Some of you are quite aware of our four new vision priorities for the NC Synod—Vital Congregations, Healthy Leaders, Collaboration, and Prophetic Voice. Visions can be exciting and inspiring. Structure, not so much, but structure is really important. It’s been quite a number of years since we had a major constitutional overhaul in the NC Synod other than the required changes every three years after a churchwide assembly. Structures should serve the vision—not vice-versa. Accordingly, our staff and our Synod Council have been working for a full year on making some proposed changes to our NC Synod constitution that we believe will help us to operate more clearly and efficiently. Most of the current constitution was written with realities and assumptions of a very different church and culture 30 years ago.
Changes to the synod’s constitution can be made two ways. One would be to present the changes to voting members sometime this coming spring, vote on them at our Synod Assembly in June 2019, and then ratify those changes a year later. Another option would be to mail out the proposed changes more than six months in advance of assembly, and then the changes would become effective immediately as of the time they pass at the 2019 Synod Assembly with no need to ratify them a year later. “But,” you say, “we won’t have our voting members even selected yet. To whom would you send those proposed changes?” Great question. A little-known fact is that all Synod Assembly voting members serve for a full-year term. That is, until the following year’s assembly is called to order, the previous year’s voting members are technically still the Synod Assembly. We will e-mail the proposed constitutional changes to each rostered minister and to all of the 2018 Synod Assembly lay voting members. A paper copy will be mailed to every congregation.
The proposed changes approved in September by our Synod Council will be highlighted in great detail in the mailing in the next few weeks, which will give us the more-than-six-month required notice. For now, I’ll highlight some of what I consider to be more substantive changes:
- Reducing the number of Synod Council members from 24 to 15 and increasing terms from three years to four years. Additionally, to meet our diversity goals/requirements as well as expertise (legal, finance, etc.) needs, Synod Council may appoint up to four additional Council members.
- Having a business (voting) Synod Assembly every other year (odd-numbered years) but on even-numbered years having a fellowship, worship and continuing education assembly (think “Bold Like Jesus” or “Power in the Spirit”) event.
- Appointing conference deans rather than electing them, since they can be utilized in new ways as an extension of the bishop’s office.
- Spring conference meetings would move to every other year, meeting in clusters—eastern, central, and western—with bishop, some synod staff, and Synod Council officers present at each.
- Synod Council committees could include persons not on the Synod Council.
You may read the full list of proposed changes or peruse the entire proposed constitution on the 2019 Synod Assembly webpage. For more information about the proposed constitutional changes, please contact Michael DeNise, NC Synod Director of Finance & Administration, in the synod office at 704-680-9562.
Walking with you,
Bishop Tim Smith