Constitutions Declare: Who we are, What we areabout, and How we conduct ourselves
David Swartling, former Secretary of the ELCA, is fond of saying that the constitution is a 'mission document'. Our constitution is a clear statement of who we are and our purpose for being. They establish how we organize and go about doing the business of being the church.
Constitutions consist of four types of provisions:
Required provisions (specified by churchwide decisions) - these are found in the model constitution
Constitutional provisions (chapters adopted by the congregation)
Each of these three types of provisions govern different aspects of a congregation's work. Each of them are created and modified by different procedures. Congregations will find complete information on changing a constitution by clicking on this link to the ELCA Office of Secretary. Those interested in downloading a reading a comprehensive guide to changing a constitution will find the following resource helpful.
Congregational Constitution Changes!! Now that the 2016 Churchwide Assembly is over, it is a good time to look at updating your congregation’s constitution. The 2016 Churchwide Assembly made several important changes to the Model Constitution for Congregations, including addressing the unification of the three lay rosters, revising the provisions for parishes, and updating the membership rules. In addition, many congregations have not updated their constitutions since the 2013 Churchwide Assembly, which made important changes to the procedures for disciplining members of congregations. The next churchwide assembly will be in 2019, so there will be no changes to the Model Constitution for Congregations in the next three years, making it an excellent time to update yours now.
Updating a congregation’s constitution to reflect changes in the Model Constitution for Congregations is relatively easy and straightforward. The changes to the Model in 2016 can be found (top of the page) here. while the changes from 2013 can be found (middle of the page) here. Mandatory provisions are marked with an asterisk (*). Under *C17.04 of the Model (now renumbered *C16.04), these changes can be adopted by a majority vote of the members present and voting at any legally-called congregational meeting. At least 30 days prior to the meeting, the congregation council needs to give notice to the congregation of the proposed amendments, along with their recommendations as to the amendments. Once the amendments are made, notice is given to the synod, but no synod action is required. More here...