From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ELCA Assembly Defeats Ratification Proposal for Constitutional

Date Sat, 16 Aug 2003 12:17:51 -0500


August 16, 2003

ELCA Assembly Defeats Ratification Proposal for Constitutional Amendments

     MILWAUKEE (ELCA) -- The 2003 Churchwide Assembly of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Aug. 16 defeated
205-701 a proposal to require a majority of its synod assemblies
to ratify any amendments to the ELCA constitution.
     Assembly voting members followed that action with a 649-229
vote in favor of a recommendation from the memorials committee
that urges grassroots involvement before measures are considered
by a churchwide assembly.
     The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of
the ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 11-17 at the Midwest Airlines
Center. There are about 2,100 people participating, including
1,031 ELCA voting members. The theme for the biennial assembly is
"Making Christ Known: For the Healing of the World."
     The proposal that was defeated would have amended the ELCA's
constitution by giving the 65 synods a year to ratify or not any
constitutional amendments approved by a churchwide assembly.  A
similar proposal that would have required congregations to ratify
any churchwide ecumenical agreements or standards for pastors
failed the day before, Aug. 15.
     In debate before the vote, the Rev. Mark R. Olson, voting
member, ELCA Northwestern Minnesota Synod, said that if the
proposed constitutional amendment were approved, "synods and
congregations will not only have something to talk about, but
will have something to vote on ...."
     The Rev. G. Scott Cady, voting member, ELCA New England
Synod, replied that his synod "has plenty to talk about" and that
adding ratification of churchwide assembly actions "would add one
more piece of busy work ...."
     The memorials committee recommendation that was approved
affirms the April 2003 response of the ELCA Church Council to
memorials from several synods that called for synod ratification
of constitutional amendments.  That response, in part, affirms
"the importance of widespread study and discussion of proposed
social statements and major policy directions throughout the
congregations and synods prior to their consideration by the
Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
     The recommendation adopted by the assembly also encourages
"the Conference of Bishops, the Church Council, synod councils,
and all members of this church to maintain, strengthen, and
promote trust and communication throughout this church."
-- -- --
Information about the ELCA Churchwide Assembly can be found at
http://www.elca/org/assembly/03 on the Web.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or

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