through
20.22.07.
20.23.09. The decision of the discipline hearing committee shall be made by a
majority vote of its members who were present at the hearing. The
decision of the discipline hearing committee shall be final on the date it
is issued by the committee. Within 30 days of that date, one of the parties
may appeal to the Committee on Appeals and may request the Committee
on Appeals to stay the effective date of the decision. A stay may be
granted in whole or in part and subject to such conditions, if any, as the
Committee on Appeals may require. The decisions of the Committee on
Appeals shall be final.
20.30. CONGREGATIONS
20.31.01. Congregations shall be subject to discipline for:
a. departing from the faith confessed by this church;
b. willfully disregarding or violating the criteria for recognition as
congregations of this church; or
c. willfully disregarding or violating the provisions of the constitution
or bylaws of this church.
20.31.02. The disciplinary actions which may be imposed are:
a. censure and admonition by the bishop of the synod;
b. suspension from this church for a designated period, the consequences of such suspension being the loss of voting rights of any
member (including ordained ministers) of the congregation at synod
or churchwide assemblies, the loss of the right to petition, and the
forfeiture of eligibility by any member of the congregation to serve
on any council, board, committee, or other group of this church, any
of its synods, or any other subdivision thereof;
c. suspension of the congregation from this church for a designated
period (with the same consequences as in b.) during which the
congregation shall be under the administration of the synod, provided
that a congregation may refuse to accept such administration in which
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 20 / 165
case it shall be removed from the roster of congregations of this
church; or
d. removal from the roster of congregations of this church.
20.31.03. Charges against a congregation which could lead to discipline must be
specific and in writing, subscribed to by the accuser(s), and be made by
one or more of the following:
a. at least one-fifth of the voting members of the congregation,
submitted to the synodical bishop;
b. at least three other congregations of the synod, submitted to the
synodical bishop;
c. the Synod Council; or
d. the synodical bishop.
20.31.04. When there are indications that a cause for discipline exists, efforts shall
be made by the bishop of the synod to resolve the situation by consultation
in the same manner as set forth above for ordained ministers in 20.21.04.
and 20.21.05.
20.31.05. If those efforts fail, the procedures for discipline shall be the same as that
set forth above for ordained ministers in 20.21.07. through 20.21.22.
20.40. MEMBERS OF CONGREGATIONS
20.41.01. The offenses for which a member of a congregation shall be subject to
discipline are:
a. denial of the Christian faith;
b. conduct grossly unbecoming a member of the Church of Christ; or
c. persistent trouble-making within the congregation.
20.41.02. Discipline shall be administered by the Congregation Council on behalf
of the congregation. The procedure which Christ instructed his disciples
to follow (Matthew 18:15-17) shall be adhered to in every case, proceeding through these successive steps:
a. private admonition by the pastor;
b. admonition by the pastor in the presence of two or three witnesses;
and
c. written citation to appear before the Congregation Council, serving
as a discipline hearing committee, having been received by the
member at least 10 days prior to the meeting.
If for any reason the pastor is unable to administer the admonitions required
by a. and b. hereof, the president (if not the pastor) or vice president shall
administer such admonitions.
20.41.03. If discipline against a member proceeds beyond counseling and admonition by the pastor, charges against the accused member(s) that are
specific and in writing shall be prepared by member(s) of the congregation
who shall sign the charges as the accuser(s). The written charges shall be
filed with the pastor, who shall advise the Congregation Council of the
166 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 20 (04-08)
need to issue a written citation to the accused and the accusers that
specifies the time and place of the hearing before the Congregation
Council. The written charges shall accompany the written citation to the
accused.
20.41.04. To assure due process and due protection for the accused as required in
20.11., members of the Congregation Council who participate in the preparation of the written charges or who present evidence or testimony in
the hearing before the Congregation Council are disqualified from voting
upon the question of the guilt of the accused member. In addition, due
process requires the following:
a. the right to be given a specific written statement of the charges;
b. the right to a hearing by the Congregation Council;
c. the right of the accused to testify in person or remain silent;
d. the right to call witnesses;
e. the right to introduce documentary evidence;
f. the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses;
g. the right to a hearing closed to the public unless both the accuser(s)
and the accused agree to a public hearing;
h. the right to a written decision as required by these bylaws;
i. the right to be treated with fundamental procedural fairness, which
means:
1) avoidance by council members of written communications to or
from either accused or accuser(s) without copy to the other;
2) avoidance by council members of other communications with
either the accused or the accuser(s) outside of the presence of the
other;
3) maintaining proper decorum during the hearing;
4) allowing both the accuser(s) and the accused to present their
cases without unnecessary interruptions;
5) keeping a verbatim record of the hearing, made either by a stenographer or court reporter or by audio or video recording; and
6) allowing both the accuser(s) and the accused to be accompanied
at the hearing by a representative (who may, but need not, be an
attorney) who may also participate in the proceedings.
20.41.05. The accused can be found guilty by the vote of at least two-thirds of the
members of the Congregation Council who are not disqualified and who
are present and voting. Should renewed admonition prove ineffectual, the
council shall impose one of the following disciplinary actions:
a. censure before the council or the congregation;
b. suspension from stated privileges of membership for a definite
designated period of time; or
c. termination of membership.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 20 / 167
A resolution of the council suspending or terminating the membership of
a member of this congregation shall be delivered to the person in writing.
20.41.06. Appeal from any disciplinary action imposed by the Congregation Council
may be made to the Synod Council, whose decision shall be final.
20.41.07. Disciplinary actions may be reconsidered and revoked by the
Congregation Council upon receipt of:
a. evidence that injustice has been done; or
b. evidence of repentance and amendment.
20.41.08. No member of a congregation shall be subject to discipline for offenses
that the Congregation Council has previously heard and decided, unless
so ordered by the Synod Council after an appeal.
20.41.A01. Rules for Appeals to a Synod Council
a. Any appeal to the Synod Council must be made by written notice within
30 days after the decision of the Congregation Council has been
delivered to the accused member(s). The written notice of the intent
to appeal must be given by certified or registered mail to the Synod
Council (in care of the vice president of the synod), with a copy to the
chair of the Congregation Council and the congregation’s pastor.
b. Any party who has appealed to the Synod Council for review of a
decision of a Congregation Council may request a stay in the effective date or other provision contained in the decision pending the
appeal. The request must be in writing and shall set forth the reasons
why the requested stay is advisable. The request shall be forwarded
to the Synod Council (in care of the vice president of the synod) with
copy to the other party. The Synod Council may grant the other party
an opportunity to respond in writing. The Synod Council may grant
a stay for the period, and may renew the stay for further periods, as
it determines to be appropriate. The Synod Council may make the
grant of a stay subject to such conditions as it determines to be
appropriate.
c. The chair of the Congregation Council must furnish the record on
appeal to the Synod Council (in care of the vice president of the
synod), certifying to the completeness and accuracy of the record on
appeal, within 30 days of the receipt of the written notice, unless the
vice president allows additional time for compelling reasons. The
record on appeal will consist of the following:
1) the citation and specific written charges as served upon the
accused member(s) prior to the hearing before the Congregation
Council;
2) the congregation’s constitution, bylaws, and continuing resolutions
and a copy of any rules governing the hearing before the
Congregation Council;
3) identities of the person(s) who prepared the written charges and of
the members of the Congregation Council who heard the case;
168 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 20 (04-08)
4) the verbatim record or the audio or video recording of the
hearing before the Congregation Council;
5) all documents or physical evidence presented at the hearing
before the Congregation Council;
6) the written decision of the Congregation Council;
7) proof that the written decision was delivered to the accused
member(s); and
8) certification that the successive steps required by Matthew
18:15-17 were followed, as specified in bylaw 20.41.02. in the
Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
d. If the Synod Council has reason to believe or doubt that a required
action was taken by the Congregation Council, but the action is not
revealed in the record on appeal, the Synod Council may solicit, by
written request to the chair of the Congregation Council with copies
to the accused member(s), written confirmation of the action. Copies
of the confirmation shall be supplied to the accused member(s).
e. The party making an appeal must present a written statement of
reasons why the decision of the Congregation Council should be
reversed or set aside. The Congregation Council will then submit a
written response to the Synod Council. The party making an appeal
may present a brief written rebuttal. Appropriate page limitations
and due dates for these statements will be established by the vice
president of the synod. Parties shall promptly give each other copies
of any written statements filed with the Synod Council.
f. Members of the Congregation Council and the accused members
shall refrain from discussing appeals made to the Synod Council,
except as required to discharge their duties under these rules.
Members of the Synod Council shall refrain from discussing appeals,
except as required to discharge their duty to decide the appeal.
Members of the Congregation Council and the accused member(s)
will not communicate with Synod Council members concerning the
appeal unless all parties are included in the communication.
g. No member of the Synod Council may participate in any appeal if
such a member is related to the accused member(s), to any witness
who testified before the Congregation Council, or to a member of the
Congregation Council, or where such Synod Council member is a
current or recent member of the congregation. For good cause, a
member of the Synod Council may voluntarily disqualify himself or
herself from participation.
h. The Synod Council will meet in executive session and consider the
appeal solely on the basis of the record and written statements.
Normally, the Synod Council will meet and render its written decision
within 60 days from the due date for the last written statement to be
submitted by the parties.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 20 / 169
i. The Synod Council will affirm the decision of the Congregation
Council unless it finds that:
1) the requirements of due process or fundamental procedural
fairness were not met;
2) the Congregation Council’s decision was not supported by any
evidence in the record; or
3) the record on appeal is insufficient to make a determination.
j. Final decisions of the Synod Council require an affirmative vote by
at least two-thirds of those present and voting. The decision of the
Synod Council shall be delivered in writing to the accused
member(s), the chair of the Congregation Council, the congregation’s pastor, the synodical bishop, and the secretary of this church.
20.50. RECALL OR DISMISSAL
20.51. The recall or dismissal of the presiding bishop, vice president, or
secretary of this church and the vacating of office may be effected:
a. for willful disregard or violation of the constitution and bylaws
of this church;
b. for such physical or mental disability as renders the officer
incapable of performing the duties of office; or
c. for such conduct as would subject the officer to disciplinary
action as an ordained minister or as a member of a congregation
of this church.
20.52. Proceedings for the recall or dismissal of such an officer shall be
instituted by petition by:
a. the Church Council on a vote of at least two-thirds of its elected
members; or
b. the Churchwide Assembly on a vote of at least two-thirds of its
members.
The petition shall be filed with the chair of the Committee on Appeals
and shall set forth the specific charge or charges.
20.52.A05. Recall or Dismissal of a Churchwide Officer
a. The petition for recall or dismissal described in 20.52. shall be filed
with the chair of the Committee on Appeals (in care of the secretary
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 8765 West Higgins
Road, Chicago, Illinois 60631, except if the subject of the petition is
the secretary, the petition shall be in care of the presiding bishop of
this church at the same address).
b. In the case of alleged physical or mental incapacity of the officer,
1) with respect to the officer the procedures outlined in 13.63. shall
first be followed, and if such officer does not accept the decision
of the Church Council, the Church Council may proceed to
petition for proceedings for recall or dismissal.
170 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 20 (04-08)
2) in the event of such petition, four members of the Committee on
Appeals, designated by the committee chair and consisting of
two ordained ministers and two laypersons, shall
a) investigate such conditions in person;
b) seek competent medical testimony;
c) seek the counsel and advice of the other officers of this
church; and
d) submit a written report of their findings to the other
members of the Committee on Appeals.
3) the members of the Committee on Appeals, other than those who
investigated the conditions and other than those who are
disqualified, shall review the findings of the investigation
committee and by an affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of
those present and voting may adopt the findings and grant the
petition.
c. If the officer is an ordained minister, grounds for recall or dismissal
include those set forth in 20.21.01. and as defined under the process
described in 20.71.11. and 20.71.12. for discipline of ordained
ministers. If the officer is a layperson, grounds for recall or dismissal
include those set forth in 20.41.01.
d. In the case of alleged willful disregard or violation of the constitution
and bylaws of this church or of alleged conduct as would subject the
officer to disciplinary action, the following procedures shall apply:
1) The petition shall be referred to the Committee on Appeals
which shall function as the discipline hearing committee that
shall conduct a hearing in accordance with the rules provided
for in 20.21.16., except to the extent that those rules are in
conflict with 20.51., 20.52., 20.53., or with the provisions of this
continuing resolution; and
2) the members of the Committee on Appeals, other than those who
are disqualified, may grant the petition by an affirmative vote of
at least two-thirds of those present and voting.
e. Upon the filing of a written petition, the Executive Committee of the
Church Council may temporarily suspend the officer from service
without prejudice, but with continuation of compensation, including
benefits, if the officer is a salaried employee. Appeals from such
temporary suspension shall be provided in 13.63.
20.53. Notice of a decision by the Committee on Appeals that the charges
have been sustained shall be given to the accused person, the Church
Council shall be notified of the entry of such judgment, and the office
shall be vacated.
20.53.11. The Church Council shall appoint three members from the Committee on
Appeals who shall recommend a similar process for the recall or dismissal
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 20 / 171
of an officer of a synod, which process shall become operative when
ratified by the Church Council.
20.53.A92. Recall or Dismissal of a Synod Officer
a. The recall or dismissal of the bishop, vice president, secretary, or
treasurer of a synod of this church and the vacating of office may be
effected:
1) for willful disregard or violation of the constitution and bylaws
of this church or the constitution and bylaws of the synod;
2) for such physical or mental disability as renders the officer
incapable of performing the duties of office; or
3) for such conduct as would subject the officer to disciplinary
action as an ordained minister or as a member of a congregation
of this church.
b. Proceedings for the recall or dismissal of a synodical bishop shall be
instituted by written petition by:
1) the Synod Council on an affirmative vote of at least two-thirds
of its elected members present and voting;
2) the Synod Assembly on an affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of
its members present and voting;
3) at least 10 synodical bishops; or
4) the presiding bishop of this church.
The petition shall be filed with the chair of the Committee on Appeals
(in care of the secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America, 8765 West Higgins Road, Chicago, Illinois 60631) and
shall set forth the specific charge or charges.
c. Proceedings for the recall or dismissal of an officer of a synod, other
than the synodical bishop, shall be instituted by written petition by:
1) the Synod Council on an affirmative vote of at least two-thirds
of its elected members present and voting;
2) the Synod Assembly on an affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of
its members present and voting; or
3) the synodical bishop.
The petition shall be filed with the chair of the Committee on Appeals
(in care of the secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America, 8765 West Higgins Road, Chicago, Illinois 60631) and
shall set forth the specific charge or charges.
d. In the case of alleged physical or mental incapacity of an officer of
a synod,
1) the procedures outlined in †S8.56. shall first be followed, and if
such officer does not accept the decision of the Synod Council,
the Synod Council may proceed to petition for proceedings for
recall or dismissal.
172 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 20 (04-08)
2) four members of the Committee on Appeals, designated by the
committee chair and consisting of two ordained ministers and
two laypersons, shall
a) investigate such conditions in person;
b) seek competent medical testimony;
c) seek the counsel and advice of the presiding bishop of this
church if such officer is the synodical bishop;
d) seek the counsel and advice of the synodical bishop if such
officer is the vice president, secretary, or treasurer of the
synod; and
e) submit a written report of their findings to the other
members of the Committee on Appeals.
3) the members of the Committee on Appeals, other than those who
investigated the conditions and other than those who are
disqualified, shall review the findings of the investigation committee and by an affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of those
present and voting shall adopt the findings and grant the
petition.
e. If the synod officer is an ordained minister, grounds for recall or
dismissal include those set forth in 20.21.01. and as defined under the
process described in 20.71.11. and 20.71.12. for discipline of
ordained ministers.
f. If the synod officer is a layperson, grounds for recall or dismissal
include those set forth in 20.41.01.
g. If the case of alleged willful disregard or violation of the constitution
and bylaws of this church or the constitution and bylaws of the synod
or of alleged conduct as would subject the officer to disciplinary
action, the following procedures shall apply:
1) if the proceedings were instituted by the presiding bishop of this
church, the synodical bishop, or at least 10 other synodical
bishops, the petitioner shall first meet with the Executive
Committee of the Synod Council in which the officer serves. The
Executive Committee shall function as a consultation panel to
give advice to the petitioner;
2) if as a result of the consultation the petition is not filed, no
further proceedings shall be required;
3) if as a result of the consultation the petition is filed or if the
proceedings were instituted by the Synod Assembly or the Synod
Council, the petition shall be referred to the Committee on
Appeals, which shall function as the discipline hearing committee
that shall conduct a hearing in accordance with the rules
provided for in 20.21.16. except to the extent that those rules are
in conflict with the provisions of this continuing resolution; and
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 20 / 173
4) the members of the Committee on Appeals, other than those who
are disqualified, may grant the petition by an affirmative vote of
at least two-thirds of those present and voting.
h. Upon the filing of a written petition, the Executive Committee of the
Synod Council may temporarily suspend the officer from service in
the synod without prejudice, but with continuation of compensation,
including benefits, if the officer is a salaried employee of the synod.
Appeals from such temporary suspension shall be provided in †S8.56.
i. Written notice of a decision by the Committee on Appeals that the
charges have been sustained shall be given to the affected officer.
The Synod Council shall be notified of such decision and the office
shall be vacated if the charges have been sustained.
20.60. COMMITTEE ON APPEALS
20.61. There shall be a Committee on Appeals to which may be referred
appeals from disciplinary proceedings and petitions for the recall of
an officer. The Church Council shall appoint three members from the
Committee on Appeals who shall recommend rules of procedure for
the performance of its duties. The rules shall become effective when
ratified by the Church Council.
20.61.A92. Rules of the Committee on Appeals
a. Any appeal to the Committee on Appeals shall be made in writing
within 30 days after the decision of the discipline hearing committee
has been delivered to the accused and the accuser(s). Appeals may
be made only by the accused or the accuser(s) or their respective
designated representative. Notice of the appeal shall be given by
certified or registered letter addressed to the Committee on Appeals
(in care of the secretary of this church, 8765 West Higgins Road,
Chicago, Illinois 60631), with a copy to the other party.
b. The Committee on Appeals shall normally render its written decision
within 60 days from the due date for the last written statement to be
submitted under item h. below.
c. The material that shall be reviewed by the Committee on Appeals
(herein referred to as the record on appeal) shall consist of the
following:
1) a copy of the specific charges referred to the discipline hearing
committee;
2) copy of any rules governing the hearing before the discipline
hearing committee;
3) information concerning the composition of the discipline hearing
committee that heard the case;
4) the verbatim record or the tape recording of the hearing before
the discipline hearing committee;
5) all documents or physical evidence presented at the hearing
before the discipline hearing committee;
174 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 20 (04-08)
6) the written decision of the discipline hearing committee; and
7) proof that the written decision was delivered to the accused and
the accuser(s).
d. It shall be the responsibility of the chair of the discipline hearing
committee to furnish the record on appeal to the Committee on
Appeals (in care of the secretary of this church, 8765 West Higgins
Road, Chicago, Illinois 60631), certifying to the completeness and
accuracy of the record on appeal, within 30 days of the receipt of the
appeal, unless the chair of the Committee on Appeals grants
additional time for compelling reasons.
e. If the Committee on Appeals has reason to believe that a required
action was taken by a discipline hearing committee, but such action
is not revealed in the record on appeal, the Committee on Appeals
may, by written request to the chair of the discipline hearing
committee, with copies to the accused and the accuser(s), solicit
written confirmation of such action. Copies of such confirmation
shall be supplied to the accused and the accuser(s).
f. The persons or entities who may appeal to the Committee on Appeals
are set forth in 20.63.
g. The circumstances for which the Committee on Appeals may reverse
or set aside the decision of a discipline hearing committee are set
forth in 20.62.01., and consequences of such circumstances are set
forth in 20.62.02.
h. The party taking an appeal may present a written statement of
reasons why the decision of a discipline hearing committee should be
reversed or set aside. The other party shall have an opportunity to
make a written response to the Committee on Appeals. The party
taking an appeal then may present a written rebuttal. Appropriate
limitations and due dates for these statements may be established by
the committee chair. In the event of cross appeals, the committee
chair may permit the filing of additional statements so that both
parties have adequate opportunity to present their respective appeals
and respond to the statement of each other. Parties shall promptly
give to each other copies of any written statement filed with the
Committee on Appeals.
i. Final decisions of the Committee on Appeals require an affirmative
vote by at least two-thirds of those present and voting.
j. Notice of decisions of the Committee on Appeals shall be given in
writing to the accused, the accuser(s), the chair of the discipline
hearing committee, the synodical bishop, and the secretary of this
church.
k. The Committee on Appeals also shall prepare a brief summary of
each appeal, which shall be presented to the Churchwide Assembly.
Such summary shall not disclose the names of the accused, the
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 20 / 175
accuser(s), or any witness. If the decision of the discipline hearing
committee was reversed or remanded, the summary shall indicate the
reasons for such reversal or remand.
l. The Committee on Appeals shall elect the following officers: chair,
vice-chair, secretary, and assistant secretary. In addition to the
duties prescribed in Chapter 20, the chair shall schedule and preside
at committee meetings. In the absence of the chair, the vice-chair
shall act as chair. The secretary, or assistant secretary, shall keep
such record of proceedings of the committee as is necessary.
m. Meetings of the Committee on Appeals may be held in person or by
conference telephone call.
n. A majority of the members of the Committee on Appeals who are not
disqualified shall constitute a quorum for the conduct of its business
at a scheduled meeting, and three-fourths of the members of the
Committee on Appeals who are not disqualified shall constitute a
quorum for the conduct of its business by conference telephone call.
o. Members of the Committee on Appeals shall refrain from discussing
appeals made to the committee, except as required to discharge the
duties of the committee membership.
p. No member of the Committee on Appeals shall serve on any case if
such a member is related (as defined in 19.61.04.) to the accused, the
accuser(s), any witness who testified before the discipline hearing
committee, or a member of the consultation or discipline hearing
committee that considered the case, or where such member is a
member or former member of a congregation that was an accuser or
an accused. A member of the Committee on Appeals also may
voluntarily disqualify himself or herself.
q. See 20.52.A92. and 20.53.A92. for additional rules of procedure
applicable in proceedings for recall or dismissal.
r. See 20.61.B95. for additional rules of procedure applicable to stays.
20.61.B95. Any party who has appealed to the Committee on Appeals for review of
a decision of a discipline hearing committee may request a stay in the
effective date or other provision contained in said decision pending the
appeal. Such request shall be in writing and shall set forth the reasons
why the requested stay is advisable. The request shall be forwarded to the
Committee on Appeals, c/o ELCA Secretary, 8765 West Higgins Road,
Chicago, Illinois 60631, with copy to the other party. The Committee on
Appeals may grant the other party an opportunity to respond in writing.
The Committee on Appeals may grant a stay for such period, and may
renew the stay for such further periods, as it determines to be appropriate. The Committee on Appeals may make the grant of a stay subject
to such conditions as it determines to be appropriate. Such determinations
shall be final.
176 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 20 (04-08)
20.62. The circumstances for which the Committee on Appeals may reverse
or set aside the decision of a discipline hearing committee and the
consequences of such action shall be set forth in the bylaws.
20.62.01. The judgment of a discipline hearing committee must be sustained unless
the Committee on Appeals finds that one of the following conditions
exists:
a. The discipline hearing committee abused its discretion. The discipline
hearing committee may not be found to have abused its discretion
unless at least one of the following is true:
1) The discipline hearing committee’s Determination was not supported by any evidence in the record.
2) One or more of the discipline hearing committee’s Findings of Fact
is clearly erroneous. A Finding of Fact is clearly erroneous when,
although there is evidence to support it, the Committee on Appeals
on the entire evidence is left with the definite and firm conviction
that a mistake has been committed. The Committee on Appeals
may not reverse a finding of the discipline hearing committee
simply because the Committee on Appeals concludes that it would
have found differently had it been the discipline hearing committee.
The Committee on Appeals must give due regard to the opportunity
of the discipline hearing committee to judge the credibility of the
witnesses.
3) Although the Findings of Fact are not clearly erroneous, the
discipline hearing committee’s Determination is nevertheless one
with which no reasonable person, acting objectively, could
agree. The committee’s Determination may not be reversed
simply because the Committee on Appeals, had it been the discipline hearing committee, would have reached a different conclusion. The discipline hearing committee’s Determination must
be sustained if reasonable people can disagree as to its propriety.
b. Due process has not been followed.
c. New evidence has been submitted by one of the parties, which evidence, in the judgment of the Committee on Appeals, should be
considered.
d. The record of the proceedings before the discipline hearing committee is insufficient to permit the Committee on Appeals to determine whether the committee abused its discretion or followed due
process.
20.62.02. When the Committee on Appeals has decided to reverse or set aside the
decision of the discipline hearing committee, the Committee on Appeals shall
proceed as follows:
a. If the Committee on Appeals has determined that one of the conditions listed in 20.62.01.a.1) or 20.62.01.a.2) exists, the Committee
on Appeals may return the matter to the discipline hearing committee
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 20 / 177
for further proceedings or render its own decision, which shall be
final and unappealable.
b. If the Committee on Appeals has determined that the condition listed
in 20.62.01.a.3) exists, it shall render its own decision, which shall be
final and unappealable.
c. If the Committee on Appeals has determined that one of the conditions listed in 20.62.01.b., 20.62.01.c., or 20.62.01.d. exists, it shall
return the matter to the discipline hearing committee for further
proceedings.
20.63. The decision of a discipline hearing committee may be appealed to the
Committee on Appeals by:
a. the accuser(s) who brought charges upon which a discipline
hearing committee has acted;
b. an ordained minister upon whom discipline has been imposed by
a discipline hearing committee;
c. a congregation upon whom discipline has been imposed by a
discipline hearing committee; or
d. other persons on the official rosters of this church upon whom
discipline has been imposed by a discipline hearing committee.
20.64. The Committee on Appeals shall be comprised of six ordained
ministers and six laypersons, elected by the Churchwide Assembly for
a term of six years, without consecutive reelection.
20.65. The Committee on Appeals shall elect its own officers.
20.66. Decisions of the Committee on Appeals shall be final; an affirmative
vote by at least two-thirds of those present and voting shall be
necessary to render a decision or opinion. Each decision or opinion
shall be reported as soon as practical in writing to the parties concerned, and a summary of action taken shall be reported to the
Churchwide Assembly.
20.70. DEFINITIONS AND GUIDELINES
20.71.11. The Committee on Appeals shall establish definitions and guidelines,
subject to approval by the Church Council, to enable clear and uniform
application of the grounds for discipline in each of the above categories.
20.71.12. The Committee on Appeals shall present to the Church Council for consideration and recommendation a process and definitions, as required in
bylaw 20.71.11.
20.80. ADJUDICATION
20.81. The presiding bishop and the Executive Committee of the Church
Council shall be available to give counsel when disputes arise within
this church.
178 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 20 (04-08)
20.82. When there is disagreement on a substantive issue among churchwide
units or between or among synods of this church that cannot be
resolved by the parties, the aggrieved party or parties may appeal to
the presiding bishop and the Executive Committee of the Church
Council for consultation. If this consultation fails to resolve the issue,
a petition may be addressed by the parties to the Church Council
requesting it to mediate the matter.
20.83. When a component or beneficiary of a churchwide unit has a
disagreement on a substantive issue which it cannot resolve with the
board of its unit, it may address an appeal to the presiding bishop and
the Executive Committee of the Church Council. In this case, the
decision of the Executive Committee shall prevail, except that upon
the motion of a member of the Church Council, the decision shall be
referred to the Church Council for final action.
20.84. When there is disagreement on a substantive issue between a synod
or synods and the churchwide organization that cannot be resolved
by the parties, the aggrieved party or parties may appeal to the
Committee on Appeals for consultation and adjudication. If this
appeal fails to resolve the issue, a petition may be addressed by the
parties to the Churchwide Assembly, whose decision shall be final.
20.85. When there is disagreement among factions within a congregation on
a substantive issue which cannot be resolved by the parties, members
of a congregation shall have access to the synodical bishop for
consultation after informing the chair of the Congregation Council of
their intent. If the consultation fails to resolve the issue(s), the
Consultation Committee of the synod shall consider the matter. If the
Consultation Committee of the synod shall fail to resolve the issue(s),
the matter shall be referred to the Synod Council, whose decision
shall be final.
(04-08) ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 21 / 179
Chapter 21.
INDEMNIFICATION
21.01. Except as otherwise provided in this constitution, indemnification of
any person who is or was made or threatened to be made a party to any
proceeding is prohibited. For purposes of this chapter, the term,
“proceeding,” means a threatened, pending, or completed civil,
criminal, administrative, arbitration, or investigative proceeding,
including a proceeding in the right of this church, any other churchwide unit, or any other organization, but excluding (a) a proceeding
by this church and (b) a disciplinary hearing or other proceeding
described in Chapter 20. For purposes of this chapter, the term,
“indemnification,” includes advances of expenses.
21.02. To the full extent permitted from time to time by law, each person who is
or was made or threatened to be made a party to any proceeding by
reason of the present or former capacity of that person as a Church
Council member, officer, employee, or committee member of this church
shall be indemnified against judgments, penalties, fines, settlements,
excise taxes, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and disbursements incurred by that person in connection with the proceeding. While
indemnification of any person by reason of that person’s capacity as
a director, officer, employee, or committee member of a separately
incorporated churchwide unit may be made by such separately
incorporated unit, indemnification of such person by this church is
prohibited. Indemnification of any person by reason of that person’s
capacity as a director, officer, employee, or committee member of any
other organization is subject to the provisions of section 21.03.
21.03. Where a person who, while a member of the Church Council, officer,
employee of the churchwide organization, member of the Conference
of Bishops, or committee member of this church, is or was serving at
the request of this church as (or whose duties in that position involve
or involved service in the capacity of) a director, officer, partner,
trustee, employee, or agent of another organization, is or was made
or threatened to be made a party to a proceeding by reason of such
capacity, then such person shall not be entitled to indemnification
unless (a) the Church Council has established a process for determining whether a person serving in the capacity described in this
section shall be entitled to indemnification in any specific case, and (b)
that process has been applied in making a specific determination that
such person is entitled to indemnification.
21.04. This church may purchase and maintain insurance on behalf of itself
or any person entitled to indemnification pursuant to this chapter
against any liability asserted against and incurred by this church or
by such other person in or arising from a capacity described in
section 21.02. or section 21.03.
180 / ELCA CONSTITUTION—CHAPTER 22 (04-08)
Chapter 22.
AMENDMENTS, BYLAWS, AND CONTINUING RESOLUTIONS
22.10. AMENDMENTS TO CONSTITUTION
22.11. The constitution of this church may be amended only through either
of the following procedures:
a. The Church Council may propose an amendment, with an official
notice to be sent to the synods at least six months prior to the next
regular meeting of the Churchwide Assembly. The adoption of such
an amendment shall require a two-thirds vote of the members of
the next regular meeting of the Churchwide Assembly present
and voting.
b. An amendment may be proposed by 25 or more members of the
Churchwide Assembly. The proposed amendment shall be referred to the Committee of Reference and Counsel for its recommendation, following which it shall come before the assembly. If
such an amendment is approved by a two-thirds vote of members
present and voting, such an amendment shall become effective
only if adopted by a two-thirds vote of the members present and
voting at the next regular Churchwide Assembly.
22.20. BYLAWS
22.21. Bylaws not in conflict with this constitution may be adopted or
amended at any regular meeting of the Churchwide Assembly when
presented in writing by the Church Council or by at least 15 members
of the assembly. An amendment proposed by members of the
assembly shall immediately be submitted to the Committee of
Reference and Counsel for its recommendation. In no event shall an
amendment be placed before the assembly for action sooner than the
day following its presentation to the assembly. A two-thirds vote of
the members present and voting shall be necessary for adoption.
22.30. CONTINUING RESOLUTIONS
22.31. Continuing resolutions not in conflict with the constitution or bylaws
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America may be adopted or
amended by a majority vote of the Churchwide Assembly or by a
two-thirds vote of the Church Council. Such continuing resolutions
become effective immediately upon adoption. Matters related to the
administrative functions of this church shall be set forth in the
continuing resolutions.

CONSTITUTION
for
SYNODS
August 2007
(08-07) SYNOD CONSTITUTION / 183
Introduction
Placement together of those constitutional provisions, bylaws, and continuing
resolutions that pertain to the same matter is recommended.
Each is separately codified, but all are preceded by the letter “S” denoting that they
are part of the synodical constitution.
a. Constitutional provisions are codified by two sets of numbers, as in S9.08.
or †S10.01.
b. A bylaw related to S9.08. would be codified as S9.08.01., and to †S10.01. as
S10.01.01. A bylaw under a required provision would not carry the dagger
“†” that designates a required constitutional provision.
c. Continuing resolutions also are codified by three sets of numbers, except that
the third set is preceded by a capital letter. Thus, a continuing resolution
might be numbered S10. to designate the chapter; S10.07. to designate the
subject matter within the chapter; and the third set might be numbered A07.
in the codification S10.07.A07. to indicate by the “A” that it is the first
continuing resolution regarding that subject and by the “07” that it was
adopted in 2007.
Types of constitutional provisions
Three types of constitutional provisions are found within each synod’s constitution.
a. Required provisions are designated by a dagger “†”. Such required
provisions:
(1) may only be adopted or amended by the Churchwide Assembly;
(2) may not be altered or amended by the Synod Assembly; and
(3) are to be introduced “at once” into the synod’s constitution upon
notification of the amendment or adoption of the provision (†S18.11.).
b. Recommended provisions are provided in this Constitution for Synods, as
approved by the Churchwide Assembly. Such recommended provisions may
be adopted by majority vote at one meeting of the Synod Assembly
(†S18.12.).
c. Other provisions may be initiated in and adopted by each respective synod
(†S18.13.), but such provisions may not conflict with required constitutional
provisions or with churchwide constitutional provisions and bylaws.
Synodical constitutional amendments become effective upon ratification by
the Church Council or Churchwide Assembly.
184 / SYNOD CONSTITUTION (08-07)
CONSTITUTION FOR SYNODS
Chapter 1.
NAME AND INCORPORATION
†S1.01. The name of this synod shall be (name of synod) of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America.
†S1.02. For the purposes of this constitution and the accompanying bylaws, the
(name of synod) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is
hereafter designated as “this synod” or “the synod.”
†S1.11. This synod shall be incorporated. Amendments to the articles of
incorporation of this synod shall be submitted to the Church Council for
ratification before filing.
†S1.21. The seal of this synod is (describe).
Chapter 2.
STATUS
†S2.01. This synod possesses the powers conferred upon it, and accepts the duties
and responsibilities assigned to it, in the Constitution, Bylaws, and
Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
(ELCA or “this church”), which are recognized as having governing force
in the life of this synod.
†S2.02. No provision of this constitution shall be inconsistent with the
constitution and bylaws of this church.
Chapter 3.
TERRITORY
†S3.01. The territory of this synod, as determined by the Churchwide Assembly,
shall be: .
†S3.02. “Determined by the Churchwide Assembly,” as stipulated by †S3.01., is
understood to include the reported changes in synod relationship made by
any congregation in a border area agreed under ELCA bylaws 10.01.11.
and 10.02.02.
Chapter 4.
CONFESSION OF FAITH
†S4.01. This synod confesses the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
†S4.02. This synod confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the Gospel as
the power of God for the salvation of all who believe.
(08-07) SYNOD CONSTITUTION / 185
a. Jesus Christ is the Word of God incarnate, through whom everything
was made and through whose life, death, and resurrection God
fashions a new creation.
b. The proclamation of God’s message to us as both Law and Gospel is
the Word of God, revealing judgment and mercy through word and
deed, beginning with the Word in creation, continuing in the history
of Israel, and centering in all its fullness in the person and work of
Jesus Christ.
c. The canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the
written Word of God. Inspired by God’s Spirit speaking through their
authors, they record and announce God’s revelation centering in Jesus
Christ. Through them God’s Spirit speaks to us to create and sustain
Christian faith and fellowship for service in the world.
†S4.03. This synod accepts the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New
Testaments as the inspired Word of God and the authoritative source and
norm of its proclamation, faith, and life.
†S4.04. This synod accepts the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds as true
declarations of the faith of this synod.
†S4.05. This synod accepts the Unaltered Augsburg Confession as a true witness
to the Gospel, acknowledging as one with it in faith and doctrine all
churches that likewise accept the teachings of the Unaltered Augsburg
Confession.
†S4.06. This synod accepts the other confessional writings in the Book of
Concord, namely, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald
Articles and the Treatise, the Small Catechism, the Large Catechism, and
the Formula of Concord, as further valid interpretations of the faith of the
Church.
†S4.07. This synod confesses the Gospel, recorded in the Holy Scripture and
confessed in the ecumenical creeds and Lutheran confessional writings,
as the power of God to create and sustain the Church for God’s mission
in the world.
Chapter 5.
NATURE OF THE CHURCH
†S5.01. All power in the Church belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ, its head. All
actions of this synod are to be carried out under his rule and authority.
†S5.02. The Church exists both as an inclusive fellowship and as local congregations gathered for worship and Christian service. Congregations find
their fulfillment in the universal community of the Church, and the
universal Church exists in and through congregations. This church,
therefore, derives its character and powers both from the sanction and
representation of its congregations and from its inherent nature as an
expression of the broader fellowship of the faithful. In length, it acknow-
186 / SYNOD CONSTITUTION (08-07)
ledges itself to be in the historic continuity of the communion of saints;
in breadth, it expresses the fellowship of believers and congregations in
our day.
CHAPTER 6.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
†S6.01. The Church is a people created by God in Christ, empowered by the Holy
Spirit, called and sent to bear witness to God’s creative, redeeming, and
sanctifying activity in the world.
†S6.02. To participate in God’s mission, this synod as a part of the Church shall:
a. Proclaim God’s saving Gospel of justification by grace for Christ’s
sake through faith alone, according to the apostolic witness in the
Holy Scripture, preserving and transmitting the Gospel faithfully to
future generations.
b. Carry out Christ’s Great Commission by reaching out to all people to
bring them to faith in Christ and by doing all ministry with a global
awareness consistent with the understanding of God as Creator,
Redeemer, and Sanctifier of all.
c. Serve in response to God’s love to meet human needs, caring for the
sick and the aged, advocating dignity and justice for all people,
working for peace and reconciliation among the nations, and standing
with the poor and powerless, and committing itself to their needs.
d. Worship God in proclamation of the Word and administration of the
sacraments and through lives of prayer, praise, thanksgiving, witness,
and service.
e. Nurture its members in the Word of God so as to grow in faith and
hope and love, to see daily life as the primary setting for the exercise
of their Christian calling, and to use the gifts of the Spirit for their life
together and for their calling in the world.
f. Manifest the unity given to the people of God by living together in the
love of Christ and by joining with other Christians in prayer and
action to express and preserve the unity which the Spirit gives.
†S6.03. To fulfill these purposes, this synod, in partnership with the churchwide
organization, shall bear primary responsibility for the oversight of the life
and mission of this church in the territory of this synod. In fulfillment of
this role, this synod shall:
a. Provide for the pastoral care of congregations, ordained ministers,
associates in ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal ministers of this
church in this synod, including:
1) approving candidates for the ordained ministry in cooperation with
the appropriate seminaries of this church, which may be done
through multi-synodical committees;
2) authorizing ordinations and ordaining on behalf of this church;
(08-07) SYNOD CONSTITUTION / 187
3) approving associates in ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal ministers
of this church, which may be done through multi-synodical committees;
4) authorizing the commissioning of associates in ministry, the consecration of deaconesses, and the consecration of diaconal
ministers of this church; and
5) consulting in the calling process for ordained ministers, associates
in ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal ministers.
b. Provide for leadership recruitment, preparation, and support in
accordance with churchwide standards and policies, including:
1) nurturing and supporting congregations and lay leaders;
2) seeking and recruiting qualified candidates for the rostered
ministries of this church;
3) making provision for pastoral care, call or appointment review,
and guidance;
4) encouraging and supporting persons on the rosters of this church
in stewardship of their abilities, care of self, and pursuit of
continuing education to undergird their effectiveness of service;
and
5) supporting recruitment of leaders for this church’s colleges,
universities, seminaries, and social ministry organizations.
c. Provide for discipline of congregations, ordained ministers, and
persons on the official lay rosters; as well as for termination of call,
appointment, adjudication, and appeals consistent with the procedures
established by this church in Chapter 20 of the ELCA constitution and
bylaws.
d. Foster organizations for youth, women, and men, and organizations
for language or ethnic communities.
e. Plan for the mission of this church in this synod, initiating and
developing policy and implementing programs, consistent with
churchwide policy, including:
1) ecumenical guidance and encouragement;
2) development of new ministries, redevelopment of existing ministries,
and support and assistance in the conclusion, if necessary, of a
particular ministry;
3) leadership and encouragement of congregations in their
evangelism efforts;
4) development of relationships to and participation in planning for
the mission of social ministry organizations and ministries;
5) encouragement of financial support for the work of this church by
individuals and congregations;
6) provision for resources for congregational life;
188 / SYNOD CONSTITUTION (08-07)
7) assistance to the members of its congregations in carrying out their
ministries in the world; and
8) interpretation of social statements in a manner consistent with the
interpretation given by the churchwide unit which assisted in the
development of the statement, and suggestion of social study
issues through (a) Synod Assembly memorials to the Churchwide
Assembly or (b) resolutions for referral from the Synod Assembly
through the Synod Council to the Church Council and (c) Synod
Council resolutions addressed to the Church Council or for referral
to a unit of the churchwide organization through the Church
Council’s Executive Committee.
f. Promote interdependent relationships among congregations, synods,
and the churchwide organization, and enter into partnership with other
synods in the region.
g. Participate in churchwide programs and develop support for the
ministry of the churchwide organization.
h. Foster the grouping of congregations in conferences, clusters,
coalitions, or other area subdivisions for mission purposes.
i. Support relationships with and provide partnership funding on behalf
of colleges, universities, and campus ministries.
j. Foster relationships with and provide partnership funding on behalf
of social ministry organizations.
k. Maintain relationships with and provide partnership funding on behalf
of seminaries and continuing education centers.
l. Foster supporting relationships with camps and other outdoor
ministries.
m. Foster supporting relationships with preschools, elementary schools,
and secondary schools operated by congregations of this synod.
n. Interpret the work of this church to congregations and to the public.
o. Respond to human need, work for justice and peace, care for the sick
and the suffering, and participate responsibly in society.
p. Provide for archives in conjunction with other synods.
q. Cooperate with other synods and the churchwide organization in
creating, using, and supporting regions to carry out those functions of
this synod which can best be done cooperatively with other synods
and the churchwide organization.
r. Elect members of the Churchwide Assembly in accordance with
bylaw 12.41.11. of the constitution and bylaws of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America and according to procedures specified
in the bylaws of this constitution.
†S6.04. Except as otherwise provided in this constitution and bylaws, the Synod
Council shall establish processes that will ensure that at least 60 percent
of the members of the synod assemblies, councils, committees, boards,
(08-07) SYNOD CONSTITUTION / 189
and other organizational units shall be laypersons; and that, as nearly as
possible, 50 percent of the lay members of assemblies, councils,
committees, boards, or other organizational units shall be female and 50
percent shall be male; and that, where possible, the representation of
ordained ministers shall be both male and female. This synod shall
establish processes that will enable it to reach a minimum goal that 10
percent of its assemblies, councils, committees, boards, or other
organizational units be persons of color and/or persons whose primary
language is other than English.
†S6.04.A01. It is the goal of this synod that 10 percent of the membership of synod
assemblies, councils, committees, boards and/or other organizational
units be persons of color and/or persons whose primary language is
other than English.
†S6.05. Each assembly, council, committee, board, commission, task force, or
other body of this synod or any synodical units shall be conclusively
presumed to have been properly constituted, and neither the method of
selection nor the composition of any such assembly, council, committee,
board, commission, task force, or other body may be challenged in a
court of law by any person or be used as the basis of a challenge in a
court of law to the validity or effect of any action taken or authorized by
any such assembly, council, committee, board, commission, task force,
or other body.
Chapter 7.
SYNOD ASSEMBLY
†S7.01. This synod shall have a Synod Assembly, which shall be its highest
legislative authority. The powers of the Synod Assembly are limited only
by the provisions in the Articles of Incorporation, this constitution and
bylaws, the assembly’s own resolutions, and the constitutions and bylaws
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
†S7.11. A regular meeting of the Synod Assembly shall be held at least
biennially.
S7.12. Special meetings of the Synod Assembly may be called by the bishop
with the consent of the Synod Council, and shall be called by the bishop
at the request of one-fifth of the voting members of the Synod Assembly.
a. The notice of each special meeting shall define the purpose for which it
is to be held. The scope of actions to be taken at such a special meeting
shall be limited to the subject matter(s) described in the notice.
b. If the special meeting of the Synod Assembly is required for the
purpose of electing a successor bishop because of death, resignation,
or inability to serve, the special meeting shall be called by the
presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in
cooperation with the Synod Council.
190 / SYNOD CONSTITUTION (08-07)
†S7.13. Notice of the time and place of all meetings of the Synod Assembly shall
be given by the secretary of this synod.
†S7.14. One-half of the members of the Synod Assembly shall constitute a
quorum.
†S7.21. The membership of the Synod Assembly, of which at least 60 percent of
the voting membership shall be composed of laypersons, shall be
constituted as follows:
a. All ordained ministers under call on the roster of this synod in
attendance at this Synod Assembly shall be voting members.
b. All associates in ministry, deaconesses of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America, and diaconal ministers, under call, on the official
lay rosters of this synod shall have both voice and vote as lay voting
members in the Synod Assembly, in addition to the voting membership of lay members of congregations provided in item †S7.21.c.
c. A minimum of one lay member elected by each congregation with
fewer than 175 baptized members and a minimum of two lay
members elected by each congregation with 175 or more baptized
members related to this synod, normally one of whom shall be male
and one of whom shall be female, shall be voting members. The
Synod Council shall establish a formula to provide additional lay
representation from congregations on the basis of the number of
baptized members in the congregation. The Synod Council shall seek
to ensure that, as nearly as possible, 50 percent of the lay members of
the assembly shall be female and 50 percent shall be male. Additional
members from each congregation normally shall be equally divided
between male and female.
d. Voting membership shall include the officers of this synod.
†S7.22. The synod may establish processes that permit retired ordained ministers,
retired associates in ministry, retired deaconesses, and retired diaconal
ministers on the roster of this synod to serve as voting members of the
Synod Assembly, consistent with †S7.21.c. above.
†S7.23. All retired ordained ministers, all ordained ministers on leave from call,
all associates in ministry on leave from call or retired, all deaconesses of
the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on leave from call or
retired, and all diaconal ministers of this church on leave from call or
retired, all of whose names appear on the rosters of this synod, shall have
the privilege of voice but not vote at all meetings of the Synod Assembly.
The presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and
such other official representatives of this church as may be designated
from time to time by the Church Council shall also have voice but not
vote in the meetings of the Synod Assembly. Like privileges shall be
accorded to those additional persons whom the Synod Assembly or the
Synod Council shall from time to time designate.
(08-07) SYNOD CONSTITUTION / 191
†S7.24. Ordained ministers under call on the roster of this synod shall remain as
members of the Synod Assembly so long as they remain under call and
so long as their names appear on the roster of ordained ministers of this
synod. Associates in ministry, deaconesses of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America, and diaconal ministers of this church serving under
call on the roster of this synod shall remain as members of the Synod
Assembly so long as they remain under call and so long as their names
appear on the official lay roster of this synod. Lay members of the Synod
Assembly representing congregations shall continue as such until
replaced by the election of new members or until they have been
disqualified by termination of membership. Normally, congregations will
hold elections prior to each regular meeting of the Synod Assembly.
†S7.25. Except as otherwise provided in this constitution or in the Constitution,
Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America, each voting member of the Synod Assembly shall be a voting
member of a congregation of this synod.
†S7.26. This synod may establish processes through the Synod Council that
permit representatives of mission settings formed with the intent of becoming chartered congregations and authorized worshiping communities
of the synod, which have been authorized under ELCA bylaw 10.02.03.,
to serve as voting members of the Synod Assembly, consistent with
†S7.21. Authorized worshiping communities, acknowledged under criteria,
policies, and procedures approved by the Church Council of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, shall accept and adhere to the
Confession of Faith and Statement of Purpose of this church, shall be
served by leadership under the criteria of this church, and shall be subject
to the discipline of this church.
†S7.27. This synod may establish processes through the Synod Council to grant
an ordained minister from a church body with which a relationship of full
communion has been declared and established by the Churchwide
Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America the privilege
of both voice and vote in the Synod Assembly during the period of that
ordained minister’s service in a congregation of this church.
†S7.28. Duly elected voting members of the Synod Council who are not otherwise voting members of the Synod Assembly under †S7.21. shall be
granted the privilege of both voice and vote as members of the Synod
Assembly.
†S7.31. Proxy and absentee voting shall not be permitted in the transaction of any
business of this synod.
†S7.32. Robert’s Rules of Order, latest edition, shall govern parliamentary
procedure of the Synod Assembly, unless otherwise ordered by the
assembly.
†S7.33. “Ex officio” as used herein means membership with full rights of voice
and vote unless otherwise expressly limited.
192 / SYNOD CONSTITUTION (08-07)
Chapter 8.
OFFICERS
†S8.01. The officers of this synod shall be a bishop, a vice president, a secretary,
and a treasurer.
†S8.10. Bishop
†S8.11. The bishop shall be elected by the Synod Assembly. The bishop shall be
a pastor who is an ordained minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America.
†S8.12. As this synod’s pastor, the bishop shall be an ordained minister of Word
and Sacrament who shall:
a. Preach, teach, and administer the sacraments in accord with the
Confession of Faith of this church.
b. Have primary responsibility for the ministry of Word and Sacrament
in this synod and its congregations, providing pastoral care and
leadership for this synod, its congregations, its ordained ministers, and
its other rostered leaders.
c. Exercise solely this church’s power to ordain (or provide for the
ordination by another synodical bishop of) approved candidates who
have received and accepted a properly issued, duly attested letter of
call for the office of ordained ministry (and as provided in the bylaws
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).
d. Commission (or provide for the commissioning of) approved candidates who have received and accepted a properly issued, duly attested
letter of call for service as associates in ministry; consecrate (or
provide for the consecration of) approved candidates who have
received and accepted a properly issued, duly attested letter of call for
service as deaconesses; and consecrate (or provide for the consecration of) approved candidates who have received and accepted a
properly issued, duly attested letter of call for service as diaconal
ministers of this church.
e. Attest letters of call for persons called to serve congregations in the
synod, letters of call for persons called by the Synod Council, and
letters of call for persons on the rosters of this synod called by the
Church Council.
f. Install (or provide for the installation of):
1) the pastors of all congregations of this synod;
2) ordained ministers called to extraparish service within this church;
and
3) persons serving in the other rostered ministries within this synod.
g. Exercise leadership in the mission of this church and in so doing:
1) Interpret and advocate the mission and theology of the whole
church;
(08-07) SYNOD CONSTITUTION / 193
2) Lead in fostering support for and commitment to the mission of
this church within this synod;
3) Coordinate the use of the resources available to this synod as it
seeks to promote the health of this church’s life and witness in the
areas served by this synod;
4) Submit a report to each regular meeting of the Synod Assembly
concerning the synod’s life and work; and
5) Advise and counsel this synod’s related institutions and
organizations.
h. Practice leadership in strengthening the unity of the Church and in so
doing:
1) Exercise oversight of the preaching, teaching, and administration
of the sacraments within this synod in accord with the Confession
of Faith of this church;
2) Be responsible for administering the constitutionally established
processes for the resolution of controversies and for the discipline
of ordained ministers, other rostered leaders, and congregations of
this synod;
3) Be the chief ecumenical officer of this synod;
4) Consult regularly with other synodical bishops and the Conference
of Bishops;
5) Foster awareness of other churches throughout the Lutheran world
communion and, where appropriate, engage in contact with
leaders of those churches;
6) Cultivate communion in faith and mission with appropriate
Christian judicatory leaders functioning within the territory of this
synod; and
7) Be ex officio a member of the Churchwide Assembly.
i. Oversee and administer the work of this synod and in so doing:
1) Serve as the president of the synod corporation and be the chief
executive and administrative officer of this synod, who is
authorized and empowered, in the name of this synod, to sign
deeds or other instruments and to affix the seal of this synod;
2) Preside at all meetings of the Synod Assembly and provide for the
preparation of the agenda for the Synod Assembly, Synod
Council, and the council’s Executive Committee;
3) Ensure that the constitution and bylaws of the synod and of the
churchwide organization are duly observed within this synod, and
that the actions of the synod in conformity therewith are carried
into effect;
4) Exercise supervision over the work of the other officers;
5) Coordinate the work of all synodical staff members;
6) Appoint all committees for which provision is not otherwise made;
194 / SYNOD CONSTITUTION (08-07)
7) Be a member of all committees and any other organizational units
of the synod, except as otherwise provided in this constitution;
8) Provide for preparation and maintenance of synodical rosters
containing:
a) the names and addresses of all ordained ministers of this synod
and a record of the calls under which they are serving or the
date on which they become retired or disabled; and
b) the names and addresses of all other rostered persons of this
synod and a record of the positions to which they have been
called or the date on which they become retired or disabled;
9) Annually bring to the attention of the Synod Council the names of
all rostered persons on leave from call or engaged in approved
graduate study in conformity with the constitution and bylaws of
this church and pursuant to prior action of this synod through the
Synod Council;
10)Provide for prompt reporting to the secretary of this church of:
a) additions to and subtractions from the rosters of this synod and
the register of congregations;
b) the issuance of certificates of transfer for rostered persons in
good standing who have received and accepted a properly
issued, duly attested, regular letter of call under the jurisdiction
of another synod; and
c) the entrance of the names of such persons for whom proper
certificates of transfer have been received;
11) Provide for preparation and maintenance of a register of the
congregations of this synod and the names of the laypersons who
have been elected to represent them; and
12) Appoint a statistician of the synod, who shall secure the parochial
reports of the congregations and make the reports available to the
secretary of this church for collation, analysis, and distribution of
the statistical summaries to this synod and the other synods of this
church.
†S8.14. The synodical bishop may have such assistants as this synod shall from
time to time authorize.
†S8.15. The presiding bishop of this church, or the appointee of the presiding
bishop, shall install into office, in accord with the policy and approved
rite of this church, each newly elected synodical bishop.
†S8.20. Vice President
†S8.21. The vice president shall be elected by the Synod Assembly. The vice
president shall be a layperson. The vice president shall be a voting
member of a congregation of this synod. The vice president shall not
receive a salary for the performance of the duties of the office.
†S8.22. The vice president shall chair the Synod Council.
(08-07) SYNOD CONSTITUTION / 195
†S8.23. In the event of the death, resignation, or disability of the bishop, the vice
president shall convene the Synod Council to arrange for the conduct of
the duties of the bishop until a new bishop shall be elected or, in the case
of temporary disability, until the bishop resumes full performance of the
duties of the office.
†S8.30. Secretary
†S8.31. The secretary shall be elected by the Synod Assembly. The secretary
shall be a voting member of a congregation of this synod. The secretary
may be either a layperson or an ordained minister.
†S8.32. The secretary shall:
a. Keep the minutes of all meetings of the Synod Assembly and Synod
Council, be responsible for the printing and distribution of such
minutes, and perform such other duties as this synod may from time
to time direct.
b. Be authorized and empowered, in the name of this synod, to attest all
instruments which require the same, and which are signed and sealed
by the bishop.
c. In consultation with the bishop, classify and arrange all important
papers and documents and deposit them in the archives of this synod.
d. Submit to the secretary of this church at least nine months before each
regular Churchwide Assembly a certified list of the voting members
elected by the Synod Assembly.
†S8.40. Treasurer
†S8.41. The treasurer shall be elected by the Synod Assembly. The treasurer shall
be a voting member of a congregation of this synod. The treasurer may
be either a layperson or an ordained minister.
†S8.42. The treasurer shall provide and be accountable for:
a. Management of the monies and accounts of this synod, its deeds,
mortgages, contracts, evidences of claims and revenues, and trust
funds, holding the same at all times subject to the order of this synod.
b. Investment of funds upon the authorization of the Synod Council.
c. Receipt and acknowledgment of offerings, contributions, and bequests
made to this synod, collecting interest and income from its invested
funds, and paying regular appropriations and orders on the several
accounts as approved and directed by the Synod Council. The
treasurer shall transmit each month to the treasurer of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America the funds received by this synod for the
general work of this church.
d. Maintenance of a regular account with each congregation of this
synod and informing the congregation, at least quarterly, of the status
of this account.
e. Rendering at each regular meeting of the Synod Assembly a full,
detailed, and duly audited report of receipts and disbursements in the
several accounts of this synod for the preceding fiscal year, together
196 / SYNOD CONSTITUTION (08-07)
with the tabulation, for record and publication in the minutes, of the
contributions from the congregations.
f. Giving of corporate surety in the amount determined by the Synod
Council, which shall be in the custody of the secretary, and the
premium therefore shall be paid by this synod. Fidelity coverage
provided by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America shall be
deemed a fulfillment of this requirement.
†S8.50. General Provisions
†S8.51. The terms of office of the officers of this synod shall be:
a. The bishop of this synod shall be elected to a term of six years and
may be reelected.
b. The vice president, secretary, and treasurer of this synod shall be
elected to a term of years and may be reelected.
†S8.52. The terms of the officers shall begin on the first day of the month
following election.
†S8.53. Each officer shall be a voting member in a congregation of this synod,
except that the bishop need not be a member of a congregation of this
synod at the time of election.
†S8.54. Should the bishop die, resign, or be unable to serve, the vice president
shall convene the Synod Council to arrange for the appropriate care of the
responsibilities of the bishop until an election of a new bishop can be
held or, in the case of temporary disability, until the bishop is able to
serve again. Such arrangements may include the appointment by the
Synod Council of an interim bishop, who during the vacancy or period of
disability shall possess all of the powers and authority of a regularly
elected bishop. The term of the successor bishop, elected by the next
Synod Assembly or a special meeting of the Synod Assembly called for
the purpose of election, shall be six years with the subsequent election to
take place at the Synod Assembly closest to the expiration of such a term
and with the starting date of a successor term to be governed by
constitutional provision S8.52.
†S8.55. Should the vice president, secretary, or treasurer die, resign, or be unable
to serve, the bishop, with the approval of the Executive Committee of the
Synod Council, shall arrange for the appropriate care of the
responsibilities of the officer until an election of a new officer can be held
or, in the case of temporary disability, until the officer is able to serve
again. The term of the successor officer, elected by the next Synod
Assembly, shall be years.
†S8.56. The Executive Committee of the Synod Council shall determine whether
an officer is unable to serve; the officer may appeal the decision of the
Executive Committee by requesting a hearing before the Synod Council.
A meeting to determine the ability of an officer to serve shall be called
upon the request of at least three members of the Executive Committee
and prior written notice of the meeting shall be given to the officer in
question at least ten calendar days prior to the meeting.
(08-07) SYNOD CONSTITUTION / 197
†S8.57. The recall or dismissal of an officer may be effected in accordance with
the procedure established by the Committee on Appeals of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
†S8.58. If the bishop is to be temporarily absent from the synod for an extended
period, the bishop, with the consent of the Synod Council, may appoint
as acting bishop for such period an ordained minister of this church.
Except as limited by action of the Synod Council, an acting bishop shall
possess all of the powers and authority of a regularly elected bishop other
than authority to ordain or to authorize the ordination of properly
approved candidates for ordination.
Chapter 9.
NOMINATIONS AND ELECTIONS
†S9.01. The Synod Assembly shall elect such officers of this synod and such
other persons as the constitution and bylaws may require, according to
procedures set forth in the bylaws.
†S9.02. In all elections by the Synod Assembly, other than for the bishop, a
majority of the legal votes cast shall be necessary for election.
†S9.03. There shall be a Nominating Committee consisting of members
who shall be appointed by the Synod Council to serve for each regular
meeting of the Synod Assembly. Additional nominations may be made
from the floor for all elections for which nominations are made by the
Nominating Committee.
†S9.04. The bishop shall be elected by the Synod Assembly by ecclesiastical
ballot. Three-fourths of the legal votes cast shall be necessary for election
on the first ballot. If no one is elected, the first ballot shall be considered
the nominating ballot. Three-fourths of the legal votes cast on the second
ballot shall be necessary for election. The third ballot shall be limited to
the seven persons (plus ties) who received the greatest number of legal
votes on the second ballot, and two-thirds of the legal votes cast shall be
necessary for election. The fourth ballot shall be limited to the three
persons (plus ties) who receive the greatest number of legal votes on the
third ballot, and 60 percent of the legal votes cast shall be necessary for
election. On subsequent ballots a majority of the legal votes cast shall be
necessary for election. These ballots shall be limited to the two persons
(plus ties) who receive the greatest number of legal votes on the previous
ballot.
†S9.05. The Nominating Committee shall nominate at least two persons for vice
president; additional nominations may be made from the floor.
†S9.06. The Synod Council shall nominate two persons for secretary; additional
nominations may be made from the floor.
†S9.07. The Synod Council shall nominate two persons for treasurer; additional
nominations may be made from the floor.
198 / SYNOD CONSTITUTION (08-07)
†S9.08. In all elections, except for the bishop, the names of the persons receiving
the highest number of legal votes, but not elected by a majority of the
legal votes cast on a preceding ballot, shall be entered on the next ballot
to the number of two for each vacancy unfilled. On any ballot when only
two names appear, a majority of the legal votes cast shall be necessary for
election.
†S9.09. The result of each ballot in every election shall be announced in detail to
the assembly.
†S9.11. The Synod Council shall elect or appoint representatives to the steering
committee of its region.
Chapter 10.
SYNOD COUNCIL
†S10.01. The Synod Council consisting of the four officers of the synod, 10 to 24
other members, and at least one youth shall be elected by the Synod
Assembly.
a. Each person elected to the Synod Council shall be a voting member
of a congregation of this synod, with the exception of ordained
ministers on the roster of this synod who reside outside the territory
of this synod. The process for election and the term of office when
not otherwise provided shall be specified in the bylaws. A member
of the Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America, unless otherwise elected as a voting member of the Synod
Council, may serve as an advisory member of the Synod Council with
voice but not vote.
b. The term of office of members of the Synod Council, with the
exception of the officers and the youth member, shall be years.
†S10.02. The Synod Council shall be the board of directors of this synod and shall
serve as its interim legislative authority between meetings of the Synod
Assembly. It may make decisions which are not in conflict with actions
taken by the Synod Assembly or which are not precluded by provisions
of this constitution or the constitution and bylaws of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America.
†S10.03. The functions of the Synod Council shall be to:
a. Exercise trusteeship responsibilities on behalf of this synod.
b. Recommend program goals and budgets to the regular meetings of the
Synod Assembly.
c. Carry out the resolutions of the Synod Assembly.
d. Provide for an annual review of the roster of ordained ministers and
of other official rosters, receive and act upon appropriate
recommendations regarding those persons whose status is subject to
reconsideration and action under the constitution and bylaws of the
(08-07) SYNOD CONSTITUTION / 199
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and make a report to the
Synod Assembly of the Synod Council’s actions in this regard.
e. Issue letters of call to ordained ministers and letters of call to
associates in ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal ministers as
authorized by Chapter 7 of the constitution and bylaws of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
f. Fill vacancies until the next regular meeting of the Synod Assembly
except as may otherwise be provided in the constitution or bylaws of
this synod, and determine the fact of the incapacity of an officer of
this synod.
g. Report its actions to the regular meeting of the Synod Assembly.
h. Perform such other functions as are set forth in the bylaws of this
synod, or as may be delegated to it by the Synod Assembly.
†S10.04. Any proposal to appropriate funds, whether by amendment to the budget
or otherwise, which is presented to a meeting of the Synod Assembly
without the approval of the Synod Council, shall require a two-thirds vote
for adoption.
†S10.05. No elected member of the Synod Council shall receive compensation for
such service.
†S10.06. If a member of the Synod Council ceases to be a member in good
standing on a roster of this synod, if an ordained minister, or to be a
voting member of a congregation of this synod, if a layperson, the office
filled by such member shall at once become vacant.
†S10.07. The composition of the Synod Council, the number of its members, and
the manner of their selection, as well as the organization of the Synod
Council, its additional duties and responsibilities, and the number of
meetings to be held each year shall be as set forth in the bylaws.
Chapter 11.
COMMITTEES
(names of other organizational units)
†S11.01. There shall be an Executive Committee, a Consultation Committee, a
Committee on Discipline, a Mutual Ministry Committee, and such other
committees as this synod may from time to time determine. The duties
and functions of such committees, or any other organizational units
created by this synod, and the composition and organizational structure
of such units, shall be as set forth in this constitution or in the bylaws or
continuing resolutions, and shall be subject to any applicable provisions
or requirements of the constitution and bylaws of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America.
†S11.02. The Consultation Committee of this synod shall consist of at least six
persons and not more than 12 persons, of whom half shall be ordained
200 / SYNOD CONSTITUTION (08-07)
ministers and half shall be laypersons, who shall each be elected by the
Synod Assembly for a term of six years without consecutive reelection.
The functions of the Consultation Committee are set forth in Chapter 20
of the Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and in Chapter 17 of this
constitution. The size of the Consultation Committee, in accord with this
provision, shall be defined in this synod’s bylaws.
†S11.03. The Committee on Discipline of this synod shall consist of 12 persons of
whom six shall be ordained ministers and six shall be laypersons, who
shall each be elected by the Synod Assembly for a term of six years
without consecutive reelection.
a. The functions of the Committee on Discipline of this synod are set
forth in Chapter 20 of the Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing
Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
b. The terms of committee members shall be staggered so that the terms
of four committee members (two clergy and two lay) expire every two
years.
c. The Synod Council shall fill vacancies on the Committee on
Discipline for any unexpired term.
†S11.04. The Mutual Ministry Committee shall be appointed by the Executive
Committee of the Synod Council to provide support and counsel to the
bishop.
†S11.10. General Provisions
†S11.11. This synod shall in its bylaws or by continuing resolution establish a
process to ensure that the members of its committees and other
organizational units will be persons possessing the necessary knowledge
and competence to be effective members of such units, and to meet the
requirements of †S6.04. With the exception of ordained ministers on the
roster of this synod who reside outside the territory of this synod, each
member of a committee of this synod, or any other organizational unit
created by this synod, shall be a voting member of a congregation of this
synod.
Chapter 12.
CONFERENCES, CLUSTERS, COALITIONS,
OR OTHER AREA SUBDIVISIONS
†S12.01. This synod shall establish conferences, clusters, coalitions, or other area
subdivisions within its territory as specified in the bylaws. The purpose
of such groupings shall be to foster interdependent relationships among
congregations, institutions, and synodical and churchwide units for
mission purposes.
(08-07) SYNOD CONSTITUTION / 201
Chapter 13.
CONGREGATIONS
†S13.01. Each congregation, except those certified as congregations of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America by the uniting churches, prior
to being listed in the register of congregations of this synod, shall adopt
the Model Constitution for Congregations or one acceptable to this
synod, which is not in contradiction to the constitution and bylaws of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
a. New congregations. A congregation newly formed by this church and
any congregation seeking recognition and reception by this church
shall:
1) Accept the criteria for recognition and reception as a congregation
of this church, fulfill the functions of the congregation, and accept
the governance provisions as provided in Chapter 9 of the ELCA
constitution and bylaws.
2) Adopt governing documents that include fully and without alterations the Preamble, Chapter 1, where applicable, and all required
provisions of Chapters 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19
in the Model Constitution for Congregations consistent with
requirements of this constitution and the constitution of this
church. Bylaws and continuing resolutions, appropriate for
inclusion in these chapters and not in conflict with these required
provisions in the Model Constitution for Congregations, the
constitution of this synod, or the Constitution, Bylaws, and
Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America, may be adopted as described in Chapters 16 and 18 of
the Model Constitution for Congregations.
3) Accept the commitments expected of all congregations of the
ELCA as stated in *C6.01., *C6.02., and *C6.03. of the Model
Constitution for Congregations.
b. Congregations from another church body. If a congregation is a
member of another church body, the leaders of the congregation first
should consult with the appropriate authorities of that church body
before taking action to leave its current church body. After such
consultation, leaders of the congregation should make contact with the
ELCA synod bishop or staff where the congregation is located.
c. Recognition and reception. Recognition and reception into this
church of transferring or independent congregations by the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is based on the judgment of
the synod and action by the synod through the Synod Council and
Synod Assembly. The synod bishop shall provide for prompt
reporting of such additions to the secretary of this church for addition
to the register of congregations.
202 / SYNOD CONSTITUTION (08-07)
†S13.02. It shall be the responsibility of each congregation of this synod annually
to choose from among its voting members laypersons to serve as
members of the Synod Assembly as well as persons to represent it at
meetings of any conference, cluster, coalition, or other area subdivision
of which it is a member. The number of persons to be elected by each
congregation and other qualifications shall be as prescribed in guidelines
established by this synod.
†S13.11. When a pastor or when an associate in ministry, deaconess, or diaconal
minister resigns, the Congregation Council shall receive the letter of
resignation, report it to the congregation, and at once notify the bishop of
this synod.
†S13.12. A congregation under financial obligation to its former pastor or associate
in ministry, deaconess, or diaconal minister shall make satisfactory
settlement of the obligation before calling a successor.
†S13.21. The alignment of congregations in pastoral charges, and all alterations in
any alignment, shall be subject to approval by the Synod Assembly or by
the Synod Council.
†S13.22. Each congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America within
the territory of this synod, except those which are in partnership with the
Slovak Zion Synod, shall establish and maintain a relationship with this
synod.
†S13.23. Provision 9.71. of the ELCA constitution shall govern the relationship of
this synod and a congregation of this synod regarding the property of the
congregation. This synod may transfer or convey property to a congregation of the synod, subject to restrictions accepted by the congregation,
including provision that if the Synod Council, in its sole and exclusive
discretion, determines (1) that the property is not being used to serve the
mission and ministry needs of this church, or (2) that the congregation
has transferred, encumbered, mortgaged, or in any way burdened or
impaired any right, title, or interest in the property without the prior
approval of the Synod Council, then title to the property shall revert to
the synod, and the congregation, upon written demand, shall reconvey the
property to the synod.
†S13.24. If any congregation of this synod has disbanded, or if the members of a
congregation agree that it is no longer possible for it to function as such,
or if it is the opinion of the Synod Council that the membership of a
congregation has become so scattered or so diminished in numbers as to
make it impractical for such a congregation to fulfill the purposes for
which it was organized or that it is necessary for this synod to protect the
congregation’s property from waste and deterioration, the Synod Council,
itself or through trustees appointed by it, may take charge and control of
the property of the congregation to hold, manage, and convey the same
on behalf of this synod. The congregation shall have the right to appeal
the decision to the Synod Assembly.
(08-07) SYNOD CONSTITUTION / 203
†S13.25. This synod may temporarily assume administration of a congregation
upon its request or with its concurrence.
†S13.30. Discipline
†S13.31. Congregations and members of congregations are subject to discipline in
accordance with the provisions of Chapter 20 of the ELCA constitution
and bylaws.
Chapter 14.
ORDAINED MINISTERS AND LAY ROSTERED MINISTERS
†S14.01. The time and place of the ordination of those persons properly called to
congregations or extraparish service of this synod shall be authorized by
the bishop of this synod.
†S14.02. Consistent with the faith and practice of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America,
a. Every ordained minister shall:
1) preach the Word;
2) administer the sacraments;
3) conduct public worship;
4) provide pastoral care; and
5) speak publicly to the world in solidarity with the poor and
oppressed, calling for justice and proclaiming God’s love for the
world.
b. Each ordained minister with a congregational call shall, within the
congregation:
1) offer instruction, confirm, marry, visit the sick and distressed, and
bury the dead;
2) supervise all schools and organizations of the congregation;
3) install regularly elected members of the Congregation Council;
and
4) with the council, administer discipline.
c. Every pastor shall:
1) strive to extend the Kingdom of God in the community, in the
nation, and abroad;
2) seek out and encourage qualified persons to prepare for the
ministry of the Gospel;
3) impart knowledge of this church and its wider ministry through
distribution of its periodicals and other publications; and
4) endeavor to increase the support given by the congregation to the
work of the ELCA churchwide organization and of this ELCA
synod.
204 / SYNOD CONSTITUTION (08-07)
†S14.03. The pastor (a) shall keep accurate parochial records of all baptisms,
confirmations, marriages, burials, communicants, members received,
members dismissed, or members excluded from the congregation, (b)
shall submit a summary of such statistics annually to this synod, and (c)
shall become a member of the congregation upon receipt and acceptance
of the letter of call. In a parish of multiple congregations, the pastor shall
hold membership in one of the congregations.
†S14.04. Whenever members of a congregation move to such a distance that
regular attendance at its services becomes impractical, it shall be the duty
of the pastor to commend them, upon their consent, to the pastoral care
of a Lutheran congregation nearer to their place of residence.
†S14.05. Each ordained minister on the roster of this synod shall submit a report
of his or her ministry to the bishop of the synod at least 90 days prior to
each regular meeting of the Synod Assembly.
†S14.11. When a congregation of this church desires to call a pastor or a candidate
for the pastoral office in the ordained ministry of this church:
a. Each congregation of this synod shall consult the bishop of this synod
before taking any steps leading to the extending of a call to a
prospective pastor.
b. For issuance of a letter of call to a pastor or pastoral candidate by a
congregation of this synod in accord with ELCA constitutional
provision 7.41., a two-thirds majority ballot vote shall be required of
members of the congregation present and voting at a meeting
regularly called for the purpose of issuing such a call.
c. When the congregation has voted to issue a call to a prospective
pastor, the letter of call shall be submitted to the bishop of this synod
for the bishop’s signature.
†S14.12. No ordained minister shall accept a call without first conferring with the
bishop of this synod. An ordained minister shall respond with an answer
of acceptance or declination to a letter of call within 30 days of receipt of
such call. In exceptional circumstances with the approval of the bishop
of this synod and the chair of the Congregation Council of the
congregation issuing the call, an additional 15 days may be granted to
respond to a letter of call.
†S14.13. a. The call of a congregation, when accepted by a pastor, shall constitute
a continuing mutual relationship and commitment which, except in
the case of the death of the pastor, shall be terminated only following
consultation with the synodical bishop and for the following reasons:
1) mutual agreement to terminate the call or the completion of a call
for a specific term;
2) resignation of the pastor, which shall become effective, unless
otherwise agreed, 30 days after the date on which it was
submitted;
(08-07) SYNOD CONSTITUTION / 205
3) inability to conduct the pastoral office effectively in that congregation in view of local conditions, without reflection on the competence or the moral and spiritual character of the pastor;
4) the physical or mental incapacity of the pastor;
5) disqualification of the pastor through discipline on grounds of
doctrine, morality, or continued neglect of duty;
6) the dissolution of the congregation; or
7) suspension of the congregation as a result of discipline proceedings.
b. When allegations of physical or mental incapacity of the pastor or
ineffective conduct of the pastoral office have come to the attention
of the bishop of this synod, the bishop in his or her sole discretion
may, or when such allegations have been brought to this synod’s
attention by an official recital of allegations by the Congregation
Council or by a petition signed by at least one-third of the voting
members of the congregation, the bishop shall investigate such
conditions personally in company with a committee of two ordained
ministers and one layperson.
c. In case of alleged physical or mental incapacity competent medical
testimony shall be obtained. When such disability is evident, the
bishop of this synod with the advice of the committee shall declare the
pastorate vacant. Upon the restoration of a disabled pastor to health,
the bishop of this synod shall take steps to enable the pastor to resume
the ministry, either in the congregation last served or in another field
of labor.
d. In the case of alleged local difficulties that imperil the effective
functioning of the congregation, all concerned persons shall be heard,
after which the bishop of this synod together with the committee
described in †S14.13.b. shall decide on the course of action to be
recommended to the pastor and the congregation. If they agree to carry
out such recommendations, no further action shall be taken by this
synod. If either party fails to assent, the congregation may dismiss the
pastor at a legally called meeting after consultation with the bishop,
either (a) by a two-thirds majority vote of the voting members present
and voting where the bishop and the committee did not recommend
termination of the call, or (b) by a simple majority vote of the voting
members present and voting where the bishop and the committee
recommended termination of the call.
e. If, in the course of proceedings described in †S14.13.d., the committee concludes that there may be grounds for disciplinary action, the
committee shall make recommendations concerning disciplinary action
to the synodical bishop who may bring charges, in accordance with
the provisions of the constitution and bylaws of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America and the constitution of this synod.
206 / SYNOD CONSTITUTION (08-07)
f. If, following the appointment of the committee described in †S14.13.b. or
d., it should become apparent that the pastoral office cannot be
conducted effectively in the congregation(s) being served by the
ordained minister due to local conditions, the bishop of this synod
may temporarily suspend the pastor from service in the congregation(s) without prejudice and with pay provided through a joint
synodical and churchwide fund and with housing provided by the
congregation(s).
†S14.14. Ordained ministers shall respect the integrity of the ministry of congregations which they do not serve and shall not exercise ministerial
functions therein unless invited to do so by the pastor, or if there is no
duly called pastor, then by the interim pastor in consultation with the
Congregation Council.
†S14.15. The parochial records of each congregation shall be kept in a separate
book which shall remain its property. The secretary of the congregation
shall attest to the bishop of this synod that such records have been placed
in his or her hands in good order by a departing pastor before:
a. installation in another field of labor, or
b. the issuance of a certificate of dismissal or transfer.
†S14.16. The pastor shall make satisfactory settlement of all financial obligations
to a former congregation before:
a. installation in another field of labor, or
b. the issuance of a certificate of dismissal or transfer.
†S14.17. During service to a congregation, an interim pastor shall have the rights
and duties in the congregation of a regularly called pastor. The interim
pastor may delegate the same in part to an interim supply pastor with the
consent of the bishop of this synod. The interim pastor and any ordained
ministers who may assist shall refrain from exerting influence in the
selection of a pastor. Upon completion of service, the interim pastor shall
certify to the bishop of this synod that the parochial records, for the
period for which the interim pastor was responsible, are in order.
†S14.18. With the approval of the synodical bishop expressed in writing, which
sets forth a clear statement of the purpose to be served by such a
departure from the normal rule of permanency of the call as expressed in
†S14.13., a congregation may call a pastor for a specific term. Details of
such calls shall be in writing setting forth the purpose and conditions
involved. Prior to the completion of a term, the bishop of this synod or a
representative of the bishop shall meet with the pastor and representatives
of the congregation for a review of the call. Such call may also be
terminated before its expiration in accordance with the provisions of
†S14.13.
†S14.21. All ordained ministers under a call shall attend meetings of the Synod
Assembly, and the pastors of congregations shall also attend the meetings
of the conference, cluster, coalition, or other area subdivision to which
the congregation belongs.
(08-07) SYNOD CONSTITUTION / 207
†S14.30. Official Rosters of Laypersons
†S14.31. The provisions in the churchwide documents and such provisions as may
be developed by the appropriate churchwide unit governing associates in
ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal ministers of this church shall apply
in this synod.
a. When a congregation of this synod desires to call an associate in
ministry, deaconess, or diaconal minister or a candidate for these
official rosters of laypersons of this church:
1) Such a congregation of this synod shall consult the synodical
bishop before taking any steps leading to extending such a call.
2) Issuance of such a letter of call shall be in accord with criteria,
policies, and procedures developed by the appropriate churchwide
unit, reviewed by the Conference of Bishops, and adopted by the
Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
3) When the congregation has voted to issue a call to an associate in
ministry, deaconess, or diaconal minister, the letter of call shall be
submitted to the bishop of this synod for the bishop’s signature.
b. An associate in ministry, deaconess, or diaconal minister shall confer
with the bishop of this synod before accepting a call within this
synod.
c. The call of a congregation, when accepted by an associate in ministry,
deaconess, or diaconal minister, shall constitute a continuing mutual
relationship and commitment which, except in the case of the death
of the individual, shall be terminated only following consultation with
the synodical bishop in accordance with policy developed by the
appropriate churchwide unit, reviewed by the Conference of Bishops,
and adopted by the Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America.
d. Associates in ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal ministers on the
roster of this synod who are serving under call shall attend meetings
of the Synod Assembly.
Chapter 15.
FINANCIAL MATTERS
†S15.01. The fiscal year of this synod shall be February 1 through January 31.
†S15.11. Since the congregations, synods, and churchwide organization are
interdependent units that share responsibly in God’s mission, all share in
the responsibility to develop, implement, and strengthen the financial
support program of the whole church. The gifts and offerings of the
members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are given to
support all parts of this church and thus partnership in this church should
be evidenced in determining each part’s share of the gifts and offerings.
Therefore:
208 / SYNOD CONSTITUTION (08-07)
a. The mission of this church beyond the congregation is to be supported
by such a proportionate share of each congregation’s annual budget
as each congregation determines. This synod shall develop guidelines
for determining “proportionate share,” and shall consult with congregational leaders to assist each congregation in making its determination.
b. This synod shall receive the proportionate share of the mission
support from its congregations, and shall transmit that percentage of
each congregation’s mission support as determined by the Churchwide Assembly to the treasurer of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America.
†S15.12. The annual budget of this synod shall reflect the entire range of its own
activities and its commitment to partnership funding with other synods
and the churchwide organization. Unless an exception is granted upon the
request of this synod by the Church Council, each budget shall include
the percentage of congregational mission support assigned to it by the
Churchwide Assembly.
†S15.13. On the basis of estimated income, the Synod Council shall authorize
expenditures within the budget for the fiscal year. Expenditure authorizations shall be subject to revision, in light of changing conditions, by
the Synod Council.
†S15.14. Except when such procedure would jeopardize current operations, a
reserve amounting to no more than 16 percent of the sum of the amounts
scheduled in the next year’s budget for regular distribution to synodical
causes shall be carried forward annually for disbursement in the
following year in the interest of making possible a more even flow of
income to such causes. The exact number of dollars to be held in reserve
shall be determined by the Synod Council.
†S15.21. No appeal to congregations of this or any other synod of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America for the raising of funds shall be conducted
by congregations or organizations related to or affiliated with this synod
without the consent of the Synod Assembly or the Synod Council.
†S15.31. This synod shall arrange to have an annual audit of its financial records
conducted by a certified public accountant firm selected by the Synod
Council. The audited annual financial report shall be submitted by this
synod to the churchwide Office of the Treasurer and to the congregations
of this synod. The financial reports shall be in the format approved from
time to time by the churchwide Office of the Treasurer.
†S15.32. This synod shall maintain adequate, continuous insurance coverage in
accordance with standards recommended by the churchwide organization.
Insurance programs offered or endorsed by the churchwide organization
shall be deemed to fulfill this obligation.
(08-07) SYNOD CONSTITUTION / 209
Chapter 16.
INDEMNIFICATION
†S16.01. Except as otherwise provided in this constitution, indemnification of any
person who is or was made or threatened to be made a party to any
proceeding is prohibited. For purposes of this chapter, the term,
“proceeding,” means a threatened, pending, or completed civil, criminal,
administrative, arbitration, or investigative proceeding, including a
proceeding in the right of this synod or any other organization. Except as
otherwise required by law, (a) the term, “proceeding,” does not include
a proceeding by this synod and (b) indemnification for expenses incurred
in a disciplinary hearing or other proceeding described in Chapter 20 of
the Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America shall be permitted only as provided in
†S16.05. For purposes of this chapter, the term, “indemnification,”
includes advances of expenses.
†S16.02. To the full extent permitted from time to time by law, each person who
is or was made or threatened to be made a party to any proceeding by
reason of the present or former capacity of that person as a Synod
Council member, officer, employee, or committee member of this synod
shall be indemnified against judgments, penalties, fines, settlements,
excise taxes, and reasonable attorney’s fees and disbursements incurred
by that person in connection with the proceeding. Indemnification of any
person by reason of that person’s capacity as a director, officer,
employee, or committee member of any other organization, regardless of
its form or relationship to this synod, is subject to the provisions of
section †S16.03.
†S16.03. Whenever a person who, while a Synod Council member, officer,
committee member, or employee of this synod, is or was serving at the
request of this synod as (or whose duties in that position involve or
involved service in the capacity of) a director, officer, partner, trustee,
employee, or agent of another organization, is or was made or threatened
to be made a party to a proceeding by reason of such capacity, then such
person shall not be entitled to indemnification unless (a) the Synod
Council has established a process for determining whether a person
serving in the capacity described in this section shall be entitled to
indemnification in any specific case, and (b) that process has been
applied in making a specific determination that such person is entitled to
indemnification.
†S16.04. This synod may purchase and maintain insurance on behalf of itself or
any person entitled to indemnification pursuant to this chapter against any
liability asserted against and incurred by this synod or by such other
person in or arising from a capacity described in section †S16.02. or
section †S16.03.
210 / SYNOD CONSTITUTION (08-07)
†S16.05. When in proceedings under Chapter 20 of the Constitution, Bylaws, and
Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
written charges against an ordained minister or a layperson on an official
roster of this church are made by the synodical bishop or written charges
against a congregation are made by the Synod Council or the synodical
bishop, and the discipline hearing committee determines that no
discipline shall be imposed, and such determination is not reversed or set
aside if an appeal is taken, then indemnification shall be made by the
synod to the accused for reasonable attorney’s fees and other reasonable
expenses related to the defense of the charges. The determination of the
reasonableness of such fees and expenses shall be decided by the Synod
Council.
Chapter 17.
ADJUDICATION
†S17.01. The synodical bishop and the Executive Committee of the Synod Council
shall be available to give counsel when disputes arise within this synod.
†S17.02. The synodical bishop and the Executive Committee of the Synod Council
shall receive expressions of concern from ordained ministers, associates
in ministry, or other persons on the official lay rosters of this church,
congregations, and organizations within this synod; provide a forum in
which the parties concerned can seek to work out matters causing distress
or conflict; and make appropriate recommendations for their resolution.
When the matter at issue cannot be resolved in this manner, the prescribed procedures for investigation, decision, appeal, and adjudication
shall be followed. Allegations or charges that could lead to the discipline
of an ordained minister or a person on the official lay rosters of this
church shall not be addressed by the Executive Committee but shall be
resolved through the disciplinary process set forth in the Constitution,
Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America.
†S17.03. When there is disagreement among units of this synod on a substantive
issue that cannot be resolved by the parties, the aggrieved party or parties
may appeal to the synodical bishop and the Executive Committee of the
Synod Council for a consultation. If this consultation fails to resolve the
issue, a petition may be addressed by the parties to the Synod Council
requesting it to arbitrate the issue. The decision of the Synod Council
shall be final.
†S17.04. When a component or beneficiary of a synod has a disagreement on a
substantive issue that it cannot resolve, it may address an appeal to the
synodical bishop and the Executive Committee of the Synod Council. In
this case the decision of the Executive Committee shall prevail, except
that upon the motion of a member of the Synod Council, the decision
shall be referred to the Synod Council for final action.
(08-07) SYNOD CONSTITUTION / 211
†S17.10. Adjudication in a Congregation
†S17.11. When there is disagreement among factions within a congregation on a
substantive issue that cannot be resolved by the parties, members of a
congregation shall have access to the synodical bishop for consultation
after informing the chair of the Congregation Council of their intent. If
the consultation fails to resolve the issue(s), the Consultation Committee
of this synod shall consider the matter. If the Consultation Committee of
this synod shall fail to resolve the issue(s), the matter shall be referred to
the Synod Council, whose decision shall be final.
Chapter 18.
AMENDMENTS, BYLAWS, AND CONTINUING RESOLUTIONS
†S18.10. Amendments to Constitution
†S18.11. Certain sections of this constitution incorporate and record therein
required provisions of the constitution and bylaws of this church. If such
provisions are amended by this church, corresponding amendments shall
be introduced at once into this constitution by the secretary of this synod
upon receipt of formal certification thereof from the secretary of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
†S18.12. Whenever the secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
officially informs this synod that the Churchwide Assembly has amended
the Constitution for Synods, this constitution may be amended to reflect
any such amendment by a simple majority vote at any subsequent
meeting of the Synod Assembly without presentation at a prior Synod
Assembly. An amendment that is identical to a provision of the
Constitution for Synods shall be deemed to have been ratified upon its
adoption by this synod. The Church Council, through the secretary of this
church, shall be given prompt notification of its adoption.
†S18.13. Other amendments to this constitution may be adopted by this synod
through either of the following procedures:
a. An amendment may be adopted by a two-thirds vote at a regular
meeting of the Synod Assembly after having been presented in
writing at the previous regular meeting of the Synod Assembly over
the signatures of at least members and having been approved
by a two-thirds vote of the voting members present and voting at such
a regular meeting of the Synod Assembly.
b. The Synod Council may propose an amendment, with notice to be
sent to the congregations of this synod at least six months prior to the
next regular meeting of the Synod Assembly. Such an amendment
shall require for adoption a two-thirds vote of the voting members
present and voting at such a regular meeting of the Synod Assembly.
All such amendments shall become effective upon ratification by the
Churchwide Assembly or by the Church Council.
212 / SYNOD CONSTITUTION (08-07)
†S18.20. Amendments to Bylaws
†S18.21. This synod may adopt bylaws not in conflict with this constitution nor
with the constitution and bylaws of this church. This synod may amend
its bylaws at any meeting of the Synod Assembly by a two-thirds vote of
voting members of the assembly present and voting. Newly adopted
bylaws and amendments to existing bylaws shall be reported to the
secretary of this church.
†S18.30. Amendments to Continuing Resolutions
†S18.31. This synod may adopt continuing resolutions not in conflict with this
constitution or its bylaws or the constitution and bylaws of this church.
Such continuing resolutions may be adopted or amended by a majority
vote of the Synod Assembly or by a two-thirds vote of Synod Council.
Newly adopted continuing resolutions and amendments to existing
continuing resolutions shall be reported to the secretary of this church.

MODEL CONSTITUTION
FOR
CONGREGATIONS
OF THE
EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN
CHURCH IN AMERICA®
2007
(08-07) MODEL CONSTITUTION FOR CONGREGATIONS / 215
INTRODUCTION
The Model Constitution for Congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America originally was adopted by the Constituting Convention of this church in
Columbus, Ohio, on April 30, 1987. This was done as required by the Constitutions,
Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
This current edition of the Model Constitution for Congregations of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America contains changes adopted by the 1989,
1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, and 2007 Churchwide Assemblies.
The model is consistent with the requirements of the constitutional governing
documents of the ELCA’s churchwide organization and synods.
‘ Required provisions: Sections of this constitution marked by an asterisk [*] are
required when a congregation amends its governing documents. These sections must
be used without alteration or amendment of the text in any manner (neither additions
nor deletions). This is in keeping with provision 9.52. in the Constitution, Bylaws,
and Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. This
provision stipulates that when a congregation of this church “wishes to amend any
provision of its governing documents, the governing documents of that congregation
shall be so amended to conform to 9.25.b.” in the churchwide constitution. The
provisions herein marked by an asterisk are those that are indicated as required in
ELCA constitutional provision 9.25.b.
‘ Review by synod: In keeping with provisions that apply to all congregations of
this church, each congregation is to provide a copy of its governing documents to the
synod. As specified by ELCA bylaw 9.53.03. (numbering as listed in the 1991 and
subsequent editions):
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.
216 / MODEL CONSTITUTION FOR CONGREGATIONS (08-07)
‘ Codification explanation: A numerical codification indicates (a) general
subject, (b) constitutional provisions, (c) bylaws, and (d) continuing resolutions.
a. Major sectors are designated as chapters. The chapter designation becomes the
first number in the codification sequence and is followed by a period. Thus,
provisions in “Chapter 8. Membership” are preceded by “8.”
b. Constitutional provisions are codified with two sets of numbers: the chapter
number and a two-digit number preceding the second period in the codification.
Thus, one constitutional provision related to “Membership” is codified *C8.02.
c. Bylaw provisions are codified with three sets of numbers: the chapter number,
the related constitutional provision number, and a two-digit number. Thus, one
bylaw provision related to “Membership” would be codified C8.02.01.
Because bylaws and continuing resolutions normally are so specifically related
to details of each congregation’s organization, operation, and life, no model set
of bylaws or continuing resolutions is provided. Each congregation may
develop its own bylaws and continuing resolutions, but no such bylaws or
continuing resolutions may conflict with this constitution, the constitution and
bylaws of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the constitution of
the synod, as indicated in *C6.03.e.
d. The Congregation Council may adopt “continuing resolutions,” which may
provide descriptions of operational patterns or of the ongoing responsibilities
of committees or other units within the organizational structure of the
congregation. Within the governing documents of a congregation, continuing
resolutions are the provisions most easily amended. Unlike constitutional
provisions and bylaws, continuing resolutions may be updated regularly by the
Congregation Council without the necessity of calling a regular or special
Congregation Meeting. Continuing resolutions also are codified with three sets
of numbers except that the third set is preceded by a capital letter. Thus, a
continuing resolution might be numbered C13. to designate the chapter;
C13.07. to designate the subject matter within the chapter; and the third set
might be numbered A07. in the codification C13.07.A07. to indicate by the “A”
that it is the first continuing resolution regarding that subject and to indicate by
the “07” that it was adopted in 2007.
‘ Ease of use: The provisions of your congregation’s constitution, the bylaws,
and the continuing resolutions that pertain to the same matter should be placed
together for clarity and ease in use.
If chapter numbers are considered the major sequence number, constitution
numbers as a fraction of the chapter number, and bylaw numbers as a fraction of the
constitution number, then the codification can be said to provide a progressive
sequence. Thus, *C5.01. will precede C5.03.10., and C9.11.16. will precede *C9.13.
All provisions in the Model Constitution for Congregations are prefaced with “C”
to distinguish these provisions from comparable ones in the synodical and churchwide
constitutions.
‘Missing numbers: As you work with the Model Constitution for Congregations,
you may notice that certain numbers seem to be missing from the numbering sequence
in some chapters. That is intentional. In the style followed here, the number “.10.”
(08-07) MODEL CONSTITUTION FOR CONGREGATIONS / 217
and multiples thereof have been reserved for possible use as section headings in future
editions. Therefore, in the sequence, for example, of Chapters 1, 9, and 12, these
“.10.” numbers do not appear.
‘ Selection of options: Alternatives are provided in certain places within the
model. Those are noted by square brackets. For example, *C9.01. offers the
alternative of election of a call committee by the congregation or by the Congregation
Council. One alternative should be chosen in each instance where square brackets
appear in the text.
Optional texts are provided in separate paragraphs in Chapters 11 and 12 regarding
the Congregation Council and its membership. Each congregation will need to select
one of those options for council membership or a variation thereof, subject to approval
through the synod’s constitutional review process.
‘ References to church: In the governing documents, “Church” with a capital
letter is used in references to the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. In
references to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the words “church” and
“this church” in lower case letters are employed, although, for clarity in this
constitution, the full name or “ELCA” normally is used.
The specific congregation may be identified, as provided in C1.02., as “this
congregation.”
‘ Guidelines: A list of guidelines for a congregation engaging in review and
amendment of its constitution is available through each synod office and on the ELCA
Web site (www.elca.org/secretary/Constitutions/ModelGuide.pdf).
The task of amending a constitution is not easy. It is, however, an important
endeavor that merits thoughtful work. In your constitutional responsibilities, God
grant you wisdom, mutual love, clear understanding of good order, and commitment
to the unity of this church in faithful witness to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
THE REV. LOWELL G. ALMEN
Secretary
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
August 20, 2007
* Required provision
218 / MODEL CONSTITUTION FOR CONGREGATIONS (08-07)
MODEL CONSTITUTION
for
CONGREGATIONS
of the
EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN
CHURCH IN AMERICA®
Copyright 2007
by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
*PREAMBLE*
We, baptized members of the Church of Christ, responding in faith to the call of the
Holy Spirit through the Gospel, desiring to unite together to preach the Word,
administer the sacraments, and carry out God’s mission, do hereby adopt this
constitution and solemnly pledge ourselves to be governed by its provisions. In the
name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Chapter 1.
NAME AND INCORPORATION
C1.01. The name of this congregation shall be .
C1.02. For the purpose of this constitution and the accompanying bylaws, the
congregation of (Insert full legal name) is hereinafter
designated as “this congregation.”
C1.11. This congregation shall be incorporated under the laws of the State of
.
Chapter 2.
CONFESSION OF FAITH
*C2.01. This congregation confesses the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
*C2.02. This congregation confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the
Gospel as the power of God for the salvation of all who believe.
a. Jesus Christ is the Word of God incarnate, through whom everything
was made and through whose life, death, and resurrection God
fashions a new creation.
(08-07) MODEL CONSTITUTION FOR CONGREGATIONS / 219
b. The proclamation of God’s message to us as both Law and Gospel is
the Word of God, revealing judgment and mercy through word and
deed, beginning with the Word in creation, continuing in the history
of Israel, and centering in all its fullness in the person and work of
Jesus Christ.
c. The canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the
written Word of God. Inspired by God’s Spirit speaking through
their authors, they record and announce God’s revelation centering in
Jesus Christ. Through them God’s Spirit speaks to us to create and
sustain Christian faith and fellowship for service in the world.
*C2.03. This congregation accepts the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New
Testaments as the inspired Word of God and the authoritative source and
norm of its proclamation, faith, and life.
*C2.04. This congregation accepts the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds
as true declarations of the faith of this congregation.
*C2.05. This congregation accepts the Unaltered Augsburg Confession as a true
witness to the Gospel, acknowledging as one with it in faith and doctrine
all churches that likewise accept the teachings of the Unaltered Augsburg
Confession.
*C2.06. This congregation accepts the other confessional writings in the Book of
Concord, namely, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald
Articles and the Treatise, the Small Catechism, the Large Catechism, and
the Formula of Concord, as further valid interpretations of the faith of the
Church.
*C2.07. This congregation confesses the Gospel, recorded in the Holy Scripture
and confessed in the ecumenical creeds and Lutheran confessional
writings, as the power of God to create and sustain the Church for God’s
mission in the world.
Chapter 3.
NATURE OF THE CHURCH
*C3.01. All power in the Church belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ, its head. All
actions of this congregation are to be carried out under his rule and
authority.
*C3.02. The Church exists both as an inclusive fellowship and as local congregations gathered for worship and Christian service. Congregations find
their fulfillment in the universal community of the Church, and the
universal Church exists in and through congregations. The Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America, therefore, derives its character and powers
both from the sanction and representation of its congregations and from
its inherent nature as an expression of the broader fellowship of the
faithful. In length, it acknowledges itself to be in the historic continuity of
the communion of saints; in breadth, it expresses the fellowship of
believers and congregations in our day.
220 / MODEL CONSTITUTION FOR CONGREGATIONS (08-07)
Chapter 4.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
*C4.01. The Church is a people created by God in Christ, empowered by the Holy
Spirit, called and sent to bear witness to God’s creative, redeeming, and
sanctifying activity in the world.
*C4.02. To participate in God’s mission, this congregation as a part of the Church
shall:
a. Worship God in proclamation of the Word and administration of the
sacraments and through lives of prayer, praise, thanksgiving, witness,
and service.
b. Proclaim God’s saving Gospel of justification by grace for Christ’s sake
through faith alone, according to the apostolic witness in the Holy
Scripture, preserving and transmitting the Gospel faithfully to future
generations.
c. Carry out Christ’s Great Commission by reaching out to all people to
bring them to faith in Christ and by doing all ministry with a global
awareness consistent with the understanding of God as Creator,
Redeemer, and Sanctifier of all.
d. Serve in response to God’s love to meet human needs, caring for the
sick and the aged, advocating dignity and justice for all people,
working for peace and reconciliation among the nations, and standing
with the poor and powerless, and committing itself to their needs.
e. Nurture its members in the Word of God so as to grow in faith and
hope and love, to see daily life as the primary setting for the exercise
of their Christian calling, and to use the gifts of the Spirit for their life
together and for their calling in the world.
f. Manifest the unity given to the people of God by living together in
the love of Christ and by joining with other Christians in prayer and
action to express and preserve the unity which the Spirit gives.
*C4.03. To fulfill these purposes, this congregation shall:
a. Provide services of worship at which the Word of God is preached
and the sacraments are administered.
b. Provide pastoral care and assist all members to participate in this
ministry.
c. Challenge, equip, and support all members in carrying out their
calling in their daily lives and in their congregation.
d. Teach the Word of God.
e. Witness to the reconciling Word of God in Christ, reaching out to all
people.
f. Respond to human need, work for justice and peace, care for the sick
and the suffering, and participate responsibly in society.
(08-07) MODEL CONSTITUTION FOR CONGREGATIONS / 221
g. Motivate its members to provide financial support for the congregation’s ministry and the ministry of other parts of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America.
h. Foster and participate in interdependent relationships with other
congregations, the synod, and the churchwide organization of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
i. Foster and participate in ecumenical relationships consistent with
churchwide policy.
*C4.04. This congregation shall develop an organizational structure to be
described in the bylaws. The Congregation Council shall prepare
descriptions of the responsibilities of each committee, task force, or other
organizational group and shall review their actions. [Such descriptions
shall be contained in continuing resolutions in the section on the
Congregation Council.]
*C4.05. This congregation shall, from time to time, adopt a mission statement
which will provide specific direction for its programs.
Chapter 5.
POWERS OF THE CONGREGATION
*C5.01. The powers of this congregation are those necessary to fulfill its purpose.
*C5.02. The powers of this congregation are vested in the Congregation Meeting
called and conducted as provided in this constitution and bylaws.
*C5.03. Only such authority as is delegated to the Congregation Council or other
organizational units in this congregation’s governing documents is
recognized. All remaining authority is retained by the congregation. The
congregation is authorized to:
a. call a pastor as provided in Chapter 9;
b. terminate the call of a pastor as provided in Chapter 9;
c. call or terminate the call of associates in ministry, deaconesses, and
diaconal ministers in conformity with the applicable policy of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America;
d. adopt amendments to the constitution, as provided in Chapter 17, and
amendments to the bylaws, as specified in Chapter 16.
e. approve the annual budget;
f. acquire real and personal property by gift, devise, purchase, or other
lawful means;
g. hold title to and use its property for any and all activities consistent
with its purpose;
h. sell, mortgage, lease, transfer, or otherwise dispose of its property by
any lawful means;
i. elect its [officers][,] [and] Congregation Council, [boards, and
committees,] and require [them] [the members of the council] to carry
222 / MODEL CONSTITUTION FOR CONGREGATIONS (08-07)
out their duties in accordance with the constitution[,] [and] bylaws[,]
[and continuing resolutions]; and
j. terminate its relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America as provided in Chapter 6.
*C5.04. This congregation shall choose from among its voting members
laypersons to serve as voting members of the Synod Assembly as well as
persons to represent it at meetings of any conference, cluster, coalition, or
other area subdivision of which it is a member. The number of persons to
be elected by the congregation and other qualifications shall be as
prescribed in guidelines established by the (insert name of synod) of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
C5.05. This congregation shall have a mission endowment fund that will operate
as specified in this congregation’s [bylaws] [continuing resolutions]. The
purpose of the mission endowment fund is to provide for mission work
beyond the operational budget of this congregation.
Chapter 6.
CHURCH AFFILIATION
*C6.01. This congregation shall be an interdependent part of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America or its successor, and of the (insert name of
synod) Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. This
congregation is subject to the discipline of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America.
*C6.02. This congregation accepts the Confession of Faith and agrees to the
Purposes of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and shall act in
accordance with them.
*C6.03. This congregation acknowledges its relationship with the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America in which:
a. This congregation agrees to be responsible for its life as a Christian
community.
b. This congregation pledges its financial support and participation in
the life and mission of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
c. This congregation agrees to call pastoral leadership from the clergy
roster of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in accordance
with its call procedures except in special circumstances and with the
approval of the bishop of the synod.
d. This congregation agrees to consider associates in ministry,
deaconesses, and diaconal ministers for call to other staff positions in
the congregation according to the procedures of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America.
e. This congregation agrees to file this constitution and any subsequent
changes to this constitution with the synod for review to ascertain that
1 This provision is to be used in the constitutions of all congregations that formerly were a part of the
Lutheran Church in America, in accord with provision 9.62.g. in the Constitution, Bylaws, and
Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
(08-07) MODEL CONSTITUTION FOR CONGREGATIONS / 223
all of its provisions are in agreement with the constitution and bylaws
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and with the
constitution of the synod.
*C6.04. Affiliation with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America may be
terminated as follows:
a. This congregation takes action to dissolve.
b. This congregation ceases to exist.
c. This congregation is removed from membership in the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America according to the procedures for
discipline of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
d. This congregation follows the procedures outlined in *C6.05.
*C6.05. This congregation may terminate its relationship with the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America by the following procedure:
a. A resolution indicating the desire of this congregation to terminate its
relationship must be adopted at a legally called and conducted special
meeting of this congregation by a two-thirds majority of the voting
members present.
b. The secretary of this congregation shall submit a copy of the
resolution to the synodical bishop and shall mail a copy of the
resolution to voting members of this congregation. This notice shall
be submitted within 10 days after the resolution has been adopted.
c. The bishop of the synod shall consult with this congregation during
a period of at least 90 days.
d. If this congregation, after consultation, still desires to terminate its
relationship, such action may be taken at a legally called and
conducted special meeting by a two-thirds majority of the voting
members present, at which meeting the bishop of the synod or an
authorized representative shall be present. Notice of the meeting shall
be mailed to all voting members at least 10 days in advance of the
meeting.
e. A certified copy of the resolution to terminate its relationship shall be
sent to the synodical bishop, at which time the relationship between
this congregation and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
shall be terminated.
f. Notice of termination shall be forwarded by the synodical bishop to
the secretary of this church and published in the periodical of this
church. ** g.1 Since this congregation was a member of the Lutheran Church in
America, it shall be required, in addition to the foregoing provisions
2 This provision is to be used in the constitutions of all congregations that have been established by
the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, in accord with provision 9.62.h. in the Constitution,
Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
224 / MODEL CONSTITUTION FOR CONGREGATIONS (08-07)
in *C6.05., to receive synodical approval before terminating its
membership in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. *** h.2 Since this congregation was established by the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America, it shall be required, in addition to the foregoing
provisions in *C6.05., to receive synodical approval before
terminating its membership in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America.
*C6.06. If this congregation considers relocation, it shall confer with the bishop of
the synod in which it is territorially located before any steps are taken
leading to such action. The approval of the Synod Council shall be
received before any such action is effected.
Chapter 7.
PROPERTY OWNERSHIP
*C7.01. If this congregation ceases to exist, title to undisposed property shall pass
to the (insert name of synod) Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America.
*C7.02. If this congregation is removed from membership in the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America according to its procedure for discipline, title
to property shall continue to reside in this congregation.
*C7.03. If a two-thirds majority of the voting members of this congregation
present at a legally called and conducted special meeting of this
congregation vote to transfer to another Lutheran church body, title to
property shall continue to reside in this congregation. Before this
congregation takes action to transfer to another Lutheran church body, it
shall consult with representatives of the (insert name of synod) Synod.
*C7.04. If a two-thirds majority of the voting members of this congregation
present at a legally called and conducted special meeting of this
congregation vote to become independent or relate to a non-Lutheran
church body, title to property of this congregation shall continue to reside
in this congregation only with the consent of the Synod Council. The
Synod Council, after consultation with this congregation by the
established synodical process, may give approval to the request to become
independent or to relate to a non-Lutheran church body, in which case title
shall remain with the majority of this congregation. If the Synod Council
fails to give such approval, title shall remain with those members who
desire to continue as a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America.
(08-07) MODEL CONSTITUTION FOR CONGREGATIONS / 225
C7.05. Notwithstanding the provisions of *C7.02. and *C.7.03. above, where this
congregation has received property from the synod pursuant to a deed or
other instrument containing restrictions under provision 9.71.a. of the
Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America, this congregation accepts such restrictions
and:
a. Shall not transfer, encumber, mortgage, or in any way burden or
impair any right, title, or interest in the property without prior
approval of the Synod Council.
b. Shall—upon written demand by the Synod Council, pursuant to †S13.23.
of the constitution of the (insert name of synod) —reconvey and
transfer all right, title, and interest in the property to the synod.
Chapter 8.
MEMBERSHIP
*C8.01. Members of this congregation shall be those baptized persons on the roll
of this congregation at the time that this constitution is adopted and those
who are admitted thereafter and who have declared and maintain their
membership in accordance with the provisions of this constitution and its
bylaws.
*C8.02. Members shall be classified as follows:
a. Baptized members are those persons who have been received by the
Sacrament of Holy Baptism in this congregation, or, having been
previously baptized in the name of the Triune God, have been
received by certificate of transfer from other Lutheran congregations
or by affirmation of faith.
b. Confirmed members are baptized persons who have been confirmed
in this congregation, those who have been received by adult baptism
or by transfer as confirmed members from other Lutheran congregations, or baptized persons received by affirmation of faith.
c. Voting members are confirmed members. Such confirmed members,
during the current or preceding calendar year, shall have communed
in this congregation and shall have made a contribution of record to
this congregation. Members of this congregation who have satisfied
these basic standards shall have the privilege of voice and vote at
every regular and special meeting of the congregation.
d. Associate members are persons holding membership in other [Lutheran]
[Christian] congregations who wish to retain such membership but
desire to participate in the life and mission of this congregation, or
persons who wish to retain a relationship with this congregation
while being members of other congregations. They have all the
privileges and duties of membership except voting rights and
eligibility for elected offices or membership on the Congregation
Council of this congregation.
226 / MODEL CONSTITUTION FOR CONGREGATIONS (08-07)
*C8.03. All applications for confirmed membership shall be submitted to and shall
require the approval of the Congregation Council.
*C8.04. It shall be the privilege and duty of members of this congregation to:
a. make regular use of the means of grace, both Word and sacraments;
b. live a Christian life in accordance with the Word of God and the
teachings of the Lutheran church; and
c. support the work of this congregation, the synod, and the churchwide
organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America through
contributions of their time, abilities, and financial support as biblical
stewards.
*C8.05. Membership in this congregation shall be terminated by any of the
following:
a. death;
b. resignation;
c. transfer or release;
d. disciplinary action by the Congregation Council; or
e. removal from the roll due to inactivity as defined in the bylaws.
Such persons who have been removed from the roll of members shall
remain persons for whom the Church has a continuing pastoral concern.
Chapter 9.
THE PASTOR
*C9.01. Authority to call a pastor shall be in this congregation by at least a two-thirds
majority ballot vote of members present and voting at a meeting legally
called for that purpose. Before a call is issued, the officers, or a committee
elected by [this congregation][the Congregation Council] to recommend
the call, shall seek the advice and help of the bishop of the synod.
*C9.02. Only a member of the clergy roster of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America or a candidate for the roster of ordained ministers who has
been recommended for the congregation by the synodical bishop may be
called as a pastor of this congregation.
*C9.03. Consistent with the faith and practice of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America,
a. Every ordained minister shall:
1) preach the Word;
2) administer the sacraments;
3) conduct public worship;
4) provide pastoral care; and
5) speak publicly to the world in solidarity with the poor and
oppressed, calling for justice and proclaiming God’s love for the
world.
(08-07) MODEL CONSTITUTION FOR CONGREGATIONS / 227
b. Each ordained minister with a congregational call shall, within the
congregation:
1) offer instruction, confirm, marry, visit the sick and distressed,
and bury the dead;
2) supervise all schools and organizations of this congregation;
3) install regularly elected members of the Congregation Council;
and
4) with the council, administer discipline.
c. Every pastor shall:
1) strive to extend the Kingdom of God in the community, in the
nation, and abroad;
2) seek out and encourage qualified persons to prepare for the
ministry of the Gospel;
3) impart knowledge of this church and its wider ministry through
distribution of its periodicals and other publications; and
4) endeavor to increase the support given by the congregation to the
work of the churchwide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America (ELCA) and of the (insert name of synod)
Synod of the ELCA.
*C9.04. The specific duties of the pastor, compensation, and other matters
pertaining to the service of the pastor shall be included in a letter of call,
which shall be attested by the bishop of the synod.
*C9.05. a. The call of a congregation, when accepted by a pastor, shall
constitute a continuing mutual relationship and commitment, which,
except in the case of the death of the pastor, shall be terminated only
following consultation with the synodical bishop and for the
following reasons:
1) mutual agreement to terminate the call or the completion of a
call for a specific term;
2) resignation of the pastor, which shall become effective, unless
otherwise agreed, 30 days after the date on which it was
submitted;
3) inability to conduct the pastoral office effectively in the
congregation in view of local conditions, without reflection on
the competence or the moral and spiritual character of the pastor;
4) the physical or mental incapacity of the pastor;
5) disqualification of the pastor through discipline on grounds of
doctrine, morality, or continued neglect of duty;
6) the dissolution of the congregation; or
7) suspension of the congregation as a result of discipline
proceedings.
228 / MODEL CONSTITUTION FOR CONGREGATIONS (08-07)
b. When allegations of physical or mental incapacity of the pastor or
ineffective conduct of the pastoral office have come to the attention
of the bishop of the synod, the bishop in his or her sole discretion
may, or when such allegations have been brought to the synod’s
attention by an official recital of allegations by the Congregation
Council or by a petition signed by at least one-third of the voting
members of the congregation, the bishop shall, investigate such
conditions personally in company with a committee of two ordained
ministers and one layperson.
c. In case of alleged physical or mental incapacity, competent medical
testimony shall be obtained. When such disability is evident, the
bishop of the synod with the advice of the committee shall declare the
pastorate vacant. Upon the restoration of a disabled pastor to health,
the bishop of the synod shall take steps to enable the pastor to resume
the ministry, either in the congregation last served or in another field
of labor.
d. In the case of alleged local difficulties that imperil the effective
functioning of the congregation, all concerned persons shall be heard,
after which the bishop of the synod together with the committee
described in *C9.05.b. shall decide on the course of action to be
recommended to the pastor and the congregation. If they agree to
carry out such recommendations, no further action shall be taken by
the synod. If either party fails to assent, the congregation may dismiss
the pastor at a legally called meeting after consultation with the
bishop, either (a) by a two-thirds majority vote of the voting members
present and voting where the bishop and the committee did not
recommend termination of the call, or (b) by a simple majority vote
of the voting members present and voting where the bishop and the
committee recommended termination of the call.
e. If, in the course of proceedings described in *C9.05.d., the committee
concludes that there may be grounds for disciplinary action, the
committee shall make recommendations concerning disciplinary
action to the synodical bishop, who may bring charges in accordance
with the provisions of the constitution and bylaws of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America and the constitution of this synod.
f. If, following the appointment of the committee described in
*C9.05.b. or d., it should become apparent that the pastoral office
cannot be conducted effectively in the congregation(s) being served
by the ordained minister due to local conditions, the bishop of the
synod may temporarily suspend the pastor from service in the
congregation(s) without prejudice and with pay provided through a
joint synodical and churchwide fund and with housing provided by
the congregation(s).
(08-07) MODEL CONSTITUTION FOR CONGREGATIONS / 229
*C9.06. At a time of pastoral vacancy, an interim pastor shall be appointed by the
bishop of the synod with the consent of this congregation or the
Congregation Council.
*C9.07. During the period of service, an interim pastor shall have the rights and
duties in the congregation of a regularly called pastor and may delegate
the same in part to a supply pastor with the consent of the bishop of the
synod and this congregation or Congregation Council. The interim pastor
and any ordained pastor providing assistance shall refrain from exerting
influence in the selection of a pastor.
*C9.08. This congregation shall make satisfactory settlement of all financial
obligations to a former pastor before calling a successor. A pastor shall
make satisfactory settlement of all financial obligations to this
congregation before beginning service in a call to another congregation or
employment in another ministry setting related to the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America.
*C9.09. When a pastor is called to serve in company with another pastor or
pastors, the privileges and responsibilities of each pastor shall be specified
in documents to accompany the call and to be drafted in consultation
involving the pastors, the Congregation Council, and the bishop of the
synod. As occasion requires, the documents may be revised through a
similar consultation.
*C9.11. With the approval of the bishop of the synod, the congregation may depart
from *C9.05.a. and call a pastor for a specific term. Details of such calls
shall be in writing setting forth the purpose and conditions involved. Prior
to the completion of a term, the bishop or a designated representative of
the bishop shall meet with the pastor and representatives of the
congregation for a review of the call. Such a call may also be terminated
before its expiration in accordance with the provisions of *C9.05.a.
*C9.12. The pastor of this congregation:
a. shall keep accurate parochial records of all baptisms, confirmations,
marriages, burials, communicants, members received, members
dismissed, or members excluded from the congregation;
b. shall submit a summary of such statistics annually to the synod; and
c. shall become a member of this congregation upon receipt and
acceptance of the letter of call. In a parish of multiple congregations,
the pastor shall hold membership in one of the congregations.
*C9.13. The pastor(s) shall submit a report of his or her ministry to the bishop of
the synod at least 90 days prior to each regular meeting of the Synod
Assembly.
*C9.14. The parochial records of this congregation shall be maintained by the
pastor and shall remain the property of the congregation. The secretary
of this congregation shall attest in writing to the bishop of this synod that
such records have been placed in his or her hands in good order by a
230 / MODEL CONSTITUTION FOR CONGREGATIONS (08-07)
departing pastor before the installation of that pastor in another field of
labor or the granting by the synod of retired status to the pastor.
C9.20. Ecumenical pastoral ministry
C9.21. Under special circumstances, subject to the approval of the synodical
bishop and the concurrence of this congregation, an ordained minister of
a church body with which the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
officially has established a relationship of full communion may serve
temporarily as pastor of this congregation under a contract between the
congregation and the ordained minister in a form proposed by the
synodical bishop and approved by the congregation.
Chapter 10.
CONGREGATION MEETING
C10.01. The [annual][semi-annual][quarterly] meeting of this congregation shall
be held at a time specified in the bylaws.
C10.02. A special Congregation Meeting may be called by the pastor, the
Congregation Council, or the president of this congregation, and shall be
called by the president of the congregation upon the written request of
[number][percent] of the voting members. The call for each
special meeting shall specify the purpose for which it is to be held and no
other business shall be transacted.
C10.03. Notice of all meetings of this congregation shall be given at the services
of worship on the preceding two consecutive Sundays and by mail to all
[voting] members at least 10 days in advance of the date of the meeting.
The posting of such notice in the regular mail, with the regular postage
affixed or paid, sent to the last known address of such members shall be
sufficient.
C10.04. voting members shall constitute a quorum.
C10.05. Voting by proxy or by absentee ballot shall not be permitted.
C10.06. All actions approved by the congregation shall be by majority vote of
those voting members present and voting, except as otherwise provided
in this constitution or by state law.
C10.07. Robert’s Rules of Order, latest edition, shall govern parliamentary procedure of all meetings of this congregation.
Chapter 11.
OFFICERS
C11.01. The officers of this congregation shall be a president, vice president,
secretary, and treasurer.
a. Duties of the officers shall be specified in the bylaws.
b. The officers shall be voting members of the congregation.
(08-07) MODEL CONSTITUTION FOR CONGREGATIONS / 231
c. Officers of this congregation shall serve similar offices of the Congregation Council and shall be voting members of the Congregation
Council.
d. If the Congregation Council elects its officers, the president, vice
president, and secretary shall be selected from the elected membership of the Congregation Council. [If the treasurer is not selected
from the elected membership of the Congregation Council, the
treasurer shall have voice but not vote at the meetings of the
Congregation Council.]
C11.02. The [congregation][Congregation Council] shall elect its officers and they
shall be the officers of the congregation. The officers shall be elected by
written ballot and shall serve for one year or until their successors are
elected. Their terms shall begin at the close of the annual meeting at
which they are elected.
or
The pastor shall be ex officio president of the congregation and the
Congregation Council. The [congregation][Congregation Council] shall
elect by written ballot the other officers of the congregation who shall
serve for one year or until their successors are elected. Their terms shall
begin at the close of the annual meeting at which they are elected.
or
The pastor shall be ex officio president of the congregation and the
Congregation Council. The [congregation][Congregation Council] shall
elect by written ballot the other officers of the congregation who shall
serve for one year or until their successors are elected. Their terms shall
begin on (month and day) and end on (month and day).
or
The officers shall be elected by the [congregation] [Congregation Council]
by written ballot and shall serve for one year. The term shall begin on
(month and day) and end on (month and day).
C11.03. No officer shall hold more than one office at a time. No elected officer
shall be eligible to serve more than two consecutive terms in the same
office.
Chapter 12.
CONGREGATION COUNCIL
C12.01. The voting membership of the Congregation Council shall consist of the
pastor(s)[, the officers of the congregation,] and [ members] [not
more than nor fewer than members] of the congregation.
Any voting member of the congregation may be elected, subject only to
the limitation on the length of continuous service permitted in that office.
A member’s place on the Congregation Council shall be declared vacant
232 / MODEL CONSTITUTION FOR CONGREGATIONS (08-07)
if the member a) ceases to be a voting member of this congregation or b)
is absent from four successive regular meetings of the Congregation
Council without cause. Consistent with the laws of the state in which this
congregation is incorporated, the congregation may adopt procedures for
the removal of a member of the Congregation Council in other
circumstances.
C12.02. The members of the Congregation Council except the pastor(s) shall be
elected by written ballot to serve for years or until their successors
are elected. Such members shall be eligible to serve no more than two full
terms consecutively. Their terms shall begin at the close of the annual
meeting at which they are elected.
or
The members of the Congregation Council except the pastor(s) shall be
elected at a legally called meeting of the congregation during the month
of . Their term of office shall be for years, with the term
of office beginning on (month and day) and ending on
(month and day). Newly elected Congregation Council members shall be
installed at worship the Sunday prior to the date they assume office.
C12.03. Should a member’s place on the Congregation Council be declared vacant,
the Congregation Council shall elect, by majority vote, a successor until
the next annual meeting. Individuals who have served less than one-half
of a regular term shall be eligible for nomination and possible election to
a full term.
C12.04. The Congregation Council shall have general oversight of the life and
activities of this congregation, and in particular its worship life, to the end
that everything be done in accordance with the Word of God and the faith
and practice of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The duties
of the Congregation Council shall include the following:
a. To lead this congregation in stating its mission, to do long-range
planning, to set goals and priorities, and to evaluate its activities in
light of its mission and goals.
b. To seek to involve all members of this congregation in worship,
learning, witness, service, and support.
c. To oversee and provide for the administration of this congregation to
enable it to fulfill its functions and perform its mission.
d. To maintain supportive relationships with the pastor(s) and staff and
help them annually to evaluate the fulfillment of their calling or
employment.
e. To be examples individually and corporately of the style of life and
ministry expected of all baptized persons.
f. To promote a congregational climate of peace and goodwill, and, as
differences and conflicts arise, to endeavor to foster mutual understanding.
(08-07) MODEL CONSTITUTION FOR CONGREGATIONS / 233
g. To arrange for pastoral service during the sickness or absence of the
pastor.
h. To emphasize partnership with the synod and churchwide
organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as well
as cooperation with other congregations, both Lutheran and
non-Lutheran, subject to established policies of the synod and the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
i. To recommend and encourage the use of program resources produced
or approved by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
j. To seek out and encourage qualified persons to prepare for the
ministry of the Gospel.
C12.05. The Congregation Council shall be responsible for the financial and
property matters of this congregation.
a. The Congregation Council shall be the board of [trustees] [directors]
of this congregation, and as such shall be responsible for maintaining
and protecting its property and the management of its business and
fiscal affairs. It shall have the powers and be subject to the
obligations that pertain to such boards under the laws of the State of
, except as otherwise provided herein.
b. The Congregation Council shall not have the authority to buy, sell, or
encumber real property unless specifically authorized to do so by a
meeting of the congregation.
c. The Congregation Council may enter into contracts of up to
$ for items not included in the budget.
d. The Congregation Council shall prepare an annual budget for
adoption by this congregation, shall supervise the expenditure of
funds in accordance therewith following its adoption, and may incur
obligations of more than $ in excess of the anticipated
receipts only after approval by a Congregation Meeting. The budget
shall include this congregation’s full indicated share in support of the
wider ministry being carried on in partnership with the synod and
churchwide organization.
e. The Congregation Council shall ascertain that the financial affairs of
this congregation are being conducted efficiently, giving particular
attention to the prompt payment of all obligations and to the regular
forwarding of benevolence monies to the synodical treasurer.
f. The Congregation Council shall be responsible for this congregation’s investments and its total insurance program.
C12.06. The Congregation Council shall see that the provisions of this constitution[,]
[and] its bylaws[,][and the continuing resolutions] are carried out.
C12.07. The Congregation Council shall provide for an annual review of the
membership roster.
3 For use if the pastor is president of the congregation under two of the options in C11.02.
234 / MODEL CONSTITUTION FOR CONGREGATIONS (08-07)
C12.08. The Congregation Council shall be responsible for the employment and
supervision of the salaried lay workers of this congregation.
C12.09. The Congregation Council shall submit a comprehensive report to this
congregation at the annual meeting.
C12.11. The Congregation Council shall normally meet once a month. Special
meetings may be called by the pastor or the president, and shall be called
by the president at the request of at least one-half of its members. Notice
of each special meeting shall be given to all who are entitled to be present.
C12.12. A quorum for the transaction of business shall consist of a majority of the
members of the Congregation Council, including the pastor or interim
pastor, except when the pastor or interim pastor requests or consents to be
absent and has given prior approval to the agenda for a particular regular
or special meeting, which shall be the only business considered at that
meeting. Chronic or repeated absence of the pastor or interim pastor who
has refused approval of the agenda of a subsequent regular or special
meeting shall not preclude action by the Congregation Council, following
consultation with the synodical bishop.
Chapter 13.
CONGREGATION COMMITTEES
C13.01. The officers of this congregation and the pastor shall constitute the
Executive Committee.
C13.02. A Nominating Committee of six voting members of this congregation,
two of whom, if possible, shall be outgoing members of the Congregation
Council, shall be elected at the annual meeting for a term of one year.
Members of the Nominating Committee are not eligible for consecutive
reelection.
C13.03. An Audit Committee of three voting members shall be elected by the
Congregation Council. Audit Committee members shall not be members
of the Congregation Council. Term of office shall be three years, with one
member elected each year. Members shall be eligible for reelection.
C13.04. A Mutual Ministry Committee (in the absence of a mutual ministry
committee, the duties shall be fulfilled by the executive committee) shall
be appointed jointly by the president [vice president3
] and the pastor.
Term of office shall be two years, with three members to be appointed
each successive year.****
C13.05. When a pastoral vacancy occurs, a Call Committee of six voting members
shall be elected by [this congregation] [the Congregation Council]. Term
of office will terminate upon installation of the newly called pastor.
(08-07) MODEL CONSTITUTION FOR CONGREGATIONS / 235
C13.06. Other committees of this congregation may be formed, as the need arises,
by decision of the Congregation Council.
C13.07. Duties of committees of this congregation shall be specified in the
[bylaws][continuing resolutions].
C13.08. The [senior] pastor of this congregation shall be ex officio a member of all
committees and boards of the congregation. [The president of this
congregation shall be ex officio a member of all committees and boards of
the congregation, except the Nominating Committee.]
Chapter 14.
ORGANIZATIONS WITHIN THE CONGREGATION
C14.01. All organizations within this congregation shall exist to aid it in
ministering to the members of this congregation and to all persons who
can be reached with the Gospel of Christ. As outgrowths and expressions
of this congregation’s life, the organizations are subject to its oversight
and direction. This congregation at its meeting shall determine their
policies, guide their activities, and receive reports concerning their
membership, work, and finances.
C14.02. Special interest groups, other than those of the official organizations of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, may be organized only after
authorization has been given by the Congregation Council [and specified
in a continuing resolution].
Chapter 15.
DISCIPLINE OF MEMBERS AND ADJUDICATION
*C15.01. Denial of the Christian faith as described in this constitution, conduct
grossly unbecoming a member of the Church of Christ, or persistent
trouble-making in this congregation are sufficient cause for discipline of
a member. Prior to disciplinary action, reconciliation will be attempted
following Matthew 18:15-17, proceeding through these successive steps:
a) private admonition by the pastor, b) admonition by the pastor in the
presence of two or three witnesses, and c) citation to appear before the
Congregation Council. If, for any reason, the pastor is unable to
administer the admonitions required by a. and b. hereof, the president (if
not the pastor) or vice president shall administer such admonitions.
*C15.02. The process for discipline of a member of the congregation shall be
governed as prescribed by the chapter on discipline in the Constitution,
Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America. If discipline against a member proceeds beyond counseling
and admonition by the pastor, charges against the accused member(s) that
are specific and in writing shall be prepared by member(s) of the cong-
236 / MODEL CONSTITUTION FOR CONGREGATIONS (08-07)
regation who shall sign the charges as the accuser(s). The written charges
shall be filed with the pastor, who shall advise the Congregation Council
of the need to issue a written citation to the accused and the accusers that
specifies the time and place of the hearing before the Congregation
Council. The written charges shall accompany the written citation to the
accused. A member charged with the offense shall appear before the
Congregation Council after having received a written citation at least ten
days prior to the meeting. If the member charged with the offense fails to
appear at the scheduled hearing, the Congregation Council may proceed
with the hearing and may pass judgment in the member’s absence.
*C15.03. Members of the Congregation Council who participate in the preparation
of the written charges or who present evidence or testimony in the hearing
before the Congregation Council are disqualified from voting upon the
question of the guilt of the accused member. Should the allegations be
sustained by a two-thirds majority vote of the members of the Congregation
Council who are not disqualified but who are present and voting, and
renewed admonition prove ineffectual, the council shall impose one of the
following disciplinary actions:
a. censure before the council or congregation;
b. suspension from membership for a definite period of time; or
c. exclusion from membership in this congregation.
Disciplinary actions b. and c. shall be delivered to the member in writing.
*C15.04. The member against whom disciplinary action has been taken by the
Congregation Council shall have the right to appeal the decision to the
Synod Council. Such right may not be abridged and the decision of the
Synod Council shall be final.
*C15.05. Disciplinary actions may be reconsidered and revoked by the Congregation Council upon receipt of a) evidence that injustice has been done or
b) evidence of repentance and amendment.
*C15.06. For disciplinary actions in this congregation, “due process” shall be observed
as specified in 20.41.04. in the Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing
Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
*C15.07. No member of a congregation shall be subject to discipline for offenses
that the Congregation Council has previously heard and decided, unless
so ordered by the Synod Council after an appeal.
*C15.10. Adjudication
*C15.11. When there is disagreement among factions within this congregation on
a substantive issue that cannot be resolved by the parties, members of this
congregation shall have access to the synodical bishop for consultation
after informing the chair of the Congregation Council of their intent. If the
consultation fails to resolve the issue(s), the Consultation Committee of
the synod shall consider the matter. If the Consultation Committee of the
synod shall fail to resolve the issue(s), the matter shall be referred to the
Synod Council, whose decision shall be final.
4 Such an effective date must be stated in relation to the requirements of *C17.03. to allow time for
synodical review of the amendment.
(08-07) MODEL CONSTITUTION FOR CONGREGATIONS / 237
Chapter 16.
BYLAWS
*C16.01. This congregation may adopt bylaws. No bylaw may conflict with this
constitution.
*C16.02. 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.
*C16.03. Changes to the bylaws may be proposed by any voting member provided,
however, that such additions or amendments be submitted in writing to the
Congregation Council at least 60 days before a regular or special
Congregation Meeting called for that purpose and that the Congregation
Council notify the congregation’s members by mail of the proposal with
the council’s recommendations at least 30 days in advance of the
Congregation Meeting.
*C16.04. Approved changes to the bylaws shall be sent by the secretary of this
congregation to the synod.
Chapter 17.
AMENDMENTS
*C17.01. Unless provision *C17.04. is applicable, those sections of this constitution
that are not required, in accord with the Model Constitution for
Congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, may be
amended in the following manner. Amendments may be proposed by at
least voting members or by the Congregation Council. Proposals
must be filed in writing with the Congregation Council 60 days before
formal consideration by this congregation at a regular or special
Congregation Meeting called for that purpose. The Congregation Council
shall notify the congregation’s members by mail of the proposal together
with the council’s recommendations at least 30 days in advance of the
meeting.
*C17.02. An amendment to this constitution, proposed under *C17.01., shall:
a. be approved at a legally called Congregation Meeting according to
this constitution by a majority vote of those present and voting;
b. be ratified without change at the next annual meeting by a two-thirds
majority vote of those present and voting; and
c. have the effective date included in the resolution4
and noted in the
constitution.*****
*C17.03. Any amendments to this constitution that result from the processes
provided in *C17.01. and *C17.02. shall be sent by the secretary of this
238 / MODEL CONSTITUTION FOR CONGREGATIONS (08-07)
congregation to the synod. The amendment shall become effective within
120 days from the date of the receipt of the notice by the synod unless the
synod informs this congregation that the amendment is in conflict with the
constitution and bylaws of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
or the constitution of the (insert name of synod) Synod of the ELCA.
*C17.04. This constitution may be amended to bring any section into conformity
with a section or sections, either required or not required, of the Model
Constitution for Congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America—as most recently amended by the Churchwide Assembly—by
a simple majority vote of those voting members present and voting at any
legally called meeting of the congregation without presentation at a prior
meeting of the congregation, provided that the Congregation Council has
submitted by mail notice to the congregation of such an amendment or
amendments, together with the council’s recommendations, at least 30
days prior to the meeting. Upon the request of voting members of
the congregation, the Congregation Council shall submit such notice.
Following the adoption of an amendment, the secretary of the
congregation shall submit a copy thereof to the synod. Such provisions
shall become effective immediately following a vote of approval.
Chapter 18.
CONTINUING RESOLUTIONS
*C18.01. The congregation in a legally called meeting or the Congregation Council
may enact continuing resolutions. Such continuing resolutions may not
conflict with the constitution or bylaws of this congregation.
*C18.02. Continuing resolutions shall be enacted or amended by a majority vote of
a meeting of the congregation or a two-thirds vote of all voting members
of the Congregation Council.
Chapter 19.
INDEMNIFICATION
*C19.01. Consistent with the provisions of the laws under which this congregation
is incorporated, this congregation may adopt provisions providing
indemnification for each person who, by reason of the fact that such
person is or was a Congregation Council member, officer, employee,
agent, or other member of any committee of this congregation, was or is
threatened to be made a party to any threatened, pending, or completed
civil, criminal, administrative, arbitration, or investigative proceeding.
(08-07) MODEL CONSTITUTION FOR CONGREGATIONS / 239
Chapter 20.
PARISH AUTHORIZATION
[* Required provisions when congregation is part of a parish]
*C20.01. This congregation may unite in partnership with one or more other
congregations recognized by the synod named in *C6.01. to form a parish.
Except as provided in *C20.02. and *C20.03., a written agreement,
developed in consultation with the synod and approved by the voting
members of each congregation participating in the parish, shall specify the
powers and responsibilities that have been delegated to a Parish Council.
*C20.02. Whenever a letter of call is being recommended for extension to an
ordained minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America or a
candidate for the roster of ordained ministers who has been recommended
to the congregation by the synodical bishop to serve the congregations of
a parish, such letter of call shall be first approved by a two-thirds vote at
congregational meetings of each of the congregations forming the parish.
If any congregation of the parish should fail to approve extending this call,
the other congregation(s) in the same parish shall have the right to
terminate the parish arrangement.
*C20.03. Any one of the congregations of a parish may terminate the call of a
pastor as provided in †S14.13.d. of the synodical constitution of the synod
named in *C6.01. In such case, the other congregation(s) in the same
parish shall have the right to terminate the parish arrangement.

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