It certainly feels like autumn has finally arrived! I love the cooler weather and the colorful foliage although I’m not so happy about what comes next! Let’s hope fall lasts for a loooong time! The cooler weather reminds me that our Diocesan Convention is right around the corner. Living in Hillsdale sometimes makes me feel isolated from others in our diocese so Convention, for me, is a happy time of reconnecting with good friends around the diocese. Convention is also the time to participate in some of the business of the diocese as we hold elections and discuss changes in the way we do things by means of resolutions. This year, proposed amendments to the Diocesan Canons found in the Report from the Committee on Constitutions and Canons seem to piggyback on one of the resolutions we are asked to consider from last summer’s General Convention. Here’s the one we passed in Austin last summer:
A145: Urging Adoption of Local Canons Relating to Episcopal Elections
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention urges each diocese and jurisdiction of The Episcopal Church, prior to the call for the election of its next bishop, to adopt policies and procedures that are consistent with the principles and values presented in the Diversity Section (Section III) of the Task Force on the Episcopacy’s Blue Book Report to the 79th General Convention, to foster diversity across the Church’s leadership, including its bishops; and be it further
Resolved, That the policies, procedures and best practices address the following subjects:
An outline of the procedure to be followed by the diocese in its search and election process beginning with the initial call for an election and ending with the ordination of the new bishop;
Identify specific actions to be taken to encourage a diverse applicant pool and follow a search and election process that reduces the likelihood of discrimination based on the criteria contained in Canon III.1.2
Ensure that the process is transparent throughout the entire search and election process;
Provide accountability for all involved in the search and election process;
Require, prior to nomination, the collection of pertinent data on candidates being considered for nomination using the most current means available for background checks, financial information, and interviews of all bishops and transition officers having knowledge of a person being considered for nomination; and be it further
Resolved, That the Office of Pastoral Development, assisted by the Task Force to Assist the Office of Pastoral Development, develop and provide to the dioceses examples of policies, procedures, and best practices that are consistent with fostering diversity.
I find it helpful to understand the motivation and explanation behind the resolutions presented so I found the original explanation
Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution requires that the “Bishop or the Bishop Coadjutor shall be chosen agreeably pursuant to rules prescribed by the Convention” of that diocese. This is consistent with the polity of the Church. While it is important that the listed issues be addressed by each electing diocese or jurisdiction, the convention of each diocese has the right to define the actions needed to be taken to address these issues. It is in the interest of the Church, however, that each diocese act prior to the call for an election is made by the incumbent bishop, so this Resolution calls each diocese’s attention to the need for action and leaves to the electing diocese the ability of each individual diocese to act.
Please remember that the explanation is only intended for background information and not part of the resolution.
As you all know, we have recently elected a new bishop for our diocese so you might be thinking that exploring this resolution now is a bit late; however, the proposed amendments from our Committee on Constitutions and Canons could bring some changes to the process that would be implemented by our diocese in the future and, therefore, important to consider. You can find the changes in the Report of the Committee on Constitutions and Canons, specifically pages 4 – 9. Because of the length of these changes, I won’t include them here but ask that you take the time to read them. I will share the rationale from their report:
Our canons currently include far more specificity around election committees, timelines and the details of notifications than is the norm across the Episcopal Church and the canons of other dioceses. Because the need for such elections are infrequent, the circumstances around each election and its timing unique, and the practical fact that the operations of the diocese evolve over time, it is recommended that our diocese significantly simplify our canons for such elections. These changes will allow greater flexibility to the Standing Committee in setting forth the timing and processes for the Election of a Bishop. As such:
Rows 118 – 120 authorizes the Standing Committee to create the election process.
The deletions for rows 121 – 189, eliminates the very detailed processes currently set forth.
After you have read the proposed changes, share your thoughts and opinions with your congregation’s delegates to the EDOMI Convention so they can properly represent your views when they vote. I imagine that those of you who attended your recent pre-convention deanery meetings discussed these changes there. I know we did.
I look forward to seeing you in Novi!
Let us pray –
Almighty and everliving God, source of all wisdom and
understanding, be present with those who take counsel
in the Diocese of Michigan for the renewal and mission
of your Church. Teach us in all things to seek first your honor
and glory. Guide us to perceive what is right, and grant us both
the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
~ The Rev. Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council