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Proposed Canonical Changes

In January 2021, Bishop Logue requested Diocesan Council create a task group to review the existing canons for any needed or recommended changes. The task group worked from March 2021 till September 2021 and submitted the proposed changes to the Committee on Constitution and Canons. This is a very rare opportunity to take a comprehensive look at the structure of governance to help us clean up, organize, and revitalize our mission.

That package of changes was passed on a first reading in November 2022 with two amendments. A third amendment was referred back to the task group for consideration.

Proposed Constitution and Canons (Second reading)

The Constitution and Canons approved on a first reading is online here.

Proposed amendment to canon for electing a bishop

When the Diocese meets in convention next week, a major item of business is the second reading on the package of changes to the Diocese of Georgia’s Constitution and Canons passed by the 2021 convention. We will also receive a proposed amendment to Canon I.1.8, which describes the process for electing a bishop. We will discuss this in detail at convention, but wanted to provide an explanation ahead of time, to assist with preparations for voting. 

Last year, this amendment was referred by the convention back to the task group of diocesan council that made the proposed changes to the Constitution and Canons. That group reviewed the amendment (found below) and endorsed its adoption by convention. The Committee on Constitution and Canons then considered the amendment and deciding to recommend that the convention not adopt the amendment. That Committee asked Bishop Logue to charge the Standing Committee with creating the Policy Manual described in both the diocesan canons as they were passed by the last convention and the amendment. The idea being that with that manual in hand, the convention would be in a better position to decide whether any further amendments are needed to the canons.  

Below are Canon I.1.8 if this convention takes no action and then the proposed amendment with the new sections underlined to show the proposed changes. 

Canon I.1.8  

Sec. 8. The Election of a Bishop. When there is a vacancy in the office of Bishop, by death or otherwise, the Standing Committee shall meet within ten days and take such order as in its judgment the best interests of the Diocese require. From time to time, the Standing Committee shall publish a policy and procedure for the Election of a Bishop in the Policy Manual consistent with Article III.7 of the Constitution. Immediately following the election of a Bishop, the voting delegates of the Convention shall proceed to sign the Canonical Testimonial. 

Proposed amendment to Canon I.1.8  

Canon I.1.8 The Election of a Bishop shall be amended to read: 

Sec. 8. The Election of a Bishop. When there is a vacancy in the office of bishop, by death or otherwise, the Standing Committee shall meet within ten days and take such order as in its judgment the best interests of the Diocese require. The Standing Committee shall have oversight and responsibility for the election of a bishop. The election of a bishop shall be made in an annual meeting of the Convention, or in a special meeting of the Convention called for that purpose. If such a special meeting of Convention is called, at least ninety (90) days’ notice shall be sent to all Lay and Clerical Delegates to the most recent Annual Convention as well as to each congregation of the Diocese. The election shall be a vote by orders. Provided that two-thirds of Clerical and Lay Delegates are present, a concurrence of a majority of both orders present and voting shall be necessary to elect; otherwise, a concurrence of two-thirds of both orders present and voting shall be necessary to elect. From time to time, the Standing Committee shall publish a policy and procedure for the Election of a Bishop in the Policy Manual consistent with Article III.7 of the Constitution and this Canon, provided that notice of such policy and procedure is given to all Lay and Clerical Delegates at least ninety (90) days in advance of the election. Immediately following the election of a bishop, the voting delegates of the Convention shall proceed to sign the Canonical Testimonial.  

 

Explanation of the proposed amendment provided by those who submitted it 

The proposed amendment makes four specific changes: 

  1. Enumerated power of episcopal election oversight: The Standing Committee shall have oversight and responsibility for the election of a bishop.  
    1. Proposed revised canons do not explicitly state that Standing Committee has this power. 
    2. Enumerating simply makes explicit what is implied.  
  2. Advance notice requirement to publicize a special electing convention: If such a special meeting of Convention is called, at least ninety (90) days’ notice shall be sent to all Lay and Clerical Delegates to the most recent Annual Convention as well as to each congregation of the Diocese.  
    1. Proposed revised canons do not have any requirement around notice being given in the event of a special electing convention.  
    2. This amendment would require 90 days’ notice being given to delegates of any special electing convention. 
    3. Having a minimum bar for notice helps to ensure participation of all who would like to take part 
  3. Higher voting bar for episcopal elections: Provided that two-thirds of Clerical and Lay Delegates are present, a concurrence of a majority of both orders present and voting shall be necessary to elect; otherwise, a concurrence of two-thirds of both orders present and voting shall be necessary to elect.  
    1. Proposed revised canons require a simple majority of delegates from a simple majority of congregations to establish quorum, plus a simple majority of those present to elect. (In theory, could elect a bishop with 26% of total voting delegates.) 
    2. For a decision as weighty as electing a bishop, it would seem beneficial to ensure higher degree of buy-in from the Diocese as a whole. 
    3. If 2/3 of delegates present, simple majority elects. If less than 2/3 of delegates are present, 2/3 of vote by each order would be necessary to elect. 
    4. For 67% participation of delegates in convention or greater, no change in policy. Only affects if 51- 66% of delegates are present. 
  4. Advance notice requirement for episcopal elections policies: …provided that notice of such policy and procedure is given to all Lay and Clerical Delegates at least ninety (90) days in advance of the election. 
    1. Proposed revised canons only state that the Standing Committee will publish a policy and procedure for the election of a bishop “from time to time”. 
    2. Nothing prevents such a policy from being established as late as, say, the day of election. 
    3. This amendment would require 90 days’ notice of methods of elections 
    4. Still allows for flexibility in administering elections, but requires that delegates have some idea in advance of the conditions of election.