As I was walking back to the dorm after dinner, I could almost smell spring in the air! I know many of us had quite a snowstorm last week but, thankfully, our weekend brought warmer temps, bright blue skies and the promise of spring to come. And did anyone else notice the beautiful night sky with the moon and Venus shining down on us? Just lovely!
Now, to the mission of this blog… This week’s blog post is brought to you by the Rev. Anthony Estes of the Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council:
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Shannon Johnston, Bishop of Virginia, proposed Resolution B006: Encourage Letters of Agreement in Hiring Processes.
B006 Amend Canon I.17: Encourage Letters of Agreement in Hiring Processes
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That every diocese and ministry organization, in recognition of the guidelines included in The Manual of Business Methods in Church Affairs, be requested to include a letter of agreement as part of a transparent hiring process for any church employee. Such letter of agreement may describe the duties and responsibilities of the position, including details about salary and benefits. The letter may also include provisions for an annual performance evaluation, procedures for the reconciliation of disagreements, and articulate policies concerning dissolution.
This amendment pertains to “Regulations Respecting the Laity” found in the Canons of the Episcopal Church. Bishop Johnston explained that though there are canons that outline the duties and requirements of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, there were no such canons for Lay Employees. B006 is policy bringing hiring practices in The Episcopal Church in line with other professions. Bishop Johnston’s explanation included with the resolution explained:
Since these ministries vary and have specific requirements in different settings, their descriptions cannot be set by Canon. However, for clarity in these situations, a letter of agreement should outline the duties and responsibilities of a particular ministry, including details of salary and benefits, and a “clearly articulated dissolution clause,” as provided for assistant clergy in Canon III.9.3c.
It should also include provision for an annual performance evaluation and procedures for the reconciliation of disagreements, as recommended for both Clergy and Lay Employees in General Convention Resolution D084 of 1984. This proposed Canon would direct that Lay Employees have their duties and responsibilities set forth in a document that is signed by both Rector and Lay Employee. In this way, both parties have accountability to each other and to the church. This is the norm in other professions and should be no less so in the Church. Having letters of agreement for Lay Employees enshrined in Canon gives Clergy, Vestries, and Lay Employees recourse in the event that disputes arise.
What are we charged to do to be in compliance with this resolution?
Our diocese and our congregations and other ministry organizations are asked to provide letters of agreement with employees as part of the hiring process.
Let us pray –
O God, look with favor upon us and those whom we employ to help us carry out the business of you Church. Grant that they we may perform our duties with joy and steadfast devotion; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
(adapted from Recognition of Ministries in the Church and the World in the 2018 Edition of the Book of Occasional Services)