Building the Continuum

Supporting Formation and Vocation in The Episcopal Church

Equipping the Baptized

Equipping the Baptized for Ministry in The Episcopal Churc

Resolution B013, passed by the 76th General Convention in 2009, urged the Standing Commission on Lifelong Christian Formation and Education to collaborate with the Baptismal Consultation of the Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission to “provide to the next General Convention educational resources for formation in Episcopal identity and rites to celebrate that identity, educational resources for training the baptized for leadership positions in the Church and rites for entering leadership positions, and any proposed revisions to the canons to conform them to the baptismal theology of the Book of Common Prayer.”

The Standing Commission’s mandate, as stated in Canon I.1.2(n)(14) is “to develop and recommend to the General Convention comprehensive and coordinated policies for children, youth, adults, and seniors for lifelong Christian formation.”  As such, the development of educational resources is beyond our purview.  What’s more, faithful and effective resources already exist, including Journey to Adulthood and others.  Therefore, our work on B013 with the Baptismal Consultation has focused on developing policy that strengthens formation for leadership.

The Standing Commission designated a Baptismal Theology Working Group to study B013, confer with the Baptismal Consultation, and develop resolutions for the 77th General Convention.  The Baptismal Theology Working Group reflected upon B013 throughout the triennium and in May 2011, members of the Baptismal Consultation met with the Standing Commission at Camp Allen, Texas.

Since first being convened by the Presiding Bishop in 2007, the work of the Baptismal Consultation has been to bring the Episcopal Church canons in line with the baptismal theology of the Book of Common Prayer.  During the past triennium, the Standing Commission adopted this work as its own.  The greatest variance between the canons and the Prayer Book’s baptismal theology lies in the occasional requirement of Confirmation to hold office in the Episcopal Church.

We recognize that education in the history, structure and governance of the Episcopal Church is necessary for leaders.  The resolutions that follow are designed to ensure that lay leaders are formed in Episcopal identity and to clarify that rather than being a prerequisite to holding office in the Church, Confirmation is a “mature public affirmation of faith and commitment to the responsibilities of…baptism” (BCP, 412) through which each confirmand is strengthened, empowered and sustained by the Holy Spirit (BCP, 418).

Though these resolutions have the overall consensus and support of the Standing Commission, one member offered a dissenting opinion, contending that, though Baptism marks full membership in the church, Confirmation is a commissioning rite and leadership in the church ought to continue to be grounded in it.

The Standing Commission began its work in the past triennium by focusing on canons pertaining to lay leadership in the Church.  The Commission believes that consultation with the Standing Commission on Ministry Development is necessary to address canons pertaining to ordination.  The proposed resolution would commend the Standing Commission on Lifelong Christian Formation and Education to complete its work in consultation with the Standing Commission on Ministry Development in the next triennium, to report back to the 78th General Convention in 2015.

Resolution A041  Amend Canon I.17

Resolved, the House of _______________ concurring, that Canon I.17 is hereby amended by adding a new section 8 to read as follows, and renumbering the subsequent subsection as section 9.

Sec. 8. Each congregation shall provide instruction in the history, structure and governance of The Episcopal Church and opportunities for lifelong faith formation as described in the Charter for Lifelong Christian Formation adopted by the 76th General Convention in 2009.

Sec. 9. Any person accepting any office in this Church shall well and faithfully perform the duties of that office in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of this Church and of the Diocese in which this office is being exercised. All such persons shall have completed instruction in the history, structure and governance of this Church and in the duties and responsibilities of their office.

Explanation

The 2009 General Convention adopted The Charter for Lifelong Christian Formation, which describes the many processes by which we live into our Baptismal Covenant. The explanation accompanying that resolution explained the vision underlying the Charter in this way: “We affirm that life-long Christian formation is foundational to the success of any church, and in the case of our own, is an integral part of the process by which we will rebuild The Episcopal Church. Our congregations will grow in numbers and health when they are supported by leaders – of all orders of ministry – who know their identity in Christ and are able to access their tradition for the purposes of proclaiming and living out the Gospel.”

These proposed amendments of the Canons underscore the importance of lifelong formation as spelled out in the Charter and address a further priority: that people in leadership positions in the Episcopal Church, such as members of a vestry, delegates to diocesan convention, and other appointive or elective positions, demonstrate adequate formation in Episcopal identity. It is important to form new members and those elected to leadership positions in Episcopal identity and governance, building upon the foundation of baptismal catechesis and life-long learning opportunities for all members.

The resolution does not prescribe a singular mode of instruction but rather affirms the rich and diverse contextual realities in the Episcopal Church and acknowledges that myriad resources for formation in Episcopal identity already exist at parish, diocesan and other levels.  In order to fulfill this requirement for instruction, parishes, dioceses and others are encouraged to collaborate and share resources.

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Resolution A042 Amend Canons I.1.1(b), Canon I.1.2(a), Canon I.25, Canon I.4.1(c), Canon I.4.3(d), Canon I.9.7, Canon III.4.1, Canon IV.17.3  

Resolved, the House of _________ concurring, the 77th General Convention affirm that the Book of Common Prayer teaches that Baptism is full initiation into Christ’s Body the Church and Confirmation is an occasion for those baptized at an early age “to make a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism.” (BCP 412); and be it further

Resolved, that the baptismal theology of the Book of Common Prayer understands Baptism and not Confirmation to be the sacramental prerequisite for leadership in The Episcopal Church; and be it further

Resolved, that Canon I.1.1(b), Canon I.1.2(a), Canon I.2.5, Canon 1.4.1(c), Canon I.4.3(d), Canon I.9.7, Canon III.4.1, and Canon IV.17.3 be amended to read as follows:

Canon I.1.1(b)

(b) There shall be a President and Vice-President of the House of Deputies, who shall perform the duties normally appropriate to their respective offices or specified in these Canons. They shall be elected not later than the seventh day of each regular meeting of the General Convention in the manner herein set forth. The House of Deputies shall elect from its membership, by a majority of ballots, a President and Vice-President, who shall be of different orders. Such officers shall take office at the adjournment of the regular meeting at which they are elected, and shall continue in office until the adjournment of the following regular meeting of the General Convention. They shall remain ex officio members of the House during their term of office. No person elected President or Vice-President shall be eligible for more that three consecutive terms in each respective office. In case of resignation, death, absence, or inability, of the President, the Vice-President shall perform the duties of the office until a new President is elected. The President shall be authorized to appoint an Advisory Council for consultation and advice in the performance of the duties of the office. The President may also appoint a Chancellor to the President, a confirmed an adult communicant of the Church in good standing who is learned in both ecclesiastical and secular law, to serve so long as the President may desire, as counselor in matters relating to the discharge of the responsibilities of that office.

Canon I.1.2(a)

(a) The Canon shall specify the duties of each such Commission. Standing Commissions shall be composed of three (3) Bishops, three (3) Priests and/or Deacons of this Church and six (6) Lay Persons, who shall be confirmed adult communicants of this Church in good standing. Priests, Deacons and Lay persons are not required to be members of the House of Deputies.

Canon I.2.5

Sec. 5. The Presiding Bishop may appoint, as Chancellor to the Presiding Bishop, a confirmed an adult communicant of the Church in good standing who is learned in both ecclesiastical and secular law, to serve so long as the Presiding Bishop may desire, as counselor in matters relating to the office and the discharge of the responsibilities of that office.

Canon I.4.1(c)

(c) The Executive Council shall be composed (a) of twenty members elected by the General Convention, of whom four shall be Bishops, four shall be Presbyters or Deacons, and twelve shall be Lay Persons who are confirmed adult communicants in good standing(two Bishops, two Presbyters or Deacons, and six Lay Persons to be elected by each subsequent regular meeting of the General Convention); (b) of eighteen members elected by the Provincial Synods; (c) of the following ex officiis members: the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies; and (d) the Vice-President, the Secretary, and the Treasurer of the Executive Council, who shall have seat and voice but no vote. Each Province shall be entitled to be represented by one Bishop or Presbyter or Deacon canonically resident in a Diocese which is a constituent member of the Province and by one Lay Person who is a confirmed adult communicant in good standing of a Diocese which is a constituent member of the Province, and the terms of the representatives of each Province shall be so rotated that two persons shall not be simultaneously elected for equal terms.

Canon I.4.3(d)

(d) The Presiding Bishop shall appoint, with the advice and consent of a majority of the Executive Council, an executive director, who shall be an adult confirmed communicant in good standing or a member of the clergy of this Church in good standing who shall be the chief operating officer and who shall serve at the pleasure of the Presiding Bishop and be accountable to the Presiding Bishop. If a vacancy should occur in the office of the executive director, a successor shall be appointed in like manner.

Canon I.9.7

Sec. 7. Each Diocese and Area Mission within the Province shall be entitled to representation in the Provincial House of Deputies by Presbyters or Deacons canonically resident in the Diocese or Area Mission, and Lay Persons, confirmed adult communicants of this Church in good standing but not necessarily domiciled in the Diocese or Area Mission, in such number as the Provincial Synod, by Ordinance, may provide. Each Diocese and Area Mission shall determine the manner in which its Deputies shall be chosen.

Canon III.4.1

Sec. 1 (a) A confirmed communicant in good standing or, in extraordinary circumstances, subject to guidelines established by the Bishop, a communicant in good standing, may be licensed by the Ecclesiastical Authority to serve as Pastoral Leader, Worship Leader, Preacher, Eucharistic Minister, Eucharistic Visitor, Evangelist, or Catechist. Requirements and guidelines for the selection, training, continuing education, and deployment of such persons, and the duration of licenses shall be established by the Bishop in consultation with the Commission on Ministry.

Canon IV.17.3

Sec. 3. The Disciplinary Board for Bishops is hereby established as a court of the Church to have original jurisdiction over matters of discipline of Bishops, to hear Bishops’ appeals from imposition of restriction on ministry or placement on Administrative Leave and to determine venue issues as provided in Canon IV.19.5. The Disciplinary Board for Bishops shall consist of ten Bishops elected at any regularly scheduled meeting of the House of Bishops, and four Priests or Deacons and four lay persons initially appointed by the President of the House of Deputies with the advice and consent of the lay and clergy members of the Executive Council and thereafter elected by the House of Deputies. All lay persons appointed to serve shall be confirmed adult communicants in good standing. Members of the Board shall serve staggered terms of six years, with terms of one half of the Bishops and one half of the lay persons, Priests and Deacons collectively expiring every three years, with the first expirations occurring at the end of the year 2012.

Explanation

These amendments bring the canons into conformity with the baptismal theology of the Book of Common Prayer, which teaches that “Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church” (BCP p. 299). They will extend to all members of the Episcopal Church opportunities for serving as appointed or elected leaders. The amendments will equip members of the Episcopal Church with the knowledge and understanding to lead effectively.  Amending these canons clarifies that rather than being a prerequisite to holding office in the Church, Confirmation is a “mature public affirmation of faith and commitment to the responsibilities of…baptism” (BCP, 412) through which each confirmand is strengthened, empowered and sustained by the Holy Spirit (BCP, 418).  The canons will continue to require individuals holding office to be “communicants in good standing,” which is defined by canons I.17.2(a) and I.17.3 as “those who have received Communion three times in the previous year,” and “have been faithful in corporate worship unless for good cause prevented and have been faithful in working, praying, and giving for the spread of the kingdom of God.”

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Resolution A043  Amend Constitution Article I, Section 4

Resolved, the House of ______________ concurring that Article I.4 of the Constitution of The Episcopal Church is hereby amended to read as follows:

Sec. 4 The Church in each Diocese which has been admitted to union with the General Convention, each area Mission established as provided by Article VI, and the Convocation of the American Churches in Europe, shall be entitled to representation in the House of Deputies by not more than four ordained persons, Presbyters or Deacons, canonically resident in the Diocese and not more than four Lay Persons, confirmed adult communicants of this Church, in good standing in the Diocese but not necessarily domiciled in the Diocese; but the General Convention by Canon may reduce the representation to not fewer than two Deputies in each order. Each Diocese, and the Convocation of the American Churches in Europe, shall prescribe the manner in which its Deputies shall be chosen.

Explanation

This amendment brings the constitution into conformity with the baptismal theology of the Book of Common Prayer, which teaches that “Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church” (BCP p. 299).  It will extend to all members of The Episcopal Church the opportunity to serve as deputies to General Convention. These amendments will equip members of The Episcopal Church with the knowledge and understanding to lead effectively. Amending the constitution restores Confirmation to its rightful place as a “mature public affirmation of faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their baptism” (BCP p. 412).  The constitution will continue to require individuals serving as deputies for General Convention to be “communicants in good standing,” which is defined by canons I.17.2(a) and I.17.3 as “those who have received Communion three times in the previous year, and “have been faithful in corporate worship unless for good cause prevented and have been faithful in working, praying, and giving for the spread of the kingdom of God.”

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Resolution A044  Review Confirmation Requirements in Title III

Resolved, the House of __________ concurring, that the 77th General Convention direct the Standing Commission on Lifelong Christian Formation and Education and the Standing Commission on Ministry Development to review the requirement for Confirmation in the Title III Canons on the ordination of deacons and priests and consider any revisions to the canons needed to conform them to the baptismal theology of the Book of Common Prayer.

Resolved, that this review will include consultation with other provinces of the Anglican Communion and full communion partners such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Moravian Church; and be it further

Resolved, that the standing commissions are to report their findings to the 78th General Convention in 2015.

Explanation

Resolution B013 adopted by the 76th General Convention in 2009 directed the Standing Commission on Lifelong Christian Formation and Education to bring to the 77th General convention “any proposed revisions to the canons to conform them to the baptismal theology of the Book of Common Prayer.”  The Standing Commission began its work in the past triennium by focusing on canons pertaining to lay leadership in the Church.  The Commission believes that consultation with the Standing Commission on Ministry Development and others noted in the resolution above is necessary to address canons pertaining to ordination.  This resolution permits the Standing Commission on Lifelong Christian Formation and Education to complete its work in consultation with the Standing Commission on Ministry Development in the next triennium and to report back to the 78th General Convention in 2015.

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Resolution A045  Express Gratitude to the Consultation on Baptismal Theology

Resolved, the 77th General Convention express its gratitude and appreciation to the Consultation on Baptismal Theology, first convened jointly by the Presiding Bishop and the Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission in October 2007, for its work, study, and prayer on the baptismal theology of the Book of Common Prayer, which has greatly supported and informed the work of the Standing Commission on Lifelong Christian Formation and Education this past triennium.

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