Tuesday, July 31, 2007

LCMS 2007 Convention: Circuit Exceptions

I had the privilege of serving as our circuit's delegate to the 2007 LCMS convention. I need to prepare a report for my circuit. So I thought I would start here and see where I go.

One of the burning issues prior to the convention was the number of exceptions which were granted to circuits which did not meet the LCMS Handbook requirement. At first I was caught up in the frenzy, but after careful consideration, I realized that those raising the big stink were focusing on the wrong thing.

Our synodical president followed the bylaws, period. The bylaws leave the final decision to him (with no specified criteria). Just because one president uses one set of criteria and a subsequent president uses a different does not mean that either one violated the bylaw.

The real problem rests with those districts which asked for exceptions in 2004. They should have been required to realign their circuits so as to not need exceptions. One solution may be to add a bylaw stating that a district which is granted an exception must realign their circuits before the next synodical convention to bring their district's circuits into conformity with the synod's bylaws.

I also did a little math to figure out how badly the LCMS convention was out of balance. The bylaw requires that an electoral circuit must have between 7 and 20 congregations and have a aggregate communicant membership of between 1500 and 10000. Now if you divide the synod's total congregations (6044 as of 2005) by 7 and 20, you get 863 and 302 respectively as the range of circuits. Then if you divide the synod's total communicant membership (1,870657) by 1500 and 10000, you get 1247 and 187 as the range of circuits. Okay, if you are still following me, divide 863 and 302 and 1247 and 187 by 4 and you get 650.

That means there should be around 650 electoral circuits for the synod. From my best guessing it appears that there were about 652 electoral circuits for the 2007 convention. So it was pretty close to spot on. Some districts -- because of exceptions -- were over-represented (eg, Pacific Southwest, Eastern, and English), whereas other districts -- even with exceptions -- were under-represented (eg, Michigan, North Wisconsin, and Minnesota South).

Rather than complaining about the exceptions, we should be insisting that the districts evaluate the circuit alignments and correct them to be in conformity with the synod's bylaws.

1 comment:

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

I agree with you, Gary. I think you are exactly right about the best way of dealing with the whole question of exceptional delegates.

As a matter of principle, this suggests a similar approach to other synodical polity issues.