Committee seeks comments on proposed canons

Committee seeks comments on proposed canons

The 2012 Diocesan Convention directed the Committee on Constitution and Canons to undertake a multi-year project designed to analyze and overhaul the Constitution and Canons for the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. The committee reviewed governing documents and practices from other dioceses and gathered ideas and recommendations from individuals and groups across the diocese. Based on this information, the committee presented and the 2014 Diocesan Convention approved an amended and restated constitution and several amended canons.

Since then, the committee has continued its work and is ready to present the Amended and Restated Canons to accompany the approved Constitution for the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth at the 2015 Convention November 13-14 at the Botanical Garden Center in Fort Worth.

Purpose of Overhaul Project

  • Remove or clarify ambiguous, confusing or inconsistent provisions in the documents
  • Produce a document that is easier to understand and navigate
  • Consider structures and processes that better reflect and promote our shared values of:
    • (a) Inclusion
    • (b) Shared partnership and leadership by laity and clergy
    • (c) Transparency, participation, and accountability
  • Provide flexibility to:
    • (a)  Adjust as needed to the new directions, opportunities, and challenges that our continuing ministry may take us
    • (b)  Encourage us to try new effective ways of being the Church in this diocese
    • (c)  Remove artificial barriers that keep us from being accountable and flexible
    • (d)  Permit us to do this work with nimbleness, efficiency, and responsiveness to meet the needs that the Holy Spirit is calling us to address in this place.

Work to Date

The work of the committee to date includes:

  • The formation of a subcommittee for the Overhaul Project consisting of representatives from the laity and clergy, and diocesan chancellor that met weekly.
  • The review and outline of constitutions and canons of 100+ other dioceses in and of the Church, with particular emphasis on similar sized dioceses, nearby dioceses, and dioceses reflecting best practices.
  • The distribution of a diocesan-wide survey seeking comments and suggestions on changes to consider;
  • The attendance at deanery, Executive Council, Standing Committee, Corporation, and clergy meetings since 2012 seeking comments, suggestions on changes to consider; sought input from stakeholders.

General Plan

The committee adopted a general plan that included a leaner constitution, the moving of as many details to canons and entity bylaws as possible, with the goal of being more nimble and flexible to accommodate rapidly changing realities, and incorporate more transparency, participation, accountability. They also drafted an amended and restated constitution for review and comment; the first reading of the amended and restated constitution was approved at the 2014 Convention.

Review and Comments

Beginning now and for the next several months, the committee seeks comments on the working draft of the proposed amended and restated canons. The schedule contains two review cycles plus presentation and discussion at the pre-Convention deanery meetings. The committee is scheduled to meet with vestries and adult forums, as requested. A special feature is the use of an online form for seeking and responding to reviewers’ comments. 

Summary of Canon Changes

The Summary shows a short name for the change, the old and new canon reference and a description of the change. Some of the proposed changes include using of ASA to determine the number of delegates; adding new category of convention members; eliminating the nominating ballot; clarifying the definition of quorum; electing Executive Council members at-large at Convention; and defining the minimum standards to be a Parish, Mission, or Mission Station. 

Working Draft of Proposed Amended and Restated Canons

The working draft is is presented in accordance with resolution passed at 2012 Convention and is offered as the first step in the process of Diocesan review of proposed rewritten Canons for the Diocese. The proposed Canons are in compliance with the rewritten Constitution passed by first vote at the 2014 Convention. 

Diocesan Review

As you read over the summary of changes and the proposed Canons, we invite you to submit your responses/comments to the committee for consideration and further revision. Your comments are important. The response page includes all relevant documents, along with a response form and instructions on how to respond.

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