Each of this church's expressions - congregations, synods, and the churchwide organization—has a constitution. These documents describe the purpose and function of each expression, and each constitution includes specific language that guides the work of that expression. Because these documents are so important to the work of the church, it is essential that constitutions are updated regularly.


The ELCA Churchwide expression releases new synod and congregational model constitutions every three years as approved by the Churchwide Assembly. Changes to the constitution are called “amendments.” Amendments to any synod constitution are approved by the synod assembly. Amendments to any congregation constitution are approved by the congregation at its regular meeting.


It is recommended that ELCA congregations and synods review the adopted amendments for their constitutions as soon as possible after each Churchwide Assembly to incorporate the required changes and to consider the recommended changes.

Updating Congregational Constitutions

There are many steps to the process of updating a congregational constitution. This is to ensure that the review process is thorough. The final document should reflect the needs of the church and the will of the people. Here is the general outline of the process:

  • Congregational Draft.
    • A congregation forms a constitution review task force.
    • This group looks at the current model from the ELCA, the working draft of the congregation, resources from the synod website, and any significant changes the congregation desires.
    • Working from the current model constitution and incorporating suggested bylaws and continuing resolutions, the task force creates a draft of the constitution.
    • The congregational council approves this draft.
  • Synod Review.
    • The working draft of the congregational constitution is emailed to Pastor Julie Monnard, jmonnard@nisynod.org.
    • Pastor Julie reviews the constitution and passes it along to the NIS Constitution Review Committee.
    • A member of this committee makes a thorough review of the constitution, ensuring that the constitution incorporates the current model constitution language and that all other changes are in line with current standards.
    • Any suggested or required changes are shared with the congregation’s task force by the NIS Constitution Review Committee chair, Ms. Denise Norman.
    • Conversation between the congregation task force and the synod Constitution Review Committee continues until a draft is formed that both groups approve.
  • Final Approvals. Once the draft of the constitution is approved by the synod Constitution Review Committee and the congregational constitution task force, then it needs to be approved in this order:
    • Congregational Council
    • Synod Council
    • Congregational Meeting (1st Vote – simple majority)
    • Congregational Meeting (2nd Vote – 2/3 vote)
    • Final draft is submitted to the synod for record keeping. Email the final version to Pastor Julie Monnard, jmonnard@nisynod.org.
  • Usually, the constitution is approved at two successive annual meetings, so it takes over a year before the constitution is the official legal document of the congregation. The constitution can be approved at a specially called congregational meeting, though.
  • The constitution is not legally binding until it is ratified by the congregation AND submitted to the synod office.

Congregation Constitutions and Resources

Synod Constitution

The 2023 constitution was adopted as amended at the 2023 Northern Illinois Synod Assembly.

Please feel free to contact Assistant to the Bishop, the Rev. Julie Monnard at 309-794-4004 with any questions you may have regarding the constitution.

Updating the Synod Constitution

Like congregational constitutions, there are many steps involved in creating and approving changes to the synod constitution.

  • Synod staff, committees, and individuals may recommend changes to the synod constitution. Informal suggestions can be emailed to Rev. Julie Monnard, jmonnard@nisynod.org.
  • The Northern Illinois Synod Constitution Review Committee crafts specific language for amendments that address the suggested changes.
  • The constitution amendments approved by the Constitution Review Committee are brought before the Synod Council at a regular meeting to be approved.
  • These amendments are then shared publicly via email and on the synod website. Any amendments not approved by Churchwide Assembly must be published at least six months ahead of Synod Assembly.
  • At the next Northern Illinois Synod Assembly, the constitution amendments are brought forward for approval. Amendments coming from Synod Council only need one assembly vote. Any amendments brought to the floor without Synod Council approval need to be voted on at two successive assemblies.

ELCA Churchwide

Constitution Bylaws and Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) – Click the “Governance and Policy” tab.