Most of us are aware by now of most of the major changes that were adopted by the 2010 convention in Houston. Among the most major are the new manner of electing circuit counselors, the  pre-convention election of the President of the Synod, the election of five regional vice-presidents and some board members, and the restructuring of the operations of the Synod.

That Other Convention Change

One additional major change, however, intended to permeate the entire life of the Synod, can easily escape attention. It was prompted by the structure task force’s interest in having congregations and visitation circuits play a greater role in the life and direction of the Synod. Agreeing with this interest, the 2010 convention created a new process for “grass roots” input into “mission and ministry emphases” that will direct the course of the Synod’s mission and ministry activity.

The end result of the convention decision is not some highly noticeable governance change that will immediately attract attention. Instead it is a relatively quiet seven-step process that begins with the Synod’s 6,200 congregations and in due time affects the entire life of the Synod during the following triennium.

How It Will Work

It may be helpful to outline the process:

  1. Each triennium, suggestions for mission and ministry emphases are discussed by congregations in preparation for their pre-district-convention circuit forums, this at the same meeting that they also select representatives to their forums and nominate pastors for their circuit’s circuit counselor position.
  2. The suggestions from congregations are discussed by their circuit forums, and one or more are submitted by overture to their 2012  district conventions.
  3. District conventions receive and discuss overtures from circuit forums and vote to send two or three mission and ministry emphasis proposals to the Synod convention.
  4. The Synod convention receives and processes overtures from district conventions and votes to adopt the Synod’s mission and ministry emphases for the next three years.
  5. The President of the Synod, in consultation with the Council of Presidents, identifies from these mission and ministry emphases specific goals for the national office to support ministry on the congregational level.
  6. The President, officers, Board of Directos, and mission boards and offices receive triennial focus from mission and ministry emphases and goals.
  7. District presidents encourage congregations and schools to embrace mission and ministry emphases adopted by the convention for the triennium.

 The Time is Now

For congregations to participate in this process, now is their time to discuss the mission and ministry areas that they believe should be emphasized during the three years following the 2013 convention. There will be no opportunity outside of the process outlined above. Now also is the time for circuit counselors to include this discussion on their circuit forum agendas so that suggestions can be forwarded to district conventions. Circuit counselors, check your agendas.

District conventions are required by bylaw to include consideration and a decision regarding mission and ministry emphases on their agendas. Quote: “The district convention shall, through delegate vote, forward to the national convention a list of two or three triennial mission and ministry emphases for consideration by the national convention” (Bylaw 4.2.1 [d]). District presidents, check your agendas.

The Synod convention and Synod leadership are also required by bylaw to take this process and its end product seriously—evidence of the serious intention of the 2010 convention to provide for greater involvement from the grass roots in providing direction of the mission and ministry of the Synod. Synod leaders, check your agendas.

There is, after all, that other convention change to think about, right about now.

Ray Hartwig