What does it mean that we're a part of a synod, and what are we doing to restructure the synod? This article from late 2016 teaches a bit more about how we work together with other congregations across Canada.
What is LCC?
Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC) is what we would commonly call a national church body. It's really two things at once:
- A voluntary churchly, or ecclesiastical, connection between local congregations. Congregations from across Canada choose to associate with one another for a number of different reasons. The primary one is to help promote a common confession of the Christian faith. We do this by meeting together in conventions (which is, strictly speaking, what the word synod means) and by working together in between those times when we meet. When we call ourselves a synod, we mean the churchly bond that we have together. (Though that word's often used to describe both this first aspect of our church body and the second one.)
- A legal entity with an office in Winnipeg, MB, employees, a constitution, etc.. The members of the legal entity are its congregations, pastors, and deacons. (It's important to note that individual members of congregations aren't directly members of LCC. They're directly members of their congregations, which are in trun members of LCC. Strictly speaking LCC is only the legal entity. The synod - the churchly bond - could still exist even if LCC didn't exist as a legal entity.
It's an important distinction to reognize, but in common usage we generally refer to one and the same thing.
There are four components to LCC in relation to its congregations. These are often described as "levels", but it's important to know that they aren't levels in the sense of a heirarchy like a business, with "employee", "manager", "vice-president", and "CEO" as comparable levels of hierarchy. If anything, the "hierarchy" of LCC is upside-down to the corporate world. The primary "unit" of LCC is the congregation, with its pastor(s) and deacon(s). The other levels exist primarily to support the work of the local congregations. Congregations don't exist to support the "headquarters". (The reason why, is to think back to #1 above - the synod is simply the group of all congregations, pastors, and deacons working together. In other words, synod isn't "out there" somewhere, but all of us together.)
With that understanding, the four "levels" of LCC are:
- Congregation/Parish: the local body of believers gathered around God's Word and Sacraments, serving in a particular place. In technical terms, a parish might be one congregation, or it might consist of two or more congregations working together.
- Synod: The national group of parishes, as described above.
- District: The synod is grouped into three Districts: ABC (Alberta-British Columbia), Central (Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and part of Ontario), and East (the rest of Ontario and everything east of there). The Districts are "synod in that particular place" to help congregations in a more local way. Each District is also its own legal entity, with its own constitution and bylaws, Board of Directors, staff, conventions, etc.
- Circuit: Each smaller, regional group of congregations works together in an even more local way as a circuit. You can find out mroe about our local circuit, the Okanagan circuit, in this writeup.
The Restructuring Process
There have been discussions for a long while about how we are structured as LCC, and whether we might need to consider changing how we work, so that we can do it better. In the spring of 2015, each District convention petitioned the Synod to develop a proposal for a new structure. That process is now underway, led by the synod's Commission on Constitutional Matters and Structure (CCMS). The CCMS has led through a process that includes seven stages, and we're now in stage four, where they've offered concrete recommendations for what the new structure could look like. (more info).
They're asking for input on these recommendations from everyone who considers an LCC congregation to be their church home, whether official members or not. They've produced a Discussion Guide, which everyone is invited to read and the offer comment on.
The meeting for our Okanagan Circuit will be held on Saturday, November 26, 2016 at 10:00am (until no later than 3pm) at First Lutheran Church (4091 Lakeshore Road) in Kelowna, BC. RSVPs will be required no later than Nov. 21, and you can RSVP by contacting our church office.