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Concrete recommendations released for the restructuring of Lutheran Church–Canada

August 19, 2016 2 Comments

Restructuring-Concrete-Recommendations

CANADA – Lutheran Church–Canada’s (LCC) Commission on Constitutional Matters and Structure (CCMS) has announced the completion of the third stage in the restructuring process of LCC—the development of concrete recommendations for the restructuring of Synod. The results are detailed at length in a newly released “Discussion Guide for the Restructuring of Lutheran Church–Canada.”

“I am pleased on behalf of the CCMS to be presenting this proposed new structure for Lutheran Church–Canada,” writes Rev. Bill Ney, Chairman of the CCMS. “Having asked for and received your input through a National Survey, having visited with many of you both prior to and following the Survey, and having received vast amounts of input and ideas from you, the CCMS has carefully considered all of the input received and we believe has produced a document that we hope encapsulates most of what we heard.”

Concrete Recommendations

Among the changes recommended are:

  1. Adopting one administrative structure for the entire church body, with Regional Pastors ensuring the delivery of mission and ministry services to congregations and church workers in their respective regions;
  2. Transitioning to holding conventions every four years (beginning with the 2021 convention);
  3. Ensuring each congregation can send two delegates (one pastor and one layperson) to every convention;
  4. Allowing pastors not serving a congregation but functioning as a vacancy pastor to serve as that congregation’s pastoral delegate;
  5. Dividing the Synodical President’s responsibilities into two new positions: a Synodical Administrator who would be responsible for all corporate services and a Synodical Bishop who would be responsible for the delivery of ecclesiastical services;
  6. Ensuring the Synodical Bishop would continue to be elected by the Convention and would be accountable to LCC’s elected Board of Directors between conventions, with the further recommendation that the Synodical Bishop not be a voting member of the Board of Directors;
  7. Adopting the following titles for leadership positions in the new LCC structure
    • “Synodical Bishop” for the position of national spiritual leader.
    • “Synodical Administrator” for the position of national administrator.
    • “Regional Pastor” for the positions of regional spiritual leaders (somewhat similar to District President). These Regional Pastors will be a part of a senior ministry team accountable to the Synodical Bishop.
    • Circuit Counsellor for the positions of current circuit counsellors.

The publication of the CCMS’ recommendations sets the stage for the next phase in the restructuring process: a church-wide discussion of these recommendations to take place September 1 – December 15, 2016.All members of LCC are urged to participate in the coming discussions, with meetings to be held in every circuit in LCC across the nation. “We really do need—and yearn for—the participation of all local churches, pastors, and deacons,” LCC President Robert Bugbee explains. “I also stress that we want pastors and deacons to encourage the attendance of lay people from congregations as much as possible.”

“These proposals, though concrete and specific, are not final recommendations,” President Bugbee notes. “The CCMS cannot make any final recommendations until it hears—as it did in the survey—from a widespread representation of the church. It is important that these gatherings involve talking, listening, agreeing with some things, perhaps disagreeing with others, or even modifying some proposals if a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ won’t be sufficient.”

Request for Additional Input

The CCMS report notes that they are also seeking input for additional recommendations yet to be made. Requests for input include:

  1. Helping to clarify the role of Regional Pastors, noting that it is envisioned as a support role for LCC members, not a hierarchical or authoritarian role;
  2. Helping to identify the number of regions needed, and the boundaries thereof;
  3. Helping to expand and clarify the role of Circuit Counsellors;
  4. Helping to identify the number of circuits needed, and the boundaries thereof;
  5. Identifying necessary changes to LCC’s governing Handbook (with no changes to be made to the Handbook’s articulation of doctrine);
  6. Questions and concerns regarding the definition of ministry and administrative costs for the new structure.

All of the above recommendations/requests for input are detailed at greater length in the “Discussion Guide for the Restructuring of Lutheran Church–Canada.”

“For the sake of our Church and its ongoing mission on behalf of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, we are bold to ask you for more input, ideas, and reaction to our emerging structural proposals,” CCMS Chairman Ney writes. “Please take the time to help us finalize the restructuring of our beloved Synod in a way that is faithful to the Scriptures and our Lutheran Confessions to the end that we may continue to bring God’s Law and Gospel, His love and forgiveness to people whoever and where they may be—without the hindrance of a weak and ineffective structure.”

Commentary from LCC’s two Seminaries

The CCMS has also released background information documents from LCC’s two seminaries that helped to guide aspects of the recommended structure. While preparing their recommendations, the CCMS invited the two seminaries to provide theological expertise in relation to two subjects under discussion. The first focuses on the subject of church worker votes at convention. The second addresses theological considerations in choosing a title for the spiritual leader of Synod.

The response from Concordia Lutheran Seminary (Edmonton) is available for download here.

The response from Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary (St. Catharines, Ontario) is available for download here.

Additional information on the restructuring process so far is available here.

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  • Arron Gust

    From someone who has been involved for many years encouraging and seeking structural change in the Synod and districts, change that would better assist the church in stewardship of her financial resources I am more concerned by the concrete recommendation than I was with the existing form of governance.

    There is no clear recommendation on how mission dollars would be gathered and administered.

    There is also a new ecclesiastical order and nomenclature foreign to the historical church and to many Christians who make up the Church as a whole.
    When the synod is looking for less bloat of buricratic structure and a more concise structure with servants accountable and authorized to carry out their duties, we appear to creating an entire level of governance with no authorization at all in what is to be called a regional pastor.

    Indeed we are free to call them what we want, but I suggest it would be easier to use the biblical nomenclature and teach the right understanding of the terms of Pastor/elder and Bishop/overseer than introduce more confusion. At least we wouldn’t have to explain to the rest of The Christian world what a regional pastor is!

    The CCMS was sensitive to the survey results about the division of lay and pastor responses on the nomenclature issue. All that only tells us is there is central point of division. I would dare say that when this was discussed and explained at our local convocation the lay people had no concerns about the usage of bishop but did express concerns the survey did not contain definitions/explanations along with this and many of the questions. (Assinaboine Circuit Central District – the home of Das ist Katholisch ).

    My prayer still remains for the CCMS to aid the church in forming a salutary structure focused on the faithful stewarding and oversight of Her ministry, mission, and mercy.
    Arron Gust