September 2016

Dear Pastors and Congregational Presidents of the Southwest California Synod: 
The 2016 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA adopted a number of changes to the Model Constitution for Congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. A copy of these changes (link), as well as a copy of the model constitution incorporating those changes (link), are available as printable PDFs on the synod website under "Resources for Congregations."
Most changes relate to the merging of  diaconal ministers, associates in ministry, and deacons  into a roster of Ministers of Word and Service, and references to an ordained minister are changed to that of a Minister of Word and Sacrament.  These provisions should be added even if a congregation does not currently have a person on one of the lay rosters under call. 
We request that your congregation make these changes in your constitution. The procedure is simple: your Congregation Council passes a motion to send the proposed changes to your next Congregation Meeting (which in most cases is in January). The congregation must be notified of the proposed changes at least 30 days in advance of the meeting at which the vote will be taken. Upon a majority vote of members at the Congregation Meeting, the amendments will take effect. They do not require review and approval by the synod.
Please note: If you have changes in your constitution in addition to the ones needed to conform to the Model Constitution, then you must follow the procedure for amendments, which is described in Chapter 17 of your constitution. This includes submitting revised constitutions to the synod for review and approval. However, we request that the above changes be addressed no later than your next Congregational Meeting. 
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the synod office. Once your congregation has approved these changes, we ask that you notify the synod office in writing or by e-mail that the changes have been made to bring your constitution into conformity with the Model Constitution.
Thank you for making these necessary changes, and God bless your ministry. 
Rev. R. Guy Erwin, Ph.D