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Ninth Biennial Convention
Augustana University College, Cambros AB
June 12 - 15, 2003

Sing to the Lord a New Song
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National Church Council
Recommendations to the ELCIC Convention

Please note text to be removed is italic while new text is bold.

The following recommendations are presented as consent agenda items. This means that all of the items are presented and are to be approved by the convention as one action item. When the Agenda for the Convention is approved on June 12, the Convention will be given the opportunity to remove from the consent agenda any item it wishes to consider and debate on the floor.

First Reading Constitution Amendments

  1. That the ELCIC Constitution Article XII (Officers), Section 3 be amended as follows:

    Section 3. Should a vacancy occur ad interim in any of the offices with the exception of the office of bishop, the National Church Council is empowered to fill the same until the next regular convention, or to call a special convention to fill the vacancy. Each election by a convention shall be for a full term of office.

  2. That the ELCIC Constitution Article XII (Officers), Section 6 be amended as follows:

    Section 6. The vice-president shall:
    b. In the event of the death, resignation, or incapacity of the bishop, convene the National Church Council to fill the vacancy and provide for the discharge of the bishop’s duties until the National Church Council has made the appointment pending the election of a new bishop at a regular or special convention; and

  3. That the ELCIC Constitution, Article X (Conventions), sections 2 and 3 be amended as follows and that sections 4 through 7 be repealed:

    Section 2. A convention of this church shall be held biennially in accordance with the ELCIC Act of Incorporation at a time and place determined by the National Church Council.

    Section 3. Special conventions shall be called for specified purposes by the bishop of this church to be held within ninety days of receiving a request in writing from two-thirds of the members of the National Church Council or from two-thirds of the synods.

    Section 3. The frequency, function, composition and responsibilities of the convention shall be defined in the Administrative Bylaw, Part V.

    Section 4. The secretary shall publish the time and place of each regular convention at least six months in advance. The secretary shall give written notice of a special convention to each congregation and each ordained minister serving under call, and shall publish the same at least thirty days prior to the opening date of the convention.

    Section 5. The voting membership of conventions shall consist of

    a. Two hundred ordained ministers elected by the conferences as allocated by the National Church Council on the basis of baptized membership;

    b. A lay delegate elected by each parish* not already represented by an ordained minister and an additional lay delegate elected by every parish with more than eight hundred baptized members. Any parish with less than eight hundred members represented by an ordained minister for two consecutive conventions may not be represented by an ordained minister at the following convention.

    Section 6. The voting membership at a special convention shall consist of the delegates seated in the preceding regular convention provided they have not been disqualified by termination of membership in the parish they represented. Vacancies in delegations shall be filled by conferences and parishes as necessary.

    Section 7. A quorum shall consist of twenty per cent of the eligible voting members provided that such members are from at least two-thirds of the synods.

    *A parish is defined as consisting of those baptized persons served by a common pastoral ministry in one or more congregations.

  4. That the ELCIC Constitution, Article IX (Synods), Section 6 be removed from the Constitution and that the subsequent sections be renumbered:

    Section 6. The voting body at the conventions of each synod shall consist of the lay delegates from its congregations and those persons on its roster of ordained ministers.

  5. That the ELCIC Constitution, Article VII (Ordained Ministers), Section 3 be amended to change the final sentence as follows:

    Section 3. Ordination of candidates and reception of ordained ministers shall be the function of the synods, acting on behalf of this church. Synods shall also have responsibility for recruitment, approval and supervision of all candidates for the ordained ministry. An applicant who is an ordained minister in good standing of a church with which this church has established a mutual recognition of ministers shall upon acceptance of a call within this church be received by a certificate of transfer or equivalent documentation. Applicants for ordination or for reception from other churches shall appear before the examining committee of the synod, and can be ordained or otherwise admitted only upon recommendation by such committee. The majority of the members of the examining committee shall be appointed or elected by the synod. ;at least one member shall be designated by this church.

  6. That the ELCIC Constitution, Article VIII (Lay Diaconal Ministers), Section 2 be amended to change the final sentence as follows:

    Section 2. Consecration of candidates as and reception of lay diaconal ministers shall be the function of the synods. Synods shall also have responsibility for recruitment, approval and supervision of all candidates for the lay diaconal ministry. Applicants for consecration or for reception shall appear before the examining committee of the synod, and may be consecrated or otherwise admitted only upon recommendation by such committee. The majority of the members of the examining committee shall be appointed or elected by the synod. ;at least one member shall be designated by National Church Council.

Amendments to the Administrative Bylaws

  1. That the ELCIC Administrative Bylaw Part XII (Department of Finance and Administration), Section 1.g. be amended as follows:

    Provide for the bonding of all employees and officers and executives of the this church and its synods, auxiliaries and congregational treasurers;

  2. That the ELCIC Administrative Bylaws Part III (Ordained Ministers), Section 12.a be amended as follows and that Section 12.b to Section 12.k be removed from the Bylaws.

    Section 12. Discipline A synod shall undertake to put in place the following provisions to deal with the discipline of ordained ministers:

    a. The synod council shall subject an ordained minister to discipline for:

    (i) preaching or teaching of doctrine in conflict with the confession of faith of this church (Constitution, Article II);

    (ii) conduct unbecoming an ordained minister;

    (iii) willful disregard for or violation of the functions and standards established by this church for the office of Word and sacrament; and

    (iv) willful disregard of the constitution, administrative by-laws or enactments of this church or of the synod.

    The National Church Council may from time to time establish guidelines to define or to assist in the interpretation of the above grounds for discipline.

    The National Church Council may shall also maintain a Manual on Discipline of Ministers containing materials which may provides guidance to individuals involved in a process dealing with a complaint against, or the discipline of, an ordained minister.

    b. The synodical bishop, upon becoming aware of circumstances that might subject an ordained minister to discipline as outlined in the preceding subsection, shall investigate such matters, shall consult with the minister and seek to deal with such circumstances. Should these endeavors not be resolved to the satisfaction of the synodical bishop, the synodical bishop may censure or admonish the ordained minister either privately or before the synod council, or may initiate a complaint against the ordained minister, to be dealt with in the manner set out below.

    c. A complaint against an ordained minister which could lead to discipline should be specific and should be in writing, subscribed to by the complainant and made by one or more of the following

    (i) a majority of the members of the congregational council of the congregation of which the ordained minister is under call, submitted to the synodical bishop;

    (ii) a majority of the voting members of the congregation of which the ordained minister is under call, submitted to the synodical bishop;

    (iii) a majority of the members of the governing body to which the ordained minister is accountable (if not a parish pastor) submitted to the synodical bishop;

    (iv) at least 10 ordained ministers of the synod on whose roster the ordained minister subject to the complaint is listed, submitted to the synodical bishop; or

    (v) the synodical bishop.

    Upon receipt of a proper complaint, the synodical bishop shall immediately proceed to appoint an Investigating Committee to investigate the complaint.

    d. The Investigating Committee shall be composed of two ordained ministers and two lay members of the synod involved, appointed by the synodical bishop. The Committee shall review the complaint and make such inquiries as the Committee deems appropriate. If the Investigating Committee determines that there are no reasonable and probable grounds to believe the ordained minister should be subject to discipline, it shall report this finding to the synodical bishop who shall inform the parties involved. If, however, the Investigating Committee determines that there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe the ordained minister should be subject to discipline, the synodical bishop shall convene a Committee on Discipline as soon as possible to hold a hearing with respect to the matter.

    e. The Committee on Discipline shall consist of eight members appointed by the synod council. The bishop of this church shall be asked to nominate one ordained minister and one lay person from outside the synod involved to serve on the Committee on Discipline. In addition three ordained ministers and three lay persons from the synod involved shall be appointed to the Committee on Discipline.

    f. The Committee on Discipline shall choose as its chairperson one of its members who was a nominee of the bishop of this church and shall choose one of its members to serve as its secretary. The chairperson shall fix a time and place for the Committee on Discipline to hear the complaint. The ordained minister shall be given at least ten days notice in writing of such arrangements. The Investigating Committee shall, through its representatives, present its report and the ordained minister shall have the right personally or through counsel to question witnesses and to testify and to call witnesses. The ordained minister shall be entitled to a full hearing before the Committee on Discipline, but the Committee on Discipline may refuse to consider evidence that clearly has no bearing upon the charges or that is unduly cumulative. A record of the proceedings of the Committee on Discipline shall be maintained by the Committee.

    g. The Committee on Discipline shall make a written report, which shall be filed with the synodical bishop, stating what the Committee has found to be the facts in the case, whether the Committee believes the minister should be subject to discipline, and, if so, what discipline the Committee recommends imposing on the minister. If the complaint is to be upheld, at least six members who were present when all of the evidence was presented to the Committee must concur with the determination that the minister should be subject to discipline.

    h. The disciplinary actions which the Committee on Discipline may recommend are:

    (i) private censure and admonition by the synodical bishop;

    (ii) censure and admonition by the synodical bishop before the synod council;

    (iii) suspension from the office and functions of the ordained ministry by the synod council for a designated period or until there is satisfactory evidence of repentance and amendment;

    (iv) removal from the roster of ordained ministers by the synod council.

    i. The synodical bishop shall report the findings and recommendations of the Committee on Discipline to the next meeting of synod council and shall advise the synod council of any action taken by the synodical bishop as a result of such recommendations. The synod council may take action to suspend the minister from the office and functions of the ordained ministry or to remove the minister from the roster of ordained ministers in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee on Discipline; may reject such recommendations; or may refer such recommendations back to the Committee on Discipline for further review and recommendation.

    j. The action of the synod council to suspend the minister or to remove the minister from the roster may be appealed to the Court of Adjudication by the ordained minister within 45 days of the minister receiving written notice of the action of the synod council.

    In addition the complainant may appeal the action taken by the synod council to the Court of Adjudication only with respect to whether or not due process was followed by the Committee on Discipline in dealing with the complaint or to introduce new evidence which was not available prior to the conclusion of the hearing conducted by the Committee on Discipline.

    The synod council shall review any findings and recommendations of the Court of Adjudication and may take such action as may be appropriate in light of such findings and recommendations.

    k. If, upon investigation, but before a recommendation has been made by a Committee on Discipline, obvious heresy or flagrant immorality of an ordained minister is apparent to the synodical bishop, or if an ordained minister shall have admitted guilt or absconded, or if the circumstances are such that, in the opinion of the synodical bishop, the congregation, the synod, or this church would suffer injury if the ordained minister continued to exercise the office of the ordained ministry during the progress of disciplinary procedures, the synodical bishop may immediately suspend the ordained minister from the office of the ordained ministry until the complaint has been fully and finally decided by the synod council. Each such suspension shall be reported to the next meeting of the synod council.

  3. That the ELCIC Administrative Bylaws, Part III.1 (Lay Diaconal Ministers), Section 11 be repealed and replaced with the following:

    Section 11. Discipline

    a. The synod bishop shall, upon becoming aware of the teaching of doctrine in conflict with the Confession of Faith of this church or of conduct unbecoming a lay diaconal minister, investigate such matters, counsel with the lay diaconal minister and seek to remove any cause for complaint. Should these endeavors fail, the bishop may appoint an investigating committee. If ten members in good standing of a congregation of this church or the council of a congregation request in writing that there be an investigating committee, the synod bishop shall immediately proceed with the necessary appointments.

    b. The investigating committee shall be composed of two ordained ministers and two lay members of congregations in the synod involved. This investigating committee shall hear the charges and, if it determines that there is no case, it shall report this finding to the synod bishop who shall inform the parties involved. If, however, there is reason to believe the charges have substance, the synod bishop shall convene a Committee on Discipline as soon as possible.

    c. The Committee on Discipline shall consist of seven members. The synod council shall appoint three ordained ministers and two lay persons from congregations within the synod. Another bishop shall be asked to appoint one ordained minister and one lay person from outside of the synod involved to the Committee on Discipline. At least six members of a Committee on Discipline shall be present for all sessions of the Committee.

    d. The synod bishop shall fix a time and place for the Committee on Discipline to hear the charges. The ordained minister shall be given at least ten days notice in writing of such arrangements. At its first meeting the Committee on Discipline shall elect a chairperson and secretary. The investigating committee, through its representatives, shall present its evidence and the lay diaconal minister shall have the right personally or through counsel to question witnesses and to testify and to call witnesses. The lay diaconal minister shall be entitled to a full hearing, but the Committee on Discipline may refuse to hear testimony that clearly has no bearing upon the charges. Proceedings by the Committee on Discipline may be recorded.

    e. The Committee on Discipline shall make a written report, which shall be filed with the bishop of the synod, stating what have been found to be the facts in the case. At least six members who have attended all sessions of the Committee on Discipline must concur if the charges are to be upheld, with a recommendation for appropriate action.

    f. The actions, which the Committee on Discipline may recommend, are

    i. Private censure and admonition by the bishop of the synod;

    ii. Censure and admonition before the synod council;

    iii. Suspension from the office and functions of the lay diaconal ministry for a designated period or until there is satisfactory evidence of repentance and amendment;

    iv. Removal from the roster of lay diaconal ministers.

    g. The bishop of the synod shall report the findings and recommendation to the next meeting of synod council for action. The synod council may take action in accordance with the report of the Committee on Discipline; may reject such report; or may refer such report back to the Committee on Discipline for further review and recommendation. The action of the synod council may be appealed to the Court of Adjudication by the lay diaconal minister within 30 days of receiving written notice of the action of the synod council. The decision of the Court of Adjudication shall be final.

    h. If, upon investigation, obvious heresy or flagrant immorality of a lay diaconal minister is apparent, or if a lay diaconal minister shall have admitted guilt or absconded, or if the circumstances are such that, in the opinion of the bishop of the synod it would be in the best interests of this church if the lay diaconal minister did not continue to exercise the office of the lay diaconal ministry during the progress of disciplinary procedures, the bishop of the synod may immediately suspend the lay diaconal minister from the office of the lay diaconal ministry until the charges have been fully and finally decided by the synod council. Each such suspension shall be reported to the next meeting of the synod council.

    Section 11: Discipline (Lay Diaconal Ministers)

    The Synod Council shall subject a lay diaconal minister to discipline for:

    i. preaching or teaching of doctrine in conflict with the confession of faith of this church;

    ii. conduct unbecoming a lay diaconal minister;

    iii. willful disregard for or violation of the functions and standards established by this church for the office of Lay Diaconal Ministry; and

    iv. willful disregard of the constitution, bylaws or enactments of this church or of the synod.

    The National Church may from time to time establish guidelines to define or to assist in the interpretation of the above grounds for discipline.

    The National Church Council shall also maintain a Manual on Discipline of Ministers containing material which provides guidance to individuals in a process dealing with a complaint against, or the discipline of, a lay diaconal minister.

  4. That the ELCIC Administrative Bylaws, Part III (Ordained Ministers), Section 1 be amended as follows:

    Section 1. Standards for Acceptance. To be eligible for ordination or acceptance onto the roster of ordained ministers of this church, a candidate must have accepted a call (which call may be subject to the candidate’s ordination) and must have met the standards set forth in the candidacy manual of this church one of the following standards:

    a. Be a graduate of a recognized college or university and a theological seminary of this church, and present satisfactory reports of regular and frequent contact with the Committee on Theological Education and Leadership and the bishop of the synod. In the case of an older candidate, the requirements of graduation from a recognized college or university may be waived by the Committee on Theological Education and Leadership.

    b. If theological education was received at a seminary other than one of this church:

    i. Give evidence of graduation from an approved theological school; and

    ii. Have fulfilled a year’s internship acceptable to the appropriate synodical authorities;

    c. Have been a member of the clergy of another denomination and have undertaken additional theological preparation in a seminary of this church, or have passed a comprehensive examination prepared by the national church and administered by the synodical committee, which may also require the successful completion of an internship in a parish of this church. Persons who have been ordained in the name of the Triune God through laying on of hands by another denomination, and have been approved by colloquy, shall be accepted into the roster of ordained ministers of this church through a public rite that includes affirmation of the ordination vows of this church.

  5. That the ELCIC Administrative Bylaws be amended by adding a new Part X (Conference of Bishops) as follows and renumbering the subsequent sections:

    Part X
    Financial Matters
    Conference of Bishops

    Section 1. There shall be a Conference of Bishops composed of the National Bishop and the synodical bishops.

    Section 2. The Conference of Bishops shall be convened by the National Bishop at least annually.

    Section 3. The Conference of Bishops shall:

    a. attend to the spiritual and collegial nurture of its members;

    b. reflect and provide vision on issues that affect the life of the church;

    c. develop and share objectives and strategies concerning pastoral leadership;

    d. recommend policy and practice to the National Church Council;

    e. advise National Church Council on referred matters; and

    f. strive to achieve consistent practice across the synods.

  6. That the ELCIC Administrative Bylaws be amended by removing Part XIII (Benefit and Pension Plans), Section 5:

    Section 5. The pension and benefit plans shall be managed by a subsidiary of the church. The board of directors of such subsidiary shall consist of ten directors. The convention shall elect three individuals who are lay members of a congregation of this church and three individuals who are on a roster of ordained ministers, for recommendation to the National Church Council for appointment to the board of directors of the subsidiary. Four additional directors at large shall be appointed by the National Church Council. The terms of appointment shall be four years, provided that initially some of the appointments shall be for a two-year term in order that the terms of one half of the directors of the subsidiary expire following each biennial convention.

  7. That the report of the Court of Adjudication related to the Richard Holm case be received, that the convention recall that the Court upheld the disciplinary action taken by the Eastern Synod Council, and that the convention endorse the position of the Court of Adjudication in regards to the doctrinal question.

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