Task force begins overhaul of diocesan constitution and canons

Task force begins overhaul of diocesan constitution and canons

As directed by the 30th Diocesan Convention, the diocesan Constitution and Canons Committee is taking the lead in a multi-year project designed to analyze and overhaul the constitution and canons for the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. The project will include a thorough review of the governing documents and practices from other dioceses, an ingathering of ideas and recommendations from individuals and groups across the diocese, and the eventual presentation of a proposed amended and restated constitution and canons for adoption by the diocesan convention.

The recent reorganization of our diocese and restatement of its vision and mission statement under new episcopal and lay leadership compels an analysis of our governing documents, specifically how they can better align with and reflect our shared values of transparency, participation, and accountability as we implement the mission and ministry of The Episcopal Church in this diocese.

Who will serve on the Overhaul Task Force?  You?

The task force invites participation from throughout the diocese. All members on the diocesan Constitution and Canons Committee will work on the overhaul project.  Chancellor Kathleen Wells will chair a task force dedicated to producing and recommending an amended and restated constitution and canons to the diocesan convention.  Kathleen is joined so far by C&C Committee members Jane McClain (Trinity FW), Bill Greenhill (All Saints’ FW), Connie Lefler (All Saints’ FW), David Madison (All Saints’ FW; All Saints Episcopal School); and Bob Hicks (St. Christopher FW; treasurer).

This core group will consult with liaisons to be designated from each of the major diocesan entities and organizations, including the Structures workgroup of the executive council, the standing committee, the corporation board, the endowment fund board, the finance committee, the commission on ministry, clergy groups, and other entities whose work is directly affected by the canons.

The task force proposes to meet monthly, likely in conjunction with the regular monthly meetings of the Constitution and Canons Committee at Trinity Episcopal Church, on the last Saturday of each month.

The task force invites others who are interested in joining this long-term project to contact Kathleen Wells at kathleen.wells@edfw.org .  Willing hands, minds, and hearts are needed and welcome, particularly those having experience in church governance and legal, legislative, or other technical writing and working successfully in a team. Each member will have “homework” in between monthly meetings, e.g., studying and reporting on other diocesan canons, drafting language for a proposed canon, and meeting with stakeholder groups regarding a particular proposed provision.  Members’ communication will continue by e-mail or telephone conference calls between meetings and possible use of the Google groups applications.  Regular attendance and engagement will be essential.

Diocesan-wide survey coming your way

An early key component of this project is actively to solicit and consider the suggestions and concerns offered by the Episcopalians across our own diocese.  Those who have been members of churches in other dioceses or our clergy who have served in other dioceses have a particularly valuable perspective to help us identify processes and structures that worked well—and those that did not.

So an initial goal is to distribute a survey seeking written responses to these basic questions:

  • What needs to be changed in, deleted from, or added to our diocesan constitution and canons?  [Cite specific articles or canons where possible.] Why?  What specific language or formatting change would you suggest we propose?
  • What provisions or processes do we need to be sure to keep?
  • What concepts or provisions has another diocese adopted in its constitution or canons that we need to consider?  Which diocese?  [Cite specific articles or canons where possible.]

Be thinking about your responses to the survey to be distributed in the next few weeks.

Reviewing C&Cs of other dioceses

In addition to getting local input, the entire Constitution and Canons Committee is currently reviewing the governing documents of the other 109 dioceses across the Church, with an eye toward harvesting ideas that might help us better live into our mission statement.  June 15 is the target for completion of that daunting project.

Schedule for this project

This project is expected to take at least three years to complete.  While ongoing demands of ongoing diocesan reorganization, reconciliation in all 55 congregations, and election of a bishop diocesan may impact the schedule, this is a working goal.

All meetings will be published on the diocesan calendar and will be open to any interested member of the diocese.  Periodic reports will be given to the diocesan convention, executive council, standing committee, deaneries, and individual churches who request a presentation, and periodic updates will be published on the website and in the Good News.

How to contact C&C

If you have questions, ideas or suggestions for this overhaul project or about the diocesan constitution and canons generally, please communicate with the committee at constitution-canons.committee@edfw.org  or contact its chairman, George Komechak.