Canons of The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut

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.

Canon II: Parochial Registers and Reports +

Section 1. Every Minister of this Church shall keep a register of all the baptisms, marriages and funerals solemnized by the said minister, specifying the names of the parties married, of those baptized, and of their sponsors, and of the persons buried, and the time when each rite was performed. If the Minister be in charge of a Parish, such minister shall make these entries in the Parish Register, and shall also enter therein the names of persons confirmed, and shall keep in the said Register a list of the Communicants and a list of the families belonging to the Parish; which Register, in case of the Minister’s departure from the Parish, shall be deposited with one of the Wardens; and in such case, the Wardens shall cause all necessary entries to be made in the Register until clergy shall be again in charge of the Parish.

Section 2. The Parochial Report for the year ending December 31st shall be sent each year in duplicate to the Bishop Diocesan, or, if there be no Bishop Diocesan, to the Secretary of the Diocese, in the form prescribed by the Canons of the General Convention.
Section 3. All clergy, not serving in a Parish or Worshiping Community, shall report the occasional services performed; and if that minister has performed no such services, the causes or reasons which have prevented the same. As the Bishops direct, these reports may be given to Convention or entered in the Journal of Convention.

Section 4. At every visitation it shall be the duty of the Minister of the Parish or Worshiping Community, or of some other officer to submit the Parish Register to the visiting Bishop for inspection, and to give information on the state of the Congregation, spiritual and temporal, under such headings as shall have been previously signified to them in writing by the Bishop. The offering taken in any Parish or Worshiping Community at the time of any visitation shall be given to whatever recipient the Bishop shall designate.

Canon III: Clerical Settlement and Removal +

Section 1. When the position of Rector becomes vacant, the Wardens or, in their absence, representatives of the Vestry shall promptly notify the Ecclesiastical Authority of this fact. The lay leadership of the Parish shall work with Diocesan leadership to engage in a clergy transition process pursuant to Diocesan policies, provided that the Parish is contributing at least 10% of total operating revenues to the Budget of Convention and has submitted its Parochial Reports and annual financial audit or review, and to enter into a letter of agreement with any priest to be employed as Rector or Priest-in-Charge and the Ecclesiastical Authority.

Section 2. When the position of Assistant becomes vacant, the Rector, Priest-in-Charge, or the Wardens shall promptly notify the Ecclesiastical Authority of that fact. The position of Assistant may be filled by the Rector or Priest-in-Charge with the advice and consent of the Vestry, provided that the Parish is contributing at least 10% of total operating revenues to the Budget of Convention and has submitted its Parochial Reports and annual financial audit or review. The Ecclesiastical Authority shall be provided no less than 30 days advance notice of the name of the priest that the Rector or Priest-in-Charge proposed to hire as Assistant, so that the Ecclesiastical Authority may communicate with the Rector or Priest-in-Charge and the Vestry regarding the candidate. Parishes hiring an Assistant shall enter into a letter of agreement between the Rector or Priest-in-Charge, the Vestry, and the Assistant, subject to the approval of the Ecclesiastical Authority.

Section 3. When the position of ordained leadership of a Worshiping Community becomes vacant, the Vice-Chair or other representative of the Council of Advice shall notify the Ecclesiastical Authority of that fact. The Ecclesiastical Authority shall appoint ordained leadership in accordance with Canon V.

Section 4. On the election of a Rector or the selection of an Assistant, in accordance with these Canons, the Vestry shall communicate, within five days thereafter, to the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese, notice of such election or selection signed by the persons certifying thereto in such of the following forms as shall be appropriate.

In the case of the election of a Rector the notice shall be in form as, follows:

We, the Church Wardens, do certify to the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese of Connecticut that [NAME] was, at a duly called Parish or Vestry meeting on [DATE], elected Rector of [PARISH NAME].

In the case of the election of an Assistant Minister the notice shall be in form as follows:

We, the Rector or Priest-in-Charge and Church Wardens, do certify to the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese of Connecticut that [NAME] was, at a meeting of the Vestry held on [DATE], approved as Assistant Minister of [PARISH NAME].

Section 5. No Member of the Clergy Canonically resident in the Diocese or licensed to officiate in the Diocese shall accept a position with a Parish or accept a position in which the Member of the Clergy will regularly exercise the gifts and spiritual authority as a Minister of God’s Word and Sacraments without having obtained the written permission of the Ecclesiastical Authority.