Convention: Visitation Circuit Forum

77th Convention of the LCMS Southern District and the Southern District Church Extension Fund

Romans 10:15 – And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

What Happens During the Visitation Circuit Forum?

      • Your circuit visitor will announce a date and agenda for a meeting of your visitation circuit to select a circuit visitor. This selection will be ratified as an election by the upcoming district convention, which reserves the right to amend the slate of circuit visitors selected by the circuit forums (Synod Bylaw 5.2.2).
      • The circuit may also (Synod Bylaw 5.3.1) engage in study together; review how the circuit, district, and Synod are serving for and on behalf of the congregations; or take up other business, like adopting an overture to the upcoming district convention (Synod Bylaw 5.3.5). Every circuit is encouraged to send an overture to its district with suggestions for development of the Synod’s triennial priorities and goals (Synod Bylaw 5.3.4).
      • Read on below, for actions your congregation can take in advance to participate in the circuit forum.
      • Deadlines for current circuit visitors (related to scheduling the circuit forum and reporting the 2025-2028 circuit visitor selection) appear at the bottom of this page.

Representation at the Visitation Circuit Forum

      • The visitation circuit forum consists of one called-and-installed pastor and one layperson from each member congregation or multi-congregation parish, as designated by the congregation or parish (Synod Bylaw 5.3.2).
      • If your congregation or parish has more than one called and installed pastor, the congregation or parish must also determine which pastor will represent it. Unless your congregation or parish has authorized another official way to do this, a voters meeting should make these decisions in advance of the upcoming circuit forum. The selected representatives should be able to demonstrate to the circuit visitor that they have been selected by the congregation as its official representatives to the forum.
      • If your congregation is part of a multi-congregation parish, the parish should have an agreed-upon means of selecting its circuit delegates from among its called-and-installed pastor(s) and lay membership. If your congregation is not the congregation sending the parish’s voting lay delegate, it may send an advisory lay delegate, with voice but no vote.

Nomination of Circuit Visitor

      • This will require official action by your voters assembly (or other governing body authorized by the congregation to conduct such business on its behalf) prior to the circuit forum.
      • Synod Bylaw 5.2.1 speaks of a circuit visitor as the principal officer of the circuit. His considerable duties are further described in Bylaws 5.2.3– According to Bylaws 4.3.1 and 5.2.2 (d), pastors on the clergy roster of the district who are either actively serving congregations or having emeritus status are eligible for nomination. Specific ministry pastors (SMP) are not eligible to serve in this capacity (Synod Bylaw 2.13.1 [b][4]).
      • The bylaws leave open the possibility of nominating active or emeriti pastors from outside your congregation’s circuit (but not outside your congregation’s district). Note that pertinent [biographical] information regarding each pastor should be available for presentation at the circuit forum (Synod Bylaw 5.2.2 [d] [1]). Nominations and the related biographical info must be submitted to the circuit visitor prior to the day of the circuit forum.
      • The district president is also able to suggest nominees, which can be included on the ballot by a vote, prior to the election, of the assembled circuit forum. A circuit visitor faced with a lack of congregational nominations at the time his circuit gathers may well request such a suggestion from the district president to allow the forum to proceed with the selection of a visitor.

Overture Submission Through Circuit

      • How well are the Synod’s present triennial mission and mission priorities serving for and on behalf of your congregation? The circuit forum provides an opportunity for your congregation to voice its opinion regarding mission and ministry areas where the Synod should concentrate efforts.
      • The present mission and ministry emphasis, established in 2019, is “Making Disciples for Life,” with its seven associated priorities (2019 Res. 4-03A, 2019 Proceedings, pp. 134–35). Your congregation has this opportunity for input.
      • According to Synod Bylaw 4.2.1 (b): “The district convention is the instrument to receive overtures (Bylaw, including overtures and recommendations for synodwide mission and ministry emphases submitted by member congregations and adopted by a circuit forum.”
      • “The district convention shall, through delegate vote, forward to the national convention a list of two or three triennial mission and ministry emphases for consideration by the national convention” (Synod Bylaw 4.2.1 [d]). The emphases adopted by the Synod convention provide primary focus for the Synod’s mission offices and foster specific goals to support ministry at the congregational level (Synod Bylaw [a]).
      • A report of the Synod Boards for National and International Mission is made available in advance of each round of district conventions to provide background for this work (Synod Bylaws,
      • Does your congregation have other ideas for work that needs to be done, teaching or practice that needs to be strengthened in the Synod, problems that need to be confronted, opportunities to be met, or structural changes that need to be made? Your congregation may suggest any action it considers helpful to the district or Synod by submitting an overture, a request for the convention’s action in the form of a proposed resolution, stating its rationale and the course of action to suggested for the district or Synod to resolve upon.
      • It is always helpful to give your circuit visitor advance notice of any overture your congregation’s delegates might be bringing to the forum so that other congregations’ delegates can be prepared to discuss it.

Deadlines Related to the Visitation Circuit Forum and Overtures

      • The visitation circuit forum must be held no later than October 24, 2024.

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Missouri Synod

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