Revision of Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline
This church’s document Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline describes the grounds for which discipline may be imposed according to the practice of this church. Chapter 20 of the ELCA Constitution calls for this document, stating that “the Committee on Appeals shall establish definitions and guidelines, subject to approval by the Church Council, to enable clear and uniform application of the grounds for discipline of officers, rostered ministers, congregations, and members of congregations.” Its purpose is juridical: to assist in the processes of consultation, discipline and appeals. It does not set forth the high expectations this church has for all who participate in our life together.
It has been a number of years since Definitions and Guidelines was last substantively updated. The Committee on Appeals is conducting a review of this document with the intent to submit a revised version to the Church Council for approval in spring 2021. The committee is seeking input from across this church so the document can better provide clear and uniform application of the rules, protect people from harm and prevent impediments to the proclamation of the gospel.
Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline survey findings
In April 2020 the Committee on Appeals worked collaboratively with churchwide staff to design a research project to allow people across this church to provide feedback for a revision of Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline. An online survey was conducted across May and June, open to the entire church, alongside an invited sample of rostered ministers, bishops, synod vice presidents, and voting members of the 2019 Churchwide Assembly. A Spanish-language version of the survey was also made available. Efforts also were made to reach out to a number of constituencies within this church. A summary of the findings of this research can be found here. The Committee on Appeals will be using this information as part of their discernment in revising Definitions and Guidelines.