Peter Schirmer (chair)
Paul Argyle (NZ)
Ralph Brinkmann (Tas)
Nancy Fox (NSW)
Bruce Lockwood (Qld)
Faye Schmidt (Vic)
Rev Mark Vainikka (Qld)
Rev Andrew Vanderwal (SA)
Bishop John Henderson (ex officio)
Les Stahl (team leader)
Rev Terence Corkin
LCA/NZ Constitution Review (Phase 1)
After 50 years, our church has commenced a major review of its constitution. We give thanks to those church members who prayerfully drafted the constitution and to those who have provided ongoing stewardship and maintenance of it.
Our constitution has served us well for many years but it is now in need of a review for a number of reasons, including enabling us to better witness and thrive in the 21st century.
Over the last 25 years, multiple amendments have turned it into a somewhat complex and cumbersome document, difficult in places to use and interpret. Over 50 years we have added 27 pages of additional information. In summary, it was considered the exercise of providing further bandaids to the current constitution may only result in further risk of confusion and non-alignment.
The aim of the review 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.
Phase 1 of the review has identified and analysed the key issues, and proposed the key principles that will be presented for approval as the framework that will guide the development of a new constitutional structure.
In summary, the process followed by Phase 1 of the review was:
- listening to the views and opinions of review respondents
- facilitating analyses of issues and concerns raised during the review
- prayerfully discerning principles to guide Phase 2 of the review.
The review was publicised through the church website, church publications, and via emails and regular communiqués from the LCA Bishop.
Approximately 250 people actively engaged with the review, some representing congregations and agencies/boards/commissions.
Other groups of people that participated in the review included congregational members, synod delegates, pastors, young people, people involved in cross-cultural ministry, people involved in aged-care ministry, Indigenous ministry, schools ministry, community services ministries, ministry with the deaf, Australian Lutheran World Service, bishops, GCB members, members of the LCA Standing Committee on Constitutions, District Administrators and others.
Church members engaged with this review by submission, by the completion of a ‘church member’ survey or by telephone and video discussions. Young people also provided guidance to this review via a ‘young persons’ survey.
To ensure that issues raised by respondents to this review were well understood and considered, key issues were assessed not just by the reviewer and the review group but also exposed to review by working groups, bishops, and other learned persons and groups within the LCANZ during the review period – including by an online forum of 20 LCANZ ‘leaders’ in May 2020 and a final forum of over 50 leaders in February 2021.
A final report was submitted to GCB by the lead facilitator in April 2021. The report is currently in the process of being assessed by GCB, including consultation with key bodies within the church as to proposals to be put to General Synod.
In 2021, the church will decide if, when and how we will move into Phase 2 - planning for the actual updating of our constitutional framework.