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.
The 2016 Churchwide Assembly made several important changes to the Model Constitution for Congregations, including addressing the unification of the three lay rosters, revising the provisions for parishes, and updating the membership rules. In addition, many congregations have not updated their constitutions since the 2013 Churchwide Assembly, which made important changes to the procedures for disciplining members of congregations. The next churchwide assembly will be in 2019, so there will be no changes to the Model Constitution for Congregations in the next three years, making it an excellent time to update yours now.
Each churchwide assembly has amended the constitutions. Click the titles below for the following amendments:
- 2016 amendments to the Model Constitution for Congregations
- 2016 Amendments to the Constitution for Synods
- Rationale for the 2016 Amendments
For Congregation Constitutional Amendments before 2016 click here to visit the ELCA Office of Secretary website.
Updating Your Constitution
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.
Click the titles below for the following resources:
- Constitution Hygiene (PowerPoint)
- Request for Assistance to Update Our Constitution (Word)
- Revising Congregation Constitutions (pdf)
- How Do We Change Our Constitution? (pdf)
- Integrating Bylaws and Continuing Resolutions (pdf)
- Codification Explanation (pdf)
- Procedures for Reviewing Constitutions (pdf)
If you have questions regarding congregation constitutions, please contact Carla Klawitter at 507-627-9044 or firstname.lastname@example.org.