Canon I: The Organization and Conduct of Parishes, and of Their Members and Officers

Canon I: The Organization and Conduct of Parishes, and of Their Members and Officers

Section 1. A) Parishes may be constituted by the Bishop Diocesan, with the advice and consent of the Standing Committee on the written application of not less than ten baptized adult persons. If the application seeks to form a new Parish in any town or city wherein a Parish or Parishes already exist, the Bishop Diocesan shall notify the Rector or Priest-in-Charge and Vestry or Council of Advice of each such Parish or Worshiping Community of such application.

B) The site of any existing Church or Chapel shall not be changed by any Parish or Worshiping Community without the approval of the Bishop Diocesan, acting with the advice and consent of the Standing Committee. The Bishop Diocesan shall notify the Rector or Priest-in-Charge and Vestry or Council of Advice of any other Parish or Worshiping Community considered affected by the proposed change.

Section 2. When permission to form a new Parish has been granted, the Standing Committee shall transmit to the applicants with the certificate of permission (1) a form of organizing the Parish, (2) a form of recording the action of the first meeting of such Parish, and (3) a form of application for admission into union with the Convention of the Diocese of Connecticut. The act of organization, executed in accordance with form (1), shall be entered in full upon the records of the Parish, and attested by the Clerk as the original act, or a true copy thereof, as the case may be. The three forms above named shall be in substance as follows:


A) We the subscribers, baptized persons in the state of Connecticut, do hereby unite to form and do hereby form ourselves and our successors into an Ecclesiastical Society under the Constitution and Laws of said state and under the Constitution and Canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Connecticut, for the purpose of supporting the Worship of Almighty God according to the Doctrine, Discipline and Liturgy of said Church in these United States, said Society to be known in law as [PARISH NAME] in [TOWN], in [COUNTY] and the State of Connecticut.

In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands this _ day of ____ A.D. 2___.

B) At a legal meeting of [PARISH NAME], in the [TOWN] held on the [DATE], [CLERK NAME] was duly elected and sworn in as the Parish Clerk; and [WARDEN NAMES] were elected Church Wardens, and [VESTRY NAMES]. as members of the Vestry of said Parish for the ensuing year.
At the same time it was resolved that this Parish apply to be admitted into union with the Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Connecticut, and that [AGENT NAMES] be chosen Agents of the Parish to ask for such admission; and if the application be granted, then and there to represent this Parish in the said Convention as its delegates to Annual Convention.

C) To the Annual Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Connecticut: The subscriber respectfully shows that said subscriber has been appointed Agent and Delegate for the purposes specified in the following extracts from the minutes of the [PARISH NAME], in [TOWN], to wit:

At the lawful meeting of [PARISH NAME], in [TOWN], State of Connecticut, held on [DATE], it was resolved that this Parish apply to be admitted into union with the Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Connecticut, and that [NAMES] be chosen agents of this Parish to ask for such admission; and if the application be granted, then and there to represent the Parish in the Annual Convention as its Delegates.

Extract from the minutes, Attest, [NAME], Parish Clerk.

And now in the pursuance of said agency, the subscriber submits to the Convention an attested copy of the act of organization of said Parish, taken from the record of their proceedings; and applies in the name and behalf of said [PARISH NAME], this in [TOWN NAME], that it be admitted into union with the Convention.

Dated at [CONVENTION LOCATION], on the [DATE].
Signed, [AGENT NAMES], Agents and Delegates.


Section 3. The Convention shall consider such application for admission into union with it at its next meeting or at such time as it deems appropriate.

Section 4. A) All persons who have received the Sacrament of Holy Baptism with water in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, whether in this Church or in another Christian Church, and whose Baptism has been duly recorded in this Church are members thereof. Members sixteen years of age and over are to be considered adult members. All members of this Church who have received Holy Communion in this Church at least three times during the preceding year are to be considered communicants of the Church.

B) It is expected that all adult members of this Church, after appropriate instructions, will have made a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism and will have been confirmed or received by a bishop of this Church or by a bishop of a Church in communion with this Church.

C) Any adult member of the Church, registered as such in any Parish, shall become an adult member of such Parish, provided that no person may be a member of more than one Parish or Worshiping Community in the Diocese at any time. The requirements of this shall be deemed to be met by any adult member by having been registered in the Parish register of said Parish, or by having been confirmed or received by a bishop in communion with this Church in the Parish, or by having been transferred to the Parish upon presentation of the certificate required by the Canons of the General Convention in the manner prescribed by these Diocesan Canons.

Section 5. Any person who has become and is a member of any Parish shall remain so until the relationship is terminated by death or by written notice of withdrawal. Members of the Parish entitled to vote at any Parish meeting are those adult communicants who, for at least six months prior to that meeting have been faithful attendants at the services of the Church in the Parish, unless for good cause prevented, faithful contributors to its support, and faithful in working, praying, and giving for the spread of the Kingdom of God; these facts to be determined in each case by the Vestry in accordance with the provisions of these Canons.

Section 6. A) The officers of a Parish shall be a Rector or Priest-in-Charge, a Vestry composed of two Wardens and such number of other members of the Vestry as the Parish shall determine, a Clerk and a Treasurer, who may be members of the Vestry; and the Rector or Priest-in-Charge shall be Chair ex officio of the Vestry, and the Rector or Priest-in-Charge, or such other member designated by the Rector or Priest-in-Charge, shall preside at all meetings of the Vestry. Only Adult Members of the Parish may serve as Warden or as a member of the Vestry.

B) The members of the Vestry, the Clerk and the Treasurer must be communicants in good standing and shall be elected at the annual Parish meeting from the members of the Parish who are eligible to vote in accordance with these Canons. The Wardens must be communicants in good standing and shall be elected at the annual Parish meeting from members of the Parish so eligible to vote; Vestry terms shall be for three years or as defined by Parish bylaws. Any vacancy in the office of the Warden or on the Vestry during the course of the year may be filled at a special Parish meeting or the Vestry may appoint an individual to fulfill the unexpired term until the next annual meeting.

C) The term of any Warden, member of the Vestry or Parish officer except the Rector or Priest-in-Charge may be terminated at any time by vote of the annual Parish meeting or of any special Parish meeting called for the purpose, provided that notice of such proposed action is included in the call of such meeting and notice is given simultaneously to the person affected thereby, and that such person be given due opportunity to be heard at such a meeting. A vacancy occurring as a result of such action may be filled by election at the same or subsequent Parish meeting.

Section 7. A) The Parish Clerk shall be Clerk of the Vestry ex officio; shall be sworn to the faithful discharge of the Clerk’s duties; shall make and preserve a full record of the proceedings of all Parish meetings and of the meetings of the Vestry; shall, under the supervision of the Vestry, keep an accurate roll of the members of the Parish and of those entitled to vote, and have such roll present at every Parish meeting; and shall be custodian of the files, records and archives of the Parish.

B) The Vestry of each Parish shall from time to time, and always within one month preceding the annual parish meeting, revise the roll of members of the Parish and of those entitled to vote at Parish meetings, in accordance with the provisions of these Canons, and such roll shall be presented by the Vestry to the annual Parish meeting, and when adopted by said meeting shall be the roll of that meeting.

Section 8. Subject to Canon IV, Section 3, the property and all business affairs of the Parish shall be subject to the direction, management, and control of the Vestry; except that the disposition of the real estate of the Parish and the borrowing or lending of money shall not be within the control of the Vestry, unless granted by special vote of the Parish.

Section 9. A) Each Parish shall hold an annual meeting of the Adult Communicants in good standing entitled to vote on a date set by the Vestry to elect Wardens, members of the Vestry, Clerk, Treasurer, and lay delegates to Annual Convention, and to transact such other business as may legally come before such meeting. Special Parish meetings shall be called by vote of the Vestry, or upon the written request of 10% of the voting members of the Parish. All Parish meetings may be conducted in person or by any means of audio or visual systems by which all participants may simultaneously communicate with each other during the meeting. An individual participating in a Parish meeting by means of audio or visual systems that permit simultaneous communication with the other participants shall be deemed to be present at the meeting.

B) The notice of all Parish meetings shall be signed by the Clerk, or in the absence of the Clerk, by one of the Wardens, and shall be communicated by the Clerk to every member of the Parish, at least one week before the time of the meeting. The notice of all Parish meetings, except the annual meeting, shall contain a statement of the objects for which the meeting is called; and at all meetings the Rector or Priest-in-Charge of the Parish, if present, shall preside. All Vestry meetings may be conducted in person or by any means of audio or visual systems by which all participants may simultaneously communicate with each other during the meeting. An individual participating in a Vestry meeting by means of audio or visual systems that permit simultaneous communication with the other participants shall be deemed to be present at the meeting.

Section 10. Every Parish is responsible to live within a system of support and accountability that links its life and ministry with that of the Bishops and with those of other Parishes in the Diocese, including the contribution of ten percent (10%) of its total operating revenues to the Budget of Convention.

Section 11. A) Diocesan leadership shall make available to the Parishes of our Diocese a system of support and accountability to encourage and enable the development of their life and ministry. Specific provisions shall be made to assist parishes unable to meet financial obligations. Such assistance may be in the form of financial subsidy included in the Budget of Convention, pastoral intervention or regional co-operative ministry teams that will work with Parishes whose contributions to the Budget of Convention fall below 10% of the Parish’s total operating revenues. Such Parishes shall work with Diocesan leadership within a system of accountability and support in close relationship with the Bishops’ Office with special emphasis on the development of their life and ministry.

B) If a Parish’s or Worshiping Community’s cumulative draw for operations on its endowment(s) over a three-year period exceeds twenty-five percent (25%) of the average net asset value of its endowment(s) during the withdrawal period, or if a Parish fails to contribute 10% of its total operating revenues to the Budget of Convention for two consecutive fiscal years, the Bishops may, with the advice and consent of the Standing Committee and upon the recommendation of the Mission Council, (i) require that the Parish or Worshiping Community place its entire endowment(s) in a fund to be managed for its sole benefit in the Donations & Bequests for Church Purposes investment program, from which withdrawals would be limited to a sustainable disbursement rate, and/or (ii) declare the Parish or Worshiping Community to be unsustainable.

C) Where, in the judgment of the Bishops, any such Parish shall fail to fulfill the obligations set forth in these Canons, the Bishops may, with the advice and consent of the Standing Committee and upon the recommendation of the Mission Council, terminate the existence of any such Parish after due notification of such intent at least six (6) months prior to such termination. Such notification shall also set forth the right of such Parish to appear before the Standing Committee and Mission Council prior to termination.

Section 12. Any Parish desiring to terminate or to suspend its parochial organization, may do so by vote of two-thirds of the adult communicants in good standing entitled to vote present at a Parish meeting legally warned for that purpose, with the approval of and under such conditions as shall be required by the Bishop Diocesan and Standing Committee provided that such conditions shall include the valid transfer by the Parish to the Diocese of Connecticut of all right, title and interest of such Parish to all property, real and personal, theretofore owned or controlled by it, and the valid and effective succession of the Diocese to all fiduciary rights and obligations of such Parish.

Section 13. Two or more Parishes may merge into a single Parish with the approval of, and in such manner and under such conditions as shall be required by the Bishops and Standing Committee and ratified by the Annual Convention. The resulting parish shall be a single ecclesiastical corporation possessing all of the rights, privileges, immunities, franchises and obligations of each of the merging Parishes, and all the rights and interests in property belonging to or due to each of the parishes so merged shall be vested in such resulting Parish without further act or deed.

Section 14. Parishes contributing at least 10% of total operating revenues to the Budget of Convention will be eligible to seek grants and loans from the resources of the Diocese. All Parishes receiving financial aid, grants, or loans shall make such financial and progress reports as may be required by the Mission Council or the Bishop.