Constitution of the Concordia Lutheran Conference
(Adopted: August 1957; Ratified: May 1958)
(Amended and Adopted as Amended: 1989)
1.In obedience to the Word of God (Romans 16:17; Titus 3:10), a number of our original members withdrew from the Missouri Synod [LCMS] in the year 1951 for the following reasons:
a. Because of that Synod’s progressive deterioration in doctrine and practice during the two preceding decades, in spite of much patient admonition to the contrary on the part of many pastors and congregations in its midst. (Compare: Book of Reports and Memorials and the Proceedings, Missouri Synod, 1950).
b. More specifically because of:
1) Its unionistic character evinced chiefly by the unretracted A Statement, Chicago, 1945, and the unscriptural, compromising Common Confession of 1950.
2) Its tyrannical procedures against its own protesting pastors and congregations, in defiance of God’s Word, Matthew 23:8-12; Mark 10:42-45; and contrary to its own constitution, Article VII.
2. In the fall of 1951, the Orthodox Lutheran Conference was formed with the purpose of preserving and carrying forward the true Lutheran position held by the Missouri Synod; and the hand of fellowship was extended at the time to the Wisconsin Synod [WELS] and Norwegian Synods [ELS], constituent synods of the Synodical Conference, which at that time had declared themselves to be in a truly protesting position over against the Missouri Synod. Neither of these two synods, however, gave official recognition of this offer but, to the contrary, continued and increased fraternal negotiations as well as cooperative work with the Missouri Synod.
3. The formers of the Concordia Lutheran Conference were continuously bonafide members and officers of the Orthodox Lutheran Conference. Recognizing, however, a break in the fellowship in January, 1956, made by a faction which espoused unionistic and arbitrary principles and then, when corrected, openly declared and/or demonstrated that we were not their brethren in the faith; recognizing also the practical problem that resulted from this break, namely, that the erring group continued to use the name “Orthodox Lutheran Conference” and recognizing further that these and other offenses brought upon this name were not serving the glory of Christ our Savior, and His Word of Truth; therefore we, the bonafide orthodox Lutherans, resolved to reorganize ourselves under this present constitution. (Compare: The Orthodox Lutheran, February, 1956; The Concordia Lutheran, January, 1957.)
4. A further reason for which we are joined together in this Conference is our Lord’s will that the diversities of gifts in His Church on earth should be for the common profit, 1 Corinthians 12:4-31.
ARTICLE I — NAME
The name of the conference re-organized under this constitution is: The Concordia Lutheran Conference.
ARTICLE II — CONFESSIONAL STANDARD
This Conference and every member thereof accepts without reservation:
1. The canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the verbally inspired Word of God and the only norm of Christian faith and life, (2 Timothy 3:15,17; 2 Peter 1:21; I Corinthians 2:13; Psalm 119:105; John 8:31,32).
2. All of the symbolical, or confessional, writings of the Evangelical Lutheran Church comprising the Book of Concord of 1580, as a true statement and exposition of God’s Word.
3. The Brief Statement drawn up in the Missouri Synod, 1932, as a further correct exposition of God’s Word, and as an uncompromising basis in our time for God-pleasing union between us and other Lutherans–a confession utterly different in this respect from the Missouri Synod’s Common Confession of 1950.
ARTICLE III — OBJECTS OF THE CONFERENCE
1. The conservation of the unity of the true faith (Ephesians 4:3-6; I Corinthians 1:10; John 8:31-32).
2. Joint testimony and defense against all public errors in doctrine and practice (II Thessalonians 3:14-15; 1 Timothy 5:20; Galatians 6:1; Matthew 7:15; Titus 3:10; Romans 16:17-18 ).
3. Joint effort toward God-pleasing union with other Lutherans, namely, such union as is based upon the unity of the spirit–full agreement in doctrine and practice on the basis of God’s Word (Acts 2:42; I Corinthians 1:10; 3 John 8-9; II Timothy 1:16-18; Ephesians 4:1-6).
4. Joint extension of the Kingdom of God through cooperative mission work of our congregations (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8).
5. The adequate seminary training of pastors for the work of the ministry in our midst, and of parochial school teachers and other helps to the ministry (II Timothy 2:2; 2:15; 4:1-5; Titus 1:9; I Timothy 3:1-7; 4:12; II Kings 2:3-5).
6. The publishing and distribution of orthodox religious books, periodicals, and other literature for the promotion of the true faith.
7. The endeavor to bring about the best possible uniformity in orders of service, church customs, and other congregational externals without, however, abridging any congregation’s right in matters indifferent [adiaphora].
ARTICLE IV — CONDITIONS OF MEMBERSHIP AND FELLOWSHIP
1. Requirements for Membership
a. Unconditional acceptance of the Confessional Standard set forth in Article II, not only in theory but also in practice.
b. Acceptance of also this entire constitution and the willingness to cooperate in carrying out the further resolutions of this Conference, within the Scriptural bounds and limitations set forth in Article VI (Matthew 15:1-6).
c. Each congregation applying for membership must first submit its constitution and give any other necessary evidence that its confessional position and practice are Scripturally correct.
d. All applications for membership should be made at least six weeks before convention time to the President or a committee appointed by him. After assurance that the conditions for membership are complied with, the Conference Convention shall accept the new members by unanimous resolution.
2. Requirements for Recognition of Fellowship
a. Congregations not in membership with us but desiring to be recognized as in fellowship with us shall be so recognized upon their written, unconditional acceptance of our Confessional Standard and assurance of their willingness to cooperate with us in the work of our Conference.
b. Pastors and parochial school teachers coming into our midst from without our fellowship are required to pass a colloquy under the guidance of two or more pastors appointed by our President. They shall be received as candidates for the holy ministry or an office flowing therefrom in our midst upon announcement by our President that they have passed such colloquy. The President shall make official notice of such colloquies beforehand to the pastoral members of the Conference and he shall also announce in our official publication the results when the colloquy has been passed.
ARTICLE V — KINDS OF MEMBERSHIP
All congregations that have joined the Conference hold voting membership. At the conventions of the Conference and in referendums made at any time, each member congregation has three (3) votes, one of which is to be cast by the pastoral and the other two by the lay delegates. If, however, only one delegate is present at a convention, he shall cast only two votes for the congregation. If the pastoral delegate and only one lay delegate are present, the lay delegate has two votes. If two lay delegates are present, and the pastor is absent, the lay delegates shall have one vote each. In the case of a vacancy pastor, he has the voting rights as outlined for a pastoral delegate in this section.
ARTICLE VI — RELATION OF THE CONFERENCE TO ITS MEMBERS
1. According to Scripture teaching and example, each congregation, or church, is independent, sovereign, autonomous in its own affairs, subject alone to Holy Scripture; and a conference or synod is neither of higher nor of equal authority to any of its congregations (Matthew 18:17-18; Mark 10:42-45). Therefore, in its relation to its members, this Conference is not a church or church-government exercising legislative or coercive powers, but, with respect to the individual congregation’s right of self-government, it is but an advisory or service body. Accordingly, no resolution of the Conference is of binding force if it is held by any of its members to be contrary to God’s Word or inexpedient as far as the condition of a congregation is concerned. Moreover, neither the Conference itself, nor any of its officers or committees, shall be permitted to invade the sovereign rights of any member-congregation or to act over against it in any hierarchical manner. In the case of disputes between two pastors, a pastor and congregation, or between two congregations, a decision by the Conference or its representatives shall be submitted only upon request of both parties concerned; except in matters involving public false doctrine or other public offense in the Conference, in which case the Conference shall have the right, in a Scriptural manner, to require its offending members to remove and to desist from such offense.
2. Nevertheless, as Holy Scripture does not countenance arbitrary modes of procedure or behavior but commands us to do all things in Christian love and good order, not abusing our Christian liberty (Galatians 5:13; I Corinthians 14:40), all members of the Conference and those in our fellowship shall be expected to cooperate in accordance with the Constitution and the other resolutions of the Conference within the Scriptural limitations set forth above.
3. Therefore any objections to official resolutions and procedures of the Conference shall be filed with the President, and the reasons therefore should be clearly stated, so that complete brotherly understanding can result and any necessary corrections or alterations be made. Should no satisfactory result be obtained through the efforts of the President, the objections should next be laid before the Board of Directors, and finally, if necessary, before the Convention. No public circularization of the Conference regarding disputes or objections should be made except after the above regular procedures have been exhausted, with due patience, and to no satisfactory resolution.
4. Should any member congregation deem it to its best interests and in harmony with God’s Word to discontinue its membership in the Conference, it has the Christian liberty to do so. We ask such congregations, however, to do this in a Christian-like manner giving the reasons therefore.
ARTICLE VII — EXPULSION FROM THE CONFERENCE
No congregation may continue to hold membership in the Conference if it is established by a regular convention, by unanimous vote, that they are persistently violating the conditions of membership or fellowship set forth in Article IV. Such former members, as also all such as may terminate their own membership, shall have no rightful claim upon the property or upon the financial assets of the Conference, notwithstanding an appeal. An appeal against expulsion shall be made to the President in writing. He shall then appoint a Committee on Appeals, satisfactory to the appellant. This Committee, in turn, having met with the appellant, shall bring its findings and recommendations to the next regular convention.
ARTICLE VIII — OFFICERS
The officers of this Conference shall be:
1. A President, who is a pastor. His duties shall be:
a. Ordinarily to serve as chairman of all meetings of conventions and the Board of Directors, and, ex-officio, advisory member of all committees.
b. To see to it, within the limitations of Article VI, that the Constitution and subsequent resolutions of the Conference are carried out, and, in particular, personally to lead the Conference in guarding it confessional position and in stemming public offense.
c. To sign official papers and documents and make official notices of the Conference in its name.
d. To lay before the member-congregations for their vote, as a referendum, and before the congregations in fellowship for their information and brotherly cooperation, with the consent of the Board of Directors or by request of at least one-half of the member-congregations, all very important matters of the Conference which arise between conventions, which permit no delay, and which, according to the Constitution, are not to be disposed of but by a convention of the Conference.
e. To arrange for the colloquy (examination) of pastors and parochial school teachers according to Article IV, 2, b.
f. Ordinarily to appoint convention committees, and also, by appointment, to fill vacancies in the Board of Directors or in the committees of the Conference until the next regular convention.
g. To perform all additional, reasonable duties which the Conference may enjoin upon him.
h. To report regularly to the Conference, especially at the regular conventions, the administration of his office.
2. A Vice-President, who is a pastor. His duties shall be:
a. To take over the functions of the President whenever the latter is unable to serve.
b. To assist the President in any or all of his duties when called upon by him to do so, or as may be provided in the Constitution or By-Laws or by special resolutions of the Conference.
c. To serve as chairman of the pastoral conference.
3. A Secretary, who is a pastor. His duties shall be:
a. To keep the minutes, or proceedings, of the Conference in good order.
b. To have charge of all official papers and documents of the Conference.
c. To draw up, and sign when necessary, the official documents of the Conference; and to assist the President in the official correspondence and official notices of the Conference.
d. To have printed or otherwise duplicated the official proceedings of all conventions of the Conference within six months after the close of the convention.
e. To perform all additional, reasonable duties in the nature of secretarial work which the Conference may enjoin upon him.
f. To take the functions of the President in the event neither the President nor the Vice-President is able to serve.
4. A Treasurer, who is a layman in a member-congregation. His duties shall be:
a. To have charge of all moneys received and disbursed by the Conference and to keep an accurate, permanent record of the same.
b. To administer the Conference’s financial affairs according to its instructions.
c. To present a report of his financial records and an audit of the same to each regular convention.
d. To keep the congregations of the Conference and the Board of Directors reasonably informed, between the time of conventions, as to the financial condition of the Conference. He shall contact congregations through their own pastors.
e. To submit his books and accounts to an examination by an auditing committee also at any other time requested by at least a majority of the Board of Directors.
5. The Board of Directors
a. The four officers mentioned above, together with two (2) lay-members-at-large and the chairman of each standing committee of the Conference or his representative, shall constitute the Board of Directors, and all these shall have a vote at meetings of the Board, except that the presiding officer shall vote in case of a tie.
b. The members of the Board of Directors are the legal representatives of the Conference and the custodians of all its property, and upon them are incumbent the general management and supervision of all the business affairs of the Conference; except that they are held at all times to act in accordance with the Constitution, By-Laws, and other resolutions of the Conference as such, and their decisions and acts shall always be subject to review by the Conference at any convention or by referendum to the member-congregations of the Conference.
ARTICLE IX — STANDING COMMITTEES
These committees, to be elected by regular conventions, are at least the following, but others may be resolved upon by any convention and shall then be set forth in the By-Laws:
1. Editorial Committee: This Committee, charged chiefly with the publication of the official Conference periodical as well as tracts and Sunday School materials, shall consist of two pastors and one layman. Its chairman who is a pastor shall be the Editor. In the event he is not able to serve, the second pastor who is the Assistant Editor shall assume the function of Editor until the vacancy can by filled. The committee may determine its own place and time of meetings according to need. Its chairman is a member of the Board of Directors.
2. Committee on Theological Education: This Committee shall consist of two pastors and two laymen. The first elected pastor shall serve as chairman. The Committee shall, in a Christian, Scriptural manner, in the name of our member-congregations, supervise both the faculty and student body of our Seminary. It shall stand ready to render brotherly assistance whenever possible. The right to call and induct seminary instructors and also to suspend them, should it become necessary, until the next regular convention, shall be vested in this Committee, in the name of our congregations. Nominations for professorships may be made to this Committee both by member-congregations and by the Board of Directors, and to this end, the chairman, through either the President or Secretary of the Conference, shall previously give official notice of the need for such nominations by medium of our official Conference periodical. The nominations received shall then first be published in this periodical before a call is extended, so that any member-congregation may file commendations or objections with the Committee. The curricula, courses of study, admission to the seminary, and, generally, all seminary activity shall be determined by the faculty together, in conjunction with this Committee. The Committee may determine its own place and time of meetings according to need. Its chairman is a member of the Board of Directors.
3. Committee on Missions: This Committee shall consist of two pastors, the first named to serve as chairman, and three laymen. It duties shall be:
a. To review the mission opportunities which are brought to its attention and to seek out further opportunities for extending God’s Kingdom.
b. To advise new missions of our fellowship which seek their advice as to the calling of available missionaries and as to other matters pertaining to a new congregation.
c. To survey the field and general circumstances of congregations requesting financial subsidy from the Conference and to make recommendation regarding such requests to the Conference at its conventions, with the view both to assisting truly needy congregations and also to using the Conference treasury in the wisest way for the extension of the Savior’s Kingdom. Requests for subsidy, in order to be included in convention business, shall ordinarily be submitted through the Committee on Missions at least four (4) months before the end of each fiscal year. (Note: As of this printing, the fiscal year is from June 1 to May 31.)
d. Where conditions warrant such official action, to call, in the name of our congregations and with the approval of the Board of Directors, missionaries-at-large to labor in specific fields with the view to establishing new congregations; and to provide salaries to such missionaries through the Conference budget for mission work. Where it is necessary to guide and advise such missionaries to the Conference regarding their work, this shall be done in a truly brotherly, Scriptural manner.
e. This Committee may determine its own place and time of meetings according to need.
f. Its chairman is a member of the Board of Directors.
4. Committee on Lutheran Union: This Committee shall consist of the Vice-President, the Secretary, one seminary instructor, and one layman. Its duties shall be:
a. To keep informed regarding the doctrine and practice of the inter-synodical relations of other Lutheran church bodies.
b. To meet with similar committees of other Lutheran church bodies, as occasion arises, with the view to establishing a more far-reaching union, provided such meetings can be arranged in accordance with Article III, paragraph 2 and 3 of our Constitution, without violation of our Scriptural Confessional Standard.
c. To keep the Conference as such currently informed regarding the matter of Lutheran Union, and to report annually to the regular convention of the Conference.
d. The Vice-President, who is chairman of this Committee, is a member of the Board of Directors. He has only one vote on this Board.
5. Finance Committee: This Committee shall consist of the Treasurer and three other laymen. They shall represent as far as possible the various geographical locations in which member congregations exist. In no case shall a majority of the Committee be elected from any one congregation. The duties of the Committee shall be:
a. To study and analyze the finances of the Conference, to assist when requested or to consult with various Conference committees and/or officers in making projections of future needs in current and anticipated programs, to coordinate the Conference financial obligations and to report periodically to the member congregations of the Conference.
b. To solicit from member congregations during the third quarter each year their anticipated pledges for the support of Conference endeavors in the next fiscal year.
c. To prepare on the basis of need indicated by the various Conference committees, the general expenses of the Conference, and the pledges received from member congregations a budget for each fiscal year and to present it for study to the local congregations no later than two months before the end of each fiscal year and for ratification either to the regular convention or to the Board of Directors if no convention is held in a given year.
d. This Committee may determine its own time and place of meetings according to need.
e. The Conference Treasurer, who is a member of the Board of Directors, shall be the chairman of this Committee.
6. Other Committees: As further needs arise, other, temporary committees may either be elected by the Conference or appointed by the President upon resolution of the Conference. The President shall always appoint convention committees, in conjunction with the advice of the local pastors.
ARTICLE X — MEETINGS
1. Conference Conventions: The Conference shall meet in regular conventions annually. Special conventions for announced specific purposes may be held at the request of the Board of Directors upon the approval of at least two-thirds of the member-congregations. The time and place of all conventions, if not decided by a previous convention, shall be determined by the Board of Directors. Resolutions regarding doctrine and practice brought before the conventions for ratification must be decided by a unanimous vote (I Corinthians 1:10).
2. Board of Directors: The Board of Directors shall meet at least once each year but shall not meet more than four (4) times except for purposes of extreme urgency. Other arrangements for the Board of Directors meetings not specified by the By-Laws or by other resolutions of the Conference in convention shall be determined by a majority of the Board members.
3. Pastoral Conferences: Pastors of the Conference shall meet in general conference at least once each year and may meet in small groups monthly or as often as conditions permit. The purpose of such meetings is for them to study together and to be strengthened and encouraged for the work of the ministry on the basis of God’s Word. Minutes shall be kept for all such conferences by secretaries of the respective groups and submitted to the secretary of the Concordia Lutheran Conference at least two months before each regular convention to be reported on by him as having been found in order. Pastoral conferences have no authority to make any decisions binding upon the Conference as such or upon its congregations. But they may lay overtures before the Conference or its congregations through the Board of Directors. Other arrangements for Pastoral conferences not specified in the By-Laws or by other resolutions of the Conference in convention shall be determined by a majority of the pastors themselves.
ARTICLE XI — TERM OF OFFICE
Officers and members of standing committees shall be elected to hold office for one year but may be re-elected. The President of the Conference may not be elected for more than three consecutive terms, and the Vice-President may not be elected for more than two consecutive terms.
ARTICLE XII — PUBLISHING HOUSE
1. NAME: The Conference shall maintain a publishing house under the name, Scriptural Publications (Concordia Lutheran Conference).
2. PURPOSE: The purpose of the publishing house shall be to provide for the needs of the Conference so far as the printed word is concerned in the interest of advancing Christ’s Church here on earth.
3. OWNERSHIP: The publishing house shall be owned exclusively by the Conference. It shall be self-sustaining and organized not for profit. The financial records of the publishing house shall be open at all times to the Board of Directors of the Conference and shall be submitted to the Conference for annual audit in convention assembled.
4. ADMINISTRATION: The publishing house shall be operated under the direct supervision of the Conference through a Board of Control elected by the Conference at each regular convention, whose membership and duties shall be as follows:
a. A Chairman, a Conference pastor who shall be in charge of receiving and implementing the publication of all materials and shall supervise all advertising connected therewith. He shall give his full cooperation in the endeavors of authorized Conference representatives toward the publication of all Conference materials. He shall be an advisory member on the Board of Directors and shall report regularly to the Conference, especially at every regular convention.
b. A Vice-Chairman and Advertising Manager, a Conference pastor who shall carry out the duties of the chairman when he is unable to serve. He shall also be responsible for the composition and dissemination of all advertising materials.
c. A Secretary, a Conference layman who shall record and keep the minutes of the meetings of the Board, have charge of all official papers, draw up and sign when necessary the official documents, and perform any other usual secretarial duties.
d. A Business Manager, a Conference layman who shall be in charge of the funds, all the monetary transactions, and financial records relating to the publishing house.
e. A Promotion Manager, a Conference layman who shall be in charge of the Concordia Lutheran subscriptions, sales of tracts and other publishing house merchandise, advertising, and public relations.
f. A Publishing House Manager, a Conference layman who shall serve as a salaried employee in charge of equipment, maintenance, and production of the publishing house. He shall, with the approval of the Board of Control, employ such other help as may be needed in the publishing operation. He shall attend the meetings of the Board of Control in an advisory capacity.
ARTICLE XIII — AMENDMENTS
1. Changes in and amendments to the Constitution may be made, provided they do not conflict with the provisions laid down in Article I, II, III, IV, 1a, 1b, 1c, 2a, and VI, which articles may not be changed or amended in substance. All proposed changes and amendments must be submitted in writing to the Conference assembled in convention, and each proposed change shall be voted on separately. A two-thirds majority ofall votes cast shall be necessary for adoption. Such changes and amendments shall be in effect when ratified by two-thirds of the member congregations.
2. Changes in and amendments to the By-Laws may be made in the same manner and with the same provisions as stated above, except that only a simple majority of all votes cast shall be necessary for adoption.
(End of the CONSTITUTION)
BY- LAWS TO THE CONSTITUTION
1. Expenses of Meetings:
a. The Conference shall pay from its treasury the travel, food, and lodging expenses of its officers and other persons required to travel in the interest of the Conference’s work, in accordance with a rate fixed by the Conference in convention assembled.
b. Member-congregations shall be expected to pay the annual traveling and convention expenses of both its pastoral and lay delegates; and congregations in fellowship, the costs of their representatives. The congregations are also hereby urged to pay their pastor’s expenses incurred by attending the pastoral conferences, especially since their attendance at such meetings is not only for the strengthening of the pastors themselves but also, through this, for the profit of the congregation. The Conference, however, shall pay from its treasury the convention travel, food, and lodging expenses of the Seminary President at the same rate authorized for Conference officers.
c. Congregations which serve as host to any convention shall be expected to bear one-half of the net expenses incurred. The other half is to be paid from the treasury of the Conference.
2. Election Procedure:
a. The officers of the Conference shall be nominated and elected by ballot vote only, a majority vote being required for election.
b. The Nominating Committee shall present two slates of candidates for each standing committee, subject to the approval of the convention.
3. Prospectus and Agenda for Conventions:
a. A prospectus of each convention of the Conference shall be prepared by the President in conjunction with the Vice president. It shall be printed or otherwise duplicated by the Secretary; and it shall, by him, be made available as a Prospectus in sufficient copies to all pastors and congregations for study at least one month before the convention.
b. The basis of such prospectus shall be:
1) matters not yet fully disposed of and new matters authorized by a previous convention;
2) matters resolved by the Board of Directors in its meetings since the last convention;
3) matters which are submitted as memorials either by member congregations, congregations in fellowship, or pastoral conferences; and
4) matters which are laid before the convention by the committees of the Conference in their official reports.
c. The actual agenda presented at convention time shall be drawn up by the President and may include matters which could not be included in the Prospectus, but which the President, in accordance with his Constitutional duties, must present to the body in his Annual Report.
d. Preliminary convention reports and recommendations of Conference committees shall be sent to the President and the Vice-President, in writing, no later than two months before the time of convention.
e. At the beginning of a convention, after his Annual Report, the President shall present the actual agenda to the convention for its adoption or revision.
4. Excuses and Absences of Registered Delegates:
If a registered delegate needs to be absent for valid reasons, he shall report that to the Committee on Registrations and Excuses, which, after approval, shall so inform the Nominating Committee so that his vote may be carried by another delegate from his congregation. The authorization of alternate delegates shall be handled in the same manner.
5. Particulars regarding Memorials:
a. Memorials to be laid before a convention shall be sent to the President and the Vice-President, in writing, no later than two months before the time of convention.
b. No memorials shall be presented to the convention by individuals themselves or groups within a congregation, but such individuals or groups, desiring to lay memorials before a convention, shall do so through and with their congregation.
2. Changes in and Amendments to the By-Laws may be made in the same manner and with the same provisions as stated above, except that only a simple majority of all votes cast shall be necessary for adoption.
(End of the Constitution By – Laws)