Constitution and Bylaws of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference
(Revised, 1996, 2002, 2008)
The name of this federation of churches shall be The Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference.
Confession of Faith
Section 1. The Conference accepts the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments as the verbally inspired and inerrant Word of God and submits to this Word of God as the only infallible rule and authority in all matters of doctrine, faith, and life.
Section 2. The Conference also accepts the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church contained in the Book of Concord of 1580, not in so far as, but because they are a correct exposition of the pure doctrine of the Word of God.
The purpose of this conference of confessional evangelical Lutheran churches is:
1. To give outward expression to the unity of spirit and oneness in faith and confession that binds the members of the Conference together;
2. To provide a forum for the members’ mutual encouragement, spiritual growth, and strengthening in faith and confession;
3. To promote and strengthen the existing unity in scriptural doctrine and practice among the member churches and to seek to remove whatever might threaten to disturb or disrupt that unity;
4. To encourage the members of the Conference to be zealous in sharing their Lutheran heritage of the pure and unadulterated gospel of Jesus Christ with those who do not yet know and believe in Jesus as their Savior;
5. To give a clear, firm, and united testimony to the world concerning all that the Bible, the verbally inspired, inerrant, and authoritative Word of God, teaches;
6. To encourage and undertake the preparation and publication of clear Scripture-based confessional statements on issues that confront the church from time to time and which may or may not be addressed in the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church contained in the Book of Concord of 1580.
Section 1. Membership in the Conference may be acquired and held only by such Lutheran churches which have accepted without reservation the doctrinal and confessional basis of the Conference described in Article II and which are not in fellowship with churches that in their doctrine or practice deviate from the confessional standard of the Conference.
Section 2. Churches applying for membership in the Conference may be received at any convention of the Conference by an affirmative vote of two thirds of the delegates present and voting, subject to ratification by all the member churches at their next meeting.
Section 1. The Conference has only advisory authority in all things with respect to which the member churches have not specifically given it power to act.
Section 2. Any member church of the Conference which enters into fellowship with another church shall submit its action to the next meeting of the Conference for ratification.
Section 1. Each member church of the Conference shall be represented at the regular meetings of the Conference by two voting delegates: the president or leader of the church and another representative chosen by the church.
Section 2. Each member church may send up to four additional delegates who shall serve as advisory, non-voting representatives in meetings of the Conference.
Regular plenary meetings of the Conference shall be held triennially. Recommendations as to the place and time of the meetings are to be made by the Planning Committee (see Article X) to the voting assembly three years in advance. Changes that become necessary are to be made and announced by the Planning Committee.
Section 1. Officers of the Conference shall be a president, vice president, and secretary.
Section 2. The officers of the Conference shall be elected from a slate of candidates nominated by ballot. Voting shall be by ballot. A majority is necessary for election.
Section 3. The officers of the Conference shall serve for a term of three years. After two terms an individual will be ineligible for reelection to the same office for a period of three years. If a vacancy occurs in the office of president, the vice president shall become president. If a vacancy occurs in the office of vice president or secretary, the person who received the next highest number of votes for the office of vice president or secretary in the previous election shall succeed to the office for the remainder of the term.
For various purposes the Conference shall be divided into five world regions: North America, South America, Asia, Europe, and Africa. In the interval between meetings of the plenary assembly member churches in these regions may meet to receive reports on the plenary meetings and to consider matters of common interest and concern.
Section 1. The Planning Committee shall consist of the president, vice president, secretary, and two representatives elected by the plenary assembly. The latter two representatives shall serve for a maximum of two three-year terms.
Section 2. The Planning Committee shall plan the program and make all necessary arrangements for the plenary meetings of the Conference. It shall disseminate information regarding the meetings and work of the Conference. It shall meet as often as necessary to carry out these and any other duties that may be assigned to it.
Section 1. Each member church shall pay the expenses of its own delegates to meetings of the Conference.
Section 2. A special fund shall be established to which members of CELC churches are invited to contribute. Member churches which need help in paying the expenses of their delegates may apply to the Planning Committee for assistance from this CELC fund. The expenses of the Planning Committee shall also be paid from this fund. The fund shall be administered by the Planning Committee through a person it appoints for a renewable term of three years. The Planning Committee’s administration of the CELC fund shall be ratified by the plenary assembly.
Amendments to this Constitution may be made at any meeting of the Conference by the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the voting delegates, provided that notice of such amendments shall have been sent through the Planning Committee to all member churches one year prior to the meeting of the Conference.
1.1 There shall be a Commission on Theology consisting of five members. The members of the commission shall be appointed by the Planning Committee, subject to ratification by the convention. The term of the office shall be six years. Initially, three members shall be appointed for six years and two members for three years. Members will be eligible for appointment for a maximum of two terms. The president of the Conference shall be an ex officio member of the commission.
1 The commission shall prepare a position paper on the theological topic treated by the last convention. This statement shall be submitted for ratification by the CELC in convention.
2 There shall be Theological Education – Transfer and Augmentation (THETA) Commission consisting of five members. The members of the commission shall be appointed by the CELC president, subject to ratification by the convention. The term of the office shall be six years. Initially, three members shall be appointed for six years and two members for three years. Members will be eligible for appointment for a maximum of two terms. The president of the Conference shall be an ex officio member of the commission.
2.2 The THETA Commission shall investigate and coordinate global theological education in the CELC at the seminary and post-seminary levels, serve as a clearinghouse of information, identify needs and resources for seminaries, and help sister churches find ways to meet their professor-training needs through post-seminary study. The Commission shall report its activities to each convention.