Each of this church's expressions — congregations, synods and the churchwide organization — has a constitution.
Click titles below to download constitutions, bylaws, and continuing resolutions for the following:
- Constitution of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
- Constitution of the Southwestern Minnesota Synod
- Model Constitution for Congregations of the ELCA
The Constitutions, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions reflect the theology and polity of this church as it organizes itself to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, share the sacraments, reach out to the neighbor with good news, and share the love of God in the world. Each expression of this church — churchwide, synod, and congregation — is held together in a relationship of interdependence that encourages each to respond to its context. These documents also demonstrate our commitment to seeing ourselves with others as part of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.
Updating your Constitution
Each congregation shall provide a copy of its governing documents to the synod. All proposed changes in the constitution or incorporation documents of a congregation shall be referred to the synod with which the congregation is affiliated. The synod shall approve or disapprove the proposed changes within 120 days of receipt thereof, and shall notify the congregation of its decision; in the absence of a decision, the changes shall go into effect. The synod shall recognize that congregations may organize themselves in a manner which they deem most appropriate.
If you have questions regarding congregation constitutions, please contact the synod office at 507-637-3904.
Revising Congregation Constitutions
A congregation’s constitution should be considered as “an ecclesial, legal, and missional document that reflects the underlying theology and doctrines of this church as well as its polity and governance structures. As the guiding document of one of the three expressions of this church, it reflects that congregations, while fully the church, are not the whole church; they are in an interdependent relationship with synods and the churchwide organization and are part of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church…deeply rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Lutheran Confessions, and the history of this church.”
– Introduction to the Model Constitution for Congregations
It is recommended that ELCA congregations and synods review the adopted amendments for their constitutions as soon as possible after each churchwide assembly to incorporate the required changes and to consider the recommended changes.
The churchwide assembly meets every three years. Amendments to any synod constitution are approved by the synod assembly. Amendments to any congregation constitution are approved by the congregation at its regular meeting. These meetings are governed by parliamentary procedure. Basic information on the parliamentary procedure can be found on the ELCA website.
Each churchwide assembly has amended the constitutions.
Links will bring you to the ELCA website to download Word Documents.