The following is the Constitution of the Evangelical Lutheran Conference & Ministerium as adopted and Constituted on September 7, 1999 by the Joint Boards of the Central PA. Ev. Lutheran Ministerium & General parish Congregations. 

Table of Articles

Article I
Name, Incorporation ,Indemnity

Article II 
Doctrinal Basis

Article III
The Secondary Symbols

Article IV
Delegates & Voting Privileges

Article V
Officers

Article VI
Powers

Article VII
Orders of Business, Quorums, Org. Principles, Meetings

Article VIII
Bylaws & Amendments

Preamble

We, the Evangelical Lutheran Congregations and Ministerium Pastors connected with the Evangelical Lutheran Conference and Ministerium, for ourselves and our successors, do hereby adopt and subscribe the following National Constitution :

Article I     Name. Incorporation. Indemnity.

    Section 1.

    The name, style, and title of this body shall be, The "Evangelical Lutheran Conference & Ministerium of North America: a mustard seed Synodical federation, fellowship, and association of centrist Evangelical Lutheran congregations and pastors", henceforth referred to in this document and all bylaws referred as ELCM. The ELCM shall be an Incorporated Synodical federation, fellowship, and association of centrist Evangelical Lutheran congregations and pastors in North America and shall make provision in the Bylaws for Indemnification for Officers, Board and Committee members.

Article II     Doctrinal Foundation

    Section 1.

    ELCM receives and holds the Canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the infallible and immutable Word of God and as the only rule of faith and practice; and it receives and holds the Unaltered Augsburg Confession and the Small Catechism of Luther as correct exhibitions of the faith and doctrine of our Church as founded upon the Word.

Article III     The Secondary Symbols

    Section 1.

    ELCM recognizes the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, The Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, the Smalkald Articles, The Apology to the Augsburg Confession, the Large Catechism of Luther, and the Formula of Concord (Solid Declaration & Epitome) as true expositions of Holy Scripture and Lutheran doctrine with great historical and interpretative value.

    [Webmaster Note: In listing the writings of the Christian Book of Concord such as the as the Apology, Smalkald Aricles, Formula etc. as Secondary Symbols we are not suggesting or implying that these are merely "informative" in nature. In this heading and listing we follow the practice of the very early Constitutions which were part of the Eastern Lutheran Traditions (PA & New York Ministeriums, the congregations that preceded them, and the General Council, & ULCA). The listing of Primary Confessions and then Secondary Symbols was based upon the fact that the Apology and Formula were expositions of The Unaltered Augsburg Confession; The Large Catechism was an Exposition and expansion of the Small Catechism, and the Smalkald articles were a post Augustana. The early Eastern Lutherans held to the Augsburg Confession and Small Catechism as primary perhaps because the Swedes and other Scandinavians felt many of the other Confessional items were addressing specific German problems? We in ELCM hold to a Quia understanding of all the writings contained in the Christian Book of Concord but follow the method of listing the items as Primary and Secondary Symbols again primarily because most of the other writings are commentary and expansion upon the first two. It is somewhat analogous to the distinction maintained by the Lutheran Reformers between the Homologmena Books of the New Testament and the Antelogommena Books. We reject the Quatenus approach to the Confessions held by ELCA. ]

Back to Top

Article IV     Delegates and Voting Privileges.

    Section 1.

    a. A General Conference (Convention) of ELCM shall consist of all rostered member congregations and of all rostered member Clergy which are now connected with it, or may hereafter join themselves thereunto, and who shall subscribe the Doctrinal and Constitutional foundations of this body and be duly acknowledged as members thereof.

    b. There shall be three categories of membership for each component of ELCM. These categories shall be:

    1) Provisional

    2) Voting

    3) Associate

    c. Each voting member congregation shall be entitled to one (1) vote and each voting member Pastor shall be entitled to one (1) vote at all general Conferences of ELCM on the National level and at any Synodical or District ELCM General Conferences to which the congregation or Pastor is a member.

    d. All other categories of membership shall be entitled to the privilege of voice only.

    e. All voting at General Conferences of ELCM, its regional entities, governing boards, commissions and committees unless otherwise stipulated in the Bylaws, shall be in accord with the rule of general consensus.

    f. Any principle of majority rule shall always be in terms of a "Super majority" and shall only be included in the By-laws as a provision for situations in which impasse has developed regarding matters deemed essential in the normal operation of ELCM or one of its regional entities

Back to Top

Article V     Officers

 Section 1.

    a. Voting representatives of member congregations (who shall to the best of their ability always be representative of their respective congregation) and voting member pastors of ELCM shall, at each Triennial General Conference meeting of ELCM, choose by ballot, from among their number, a President, a Vice President, and a Secretary; and shall choose from among their own number or elsewhere, a Treasurer. The voting member pastors shall choose from the roster of Member Pastors by ecclesiastical ballot one of their number to serve in the office of ELCM Dean.

    b. These officers shall continue in office until the next meeting of the Triennial General Conference of ELCM, and serve until such time as others have been chosen to hold office in their stead.

    c. The same person is at all times re-eligible to serve in office subject only to the limit of consecutive terms specified in the Bylaws; but no one may be elected to an office of ELCM President or Dean except rostered ordained Pastors of ELCM who are under Official Call to an ELCM congregation.

    d. The Vice President of ELCM shall be an active Lay leader of a voting member congregation of this ELCM.

    e. The respective offices of Secretary and Treasurer may be held by either lay or clergy providing only that the laity are active members of voting member congregations and that the clergy are rostered Ministerium members of ELCM serving under Official Call to a member congregation of ELCM.

    f. The Dean of ELCM shall be an rostered member pastor of ELCM who is under Official Call to an ELCM member congregation.

    g. The persons holding these elected offices in ELCM at the National level shall together with the Presidents and Vice Presidents of ELCM Member Synods constitute the Executive Board of ELCM.

    Section 2.

    a. The President of ELCM shall act as chairman of the General Conference of ELCM; and may take part in the General Conference discussions and voting as any other member, but shall not originate motions.

    b. The President shall subscribe all letters, written advice, resolutions, and proceedings of the ELCM. In extraordinary cases, and by request of 1/4 of the rostered member pastors and rostered member congregations, or by the request of 1/3 of the member ELCM regional Synod's, he shall convene a special ELCM General Conference session for the purpose of dealing with matters specifically addressed by the respective request (s).

    c. In case the business of the Secretary becomes too burdensome for one person to execute, he shall with the concurrence of the Secretary, appoint an Assistant Secretary, and make known to him what portion of labor he is to undertake.

    Section 3.

    a. The Secretary shall keep a journal of the proceedings, write, attest [Attestation is understood to be verification. It is not an act of veto authority] , and take care of all the documents and writings, publish the time and place of the meetings of ELCM in the papers of ELCM, at least two months beforehand, and, in case of a special meeting, shall give written notice thereof to the member congregations and member pastors of ELCM.

    Section 4.

    a. The Treasurer shall receive and disburse all moneys of this ELCM, and shall keep a faithful account of the same, which must be submitted at each meeting of ELCM. At its pleasure he may also be required to give bond and security for the faithful performance of his trust. He shall pay out moneys only in pursuance of a resolution of General Conference or of the ELCM Executive Board, or upon an order of the President, attested by the Secretary.

    Section 5.

    a. The Dean of ELCM shall be the chairman of the Ministerium of ELCM, shall :

      1. serve as a Confessor to the pastors of ELCM,

      2. represent the interests and concerns of the Ministerium at all Executive Board and General Conference meetings of ELCM,

      3. chair a board composed of the Deans of the ELCM regional Synods,

      4. and serve as the Chaplain at all Executive Board and General Conference meetings of ELCM.

Back to Top

Article VI     Powers

ELCM shall have the authority to advise, recommend, represent, and propose to the member Synod (s), member congregations, and member pastors regarding all interests of ELCM. The powers more specifically entrusted to ELCM are chiefly the following:

    Section 1.

    a. ELCM shall review and examine the proceedings of the member Regional and State Synods that are formed by congregations and pastors connected with it, in order that it may obtain a knowledge of the existing state of ELCM; and in order that it may publish the statistics of ELCM and reports on the state of religion in and among the member synods & member congregations, with such plans and recommendations for the promotion of the kingdom of Christ at home and abroad, as it shall deem proper to recommend.

    b. The member Regional and State Synods and Intra State and Regional organizations of ELCM shall transmit to it, regularly, several copies of the proceedings of their annual General Conference meetings and report on the ministry of the year previous.

    Section 2.

    a. ELCM in co-operation with its member Synods shall be charged with the duty of providing the books or writings (or the recommendation thereof ) to be used in the public worship of ELCM, and in the catechetical instruction of the young, such as Liturgies, Hymn-books, and Catechisms.

    Section 3.

    a. ELCM working together with its member Synods shall make provision for

      1. Theological training of candidates for ministry;

      2. General missionary and benevolent operations of ELCM, such as Home and Foreign Missions, Church Extension (etc.);

      3. Providing a church publication and literature;

      4. Establishing and having oversight of other benevolent and charitable institutions as deemed needed.

    b. ELCM shall use all its advisory power and means to unite, foster and make efficient these operations of ELCM.

    Section 4.

    a. To accomplish the various constitutional and conference mandates, ELCM shall, whenever deemed practical and expedient, create and perpetuate such Boards of Managers, Committees, Agencies, Commissions and Special Task forces as it may consider necessary in order to efficiently to carry forward the various operations of ELCM, and further shall determine the number of members of each, and the time of their continuance in office, and shall assign to each its appropriate work and duties. Any such entities created shall always be subject to and under the supervisory control of the General Conference and Executive Board of ELCM. As such entities are created and established the description of purpose, duties and functions shall be made a part of the Bylaws to the Constitution .

    b. Each Board, Committee, Agency, Commission, and Special Task force thus created, acting under the control and by the authority of ELCM, shall make the regulations necessary for the management of its own affairs, shall appoint its own officers, shall keep full and correct minutes of its proceedings, and shall make report of the same at each meeting of the General Conference and Executive Board.

    c. For the greater security of the funds and property which may at any time be entrusted to these Boards any one or all of them shall at the request of ELCM, through Conference or Executive Board action, obtain acts of incorporation, and the Treasurers of the same shall give suitable bonds for the faithful performance of their duties.

    Section 5.

    a. ELCM shall have authority to institute and create a treasury for the efficient advancement of its purposes.

    b. The Treasury shall be funded chiefly by the voluntary remittances of congregations and by gifts and grants by individuals or institutions desiring to further the work of Christ on earth through ELCM.

    Section 6.

    a. ELCM shall also advise the adoption of such rules and procedures among its member Synods as may prevent unpleasant and unfriendly collisions that might otherwise arise out of any difference of opinion existing among them, or from any other cause; and it shall employ its powers, prayers, and means for the prevention of schisms among us chiefly by working toward consensus in light of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.

    b. ELCM shall seek to establish unity with other Christians based solely in full agreement on Scripture and Doctrine.

    Section 7.

    a. ELCM may give advice or opinion, when complaints shall be brought before the General Conference or Executive Board by Synods, Ministeriums, Congregations, or individual pastors or laymen, concerning doctrine or discipline. They shall not however have authority to impose decisions upon others.

    Section 8.

    a. ELCM through its officers, Executive Board, and or its General Conference may grant advisement and counsel, should such be sought of ELCM by Synods, Ministeriums, Districts, Congregations, or individual pastors or lay members of rostered congregations. They shall not however have authority to impose decisions upon others.

    b. Congregations and Individual members of congregations shall follow a good order procedure of first seeking advice and counsel from the District of the Synod to which they are members through either the office of District President and the office of District Ministerium Dean. Districts would present requests for advice and Counsel to the Synod President or Synod Dean. Synods would appropriately seek advice and Counsel from the the ELCM President or ELCM Ministerium Dean. Appeals from Congregations or Individual pastors that have worked through the proper order come before ELCM for final advisement , counsel and adjudication.

      1. In matters necessitating adjudication a special Board of adjudication shall be composed of the General Conference presidents of the respective District, the respective Synod, and of ELCM and the Ministerium Deans of the respective District, respective Synod, and of ELCM. Final recommendations of advice and counsel of this board of adjudication shall be by unanimous consensus.

Back to Top

Article VII     Orders of Business, Quorums, Organizational Principles, and Meetings

    Section 1.

    The Order of business shall be governed and shall be regulated by the By-Laws of this congregation and by the Articles of basic principles stipulated in preface to this Constitution.

    Section 2.

    A representation of a simple majority of the rostered member congregations and rostered member pastors of ELCM shall constitute a Quorum for the transaction of business of at a General Conference of ELCM.

    Section 3.

    The regularly scheduled ELCM General Conference shall appoint , by ballot, the time and place of the next Triennial General Conference meeting of this Church; observing at all times, however, that one meeting, at least, be held every three years.

Back to Top

Article VIII     Bylaws & Amendments.

    Section 1.

    a. ELCM shall establish By-Laws as deemed necessary, provided only that such do not contradict the spirit and intent of this Constitution.

    Section 2.

    a. No alteration of this Constitution shall be made except by the approval of 9/10 (90%) of the member congregations and member pastors of ELCM. An exact copy of intended alterations as approved by a General Conference must be sent by the Secretary to the member Pastors and member Congregations in connection with this body, with the request that they submit a vote of "NO" in writing and stating clearly the reasons for such a vote should they not favor the proposed alteration. A period of 60 days from the date of the notice being mailed is allotted for the reception of votes of "NO". All votes of "No" are to be submitted to the ELCM Secretary with signature affixed by either the rostered pastor so voting or by the officers of the rostered congregation so voting.

    Section 3.

    a. The Bylaws and Prefatory organizational principles shall contain Commentary on the Constitution and shall be the basis of the Formula for Government of ELCM relating to Congregations, Pastors, Districts, Synods, Ministeriums, Membership reception, Missions, and so forth.

Back to Top