Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions

The constitution, bylaws, and continuing resolutions are closely related documents that define the rules for operating a congregation.


Constitutions of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America congregations must be based upon the Model Constitution[PDF Document] for Congregations provided by the ELCA. The constitution describes the broad purpose of the congregation, provides details for some procedures that involve the ELCA, and lays out guidelines for other local processes. The constitution (or any amendment) becomes effective only after review by the ELCA synod. Amendments to a congregation's constitution must be approved by a majority of voting members present at a congregation meeting, then be ratified by a 2/3 majority at the next annual meeting of the congregation.


The Bylaws provide more details of how the local congregation operates. If there is any difference between a provision in the bylaws and constitution, the constitution has precedence. Bylaws may be amended by a majority of those voting at a congregation meeting.

Continuing resolutions

Continuing resolutions provide even more detailed information on local church procedures. They can be adopted or changed by a 2/3 majority of voting members of the church council. Continuing resolutions must not conflict with the bylaws or constitution.

Bethel Lutheran Church has chosen to format the Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions as a single document. This allows us to quickly access related parts of all three documents. Even though all three documents appear together, they retain their separate rules for modification.

You may view the 2015 Constitution[PDF Document], adopted Aug 23, 2015 and ratified Oct 9, 2015.

Related Documents

  • Summary[PDF Document] of the Constitution changes ratified August 29, 2010
  • Changes[PDF Document] proposed to align Bethel’s constitution with the Aug 26, 2013 ELCA model, to be voted at the Oct 11 Congregational Meeting.
  • Summary[PDF Document] of the Constitution changes ratified November 3, 2013
  • Bylaw change[PDF Document] re Holy Communion approved August 23, 2015