The LCA/NZ has released an interim report detailing the vision, recommendations and principles for a new constitutional framework for the church, along with church member feedback on the current constitution.
The General Church Board (GCB) is conducting the review of the 54-year-old constitution on behalf of General Synod. The interim report is the culmination of Phase 1 of the review process. The aim of the review is to develop a constitution that serves the church well in being faithful to Christ, living out the gospel and thriving in the 21st century.
To date, approximately 250 church members have engaged with the review process. Some people have completed surveys, others have written submissions, some have participated in working groups, and still, others have been involved in telephone interviews.
The purpose of the Phase 1 Review is to identify and analyse the key issues and establish the key principles that will be presented for approval as the framework that will guide the development of a new constitutional structure, Executive Officer of the Church Peter Schirmer said.
‘The aim is to achieve a constitutional framework that has longevity and reflects who we are, why we exist, how we are governed, is consistent with contemporary standards, and be of such a nature that requires minimal changes over time’, he said.
‘Over 50 years we have added 27 pages of additional information. It was considered the exercise of providing further bandaids to the current constitution may only result in further risk of confusion and add to the misalignment with contemporary governance and management principles.’
He said in 2021 the church would decide if, when and how it would move into Phase 2, planning for the actual updating of the constitutional framework.
Submissions to the review show that most church members support having new, easier-to-read documentation. They would also like to see our separate General and District Synods constitutionally linked and working together more. And they would like to simplify the definition of ‘membership’ of congregations to bring our definitions in line with typical practice.
The detailed two-volume Interim Report provides a fuller outline of the changes church members would like to see. The most significant suggested improvement is to regroup our current large document into three separate but related documents. Without losing anything from the existing constitution, they would like to reorder its contents into three distinct documents – a ‘Church Charter’, a ‘Book of Rules’ and a ‘Constitution’ for our legal structure.
The ‘Church Charter’ would be based on Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions and would perform a modern-day function of inspiration, education, unity and guidance similar to that of the Theses of Agreement in 1966.
The ‘Book of Rules’ would be a collection of the standard operating regulations, policies and procedures of the LCA/NZ.
We would continue to have a legal document – or constitution – that supports what we say in our ‘Charter’ in order to have a legal structure, meet secular requirements and provide legal protections for our church.
Other key proposals from the review include:
- A focus on supporting ministry and mission with greater constitutional support for the diverse forms of ministry that now exists, including cross-cultural ministry and ministry in Indigenous communities.
- Formally changing our name (if possible) to the Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand.
Links to the interim report have been emailed to all pastors, congregation chairs and 2018 General Synod delegates. You can also find out more about this review and to read both volumes of the interim report on the Constitution Review page
Please provide your feedback on the report and its recommendations, along with any ideas you have about updating the LCA/NZ constitution, to your local district. Contact details are on the Constitution Review page.