At its Churchwide Assembly in August 2019 the ELCA made a number of amendments to the model constitution for congregations. Part of the ongoing work of the church is to ensure our governance is clear, efficient and transparent. A number of the changes editorial in nature (i.e. replace ‘synod’ for ‘synodical’) or related to our denomination’s decision to ordain deacons.

A couple of changes may impact more directly the life of a congregation:

  • Congregations must now be sure to elect members of synod assembly only at congregational meetings.
  • Provision is now made for meetings of the congregation to be held by remote communication or teleconference, provided certain conditions are met.

It is part of the life of the congregation to ensure that governing documents are kept in order and up to date. As Secretary, I want to encourage all our congregations to update your constitutions at upcoming annual meetings. The process for bringing your congregation’s constitution up to date with the latest model can be fairly simple. Revisions that match the language of the latest Model Constitution can be passed in one vote at your regular meeting (see C16.04). Some of the constitutional language is required of all congregations, other chapters are open to adaptation to local use. (Proposals that modify the language of the Model where permitted require two votes on identical motions at separate properly called meetings).

Please refer to the PDF files below: 2019 Model Constitution for Congregations and Amendments/Changes to 2019 Model Constitution approved at the 2019 August Churchwide Assembly.

Feel free to consult with me about how to prepare revisions to your constitution at your annual meeting. If it has been some time since the last revision of your congregation’s constitution, more work may be entailed. We stand ready to assist.

Author: Jim Mossman - Synod Secretary