Advice on Resolution 9-11

Resolutions 9-11 (Today’s Business 1, Pages 190-191)  To Elect Synod President at Convention

What should concern delegates?

This resolution has two issues that delegates should pay attention to.

The first is the reason for the decline in participation in the election process for Synod President.  Because of the “decline” in participation and the cost of the election, the Floor Committee is recommending a return to the previous practice of convention delegates rather than congregations electing a president.  The reason seems innocuous enough:  cost and lack of participation. 

However, what is not considered is why the cost is increasing and why there is a lack of participation.

When originally conceived, electors were the pastors and laypeople who attended district conventions.  Others could be registered if there was a change in the pastoral office or a layperson moved.

Those who did not attend their district conventions objected that they were being disenfranchised.  So we changed and began an “only individual registration” process which is complicated, confusing, and costly.

The Floor Committee has not considered the option of returning to the original manner or registration at district conventions and allowing others to register by the new process.  That would allow the majority of congregations to register their voters by attending a district convention and others — the “exceptions” – to register by mail or online.

After many years of experience and consideration, delegates in 2010 chose to “de-politicize” the convention by moving the Synod President election out of the convention.  In past years, many circuits would choose their delegates based on who they would support for Synod President.  This brought Synod “politics” to the local level, but sometimes caused hard feelings and disagreements within the circuit.  That’s what delegates in the years before 2013 were trying to avoid.

The second issue to pay attention to is the novel idea of floor nominations for the Synod President.  Allowing such would take the process of nominating qualified men out of the hands of the congregations.  Delegates would not have the opportunity to vet the nominee.  And — sadly — it would unnecessarily politicize the convention again.  Since this has specifically been precluded by Bylaw, one has to wonder what reasons could support or make necessary this unusual change to be proposed.

 What can be done about it?

Because this is a Bylaw issue, no amendments by addition to the proposed resolution may be made without prior agreement from the Commission on Constitutional Matters (CCM).  Therefore, any changes must be made by deletion or by a substitute motion — or the whole resolution must be defeated.  A substitute motion could take the form of something like:

“Resolved, that the Synod return to the prior practice of registering pastor and lay voters as Synod President electors automatically through their registration and attendance at their respective district convention in the year prior to the Synod Convention, as well as allowing those who did not register and attend their district convention, but still desire to vote, to request registration through their district Secretary.  Any changes in pastor or lay electors due to accepting other calls, a change in congregational membership, illness or death may be made by through the District Secretary in consultation with the Secretary of Synod.”

Ask what would cause adding a floor nomination for Synod President to be necessary or desirable.

Ask why everyone must be registered by the Secretary of Synod at the national office, instead of through the District Secretary’s office as was done for decades under the old bylaws? 

Ask if de-centralization of control wouldn’t help the Synod do its work by allowing local districts to take care of their own registration process?  Isn’t that the way we register as delegates through for the Synod convention?  Why wouldn’t that work here, lowering costs and putting responsibility at the local level for registration?  Isn’t that the way we’re supposed to work as a Synod?

Leave a Reply