The Swedenborgian Church operates through a structure of congregational form of government that gives full autonomy to local churches and groups in the governance of their spiritual life. Individual churches and societies belong to regional associations of Swedenborgian churches. These associations belong to the larger church. The delegates from association attend the national convention to elect national officers and committee members, and vote for the adoption of resolutions and constitutional amendments. Both ministers and laypeople are eligible for all offices.
Over the past two years interested parties have helped to gather information for analyzing, revising, and collaborating on the proposed changes to the governance structure and working bodies of General Convention. These changes are based on: 1) recommendations from the 2016–2018 Structure Review Committee (SRC); 2) 2016–2017 surveys and interviews by the SRC; 3) recommendations from the 2017 Annual Convention General Council meetings and small-group gatherings; 4) the Fall 2017 joint meeting of General Council and Cabinet; 5) input from support units; and 6) a 2018 review by the Amendments Committee.
The proposed Constitution and Bylaw changes were printed in the March Messenger and were voted and approved at the 2018 Annual Convention at San Jose State University, to become effective immediately.
The previous five Support Units were consolidated into three Standing Committees to improve efficiency, coordination, and usefulness. The Standing Committees are: the Standing Committee of Education and Resources for Spiritual Community (four members, including one ordained minister, plus a member appointed by the Center for Swedenborgian Studies), The Standing Committee for Communication and Information (three to six members); the Standing Committee for Financial Accountability (six members, including two ordained ministers, plus the treasurer of General Convention as chair).
All serving members of the Support Units will be able to continue to serve on their respective Standing Committees until they have finished their term limits. The adjustments in numbers of members on Standing Committees will occur organically as members term off or choose to no longer serve. Members of each standing committee will be elected in the same process as used for support units with the same terms and term limits.
This change eliminates the Cabinet.
The Chair of the Council of Ministers (COM) will be an ex-officio member of the General Council, with vote.