The Logo of The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta - Purple Crest with Bishop's Mitre

Canon 35 – Of the Pastoral Relationship

Section 1. 

(a). Call of a Rector: No presbyter shall be called as Rector of any Parish in this Diocese without previous conference between the Vestry of the Parish and the Bishop in reference to the expediency of the proposed call.

(b). Any presbyter regularly called to take charge of a Parish as provided by the Canons of the General Convention, and whose letter dimissory has been accepted by the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese, shall, during the time of such charge of said Parish, be held to be Rector of the same.

(c). The Rector, or Vicar, by virtue of office, shall have exclusive jurisdiction, under such Rector’s or Vicar’s Ecclesiastical superiors, of the spiritual concerns of the Parish, and shall at all times have access to the Church, and may open the same for services or instruction as such Rector or Vicar deems proper. The Rector or Vicar shall have authority to call meetings of the

Vestry or congregation, and when present, to preside at the same and, in case of a tie, to cast the deciding vote. The Bishop is the Rector of each Aided Parish. The Minister in charge of any Aided Parish is the Vicar of the Bishop and ministers under the direction of the Bishop, performing the functions of a Rector in the absence of the Bishop. Vicars are appointed by the Bishop.

(d). Should a vacancy occur in the Rectorship of a Parish, the Wardens and Vestry shall at once notify the Bishop thereof and ask advice and assistance in the selection of a successor, submitting information as to the state and requirements of the Parish.

(e). Every cleric hereafter called to any full-time position in the Diocese of Atlanta shall be compensated at or above the financial package for transitional deacons as established annually by the Commission on Ministry.

Section 2. 

Temporary Absence of a Rector: Every cleric temporarily vacating a Parish shall arrange in advance with the Vestry for the supply of service and care of the Parish during such absence.

Section 3.

Dissolution of the Relationship not Occasioned by Disability: The Rector canonically elected and in charge may not resign the Parish without the consent of the Vestry thereof; nor may such Rector be removed except as provided by the Canons of the General Convention.

Section 4. 

Dissolution Occasioned by Disability.

(a). Proceedings for the Dissolution of the Pastoral Relationship of the Rector of a Parish, occasioned by the long-term medical disability rendering the person incapable of exercising his/her ministry, may be begun in either of one of the following modes:

(1). By resolution of the affected Vestry setting forth in writing and with reasonable certainty the facts relied upon and a request that the Pastoral Relationship be dissolved; or

(2). The Bishop, from personal knowledge.

In any such case the Bishop may present such facts, together with any other facts known to the Bishop, to the Standing Committee for its investigation.

(b). Upon receipt of such request, the Standing Committee shall proceed without avoidable delay to investigate the facts. If requested by the Standing Committee, the Bishop shall see that a confirmed communicant of the Church, learned in the law and who shall not be the Chancellor, be appointed to advise the Standing Committee in its investigation. If requested by the Rector, or any interested person on behalf of the Rector, the Bishop shall see that a confirmed communicant of the church, learned in the law and who shall not be the Chancellor, be appointed to advise the affected Rector in the investigation.

(c). After appropriate investigation, which shall include appropriate consultation with medical and legal professionals, the Standing Committee shall make its report to the Bishop as to whether or not the affected Rector is so disabled as to warrant the dissolution of the Pastoral Relationship.

(d). Upon receipt of the recommendation of the Standing Committee, the Bishop, as final arbiter and judge, shall render a godly judgment as to whether or not the Pastoral Relationship should be dissolved; and

(1). If the Pastoral Relationship is to be continued, the Bishop shall define the responsibility to and accountability of the Rector; or

(2). If the Pastoral Relationship is to be dissolved, the Bishop shall set forth such terms and conditions, including financial settlements, as shall seem to be Bishop to be just, proper, and compassionate.

Section 5. 

Clergy Liable to Missionary Duty: Every cleric of the Diocese receiving aid from the missionary funds shall perform from time to time such missionary duties within the Diocese and outside of such cleric’s cure as may be prescribed by the Bishop, and the amount of compensation for each such service so performed shall be fixed by the Department of Congregation Development.

Section 6.

Of Instruction: Every Rector or Vicar shall:

(a). have direction and control of the Church School and classes for religious instructions;

(b). ensure that children, youth and adults receive instruction in the Holy Scriptures, in the subjects contained in An Outline of the Faith, commonly called the Catechism, and in the Doctrine, Discipline and Worship of this Church, and in the exercise of their ministry as baptized persons;

(c). appoint the superintendent, teachers and other officers;

(d). authorize the books and system of instruction and the library, in accordance with the authority and teachings of the Church;

(e). prepare persons for baptism and, before baptizing infants or children, instruct both the parents and godparents concerning the significance of Holy Baptism and their responsibilities for the Christian training of the baptized child and how these obligations may be properly discharged;

(f). seek out for systematic instruction all who are ready to make a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of baptism and to receive the laying on of hands by the Bishop;

(g). give instruction both publicly and privately on the nature and responsibilities of Holy Matrimony; and

(h). instruct all persons in their charge concerning Christian stewardship, including the Biblical standard of the tithe for financial stewardship, reverence for the creation and the right use of God’s gifts, generous and consistent offering of time, talent and treasure for the mission and ministry of the Church at home and abroad, and the responsibility of all persons to make a will, not neglecting to leave bequests for the use of the Church if they are able.

Section 7. 

Of Church Music: It shall be the duty of every Rector to see that music is used as an offering for the glory of God and as a help to the people in their worship in accordance with the Book of Common Prayer and as authorized by the rubrics or by the General Convention of this Church. To this end, the Rector shall have final authority in the administration of matters pertaining to music. In fulfilling this responsibility, the Rector shall seek assistance from persons skilled in music. Together they shall see that music is appropriate to the context in which it is used.

Section 8. 

Of Continuing Education of Clergy: As to the Continuing Education of Clergy of this Diocese:

(a). In case of a clergy vacancy, every employer of clergy in this Diocese, by whatever name, shall consult with the Bishop of the Diocese or the designated authority prior to any call to develop a definite proposal for continuing education for whomever is to be called.

(b). The “conference” referred to in Canon 35, Section 1 (a) shall include consideration of continuing education for whomever shall be called as Rector.

(c). Every cleric hereafter called to any full-time position in a Parish, Aided Parish, or any other ministry within this Diocese shall have a definite agreement with the employer concerning continuing education. This agreement shall be deposited in writing with the Bishop of the Diocese.

(d). Every cleric and employer, by whatever name, shall review together annually the above described agreement to update it and assure that it meets current needs of the cleric. Terms of this updated agreement shall be sent to the Bishop within thirty (30) days after being officially arrived at and recorded in the employer’s minutes.

(e). Nothing in this Canon shall be construed to establish minimum standards of Continuing Education of a cleric as a prerequisite for continued employment or for the future employment of a cleric.