Permit Dioceses to Explore Shared Ministry and Collaboration

We propose canonical changes to allow dioceses to explore mutual ministries together. Specifically, we suggest that dioceses may wish to share a Commission on Ministry. They may also wish to share a bishop, which is currently not possible due to the requirement that a bishop must live within the diocese she or he serves. Dioceses, as long as they are exist as corporate entities, would continue to be required to maintain Standing Committees and Finance Committees. Current Title IV disciplinary measures already allow shared structures among dioceses.

D007: Permit Dioceses to Explore Shared Ministry and Collaboration

Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, the 78th General Convention wishes to provide flexibility so that Dioceses may explore opportunities for shared ministry and collaboration; and be it further

Resolved That Canon III.2.1 and Canon III.12.4(a) are amended as follows:

Canon III.2.1

In each Diocese there shall be a Commission on Ministry (“Commission”) consisting of Priests, Deacons, if any, and Lay Persons. The Canons of each Diocese shall provide for the number of members, terms of office, and manner of selection to the Commission. Any Diocese may agree in writing with one or more other Dioceses to share a Commission on Ministry.

Canon III.12.4(a)

Each Bishop serving in a Diocese shall reside in that Diocese, except that a Standing Committee may consent to a Bishop residing in another Diocese where that Bishop is also serving.

5 Comments

  1. The Rev. Curt Norman

    Greetings from the Diocese of Fort Worth. If I’m understanding the proposed changes here correctly, I believe it may be redundant, given what takes place in Northwestern Pennsylvania and Bethlehem, and what’s about to take place in Fort Worth and Northwest Texas. Thus, I’m not sure the premise for calling for such a change is correct. But I would be interested in hearing more about this proposal, specifically as it relates to episcopacy. From my current vantage point, it seems such flexibility is allowed in the following Canon:

    CANON 13: Of Dioceses without Bishops
    Sec. 1. A Diocese without a Bishop may, by an act of its Convention, and in consultation with the Presiding Bishop, be
    placed under the provisional charge and authority of a Bishop of another Diocese or of a resigned Bishop, who shall by that act be authorized to exercise all the duties and offices of the Bishop of the Diocese until a Bishop is elected and ordained for that Diocese or until the act of the Convention is revoked.
    Sec. 2. Any Bishop may, on the invitation of the Convention or of the Standing Committee of any Diocese where there is no Bishop, visit and exercise episcopal offices in that Diocese or any part of it. This invitation may include a letter of agreement, shall be for a stated period and may be revoked at any time.
    Sec. 3. A Diocese, while under the provisional charge of a Bishop, shall not invite any other Bishop to visit and exercise episcopal acts or authority without the consent of the Bishop in charge.

    Thank you.

    Curt

    Reply
    1. Adam Trambley

      Curt,
      Thanks for your comment. In the first canonical change, we are trying to make it easier for Dioceses to work together in different ways, specifically here through a common Commission on Ministry. As formation moves more away from traditional residential seminaries, this could be very helpful. As for as your specific question about sharing bishops, obviously the canon you cite makes things like the collaboration between Northwestern Pennsylvania and Bethlehem possible. At the same time, the residency requirement as it currently stands could be a hindrance, depending on circumstances and canonical interpretation. Some might argue it only allows provisional bishops only if a bishop has a home in both places, which, depending on diocesan geography, may not be practically necessary. We thought it best to clean up the canons and allow for additional exploration of ministry between dioceses with a common bishop in the future, including ministry beyond that of a provisional bishop coming in from another diocese. We don’t have a clear vision of what that might entail, but we want dioceses to have more opportunities to think creatively going forward.

      Reply
      1. The Rev. Curt Norman

        Thank you, Adam. I understand where you’re coming from now.

        Reply
  2. Andrew Gerns

    I believe that it possible for a provisional bishop to maintain a residency outside of the diocese that she or he is serving. But if two dioceses should chose to elect the same person to be the Diocesan Bishop of both dioceses, which is in fact possible under current canons (think back to Bishop Seabury….), then the residency issue would be stickier. This change would address that.

    Reply
    1. The Rev. Curt Norman

      Thank you, Andrew. The possibility of the scenario you mention crossed my mind while reading this particular post. As I replied above, I see what’s meant by the proposed language. Thanks again.

      Reply

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