The annual Diocesan Convention is the legislative and policy-making body of the diocese, comprised of all canonically resident clergy and delegates from every parish and mission of the diocese.
What to Expect at Diocesan Convention
This is the annual business meeting of the diocese and is held the second weekend in November. Convention conducts elections, votes on the budget, resolutions, any other actions presented, hears reports, etc. It includes the clergy of the diocese and elected lay representatives from each of the congregations in the diocese, as well as ex-officio members of convention (who are entitled to seat and voice, but not vote) and many visitors (who may observe only). Approximately 500 people attend the convention.
Held before the start of convention, the hearing gives delegates an opportunity to hear from each of the nominees for the elective positions.
Business sessions of the convention
The bishop presides over the business sessions. The meetings are organized by the bishop and subject to the Rules of Order as well as the Constitution and Canons of the diocese. The actions of convention are captured and published in the annual diocesan journal.
A central component of convention is the opportunity to worship together as the body of Christ. In addition to the convention Eucharist, there will be opening and evening prayers.
This is the bishop’s opportunity to talk to both clergy and lay representatives from every congregation. The address typically includes reflection on the accomplishments of the past year as well as energy about the vision and mission for the coming year.
The bishop makes several appointments, some of which need the consent of the convention. Those requiring consent are: the secretary (and any assistants), parliamentarian, chief teller, committee to review the minutes, treasurer, registrar and the finance committee. Interested in serving? Contact Ann Sabo with your name, church, commission interest and daytime phone.
Delegates elect leaders for several positions, including Diocesan Council, Standing Committee and the budget committee. Every three years, delegates elect deputies for General Convention. A majority is required for election.
Delegates may submit a resolution to diocesan convention asking for a particular stand on a public policy issue or adoption of a practice by congregations. Resolutions must be filed 45 days before the start of convention for review by a resolutions committee. These resolutions are screened by the committee and then distributed to the diocese for consideration. Resolutions also may be presented from the floor, but must receive two-thirds vote to be considered by delegates. Hearings for the resolutions are held during the pre-convention meetings. This is the time when delegates can ask resolution sponsors questions about the proposal. There also is debate on the floor of convention, but this time is more rigid, guided by Roberts Rules and the convention’s Rules of Order. Voting is initially done by voice vote. If there is no clear majority, the bishop may call for a count by standing or raising hands.
The diocesan budget is prepared by the Budget Committee and recommended to convention by Diocesan Council. The proposed budget is included in convention materials online and in the printed convention issue of Connections. Hearings for the budget are held during the pre-convention meeting. Final debate and the vote are completed at convention.
All diocesan committees and organizations are asked to present a written report that is available online. A few reports may be presented orally at convention. These reports contain important information about the mission and activities of the various commissions. The reports are included in the official journal. (See past journals)
Various diocesan committees, Episcopal organizations and local merchants. The exhibits offer information, resources, networking and gifts.
Serving as a Convention Delegate
Convention delegates play a critical role in connecting the diocese to congregations. At diocesan convention, delegates approve the diocesan budget, elect leaders for key commissions and discuss matters ranging from internal policy decisions to public policy positions. Delegates also gather for worship together. The bishop delivers a keynote address during convention that typically shares information about ministries across the diocese as well as plans for new initiatives.
The job of a delegate begins at election in the local congregation. Deputies should make an effort to follow diocesan news and to learn about ministries, activities and issues in other congregations (Subscribe to e-Connections). In the month before convention, they should carefully read the information on the website and printed in Connections (www.dsoconnections.org) This includes proposed resolutions and budget as well as biographical information about nominees. All delegates are expected to attend a regional pre-convention meeting. The bishop presides at these meetings, and this is the opportunity for casual conversation and questions about resolutions or the budget. After convention, delegates are expected to report back to the local congregations on the actions and decisions.
Selection of Delegates
A congregation typically elects lay delegates and alternate delegates during its annual meeting (although in some places, the delegates are selected by the vestry or mission council). The term of office is generally one to two years. Both of these factors are determined by the parish bylaws. All congregations have at least two lay delegates: mission congregations (that is, those that receive financial support from the diocese for operating costs) have two lay delegates; parishes (those that are financially self-sufficient) have four delegates. After the election of delegates, the congregation’s administrator or clergy must file a Certification of Lay Delegates with the diocesan office.
All congregational clergy also serve as delegates and should be considered as part of the congregation’s delegation.