Amendments to the Constitution and Canons


Strikethough words are sections to be omitted. Bold words are sections to be added.

C-1    Amend Article I of the Constitution (first reading) 

Order, Government and Discipline.

The order, government and discipline of the Diocese of Virginia, formerly and otherwise known as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia, shall be vested in the Bishop, and in the Convention of the Diocese, constituted as provided in Article III hereof, which shall have power to adopt Canons, and take any other action for the conduct of its affairs not in conflict with this Constitution.

Submitted by:
J.P. Causey Jr., Chancellor

Rationale:  This amendment effectively conforms the name of the Diocese of Virginia to the name of The Episcopal Church and the terminology of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.  Debate at General Convention about expunging the word “Protestant” from the name of The Episcopal Church had persisted for 90 years before the 1967 General Convention amended the preamble to the Constitution to say that the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America is “… otherwise known as The Episcopal Church (which name is hereby recognized as also designating the Church)…”  (White & Dykman’s Annotated Constitution and Canons notes that this issue “had a longer life in [General] Convention discussions than any other in the history of the Church.”)  Similar changes were also made in the 1979 Book of Prayer and the Declaration of Conformity.

This amendment also conforms Article I to the Preamble of the Constitution which refers to the Diocese of Virginia. The supplemental reference in the proposed amendment to the “Protestant Episcopal Church” is retained to reference the continuity of the organization.  

C-2    Proposed Amendment to Diocesan Canon 7, Section 1

  • (to read C-2a, click here)

On October 8, 2020, the diocesan Executive Board voted unanimously to propose to the diocesan Annual Convention the addition of a new sub-section (c) – which appears in bold, below – to section 1 of diocesan Canon 7: 

The Executive Board.   

Section 1. The Executive Board shall be composed as follows:   

(a)  One member elected by each Regional Council or in the absence of the member, an alternate member elected by each Regional Council.   
(b) The Bishop, the Bishop Coadjutor if there be one, and the Suffragan Bishops if there be such. 
(c)  No more than three at-large members (whether lay or clerical) appointed by the Bishop for a one-year term, with the option of reappointment for each at-large member for no more than two additional one-year terms. 

While our diocesan canons provide that the elected members of the diocesan Executive Board represent geographical diversity within our diocese (as each of our diocese’s geographical regions is presented) and provide for a basically even balance between laity and clergy among these members, yet there are other important kinds of diversity that are not always represented, including diversity of race, ethnicity, cultural background, gender, age, parish size, skillsets, professional expertise, work status (full-time/part-time/retired), and so forth.  As the Executive Board has compared our own diocesan canons with some canons from other dioceses regarding their governing bodies, we found that a number of other diocesan executive boards (by whatever title) allow for their bishops to make some appointments to their groups.  The Executive Board believes there is some wisdom in allowing our bishop to make a small number of appointments that could take into account various kinds of diversity. 

The proposed addition is fairly clear in its scope and flexible in its implementation.  This addition would permit the bishop to appoint up to three more members to the Executive Board, each for a one-year term but with the option to extend each appointment for up to two more years.  As each new year of the Executive Board’s service begins, the bishop can consider what gaps might exist among that year’s board members and then use episcopal appointments to enrich the board’s strength of diversity—say, by adding more people of color, more people with talents that are underrepresented but are needed for accomplishing that year’s work, more people with fresh perspective or proven records of accomplishment, or more people for a broader range of age or work status or for a better balance between clergy and laity.  With this option of appointed members, the bishop could draw on the strengths and richness of talent already around our diocese, while also tailoring the appointments to the needs and tasks anticipated for the coming year.  Those at-large members whose voices and success help to invigorate the Executive Board’s work could be reappointed, just as they could be replaced after a year or two when other voices need to be heard or when other gaps in Executive Board membership need to be addressed.  Furthermore, this approach would permit an efficient way for the bishop to diversify this board’s membership in several directions while also allowing more time for the long-term work of encouraging regional councils to send more representatives whose diversity of demographics, perspective, and experience will enhance this board’s effectiveness as a governing body.

Submitted by the Executive Board
to the Annual Convention’s Committee on Constitution and Canons

Contacts from the Executive Board on this matter:
The Rev. Chris Miller (Immanuel, Old Church, Mechanicsville)
The Rev. Jay Morris (Aquia, Stafford)