Title IV Task Force proposes revisions to canons on ecclesiastical discipline; comment period opens

The Title IV Task Force II has proposed a complete revision of Title IV, the main clergy-discipline canons. The group also proposes adding to Canon 17 of Title I a process for disciplining lay leaders and a procedure for dealing with impaired clergy to the Title III ministry canons.

The release of the documents opens a comment period that runs until the end of June.

The task force’s proposed revision is available here.

The current version of Title IV is available here.

The proposed revision of Canon I.17.8 to set up a process for disciplining lay leaders is available here.

The proposal to add a new canon concerning impairment of clergy to Title III is available here.

Each document includes instructions on how to file comments on the drafts.

“We want to be as fully out there to the wider church as we can get with opportunity for people to read all three documents, to respond to us with their comments, concerns, criticisms, suggestions,” said Steve Hutchinson, who chairs the current task force.

Hutchinson, chancellor of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah who was a member of the first task force, said the current task force will meet in September to synthesize the responses into a proposal to include in its Blue Book report for the 76th General Convention.

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Polity & Canons

34 comments on “Title IV Task Force proposes revisions to canons on ecclesiastical discipline; comment period opens

  1. AnglicanFirst says:

    Apparently, matters of when and how to discipline in order secure the obedient submission of subordinates is a ‘front burner’ concern of ECUSA’s leadership. Would this leadership dicipline, let’s say, Spong?

    This ‘smacks of’ an inquisitional state of mind and will have negative consequences for ECUSA’s ability to retain and recruit parishoners and clergy.

  2. Br_er Rabbit says:

    Elves/Kendall, the [blockquote] is available here [/blockquote] links are missing.

  3. Daniel says:

    So now Katie becomes the Red Queen – “The Queen turned crimson with fury, and, after glaring at her for a moment like a wild beast, screamed `Off with her head! Off–‘ ”

    I love the laity discipline part that says you have a right to be heard by the Ecclesiastical authority kicking you out, but describes no due process or appeal process to be observed by such Ecclesiastical authority, or, as Humpty Dumpty put it –

    “When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

    `The question is,’ said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

    `The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master — that’s all.’ ”

    Well, we all know “which is to be master” here, don’t we!?

  4. TomRightmyer says:

    I have read over the proposed Title IV and see some significant problems with the draft. (1) The exceptions to sexual misconduct are (a) a married member of the clergy with his or her spouse and (2) a member of the clergy with his or her same-sex partner. Leaving aside the conflict with the Lambeth resolution, I find no definition of “same-sex partner.” This could be read as giving a free pass to all homosexual clergy. (2) The canon specifically allows hearsay testimony in a church trial. I think this is not consistent with the civil law. (3) I find the time limitations on bringing accusations difficult to understand, and there may well be other problems with the proposal.

    Tom Rightmyer in Asheville, NC

  5. Sir Highmoor says:

    I would assume this will sail through GC 2009. Will anyone out there be writing about this changes?

  6. Adam 12 says:

    Orthodox lay people may well be willing to use such trials as witnessing opportunities as they generally have less to lose than clergy, who rely on TEC for their incomes.

  7. Mike Watson says:

    The disciplinary canons on abandonment of communion would be changed to apply not just to the current specific causes of abandonment such as open renunciation of Doctrine, Discipline or Worship, but also to abandonment of communion “in any other way.” In addition, the specific cause for abandonment by a bishop relating to “exercising Episcopal acts in and for a religious body other than this Church or another Church in Communion with this Church” would be changed to delete “or another Church in Communion with this Church.” The requirement for consent to an inhibition of a bishop charged with abandoment by the three senior bishops would be removed. If I were writing the drafters’ commentary to the proposed provision, it would go something like this: “Our no-due-process abandonment canon still had enough process so that we couldn’t get Bob Duncan inhibited. We’re mad about this and we’re going to fix the canon in multiple ways so it doesn’t happen again.”

    See also proposed Canon IV.19.2 reads:

    “No member of this Church, whether lay or ordained, may seek to have the Constitution and Canons of this Church interpreted by a secular court, or resort to a secular court to address a dispute arising under the Constitution and Canons, or for any purpose of delay, hindrance, review or otherwise affecting any proceeding under this Title.”

    A problem arises because some of the canons (one that goes by the name of Dennis comes to mind) deal with matters governed by secular law. Are the drafters proposing to try to prevent resort to the secular courts in property disputes on the ground that any such dispute would “arise under the Constitution and Canons”? Maybe 815 is not quite as confident as they have tried to convey about the outcome of all the litigation they have initiated.

  8. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    The Nasty Church welcomes you.

  9. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #7 Is it lawful to to exclude the jurisdiction of the laws and Courts of the United States?

  10. The_Elves says:

    Br_er, I assume the links are working in the original article. When I get a few minutes I’ll try to edit the post so that they also work here.


  11. Albany* says:

    Papacy by Canon. PB whim in three year increments.

    This is a sick church and a sickening church.

  12. Cennydd says:

    As far as I’m concerned, the very idea that any layman in a position of leadership within TEC could be tried by what amounts to nothing more than a kangaroo court is despicable in the extreme. That person isn’t in Holy Orders, and the last I knew, free speech hasn’t been banned in this country, but if those in power in TEC have their way, the right of lay leaders to speak out in opposition to the Church will be banned by General Convention.

    I thank God daily that my diocese is no longer part of TEC!

  13. Choir Stall says:

    Discipline the laity? For what: holding to account the monarchies that are TEC? For asking questions and then acting when lied to? For wondering where millions of dollars goes and then balk when assuaging talk of mission doesn’t pacify and silence? The march of laity will increase soon: not towards the altar, but towards the doors.
    Prediction: as in ages past, it will take a revival to rid this church of the disease it exhibits. Sadly, it will take a near death for it to happen. When Schori is a faded picture on the wall the new Anglican Province in America (whatever that will be) will keep her memory alive as something to abhor. I love watching the oblivious denials and “all is well” mantra. Having a front row seat in front of sick minds CAN be somewhat entertaining.

  14. tired says:

    A portion of the new language for discipline of lay persons is in italics:

    [blockquote]”Sec. 8. Any person accepting any office in this Church shall well and faithfully perform the duties of that office in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of this Church and of the Diocese in which the office is being exercised. A lay person who holds an office in this Church for which no compensation is received may be removed from that office as follows:
    [i](a) If the office is elective, removal may be without cause by vote of the electing body duly noticed and held; or with cause for material disregard of the preceding sentence, or for a stated intention to disregard it in the future, by the Ecclesiastical Authority of the diocese in which the office is being exercised, with the advice and consent of the Standing Committee;
    (b) If the office is appointive, removal may be without cause by the appointing authority; or with cause for material disregard of the preceding sentence, or for a stated intention to disregard it in the future, by the Ecclesiastical Authority of the diocese in which the office is being exercised, with the advice and consent of the Standing Committee;
    (c) No lay person may be removed for cause by the Ecclesiastical Authority without first subjecting the lay person to waterboarding and forfeiture of all assets held by such person in trust for the Church;…[/i]”[/blockquote]

    I must say, I found the new 8(c) a bit, um, consistent.


  15. palagious says:

    This will do wonders for encouraging laity participation!

  16. Choir Stall says:

    Now that the 20/20 emphasis is a faded joke, is THIS the way to grow a Church? Litigation? Harassment? Bullying? Pontificating? I pray to GOD that this nutsery passes next year. Let an 815 acolyte or the Peanut Butter herself unleash this one on somebody. LOTS of laity that I know will play hardball and go nuclear as a first strike….lawyers and secular media all in tow. PRAY…PRAY…PRAY that it passes so that TEC’s named poison will kill it off quickly for the coming revival of Anglicanism.

  17. Brien says:

    Sharia Law comes to the Episcopal Church; you can be disciplined for saying what you will (or might) do in the future!

    ‘Curiouser and curiouser!’ cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English)…

  18. Brien says:

    Did I miss the provision for the PB to remove a standing committee that she finds in her way?

  19. InChristAlone says:

    So much for all positions being valued in TEC…

  20. Bruce says:

    The issue about Title IV and the laity really carries back to the revision of Title III in 2003, when provisions about the licensing for laity were developed in a new direction. Prior to 03, all laity served under the direction of (and at the pleasure of) a rector or other clergy person. The 03 licenses create a new picture–mainly to accomdate the changing realities of “ministry of the baptized” and “total ministry” congregations, where lay preachers, catechists, administrators, etc., are functioning under diocesan license. The question is simply, if there are allegations of misconduct against one of these lay ministers, to whom should they be made, and what should be the due process of investigation and ajudication? I haven’t had the chance to read through the latest Title IV proposal, but I think the simple fact is that if the church decides to license lay ministers, then we will need to be clear about a fair and orderly way to manage situations when allegations of misconduct are brought forward.
    Bruce Robison

  21. Mike Watson says:

    Bruce Robison, the new provisions relating to the laity are in Title I, not Title IV. It seems to me the most consequential application is one that is not captured by your examples, i.e., to vestrypersons. Are they not typically holders of “an office in this Church for which no compensation is received”?

  22. Cennydd says:

    Notice to General Convention: Pass this revision to Title I, and you’re dead as a “Church.” No lay person in his or her right mind will want to serve in any capacity……except those who’re part of this conspiracy!

    GOD, am I glad my diocese left!

  23. Albany* says:

    It makes me furious at those conservative bishops who voted for this BP as a “sign” to those outside of how bad things are in TEC. It’s been said before, but she acts like a self-justified and self-serving woman in a bitter divorce — entitled, vindictive, clueless.

  24. Bruce says:

    #21 Mike– The significant changes in the Title III revisions on the Ministry Canons in 2003 included (Canon III.4.1(a) and Canon III.4.3-8). In general the Title IV disciplinary canons are being revised to address issues of misconduct not of vestry members or altar guild directresses, etc., but of holders of licensed ministries such as Pastoral Leader, Worship Leader, Preacher, Eucharistic Minister, Eucharistic Visitor, and Catechist. These Title III “Ministers” now are licensed by bishops and often appointed to positions in a diocese not under the direct supervision of a priest or of the bishop. The question arises, if a person is appointed “Pastoral Leader” in charge of a congregation in a rural area, and if someone in that congregation accuses the Pastoral Leader of misconduct, say, or neglect of office, what are the regular and orderly procedures required to remove the Pastoral Leader?

  25. Mike Watson says:

    #24 Bruce, as I understand it, the new Title IV being proposed applies to Members of the Clergy. Its application to lay members appears limited to proposed Canon IV.19.2, which purports to keep laity from seeking redress in secular courts.

    The provision on discipline of laity in the new proposals is by amendment to Canon I.17.8, which I think would apply to wardens and vestry. If there is some reason it wouldn’t, I’d welcome hearing it, but to me it seems pretty obviously intended to do just that. In the current circumstances, it doesn’t take much imagination to think how it might be used.

  26. Bruce says:

    Mike —

    Thanks, as I said in #20, I haven’t done the reading yet. My comments were really related to most of the Title IV revisions concerning laity in the previous draft that we had in front of us in Columbus. Apologies if I pulled the conversation off track.


  27. Mike Watson says:

    Thanks Bruce. I’m not suggesting the new provisions aren’t also intended to deal with the examples you gave, but pointing to where it seems to me the greater controversy will lie.

  28. BillS says:

    Let’s see, comment period runs until June, Diocese of Pittsburgh Convention cannot be held until October, nah, no coincidence here.

    No reason for a hurry up revision of Canon’s when the GC is not until 2009, just a little cleaning up.

    Analyze away, folks, but realize that TEC will pass what they want, and regardless of what they pass, Schori and her fellow tyrants will do what they want. Welcome to the Politburo.

  29. Little Cabbage says:

    Albany: I hope you will reconsider your post 23 above. Surely we’ve all seen too many divorces, and have also witnessed “self-justified and self-serving MEN in a bitter divorce—entitled, vindictive, clueless”. Sadly, such poor conduct is not confined to one sex or the other.

  30. Albany* says:

    29. In my experience, bad male and female behavior in divorce tends to differ in tone and quality — much like female bullying and male bullying differ. I stand by my characterization. And I’m certainly not denying bad male behavior in divorce, rather the quality of it.

  31. Mike Watson says:

    Tom Rightmyer mentions above (#4) that the proposed Title IV revision would introduce a definition of Sexual Misconduct that includes an express exception for behavior with a same-sex partner (treating it on a parity with relations between spouses). In the Diocese of Texas there is a canon on moral discipline (canon 43) that defines Holy Matrimony as between a man and a woman, obligates clergy to model in their lives the received teaching of the Church that all its members are to abstain from sexual relations outside of Holy Matrimony, and says in effect that the moral qualifications of a person under the canons of the Episcopal Church are going to be construed in the diocese to include conformity to this obligation. It seems likely that if this proposal were adopted, it would be argued that the Diocese of Texas could not enforce its canon on moral discipline.

    This proposal is another signal to the Anglican Communion that TEC says no to the teaching of 1998 Lambeth I.10 and is going to do what it wants.

  32. Albany* says:

    32# And it will twist the canons of this Church into a pretzel to do so. There’s an old legal saying that “hard cases make bad law.” Boy are we living that.

  33. Paula Loughlin says:

    I stand ready to be astonished when the doctrine of PB infallibility is proposed. No wait, that would mean I did not expect it. Never mind.

  34. aacswfl1 says:

    TEC has completed the circle and become a CULT something that is subchristian and which holds itself together by force and intimidation.