Voting members are elected by their congregation and gather at Synod Assembly to make decisions about the synod’s governance, finances, and mission. In the ELCA, voting members are just that—members of a body (the assembly) with the privilege of voice and vote. They are not ‘delegates’ or ‘representatives’ of their home congregation or community. Voting members read assembly materials before the assembly and engage in prayer, conversation and deliberation at the assembly, attentive to the movement of the Holy Spirit in its midst to make the best decisions possible. All voting members have voice and vote and can either be Clergy (Pastors and Deacons) or Voting Members. At least 60% of the assembly must be Lay Voting Members, and as nearly as possible, the assembly is evenly divided by gender.
- Rostered Ministers or Clergy refer to Pastors (Ministers of Word & Sacrament) and Deacons (Ministers of Word and Service) who are currently serving a congregation or work in a specialized ministry, those on leave from call, and retired pastors and deacons.
- Lay Voters are voters who are not pastors or deacons. This includes congregation members, seminary students and interns, Parish Ministry Associates, and lay church staff. The number of lay voters sent from a congregation is dependent on the congregation’s baptized membership. Lay voting members must be members of their congregation.
Generally speaking, all of those who serve as called or authorized pastoral leaders in congregations—including appointed PMAs, certain seminary candidates and clergy from Full Communion partner churches—are granted voice and vote at the assembly and are considered their congregation’s one “rostered minister.” They are not included in the congregation’s number of allocated lay voting members.