What Does It Mean to be a Voting Member? | ¿Qué significa ser miembro con derecho a voto?

When the ELCA was formed and framed as three church bodies coming together and creating a new church in the late 1980s, one of the important decisions we made was how people would come together in the assemblies to be part of the process of shaping the church for the future. For an ELCA Synod Assembly, congregations send their rostered ministers and two or more laypersons from the congregation. We come as Voting Members, a designation utilized by the ELCA indicating that we are there to listen, to speak, to debate, to pray, and to be led by the Spirit of God as we elect Bishops and other officers of the Synod, as well as other positions provided for by the governing documents of the Church. Voting members approve budgets and spending plans. They may submit, amend, adopt, or defeat proposed resolutions and memorials. They are there to lead their Synod into the future and the mission of God in the way they believe the Holy Spirit is guiding them and the whole of the Synod and the Church.
ELCA Voting Members are not “delegates” or “representatives.” Those two designations normally indicate that people come to a gathering bringing with them the posture of the group from which they came or were sent. If you were coming to the Synod Assembly as a “representative” or as a “delegate,” it would be anticipated or even expected that you were there on behalf of a larger group and your votes would be representing and reflecting the thinking, mindset, and perspective of the congregation from which you came. In this church, however, we are Voting Members who are given the freedom to attend and participate in the Synod Assembly, ready to allow the other Voting Members to help shape our votes by the speeches we hear, by the dialogue, discussion, and debate that takes place on the floor of the Assembly, by the prayers that are prayed, and most of all, by the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us to lead us to make the best decisions possible.
With some frequency in my years as Bishop of our neighboring Synod, Voting Members at either a Synod or a Churchwide Assembly told me something like this, “I came to this assembly with my mind already made up. I know how the folks back home were expecting me to vote. I heard the leadership of my congregation and other people speak about it and I know the way they believe I should have voted. But then I heard others speak from another part of the Church. I listened to the debate and the speeches. I realized there was more to this issue or this candidate than what I knew when I came. I ended up voting differently than I thought I would when I first stepped foot into this Assembly. I believe the Spirit moved me in the right direction.”
If you are a Voting Member who will be attending the 2021 Southwest California Synod Assembly, please come ready for the people of the Assembly and the Spirit of God to help shape your thinking and your hearts about the matters before us. If you know who the Voting Members are from your congregation, please forward this message to them if they have not seen it.
May the Spirit of God guide us and move us to give shape to God’s Church in the days ahead.
The Rev. Murray D. Finck
Bishop (Interim)
bishopfinck@socalsynod.org
Hoy quiero recordarles por qué los participantes de asambleas sinodales y reuniones de toda la Iglesia Evangélica Luterana en América (ELCA) se conocen como miembros votantes. Cuando la ELCA se formó y enmarcó cuando tres cuerpos eclesiales se unieron creando una nueva iglesia a finales de la década de 1980, una de las decisiones importantes que tomamos fue cómo la gente se uniría en las asambleas para ser parte del proceso de dar forma a la iglesia para el futuro.
Para una Asamblea de un Sínodo de la ELCA, las congregaciones envían a sus ministros enlistados y a dos o más laicos de la congregación. Vienen como miembros con derecho a voto, una designación utilizada por la ELCA que indica que estamos allí para escuchar, hablar, debatir, orar y ser guiados por el Espíritu de Dios al elegir obispos y otros funcionarios del Sínodo, así como otras posiciones previstas en los documentos que rigen la Iglesia. Los miembros con derecho a voto aprueban presupuestos y planes de gasto. Pueden presentar, enmendar, adoptar o rechazar las resoluciones y conmemoraciones propuestas. Están allí para conducir a su Sínodo hacia el futuro y la misión de Dios de la manera en que creen que el Espíritu Santo los está guiando a ellos, a todo el Sínodo y a la Iglesia en general.
Los miembros con derecho a voto de la ELCA no son "delegados" ni "representantes". Esas dos designaciones normalmente indican que las personas acuden a una reunión trayendo consigo la postura del grupo del que vinieron o fueron enviados. Si vinieran a la Asamblea del Sínodo como "representantes" o como "delegados", se anticiparía o incluso esperarían que estuvieran allí en nombre de un grupo más amplio y sus votos representarían y reflejarían el pensamiento, la mentalidad y la perspectiva de la congregación de la que vino. En esta iglesia, sin embargo, somos miembros votantes a quienes se les da la libertad de asistir y participar en la Asamblea del Sínodo dispuestos a permitir que los demás miembros con derecho a voto ayuden a dar forma a nuestros votos mediante los discursos que escuchamos, mediante el diálogo, la discusion y el debate que toman lugar en el piso de la Asamblea, mediante las oraciones que se oran, y sobre todo, por el poder del Espíritu Santo que trabaja en y a través de nosotros para llevarnos a tomar las mejores decisiones posibles.
Con cierta frecuencia en mis años como Obispo de nuestro sínodo vecino, miembros votantes que asistieron a una asamblea del Sínodo o a una Asamblea de toda la Iglesia me dijeron algo así: "Vine a esta asamblea con una decision ya echa en mi mente. Sé cómo la gente de casa esperaba que votara. Escuché hablar de ello el liderazgo de mi congregación y a otras personas y sé cómo creen que debería haber votado. Pero luego oí hablar a personas de otra parte de la Iglesia. Escuché el debate y los discursos. Me di cuenta de que había más en este tema o este candidato que lo que sabía cuando llegué. Terminé votando de manera diferente de lo que pensaba cuando entré por primera vez en esta Asamblea. Creo que el Espíritu me movió en la dirección correcta."
Si usted es un Miembro Con Derecho a Voto que asistirá a la Asamblea del Sínodo del Suroeste de California 2021, por favor prepárese para que el pueblo de la Asamblea y el Espíritu de Dios ayuden a dar forma a su pensamiento y a su corazón sobre los asuntos que tenemos ante nosotros. Si saben quiénes son los miembros con derecho a voto de su congregación, por favor reenvíenles este mensaje si no lo han visto.
Que el Espíritu de Dios nos guíe y nos mueva a dar forma a la Iglesia de Dios en los próximos días.
Agradecidamente,
Rev. Murray D. Finck
Obispo (Interino)
bishopfinck@socalsynod.org
Communications from Interim Bishop Finck
2021 Synod Assembly Newsfeed

Rules of the Assembly

At the beginning of each assembly, the Rules of Procedure are adopted by the voters. This year's Rules reflects the fact that the assembly will be held online rather than in person, and allows us to conduct assembly business in a virtual space while still following our Synod Constitution.
Rules of Procedure  - updated 6/1/2021
Mission Goals
Parliamentary Guide
Glossary of Terms 
SWCA Synod Constitution

Churchwide Representative

The Rev. Dr. Phil Hirsch, Executive Director of the Domestic Mission Unit of the ELCA, will be our Churchwide Representative this year. Rev. Hirsch was elected by the ELCA Church Council at its November 2018 meeting and started his role February 1, 2019. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA, in 1986 and his Master of Divinity degree from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in 1990. The seminary is one of seven ELCA seminaries. Phil earned his Doctor of Ministry in homiletics from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, in 1997. Prior to serving on the Churchwide staff, he served as a congregational pastor in Virginia and New Jersey and also as the Director of Evangelical Mission for the Metro D.C. Synod.

Reports

Synod Assessment Report

The Southwest California Synod began its transition period in July 2020 with the creation of a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) review of its practices, activities and mutual ministries with and among the conferences, congregations and congregants. This assessment of the Synod’s capacity, its ability to provide guidance, direction and assistance provides for a greater appreciation of the challenges that lie ahead for any incoming Bishop and Synod Council.
Synod-Wide Review and Self Assessment Summary 
Synod-Wide Review and Self Assessment
Synod-Wide Review and Self Assessment & Summary (PDF)
Conference SWOT Reports
Research and Evaluation Report of the Congregations of the Southwest California Synod 

 

Bishop's Election

Our foremost piece of business at this year's assembly will be to elect the next Bishop of the Southwest California Synod. Our first ballot will be an ecclesiastical one that allows for a nomination by a registered voting member for any ordained clergy in good standing in the ELCA. During a pre-identification period, names of potential candidates were lifted up and sent to the Bishop's Election Committee, who contacted these potential nominees to ascertain their interest and to obtain their biographical information.
We ask all voting members of the 2021 assembly to be in prayerful reflection, preparation and discernment under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, as our Synod moves forward in the nomination and election process for a bishop of the Southwest California Synod.
Bishop's Election Information 
SWCA Synod Pre-Identified Bishop Candidates

ELCA Guidelines for Synod Bishop Elections
Questions and Answers about the 2021 Bishop Election
Full Report of the Bishop's Election Committee
If you are a pastor nominated on the first ballot, please click here 

Elections for Synod Leadership

At the Synod Assembly, voting members will select two thirds of their governing body: Synod Council Vice-President; Synod Council Member-at-Large; Youth Representative, and affirm elected Conference Representative for the Twin Valleys, Tehachapi, Central Coast, San Gabriel Valley, Los Angeles Metropolitan, and South Bay Conferences.
The Assembly will also select members for the Endowment, Consultation, and Discipline Committees, as well as voting members for the 2022 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
Report of the Nominating Committee - UPDATED
Submitting Nominations from the Floor

Resolutions

Memorials and resolutions enable the Churchwide organization, congregations, conferences, and synod organizational units to address broad policy issues or issues important to God’s mission in the world. Memorials address broad policy issues; resolutions have a narrower focus, requesting consideration or action by individual offices or units, or the Church Council. The churchwide organization and synods of the ELCA use a process to bring forth memorials and resolutions.
Resolutions and Memorials may come from any institution, agency, synod ministry board, coalition, or congregation, and must bear the signatures of at least five people who are members of the Southwest California Synod. Resolutions not considered by the Synod Assembly will be referred to the Synod Council for consideration.
The following three resolutions, the lists of signers, and the accompanying descriptive information were all submitted electronically to the Reference and Counsel Committee in a timely manner through a number of different email messages.  The Reference and Counsel Committee ordered the submitted information for the 2021 Synod Assembly as presented here.
21-01 Resolution on Translation and Interpretation of Synodical Governance - PASSED
21-02 Resolution on Candidate Forms for Future Bishop Elections - PASSED
21-03 Resolution on Lutheran Retreats, Camps, and Conferences - PASSED
All 2021 Resolutions 
Submitting Resolutions and Memorials from the Floor
Past SWCA Synod Resolutions & Memorials 

Communications to Voting Members

May 28 - Access the Assembly Zoom and Voting Platform
May 24 - Getting Ready for Assembly!
May 12 - Pre-Assembly Gathering
Join Bishop Eaton at the Pre-Assembly Gathering and send your questions for her and for Interim Bishop Finck. 
April 20 - Candidates for Bishop
A message from the Assembly Chair, we learn about the Candidates for Bishop and the Nominations Process, and reveal our new assembly logo