Constitution Update 2024

New Bethany Lutheran Church Constitution

Over the last few months, you may have heard during announcements that there was a group of people reviewing the Bethany church Constitution. We wanted to provide you with the latest updates as well as the next steps.

What is a Church Constitution?

A church’s Constitution plays an important role as the broader body of mutually agreed upon principles and purposeful structure that govern the affairs and action of the church. It reflects 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 neighbors with good news, and share the love of God in the world. It is also the common governing shared model across all our ELCA congregations.

A church’s By-laws are a more specific description of the governance and operational activities of the church. More of a day-to-day operation view of how we accomplish the overall ELCA mission.

A church’s Constitution—unlike its Bylaws—should be difficult to amend, requiring much thought, deliberation, and prayer. These changes generally occur at the ELCA churchwide assemblies, which occur every three years.

Our By-laws will be reviewed, updated, and presented to the congregation for approval in a few months after the Constitution is approved.

Reason for Updating Bethany’s Constitution

Our current Constitution was last updated in 2014 and three churchwide assemblies have been held since the last update. Bethany is behind in these updates and we needed to get back in line with the ELCA overall.

The Process for Changing Bethany’s Constitution

Pastor Lucy, Mark Hansen, Judy Zobal and Larry Thome were asked to work through the process for getting the Bethany Constitution updated. We started the review process in late August and after reviewing the latest version of the ELCA Constitution, we determined that it was best to use the latest version as our starting point since the Bethany Constitution was nine years behind in changes.

We compared the Bethany Constitution with the latest ECLA version and highlighted the changes and areas we needed to adjust. We also engaged the La Crosse Synod Constitution representative, Pastor Denny Hallemeier (one of our past Supply Pastors) to guide us through the process.

We created the new version of Bethany’s Constitution, received approval from the Synod, and presented to the Bethany Council at the December Council meeting. After their review, they approved moving forward to present to the congregation at the annual meeting on January 21 st for a vote of approval.

Congregational Review Prior to the Annual Meeting

The new Bethany Constitution is 30 pages long with 20 chapters. The Constitution is available to view by clicking the link below. There will also be paper copies available in the narthex if anyone would like one.

A summary document that outlines the changes that have been made is available (see below link). This document directs you to specific changes as you read through the Proposed Constitution. The majority of the Constitution (16 of the 20 chapters) is required from the ELCA, and there is nothing that can be changed in those sections. We will identify where there are wording changes as well as any governing changes that have been made.

 Link to Full Proposed Constitution


Summary of Changes

For those interested in seeking additional information, there will also be also be two meetings, one on January 7th and another on January 14th after service during fellowship time to review these changes.

Thank you,

Constitution Review Committee

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