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RESOLUTION 1 - Amendment to Article V – Election of a Bishop

Resolved, That Article V of the Constitution be amended as follows:

Sec. 1.   Special Convention – Time and Place.

The election of a Bishop, Bishop Coadjutor, or Bishop Suffragan, or Bishop Provisional shall take place at a Special Convention called for the stated purpose by the Bishop, with the advice and consent of the Standing Committee, or by the Standing Committee if there be no Bishop. Such Convention shall be held at such time and place as the convener may appoint.

Sec. 2.   Notice of Meeting.

The convener shall send, or cause to be sent, written notice of the time, place and purpose of the special Convention for the election of a Bishop, Bishop Coadjutor, or Bishop Suffragan, or Bishop Provisional at least sixty (60) days before the day of said meeting to all persons entitled to such notice under Article III, Sec. 2.

Sec. 3.   Convention Procedure.

(a)          Clergy and Laity to shall Vote by Orders.

The election of a Bishop, whether Diocesan, Coadjutor, or Suffragan, or Provisional, shall be made in open Convention by the concurrent vote of the clergy and laity, voting separately by ballot, the clergy first and then laity; and a concurrent majority of those present and entitled to vote in each order shall be necessary for election.

(b)          Limitation of Action.

No business other than the election of a Bishop and other relevant business pertaining thereto or to the Episcopate shall be transacted at a special Convention for such election.

                (c)           A nomination from the floor of Convention shall not be permitted, provided that a                                        period of not less than seven (7) days has been allocated for a Nomination by Petition.

                (d)          A Nomination by Petition must be signed by at least fifteen (15) signatories including                                 seven (7) diocesan clergy and eight (8) lay communicants in good standing in this                                         Diocese. The Petition must also include valid signatures of clergy and communicants of                              the three Convocations of this Diocese.  Petition candidates shall meet all of the                                     requirements of the search for a Bishop and complete the same materials submitted                                              by other Search Committee candidates. This Petition shall be submitted in a timely                                                manner to the President of the Standing Committee.

 

Explanation

“Bishop Provisional” is added to Sections 1, 2, and 3(a).  Extensive background checks are now an integral part of the screening process for all candidates for the office of Bishop [see Title III, Canon 11, Section 3(a)].  It is not possible to do this prior to the election for any person who may be nominated from the floor.  Therefore, nominations from the floor of Convention are prohibited, provided that there is a process for “Nominations by Petition” (Section 3c) which is defined by Section 3d; this is virtually identical to a statement issued by the Standing Committee on March 22, 2016.

 

This is the second reading; a vote by Orders is required.  The Committee on Constitution and Canons recommends adoption.

RESOLUTION 2 - Article XIII -- Parishes – Separate Congregations -- Missions

Resolution 2

Article XIII  —  Parishes – Separate Congregations — Missions

Resolved, That Article XIII, Section 4, of the Constitution be amended as follows:

Sec. 4.   Concerning Parish By-Laws.

Each parish and separate congregation shall have authority to govern its internal affairs through By-Laws in accordance with the provisions of Maryland law. Parish By-Laws shall regulate the following aspects of parish operations:

(a)          membership in the parish or separate congregation;

(b)          the conduct of congregational meetings including the date, time and place of the meet­ing, the method of giving notice for the meeting, the numerical number of members required to form a quorum, the qualification of voters, the officers of the meeting, par­liamentary procedure, and the purpose of the meeting (provided that a congregational meeting must be held a minimum of once each year); the Rector, Associate Rector, Assistant Rector, Priest-in-Charge, Interim Minister, or Vicar (in that order) shall pre­side; in the absence of any clergy on the staff, the Senior Warden shall preside; in the absence of any clergy and the Senior Warden, the Junior Warden shall preside; in the absence of any clergy and both Wardens, those gathered for a congregational meeting shall elect a Presiding Officer.

(c)           the organization, role, and authority of the vestry;

(d)          the regulation of the vestry including the date, time and place of meetings, the method of giving notice of meetings, the number of members required to form a quorum, par­liamentary procedure, the purpose of the meetings, order of business, and officers (pro­vided that the vestry must meet a minimum of one time each year);

(e)          the qualifications, number, oath of office, term, powers, and duties of vestry members, provided, however, no person serve as a member of the Vestry for more than a total of 2 (two) consecutive terms without an intervening period of at least one (1) year between the end of the second term and the election to serve again on the Vestry;

(f)           the election, re-election, removal, replacement, and continuance in office of vestry members;

(g)          the election, re-election, removal, replacement, and continuance in office of the parish officers including the senior warden, junior warden, treasurer, registrar, and such other officers as the By-Laws may permit, provided, however, that no person serve in said office for more than 6 (six) consecutive years unless an extension is granted by the Bishop;

(h)          the qualifications, number, oath of office, term, powers, and duties of parish or congrega­tional officers including the senior warden, junior warden, treasurer, registrar, and such other officers as the By-Laws may permit;

(i)            the election, calling, removal, compensation, powers, duties, and obligations of the Rector and other clergy, provided the relevant By-Law provisions comply with the constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church and of this Diocese;

(j)           the control, reporting on, and regulation of property, assets, and investments; the Annual Parochial Report shall be approved by the Vestry prior to its submission.

(k)          prior to their adoption, all proposed By-Laws shall be reviewed by the Diocesan Committee on Constitution and Canons.

Explanation

Summary of proposed changes:

  1. a) specify an actual number required for a quorum and the Presiding Officer for congregational meetings
  2. b) require a term limit (no more than two consecutive terms) for Vestry members; after serving two

consecutive terms, a person may be elected again to the Vestry after one year

  1. c) require a term limit (no more than six consecutive years) for Parish Officers unless an extension is granted by the Bishop
  2. d) require (as per the General Convention Canons) that the Vestry formally approve the Annual Parochial Report

The By-Laws of almost all Parishes currently include term limits for Vestry members. This proposal simply extends that same principle to apply to Vestry Officers unless an extension is granted by the Bishop.  The purpose is to encourage current Vestry Officers to prepare and train others to serve the local church in these important ministries.  This is simply good stewardship of our human resources and incarnates the wisdom of total ministry.

This proposed amendment of Article XIII was originally presented to the 2017 Diocesan Convention. During the floor debate changes were proposed and adopted. It was then presented to the 2018 Convention as a second reading. Additional changes were proposed and adopted. Thus, what had initially been a second reading in 2018 became a first reading of Article XIII as amended in 2017 and 2018. It now comes before the 2019 Convention as a second reading.

 

This is the second reading; a vote by Orders is required.  The Committee on Constitution and Canons recommends adoption.

RESOLUTION 3 - Article XIII -- Parishes – Separate Congregations -- Missions

Purpose: to require four separate entities to recommend the closure of any Parish, Separate Congregation or Mission, require that adequate provisions be made for the perpetual care of any memorials, graves, and/or cemeteries which are part of or attached to a closed church, and simplify the process of closure.

Resolved, That Article XIII, Sec. 7 of the Constitution be amended as follows:

(c)           The ecclesiastical authority shall confirm that each parish, separate congregation and mission holds a monthly celebration of the Eucharist.

(d)          Sixty (60) days prior to the meeting of the Convention, the ecclesiastical authority shall deliver to the secretary of convention a report stating which parishes, separate congregations, and missions the ecclesiastical authority deems to be nonfunctioning. In addition, independent written reports from the Standing Committee, the Diocesan Council, and the Committee on Listening shall also be submitted to the Convention pertaining to the possible designation of a parish, separate congregation, or mission as nonfunctioning.  this report shall be updated on the first day of the meeting of convention.

(e)          During the annual meeting of the Convention, the Secretary shall lay before the Convention the four reports described in section 7(d). After due consideration of these reports, Convention shall accept, reject, or amend the reports as it deems appropriate.

(f)           Should Convention accept the ecclesiastical authority’s report that any parish, separate congregation, or mission is nonfunctioning, the convention will deal with the nonfunctioning body in one of the ways set forth below proceed as follows:

(i)            In the case of a nonfunctioning parish or separate congregation, the Convention shall remove the officers and vestry of the nonfunctioning parish or separate congregation, rescind the By-Laws of the nonfunctioning parish or separate congregation, and declare said parish or separate congregation to be closed; adopt new bylaws for the nonfunctioning parish providing for its governance by a three (3) member board of conservators, and elect a three (3) member board of conservators to dissolve the parish or separate congregation. Immediately upon its dissolution, the nonfunctioning parish or separate congregation shall become a mission.

(ii)           In the case of a nonfunctioning mission, the convention shall dissolve the mission and direct the ecclesiastical authority to transfer its property and other assets to an adjoining parishThe Convention shall appoint a Conservator nominated by the Bishop.  The Conservator shall close out the affairs of said parish or separate congregation, making adequate provisions for the perpetual care of any memorials, graves, and/or cemeteries.

(iii)          The Bishop, in consultation with the Conservator, shall transfer the property and other assets to an adjoining Parish, provided that the Vestry of said adjoining Parish agrees. If no adjoining parish agrees to accept the assets, the Bishop, with the advice and consent of the Standing Committee, shall sell the real property and transfer all assets to the Diocesan Fund for Church Initiatives.

(iv)         In the case of a nonfunctioning Mission, the Convention shall dissolve the Mission and authorize the Bishop, with the advice and consent of the Standing Committee, to transfer the Mission’s property and other assets to the Endowment Fund of the Diocese of Easton.

Explanation

The current process for closing a parish or separate congregation is complicated and convoluted, requiring action by two annual Conventions and an interim reclassification to a Diocesan Mission.  If adopted, this proposed amendment will shorten the process to require action by only one Convention. It further requires written reports from three additional entities: the Standing Committee, the Diocesan Council and the Committee on Listening (all three recommending closure).  It also requires that provisions be made for the adequate care of any memorials, graves, and/or cemeteries; there is no mention of this in the current text.  The provision for the transfer “of property and other assets [of the closed church] to an adjoining parish” requires further explanation.

Adjoining Parish – the Doctrine of Cy Près

In 1692, the Church of England, also known as the Anglican Church, became the established church of the Province of Maryland through an Act of the General Assembly.  Ten counties had been established in the colony, and those counties were divided into 30 parishes.  After the American Revolutionary War, those parishes became part of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, which split off the Episcopal Diocese of Easton in 1868 and the Episcopal Diocese of Washington in 1895.  Previous legislative acts, which defined the structure and legal standing of the Church of England but now had been succeeded by the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (PECUSA), were replaced by the Vestry Act of 1798.  It is here that we first encounter the doctrine of cy près as that concept has been and now is applied to ecclesiastical affairs.

Cy près is a legal doctrine that first arose in courts of equity.  This French term literally means “so near/close” and can be translated “as near as possible” or “as near as can be.”  The doctrine originated in the law of charitable trusts.  It appears in the Vestry Act of 1798 in the section pertaining to the disposal of the assets of an Episcopal Parish which had been closed.  The application of the doctrine of cy près mandated a transfer of the assets of a closed parish to an “adjoining parish.”  If Episcopal Church X closed, the next best use of those assets, i.e. a use as near as possible to their original purpose, was a transfer of those assets to an adjoining or nearby Episcopal Church, a church functioning in the same geographical area where, presumably, former members of the closed Parish would now worship.

When the Diocese of Easton came into being in 1868, the secular structure and powers of a Vestry were grandfathered in under the Vestry Act of 1798 as amended.  In March 1957 the Maryland legislature updated the Vestry Act by specifically adding the substance of Chapter 24 of the Vestry Act of 1798 (see Article 23, Section 288M), while at the same time building in more flexibility for Vestries to manage the secular affairs of the Episcopal Church.

In 1999 the Convention of the Diocese of Easton, on a second reading, formally petitioned the Maryland Legislature to remove this Diocese from the Vestry Act of 1798 as subsequently amended.  However, key provisions of the Vestry Act, including the legal doctrine of cy près, were preserved via an amendment to Article XIII to the Constitution of the Diocese of Easton.

Therefore, this provision for transferring the assets of a closed Parish or Separate Congregation to an adjoining Parish, originally stated in the Vestry Act of 1798 and subsequently and explicitly added to the Constitution of this Diocese, has been the policy of the Diocese of Easton for 151 years and remains unchanged in this proposed revision.  In the opinion of the Committee on Constitution and Canons, “adjoining Parish” means any Parish which is geographically contiguous to the closed entity.  In reality, “adjoining Parish” will mean whatever the Bishop at the time decides it means.  Because this is a transfer of property, and therefore there is no sale of any property, the Bishop alone, in consultation with the Conservator, is authorized under the proposed revision to implement the transfer.  (However, note that if a sale or real property becomes necessary, the advice and consent of the Standing Committee will be required.)  On the other hand, a Diocesan Mission is already owned by the Diocese; liquidating those assets will require a sale.  Therefore, the approval of the Bishop with the advice and consent of the Standing Committee will be required (see the General Convention Canons I.7.3 & II.6.2).

This proposed amendment was originally submitted to the Diocesan Convention in February 2016. After extensive discussion it was referred back to the Committee on Constitution and Canons for further work. Two years later the Committee submitted it again to the Convention in February 2018 for a first reading; the motion passed unanimously on a vote by Orders. This proposed amendment now comes before the Convention for a second reading.

This is the second reading; a vote by Orders is required.  The Committee on Constitution and Canons recommends adoption.

RESOLUTION 4A – Commitment to Respond to Climate Change

Submitted by St. Alban’s Parish, Salisbury

Resolved,that the 151st Convention of the Diocese of Easton recognizes climate change as a human-made threat to all God’s people, creatures and the entire created order, while particularly placing unjust and inequitable burdens and stresses on native peoples, people displaced by environmental change, people with few financial resources and people of color; and be it further

Resolved, That the Diocese of Easton will set an example, in the spirit of the Paris Climate Accord, by making intentional decisions about living lightly and gently on God’s good earth, for example, through energy conservation, renewable energy, sustainable food practices and gardening; and be it further

Resolved, That the Diocese of Easton urges its parishes, missions and individuals to join them in making intentional decisions to live lightly and gently on God’s earth.

Submitted by The Very Rev. Dr. Frieda Malcolm, on behalf of St. Alban’s Parish, Salisbury

Financial Impact: Minimal to considerable, depending on specific action taken.

Explanation:

General Convention 2018 passed resolution A018 ‘Episcopalians Participating in Paris Climate Agreement,’ which called on dioceses, communities of faith, and individual Episcopalians to acknowledge and respond with care to the reality of climate change. St. Alban’s Parish made the commitment to do so at its annual meeting on November 18, 2018.

RESOLUTION 4B - Care of Water

Submitted by St. Alban’s Parish, Salisbury

Resolved, That the 151st Convention of the Diocese of Easton urges its communities of faith and members to learn about the watersheds and aquifers in our region; and be it further

Resolved, That the Diocese of Easton commits to the phase out and eventually ban, by 2021 the sale or distribution of bottled water in Church-related facilities and at Church events except when local water supplies are deemed unsafe; and be it further

Resolved, That the Diocese of Easton promotes and advocates for publicly financed, owned, and operated safe water and wastewater infrastructure and services.

Submitted by The Very Rev. Dr. Frieda Malcolm, on behalf of St. Alban’s Parish, Salisbury

Financial Impact: Less than $1.00.

Explanation:

General Convention 2018 passed resolution B025 ‘Water as a Human Right,’ which called on Episcopalians to learn about our public waterways, water and wastewater infrastructures, and water usage, and to shift away from using bottled water unless necessary for safety reasons. St. Alban’s Parish made the commitment to do so at its annual meeting on November 18, 2018.

RESOLUTION 5 - Establishing Sagrada Familia de Jesus as a Mission Congregation (Revised 2/5/19)

Whereas Jesus has commissioned the Church to “therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”  (Matthew 28:16-20), and

Whereas in1997 Shrewsbury Parish Church in Kennedyville, MD and Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Sudlersville, MD began an outreach project to minister to Spanish-speaking migrant workers in the area, providing fellowship and worship at their places of employment, and

Whereas several years later the ministry moved its place of ministry to Shrewsbury Parish Church where it has continued since that time, and

Whereas in the past five years the worshipping community has grown and become more stable, worshipping at least twice a month, conducting occasional services (baptisms, weddings, quinceañeras), and having monthly fellowship dinners, and

Whereas the Diocese of Easton has encouraged this worshipping community to flourish and become a mission congregation within Shrewsbury Parish, and

Whereas Shrewsbury Parish Church Vestry resolved on March 19, 2018 to develop a Spanish-speaking mission congregation within its parish and allocated $5,000 toward this development, and

Whereas the Canons of the Episcopal Church (Title I, Canon 13, Section 2(b)) states:

“Until a Canon or other regulation of a Diocesan Convention shall have been adopted, the formation of new Parishes, or the establishment of new Parishes or Congregations within the limits of existing Parishes, shall be vested in the Bishop of the Diocese, acting by and with the advice and consent of the Standing Committee thereof, and, in the case of there being no Bishop, of the Ecclesiastical Authority,” and

Whereas the mission congregation has assumed the name, Sagrada Familia de Jesús (Holy Family of Jesus), and

Whereas on April 1, 2018 a liturgy was held where Bishop Santosh Marray commissioned the Rev. Dr. Thomas G. Sinnott as a non-stipendiary mission developer and Vicar (fundador de iglesia) of the Spanish-speaking community, a mission congregation of Shrewsbury Parish, and

Whereas the Sagrada Familia de Jesús under the direction of the bishop has organized a governance committee to organize and govern its functioning with the Reverend Thomas G. Sinnott serving as its non-stipendiary Vicar, and

Whereas the Vestry of Shrewsbury Parish Church and the governance committee of Sagrada Familia de Jesús desire to establish a new mission congregation within the Diocese of Easton at Shrewsbury Parish with Shrewsbury Parish Church’s continuing support and oversight, and

Whereas Shrewsbury Parish Church wishes to continue its historic support of this congregation development, and

Whereas the Vestry of Shrewsbury Parish Church is working with the diocese to seek mission congregation redevelopment funding from the Episcopal Church, USA’s Congregational Redevelopment Program, for its further development and funding, and

Whereas, under the provisions of Title I, Canon 13, Section 2(b), our Bishop has recommended to the Standing Committee and the Standing Committee has given its consent to the establishment of a new mission congregation within the Diocese of Easton at Shrewsbury Parish to be known as “Sagrada Familia de Jesus” now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That this 151st Convention of the Diocese enthusiastically endorses this decision by our Standing Committee and Bishop, and be it further

Resolved, That this Convention expresses its appreciation to the Rector and Vestry of Shrewsbury Parish Church for their twenty-two years of support for this missionary initiative, and be it further

Resolved that the Diocese of Easton continue the process of establishing Sagrada Familia de Jesús as a Mission Congregation within the Diocese pursuant to the referenced Canons, and in the spirit and tenets of new mission development advocated, supported and encouraged by the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society also known as the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America and the Diocese of Easton.

Resolution sponsored by…….. (Shrewsbury Parish)

Co-sponsored by………. (Standing Committee of the Diocese of Easton)

Financial impact: unknown at the present time.