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Restructuring enters final phase; CCMS partners with Synod’s Board of Directors

July 13, 2017 4 Comments

WINNIPEG—Lutheran Church-Canada’s Commission on Constitutional Matters and Structure (CCMS) has moved the restructuring effort into its final phase in preparation for the Synod’s 11th Convention, set for October 13-16, 2017, in Kitchener, Ontario.

In a series of decisions, the Commission voted unanimously to participate in a special “Working Group” with representatives of the LCC Board of Directors. Members of the newly-created group include Rev. Nolan Astley, First Vice-president of Synod; Rev. William Ney, chairman of the CCMS; Rev. Paul Schallhorn, BOD secretary; and Cindy Sholdice, BOD member.

In consultation with the Synod’s legal counsel, the group will craft amendments to the current LCC Handbook that reflect the desire for change widely expressed during the past 20 months in a national restructuring survey, circuit presentations and regional convocations. “The schedule is tight,” noted CCMS Chairman, Rev. William Ney, “but we are hopeful going into this phase that we can have final proposals ready for early September.” He added that this would fulfill constitutional requirements for advance notice spelled out in the LCC Handbook, and enable the appropriate resolutions committee to add this proposal to other overtures submitted from various places in the Synod.

In the same meeting, the Commission granted a peaceful release to Dr. Lester Stahlke of Edmonton, who has served the CCMS as its restructuring consultant since November 2015. The Commission’s action expressed that “Dr. Stahlke has given ‘over and above the call of duty’ in his service both to the CCMS and to Lutheran Church-Canada.” Dr. Stahlke was the architect of the restructuring process up to this point, compiling and scheduling a national survey, designing PowerPoint presentations for circuits, church worker conferences, boards and other entities. It was noted that he had offered from the outset to provide these services at a fraction of the regular cost and was tireless in his willingness to travel, interview and provide reporting. “We would never have reached this stage in such a short time without Les’ direction,” Rev. Ney commented.

The present restructuring effort grew out of resolutions passed in the spring of 2015 by all three LCC District conventions. “It rarely happens that all of these grassroots gatherings, representing every local congregation, would express virtually the same feeling about the need for change, and would do so almost unanimously,” reflected LCC President Robert Bugbee. “We knew the timetable was challenging, but the CCMS worked hard with Dr. Stahlke to honour the Districts’ plea that restructuring proposals be presented at this 2017 Synod Convention,” he added.

CCMS leadership had long expressed its goal to have the approval of the Synod’s Board of Directors in this effort. Now the two entities have consented together to entrust the final phase before the Convention to this special Working Group. “We need everyone’s prayer support in these last weeks,” Rev. Ney said. “We’re committed to reaching the goal set for us by all those voting lay delegates and pastors in the District conventions two years ago, and also to honour the voluminous input over these last 20 months from the members of Synod across Canada.”

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  • Dennis Kendel

    As a lay delegate to the LCC Convention, I have made a concerted effort to become optimally informed about all of the issues at stake in our shared commitment to restructuring of Lutheran Church Canada. I have very much appreciated all of the effort expended by the CCMS and Rev. Stahlke to seek input from both clergy and lay members of our church to create a more functional LCC structure. At a Convocation at Faith Lutheran Church convened on June 11th, Rev. Stahlke did an excellent job of explaining the final draft Bylaws that we will be considering at the LCC Convention. In the report just posted I see no reference at all to these draft Bylaws. Rather I see reference to crafting amendments to the LCC Handbook. I also read that the CCMS has released Rev. Stahlke from his leadership role in this process before the process is actually completed. This strikes me as a troublesome turn of events so close to the conclusion of an arduous process that has been underway for over two years. I feel that I, and all other LCC members, are owed a much more fulsome explanation of the rationale for these process changes. We need assurance that there will not be substantive change between the provisions embedded in the draft bylaws and the planned amendments to the Handbook. We also need answers to these questions:
    1) Will the new structure and accountability arrangements be defined concurrently in Bylaws and the Handbook?
    2) Please explain the role that Synod’s legal counsel has played to date in this process and the process leading up to the Convention?
    3) Are there any provisions in the final Draft bylaws that may not be consistent with the legislation under which the LCC is constituted? If so, please explain the reasons for concern about these provisions?
    4) What decisions did the LCC Board make at its July 405, 2017 meeting about the restructuring process?
    5) Did the CCMS take part in the July 4-5, 2017 Board meeting, make a formal report to the Board , and engage in dialogue with the Board about the major change in strategy reported above?

  • Dennis Kendel

    If we are truly committed to informed decision-making by LCC Convention delegates there must surely be a mechanism for delegates to ask questions and have them answered. I posed four questions on this website 14 days ago but have seen no response to those questions posted on the website, Is it not possible to make this an interactive website?

    • canluth

      Hi Dennis,

      Questions should be directed to the appropriate entity directly (eg, questions for the CCMS should be emailed to members of the CCMS directly, likewise questions for the BOD should be directed to the BOD). Those groups are better suited to answer these kind of questions than the moderator of this site.

      Thanks.

      • Dennis Kendel

        With due respect, I did direct several questions to the BOD and, after much delay, received a response that was totally dismissive of my questions. In the course of career experience with a diverse array of organizations, I have never received such a dismissive response from persons in accountable leadership roles. I do hope my experience does not signal a discounting of lay voices in our church as that would be a betrayal of the principles of servant leadership.