June 5, 2015

Provinces, Again

I recently wrote a post titled “In Praise of Provinces,” in which I argued against the suggestion made by the Episcopal Resurrection authors that provinces be done away with. (Their resolution is now Resolution D011.) My essay was informed by my own positive experience with Province III.

Today, I became aware of Resolution C034, which, coincidentally, originated in the Province III Synod. Not surprisingly, the Province III Synod does not want to abolish provinces. Instead, Province III would amend Canon I.9 to enumerate what provinces are for. The resolution is reproduced below. It makes its own case for provinces.

C034 Amend Canon I.9
Topic: Province

05 - Governance and Structure

Province III

Current version of the text

Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That Title I, Canon 9 (Of Provinces), be amended by the addition of a new Section 2 to read as follows:

Sec 2. The primary purposes of the Provincial system are to provide a structure which facilitates inter-diocesan collaboration to achieve Diocesan and Episcopal Church goals, and to enable more effective communications and regional advocacy of significant programmatic efforts.

Current sections 2-12 should be renumbered 3-13 [sic]


The fundamental unit of the Episcopal Church is the Diocese. Therefore, the primary purpose of Provinces is to support Dioceses in their work, particularly in those areas that, because of economies of scale, they are not able to do as well or at all by themselves. The Provinces also have a responsibility to respond to, and coordinate, those directives initiated by General Convention.

The Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church state that we will have Provinces, the Dioceses that shall be in each Province, and the power invested in the Provincial Synods. There is, however, no articulation of the purposes of the Provinces. One of the consequences of this omission is confusion about the need for and/or role of Provinces. A canonical definition of the primary purpose of Provinces provides: 1) a common reference point for initiating, developing, and evaluating Provincial ministries; 2) a basis for understanding the place of Provinces in the Church’s current and future conversations around re-structuring for ministry and governance.

Among the various tasks undertaken by the Provinces are the following:
  • Staffing a Court of Review, when required, as specified in the Canons.
  • Supporting the General Convention Office by providing opportunities for pre-General Convention orientation for Bishops, Deputies & Alternate Deputies.
  • Identifying and electing provincial representatives to the Executive Council.
  • Coordinating numerous ministry networks and associated grant programs, especially in areas seen as assets to the work underway in Dioceses. These ministry areas may include anti-racism, human trafficking, youth and young adult work, coordination of mission trips, stewardship, health ministries, Christian Formation, Ministry of Women, Latino and Indigenous groups, Diaconal development, climate issues and many others, all of which vary by Province.
  • Receiving, reviewing, and submitting worthy applications for Constable grants.
  • Coordinating and executing Provincial Synods.
  • Offering a variety of opportunities for development of lay and clergy leaders [sic]

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