Suggestions for Amending a
A. Dealing with Required Amendments of the ELCA Model Constitution for Congregations
“Sections of this constitution marked by an asterisk [*] are required when a congregation amends its governing documents. These sections must be used without alteration or amendment of the text in any manner (neither additions nor deletions).”
1A. If your congregation’s constitution was amended following the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly and included the amendments passed at that time, use 2011 Amendments to the Model Constitution for Congregations for a quick update.
1B. If your congregation’s constitution has not been amended for more than two years, refer to “ELCA Model Constitution for Congregations 2011” and ”Guidelines for Use of Model Constitution for Congregations 2009” on the ELCA website as a .pdf or as a Word document.
2. On the first page, state the name of the congregation, the city and state, and the date of the latest revision, so you can quickly see if you are looking at the most current constitution. Next, include the following:
-a Table of Contents,
- a Codification Explanation (as written on page 3 of the Introduction to the “ELCA Model Constitution for Congregations 2011” in A.1B. above),
-the statement in quotations directly under A. above (“Sections of this constitution…”), and,
at the end of the constitution, a list of dates the constitution has been amended by the congregation and approved by the synod.
B. Dealing with Optional Amendments, Bylaws and Continuing Resolutions - unique to each congregation.
1. Optional Amendments suggested by ELCA are available from A.1A. and A.1B. above. Optional amendments are not marked with an asterisk *.
2. Revise your congregation’s bylaws and continuing resolutions as needed. Follow the process as stated in Chapter 16. Bylaws and Chapter 18. Continuing Resolutions of the Model Constitution for Congregations of the ELCA 2009.
3. You are encouraged to integrate bylaws and continuing resolutions into the constitution (see page 3 and 4 of the Introduction to the ELCA Model Constitution for Congregations 2009 in A.1B. above). You may place the bylaw or continuing resolution following the appropriate constitution paragraph. A bylaw or continuing resolution will be distinguished by its numbering. For example:
C10.01. The annual meeting of this congregation shall be held at a time specified in the bylaws.
C10.01.01. The annual meeting shall be the third Sunday in January.
C. Suggested Procedure
1. Form a small committee (3 to 5 people) to look at all documents listed in A. above as well as the congregation’s current constitution, bylaws and continuing resolutions.
It is okay to consult the synod secretary at any time through the process: better earlier than later!
2. Prepare a draft of revisions: use underline for additions and strikethrough for deletions to show how the current document will change.
3. Share the draft with the synod secretary for possible changes. Allow two to three weeks for a response.
4. Present suggested revisions to Congregation Council. (More than 30 days before congregation meeting for required amendments, 60 days before congregation meeting for optional amendments and bylaws. *C16.03, *C17.01) Continuing Resolutions may be enacted or amended by Congregation Council or by the congregation. (*C18.01 and *C18.02)
5. Mail to all member households at least 30 days before the congregation meeting. (*C17.01) This could be a separate mailing or in your monthly newsletter.
(6. OPTIONAL – You may have a Sunday morning discussion of amendments a few weeks before the congregation meeting.)
7. Present the revisions at the congregation meeting (be sure the president has this item on the agenda). Vote.
8. The secretary of the Congregation Council sends approved amendments to the synod secretary for synod approval (*C17.03 and *C17.04). Also send a copy of the amended total constitution. Bylaws do not need to be approved by the synod secretary, but must be sent for suggestions and to be sure they do not conflict with the constitution (*C16.04). Continuing resolutions do not need to be sent to the synod secretary, but must not conflict with the constitution.
References to *C16.03, *C17.01, etc. refer to Chapters and Paragraphs of the ELCA Model Constitution for Congregations.
D. Questions to consider:
Do you want to present all revisions at one time?
Present required amendments at one meeting, then present optional amendments, other revisions at the next meeting?
Present required amendments at one meeting, present optional and/or additional amendments at another meeting, then present revisions to bylaws and continuing resolutions at a third meeting?
Thank you for your efforts in keeping your governing documents up to date.
For additional assistance, contact:
Rocky Mountain Synod Secretary