With three district conventions down and 32 to go, delegate representation is a subject of considerable interest and conversation in the Synod. This blog provides an opportunity to address five frequently asked questions.
- Q: How has delegate representation changed from previous conventions? A: Actually, representation has not changed. Article V A of the Synod’s Constitution still determines delegate representation at district conventions: “At meetings of the districts of the Synod, every congregation or parish is entitled to two votes, one of which is to be cast by the pastor and the other by the lay delegate.”
- Q: Well, something has changed. Why must some congregations now share a lay delegate when they had not done so in the past? A: We are more now applying more consistently and uniformly the historical definition for a “parish” in our Synod: “Two or more congregations served by the same pastor.” With the assistance of our Rosters and Statistics Department, this definition is being painstakingly applied across the Synod to make certain that congregations are represented equally and fairly throughout our 35 districts.
- Q: If nothing has changed, why are some congregations that were previously regarding as ”permanently vacant” now regarded as part of a “parish”? A: The decision by the 2010 Synod convention that delegates to district conventions would also be the voters in the election of the President of the Synod prompted greater care in determining those situations to which “parish” is to be applied. A phrase from Bylaw 2.11.1 is pivotal: “regularly performing the duties of…an ordained minister.” Accordingly, a pastor providing regular Word and Sacrament ministry is being regarded as the congregation’s pastor for delegate representation purposes. If he is providing such regular ministry to two or more congregations, he is serving a multi-congregation parish.
- Q: Are there any exceptions to this rule? A: Yes. If a congregation is in the process of actively calling a pastor, it is regarded as truly “vacant” even though it is receiving regular word and sacrament ministry from a pastor. The above (#3) applies only to what were once regarded as “permanent vacancies.”
- Q: What about congregations that have been served by “emeritus” pastors? A: Congregations (or parishes) receiving regular word and sacrament ministry from a rostered pastor of the Synod deserve two delegate votes at their district conventions: a pastoral vote and a lay vote. The roster status of “emeritus” pastors (advisory and therefore non-voting) is being changed to “active” status when possible to reflect the fact that they are providing regular Word and Sacrament ministry to a congregation of the Synod. Such roster status change does not adversely affect retirement status or benefits. It does provide the congregation with its rightful privilege of two votes (pastoral and lay) at district conventions and in the election of the President of the Synod.