The 196th Convention of the Diocese of Georgia considered a package of canonical changes with significant discussion and amendment. Below is an Executive Summary. Click here to see the full changes as approved on first reading by convention (NOTE: These are a draft, being reviewed by staff and the Chancellor).

These changes do not yet go into effect. The Constitutional changes will need to be approved in the same form by Convention 2018 and then the full Constitutional and Canonical changes will go into effect.

For more than a decade the Diocese of Georgia has rarely used a provision written in our canons that grants the Bishop authority to move parishes who can no longer meet the obligations of a “parish” to “mission” status. Over time, this has created confusion defining which congregations are “missions” and which are “parishes.” The differences are about more than mere terminology: this affects both representation to Diocesan Convention and the amount of oversight provided by the Diocese.

The Diocese and Diocesan Council are proposing changes to enable the Bishop and diocesan leaders to follow the canons as written, requiring changes to current language and structure. The outcome of the proposed changes will:

  • reduce unnecessary oversight for more than one third of the congregations,
  • acknowledge several of our small congregations as full members of the Diocese,
  • result in a representative Diocesan Convention, and
  • provide an extra level of assurance that endowed funds in all parishes are managed with sound investment practices.

Overview of the changes
The canonical changes as approved on first reading by Convention 2017 end the use of the term “Mission” to refer to a congregation of the Diocese. All congregations are either a “Parish” or an “Aided Parish.” It eliminates the monthly reports now required of 26 currently designated missions. The proposal necessitates two additional changes:
(1) determine delegate representation at Diocesan Convention, and,
(2) oversight of investment funds.

(1) The current representation to Diocesan Convention is one delegate for missions and three for parishes. Giving every congregation three delegates to Convention would both greatly enlarge the Convention’s size while also skewing proportionate representation. To address this, Diocesan Council proposed a proportional system based on the Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) averaged over the three previous years for which we have data. On amendment, the proposal was changed by convention to read:

  • Congregations with an ASA of 99 or less shall be entitled to two Delegates;
  • Congregations with an ASA of 100-199 shall be entitled to three Delegates;
  • Congregations with an ASA of more than 200 shall be entitled to four Delegates.

The effect of these changes to delegates is found in this chart: Delegates for each congregation based on Convention 2017 amendments to the Constitution of the Diocese
(2) The other significant proposal was to apply Rule 18 for Missions (pg. 25) to all congregations. This rule states that missions that have financial assets exceeding one year’s Normal Operating Income, as defined in their annual parochial report, shall either invest such excess funds with the Board of the Corporation of the Diocese or obtain a simple waiver (lasting three years) from the Finance Committee of the Diocese. Rule 18 was amended twice by the convention. See the full canons as amended by convention for the details.

Beyond the above changes, Diocesan Council proposes a few minor amendments to conform the canons to current practice. Read the full canons here.

The Timeline followed for these proposed changes prior to the convention is found below.