By Pastor Manda
In July, the council focused the majority of their agenda time on trying to pick through the constitution and prepare incremental changes of the necessary items. The chapters that seemed to need the most critical updating were chapters 10-12. These are the chapters that deal with the congregational meeting (10), the officers of the congregation (11), and the council (12). The conversation was deliberate and thoughtful, which meant that all the ground was not covered in one day.
Some decisions were made. The proposed changes are one of the reasons for the special congregational meeting next week – on September 8th. In addition to some spending that goes beyond the $5K allowable outside budgeted items, the council will bring a couple motions that are the fruition of their discernment and conversation.
One conversation was about the size of the council – something that had not been updated for many, many years even though the congregation has changed a great deal in that time. The new proposed language would set the size limits between 4 and 20 persons and (in a continuing resolution) specify that the council shall be 10 people.
Another conversation was about the representation of diversity on the council. The ELCA model suggests specific language that singles out youth and young adults serving on council. However, there wasn’t a model suggestion for diversity in ethnicity, ability, gender, or sexual orientation. The new proposed language directs the Nominating Committee to consider these and other characteristics when finding individuals to serve on council.
Lastly, the council spent a great deal of time on the conversation of when council members are elected and begin serving in their roles. For as long as anyone can remember, the council has been elected in November and new members begin their terms on January 1st, when our fiscal year begins again. However, this is right in the middle of our busiest time of the church year. It’s a time when we’re celebrating Advent and Christmas, when people are away on vacation or visiting family, and we have increased events because of the holidays. Additionally, this is when we need to close the books for the year and pass a budget for the next year. It is a time when the staff and council need to prepare annual reports for the congregation and the ELCA and the council needs to conduct two congregational meetings. In short – this is the worst possible time to orient and welcome people who are new to serving in church leadership.
The proposed new language in the constitution suggests that we elect our council persons in the spring, just before Pentecost Sunday, to begin their terms on June 1st. The hope is that doing this when the church calendar is a little less full, when people have a little more time, and when there is space to have one-on-one meetings, hand off duties, and orient new people, will result in better prepared leaders who are able to dive into the autumn months ready to plan for the coming fiscal year.
Changing the constitution is necessary to keep us from tripping up on our way to proclaiming, welcoming, and serving. To make these changes, we’ll take two votes: On September 8th we’ll vote for the first time. Any motion that is passed on September 8th will stand up to a second vote at our January meeting in 2020, at which time it will need to be passed by a 2/3 majority in order to take effect.
At the time of writing this article one of the unresolved pieces is how we’ll transition from what we have been doing to what we will be doing. Thank God for Randy’s help in that. My hope is that we can bring the necessary motions to the congregational meeting in November. Hopefully by that time, we’ll also have made some headway on suggestions for Chapters 10 and 11.
If you have any questions about these changes, want to see drafts of the proposed language, or have comments or concerns, you can contact any of the council, Pastor Manda, or Randy Presuhn.
If you would like to propose draft changes to any of the parts of the constitution, bylaws, or continuing resolutions, we highly encourage you to do so! Please contact Theo Olson to get these changes on the council meeting agenda.
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.