Delegates work together at hybrid convention
Three hundred thirty voting delegates attended WELS’ 66th biennial convention. This included 156 lay delegates (118 virtual, 38 in person), 71 teachers/staff ministers (58 virtual, 13 in person), and 103 pastors (76 virtual, 27 in person). The chairman, secretary, and two lay delegates from each floor committee were invited to attend the convention in person. Others were then encouraged to attend online as virtual delegates.
The work of the convention delegates looked different for this convention than it did in the past. Because most delegates were not at Luther Preparatory School but attended virtually from home, much of the convention business was conducted before the convention.
Most floor committees met in June via Zoom to discuss the ministry that was assigned to them. During these meetings, members discussed the ministry and its corresponding report in the Book of Reports and Memorials, heard from representatives of that ministry so that questions could be answered when needed, and then crafted reports and resolutions for delegates to consider during the convention.
“I saw definite advantages to doing a lot of work ahead of time in our floor committees,” says Prof. Steven Pagels, who served as chairman of Floor Committee #10: Ministerial Education. “We were then able to make more efficient use of our time during the convention. The downside was not getting to know fellow committee members as well, but we did take time to introduce ourselves at our first meeting, which helped.”
Elections also took place before the convention began via online ballots. During the convention, online participants could vote via online voting on resolutions presented to delegates.
James Lake, a virtual delegate from Grace, Falls Church, Va., says that the technology he needed to participate worked well and notes, “Participation in the convention from a practical standpoint was pretty seamless. It was very interesting to learn more about how the business of the synod is carried out. I loved seeing the earnestness of the participants. Even though most voting seemed to be almost pro forma, it seemed more to be due to unity of purpose rather than any sort of complacency.”
To see all the reports and resolutions presented to the delegates during the convention as well as election results and other convention business, visit wels.net/2021synodconvention.