Another Possible Memorial: Membership Changes

While I would be very happy if the convention adopted a resolution like the previous sample memorial, realism/pessimism sets in early. Is the ELS capable of anything resembling sorrow over anything it’s done? Can it possibly show the public humility required to admit that its own doctrinal statements are not holy scripture? We’ll see. Or at least, someone will see. (“We” may not all be around by that time.) Or maybe the Lord will return before then, rendering all of the plans within plans utterly irrelevant. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

I’ll do some gardening in the meantime. The soil is tilled, and the next seed is a badly-needed resolution. As it is now, the synod bylaws (Chapter 2) require an action by the synod convention to receive a congregation as a member of the synod. Similarly, they require an action by the synod, without using the word “convention,” to receive an individual as a member. There is no similar requirement when a membership is terminated, be it the membership of a congregation or an individual.

Compare that to the membership of your congregation. Certainly the procedure varies. But in nearly all cases, I would venture to guess that the church’s duly installed representatives (Voters, Council, etc.) have to approve membership changes. That’s only half true for the synod.

Part of the problem may be an imbalance in the way we view and implement the doctrine of fellowship. That’s a topic for another post. Anyway, if a memorial like this interests your congregation, remember that the deadline is April 1. I would not expect memorials like this to be accepted a minute later. Anyway, here it is. Adjust at will.

WHEREAS the Bylaws (Ch. 2, Par. 1) of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod require the synod in convention to act upon the application of a congregation for membership in the synod, and,

WHEREAS the Bylaws (Ch. 2, Par. 2) of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod require the synod to act upon the application of an individual for membership in the synod, and,

WHEREAS it has proven possible that both congregations and individuals may be permanently and unilaterally removed from membership in the synod by a single act of the synod administration, without explicit ratification by the synod, and,

WHEREAS the entire synod has an interest in all of its membership changes, including both the acceptance and suspension of members, therefore,

A. BE IT RESOLVED that the Synod Review Committee be directed to prepare amendments to the Bylaws for the 2008 Convention, which would require an action by the entire synod to ratify the removal of a member congregation or individual, analogous to the action required for the addition of a member congregation or individual.

B. BE IT RESOLVED that the synod hold all current, pending, and future membership actions as incomplete until they have been ratified by the synod in convention.

3 thoughts on “Another Possible Memorial: Membership Changes

  1. I seem to be lost when I come to your site. I have not been commenting during Lent, but should probably run some sort of a summary when I start up again after Easter. What exactly is going on?

    Thanks, Norman


    #### Response from J.J.:

    This is a follow-up to [this post](, which simply offered a sample memorial for the 2007 ELS convention. Though I co-sponsored a memorial a while back, these days memorials can only come from congregations.

    The other thing I’ve been posting are some explanations that clarify exactly how I understand (and can live with, for now) the newest ELS doctrinal statement. I still think it should be improved, though. The most serious problem is that it’s being understood in mutually conflicting ways.

    In synod news, our church in Litchfield, IL has voted to leave the synod. The state of some other congregations and pastors is still pending.

  2. Pastor, I really like both your proposed memorials! Unfortunately, for our congregation it takes at least 2 weeks’ notice to call a voters’ meeting. I strongly suspect that our voters would approve both these memorials, but it’s too late to meet the April 1 deadline. I hope that at least some congregations have been or will be able to make that deadline! I’m sure our delegates will support them at the convention.


    #### Response from J.J.:

    Thank you for your words. I, too, hope that at least one congregation is able to submit a memorial similar to these.

    As for the deadline, you are right that a properly called voters’ meeting will be important. It’s worth checking the congregation’s bylaws to see what the requirement really is. For example, sometimes it says that the meeting must be announced at the two Sunday services prior to the voters’ meeting. As of now, there is enough time to do that and then meet during the last week of March, perhaps after the midweek service. If a memorial is approved, it could be sent via Express Mail, or even faxed. The memorial I cosigned a while back was just emailed to the synod office.

  3. Why aren’t your congregations submitting your proposed memorials? Why are you fishing for another to do so?


    #### Response from J.J.:

    Thanks for asking, chindude Normal. Your first question has a built-in assumption, kind of like “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” or, “Why won’t you retract your charge of false doctrine?”

    These congregations may submit one or both, or another memorial. We’ll see. If they do, it will be their memorial, not mine alone. Fifteen months ago most of our members didn’t know we had a new doctrinal statement. These things take time to work through, especially when other important things are happening concurrently.

    Fishing? Not really. Just offering a possibility. Sometimes a body doesn’t quite know how to express himself, so I’m providing a starting place. This could be especially useful for those who don’t usually express themselves with whereases. Besides that, it’s probably too late for most of our congregations to send these memorials unless they already had the ball rolling.

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