Commission on Handbook

The primary responsibility of the Commission on Handbook is to provide for the ongoing maintenance and management of the Handbook of the Synod, that is, its Constitution, Bylaws, and Articles of Incorporation.

2016 Handbook

  • Background Information
  • At its triennial conventions, the Synod endeavors to structure its walk and work together by adjusting its Constitution and Bylaws to enable it to carry out its mission statement most effectively:

    “In grateful response to God’s grace and empowered by the Holy Spirit through Word and Sacraments, the mission of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is vigorously to make known the love of Christ by word and deed within our churches, communities, and world.”

    While each triennial Handbook therefore contains some changes and adjustments, the 2010 convention adopted significant changes to the structure and governance of the Synod, resulting in equally significant changes to the Handbook. The following PDF files contain the handbooks of the Synod since the 2001 convention.

    The 2016 Handbook of the Synod (as finalized by the Board of Directors acting under Bylaw 7.1.2 and 2016 Res. 12-14) has been published electronically, as of May 23, 2017, as the “May 2017” edition. It includes a completely redesigned index, is available in Adobe PDF and Microsoft Word versions, and is accompanied by an “update” edition, indicating all the changes made since the 2013 Handbook.

    The print edition of the 2016 Handbook was delayed to accommodate the changes that have now been finalized; it is now underway. The electronic edition found here may be updated periodically as the Commission on Handbook incorporates minor corrections and other non-substantive changes as part of its responsibility for the ongoing maintenance and management of the Handbook.

    Please report suggestions for correction or improvement, particularly regarding the new index, to the Office of the Secretary.


Who We Are

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s Commission on Handbook (as per Bylaws 3.9.4– consists of five voting members. Three are individual members of the Synod (ordained or commissioned ministers) and two are attorneys.

The Secretary of the Synod, the Chief Administrative Officer of the Synod, and a voting member of the Commission on Constitutional Matters serve as non-voting members of the COH.

The voting members are appointed by the President of the Synod from nominees provided by district boards of directors and selected as candidates by the Council of Presidents. The President’s appointees are ratified by a majority vote of the Council of Presidents.

Voting members:

  • Heidi Abegg
  • David K. Hawk
  • Richard T. Nuffer
  • Dale L. Sattgast
  • David W. Totsky

Non-voting members:

  • John W. Sias
  • George J. Gude

What We Do

In order to maintain the integrity and good order of these documents, the commission assists convention floor committees when developing amendment proposals, revises the Handbook immediately after each convention (in consultation with the Commission on Constitutional Matters), and responds to requests from agencies of the Synod to propose new provisions to address specific Handbook-related issues that surface between conventions.

The commission also carries out assignments by conventions of the Synod relating to the Handbook and its content.

When We Meet

The Commission on Handbook meets at least two times a year, and it meets more often as necessary to carry out its responsibilities.


Major Documents

The Commission on Handbook consults with the Commission on Constitutional Matters in its revision of the Handbook of the Synod following each national convention to bring it into harmony with convention actions. The commission also maintains a complete file of former editions of the Handbook of the Synod so comparison can be made between current provisions and those preceding.

Other Documents

The COH regularly publishes its minutes on the Synod’s website in a timely manner following each meeting. These minutes contain proposed convention actions advocating amendments to the Constitution, Bylaws, and Articles of Incorporation of the Synod that the commission plans to submit to the next regular convention of the Synod.

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