From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ELCA Council Affirms Committee Ruling on DHES 'Election'

Date Wed, 28 Apr 2004 12:13:52 -0500


April 28, 2004

ELCA Council Affirms Committee Ruling on DHES 'Election'

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Without comment, the Church Council of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) affirmed a ruling
of its Legal and Constitutional Review Committee that voided an
action of the board of the Division for Higher Education and
Schools (DHES). The board acted to 'elect' the division's
executive director, Dr. Leonard G. Schulze, to a new four-year
term.  However, the council's action agreed with the ELCA
secretary's interpretation that the board action violated the
ELCA Constitution and Bylaws.
     The council acted in response to a written appeal from the
DHES board chair, Rod Schofield, Colorado Springs, Colo., who
wrote to the council after the ELCA Secretary said the board
action was "null and void."
     The Church Council is the ELCA's board of directors and
serves as the legislative authority of the church between
churchwide assemblies.	The council met here April 17-18.
Assemblies are held every other year; the next is Aug. 8-14,
2005, in Orlando, Fla.
     "Bishop Hanson is committed to Leonard Schulze's continued
strong leadership of the Division for Higher Education and
Schools during this time of planning, just as he is committed to
the continued leadership of the other executive directors and
directors whose terms expire in 2004," said Myrna J. Sheie,
executive assistant to the presiding bishop, and Hanson's
representative to the board, in a statement to the ELCA News
Service.  Sheie said she was speaking on Hanson's behalf.
     "The action of the Church Council to concur with the
secretary's constitutional interpretation of the board's action
should in no way be interpreted as the bishop's lack of
confidence in or support for Dr. Schulze's leadership of the
division," she continued. "The decision to ask the five unit
executives whose terms expire in 2004 to extend their service is
reflective of the current organizational design phase of the
ELCA's strategic planning process."
     In addition to the DHES executive director, other ELCA
leaders for whom elections would have occurred this year include
the executive directors for the Commission for Women and
Commission for Multicultural Ministries; and directors of the
Department for Research and Evaluation and Department for
Synodical Affairs.  Hanson wrote to all five and asked that each
continue in their present positions "beyond the expiration of
your four-year term."  Elections for each will be carried out
after the completion of the restructuring process in November
     On March 27, the DHES board adopted two actions regarding
the DHES executive director.  First, it "elected" Schulze to a
second four-year term effective June 16, despite the fact that
the ELCA presiding bishop said he would not agree to a new four-
year term now for Schulze because of the church's restructuring
process. In the second action, because the churchwide
restructuring process does not guarantee "completion of a renewed
four-year term" for Schulze, the board asked that Schulze's
employment continue through the end of the 2005 ELCA Churchwide
Assembly or the current restructuring process.	It also asked
that Schulze be given "the highest consideration" to direct any
future structure for educational ministries of the church.
     Following the board meeting Hanson asked the ELCA Secretary
for an interpretation of the board action to "elect" Schulze to a
four-year term.
     In a memo to Hanson, the Rev. Lowell G. Almen, ELCA
Secretary, pointed out that ELCA constitutional bylaw 16.11.21
states that the election of a division executive director may
occur only after "consultation with and with the approval of the
presiding bishop."
     "If such consultation has not occurred prior to "election"
or if approval has not [been] given for election, the action of
any division board related to purported election would be
contrary to the bylaw and, therefore, null and void," Almen
wrote.	"In the specific case of .Schulze . the record indicates
that the four-year term to which he was elected in 2000, ends on
June 15, 2004."
     In his written appeal to the church council, Schofield
called the two board actions "complementary."  He said the board
"elected" Schulze "to fulfill our understanding of our fiduciary
responsibility as a board in carrying out bylaw 16.11.21."  He
also said the board wanted the office of DHES executive director
to "be placed in the same elected position as other division
executive directors during the restructuring process."
     The board's consultation with the presiding bishop "occurred
on the morning of March 26, one hour prior to the beginning of
our board meeting, and took the form of a written draft
resolution developed by Presiding Bishop Hanson, Secretary Almen
and Dr. Schulze that I received that morning."	Schofield
presented the resolution to the full board.
     "In the ensuing discussion, the board felt it important to
follow the letter of the bylaw by reelecting Dr. Schulze while,
in good faith, honoring the desire of the presiding bishop as
expressed in the draft resolution," Schofield wrote.  That's why
it considered the two issues together, Schofield said.
     He also said it was the board's desire to "provide a process
that would serve as a model for the presiding bishop's office and
other divisions" in carrying out the bylaw.  The board's actions
were "faithful responses" to the constitution, ELCA presiding
bishop, Church Council and churchwide assembly to be flexible
with regard to organizational changes because of restructuring,
Schofield added.
     Schofield declined comment on the council's decision.

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

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