Commission on Handbook

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

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.

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 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 K. Abegg (vice-chair)
  • Roger P. Carlisle
  • David K. Hawk
  • Ken R. Schurb (chairman)
  • David W. Totsky (secretary pro tempore)

Non-voting members:

  • John W. Sias (secretary)
  • Larry A. Peters
  • Felix Loc

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.




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Handbook background

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.”

The Commission on Handbook consults with the Commission on Constitutional Matters in the revision of the Handbook of the Synod following each national convention to bring it into harmony with convention actions.

2019 Handbook

The 2019 Handbook of the Synod (as approved by the Commission on Handbook, having consulted with the Commission on Constitutional Matters) has been published electronically, as of November 13, 2019, as the “November 2019” edition. As of the same date, print production and distribution are commencing.

The Handbook, with its growing index, is available in Adobe PDF and Microsoft Word versions. It is accompanied by an “update” edition, indicating all the changes made since the previously-released 2016 Handbook.

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.


Meeting Minutes

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

Upcoming regular meetings of the commission are as noted in the commission's minutes, typically at the end of each meeting. No meetings were held in 2020 due to COVID-19.


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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.

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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The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Inc., including Mission Central (in Mapleton, Iowa), is an IRS registered 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity.

A contribution designated (restricted) for a specific purpose, when accepted, will be used only to fund expenses related to that purpose. Occasionally, we may receive more in contributions for a particular purpose than can be wisely applied to it in the foreseeable future or the purpose may cease to be feasible. In these situations, the LCMS will make reasonable attempts to contact contributors to apply their contribution toward another aspect of ministry that aligns closely the contributor’s goals and values. If a contributor cannot be contacted, the LCMS will use the gift to meet a similar pressing need that most closely matches the contributor's original intent.

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