PROPOSED CHANGE TO THE CANONS OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH
AAM’s Employment Task Force has been working all year on a text to amend the Church’s Canons. The good news is that it has now been proposed by Bishop Shannon Johnston and endorsed by Bishop Keith Whitmore and Bishop Neil Alexander. The text and rationale are below.
It has been assigned the number B006.
TITLE: Amend Canon 1.17
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That Canon 1.17: Of Regulations Respecting the Laity is hereby amended to include the following addition:
Sec. 9. Any Lay Person accepting employment within the Church in any capacity is entitled to a letter of agreement describing the duties and responsibilities of the position, including details of salary and any benefits. The letter will include provisions for an annual performance evaluation, procedures for the reconciliation of disagreements, and contain a clearly articulated dissolution clause. Employees are to be circumspect in their conduct avoiding any moral or pastoral conduct of a nature to bring material discredit upon the Church.
The proposed Canon is presented to support the ministry of Lay Employees. The duties and requirements for the ministries of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons are outlined in multiple Canons giving the requirements and duties of those in holy orders. No Canon is provided, however, outlining the duties and responsibilities of Lay Employees. Since these ministries vary and have specific requirements in different settings, their descriptions cannot be set by Canon. However, for clarity in these situations, a letter of agreement should outline the duties and responsibilities of a particular ministry, including details of salary and benefits, and a “clearly articulated dissolution clause,” as provided for assistant clergy in Canon III.9.3c.
It should also include provision for an annual performance evaluation and procedures for the reconciliation of disagreements, as recommended for both Clergy and Lay Employees in General Convention Resolution D084 of 1984. This proposed Canon would direct that Lay Employees have their duties and responsibilities set forth in a document that is signed by both Rector and Lay Employee. In this way, both parties have accountability to each other and to the church. This is the norm in other professions and should be no less so in the Church. Having letters of agreement for Lay Employees enshrined in Canon gives Clergy, Vestries, and Lay Employees recourse in the event that disputes arise.
Further talking points include:
- empowering Lay ministry in The Episcopal Church
- supporting four levels of Ministry in TEC
- and issues of fairness, justice, and equity
It can also be pointed out that, as of now, there is no wording at all about Lay employment in the Canons. This proposal seeks to rectify that.
GENERAL CONVENTION: JULY 2-13, 2018.