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Diocesan Finance Canons

Five canons of the Diocese of Atlanta apply directly to financial matters for congregations. You will find them listed below.

Canon 11 – Of Church Construction

Section 1. There shall be a Commission on Church Architecture and Church Construction appointed annually by the Bishop.

Section 2. The governing body of any Parish or Aided Parish or diocesan-owned property shall not erect a new building, or make structural alterations or additions requiring a building permit to any present building on its Church property without first securing the advice of the Commission for such proposed construction. The governing body of any Parish or Aided Parish or diocesan-owned property desiring such construction shall submit, under rules and regulations promulgated by the Commission and approved by the Bishop, the following:

(a) Intention to Initiate;
(b) Schematic Drawings and Specifications;
(c) Design Development Drawings and Specifications; and
(d) Such other Plans as shall be required by the Commission.

Section 3. After each submission, the Commission will, within thirty (30) days, meet with such Rector, Vicar, Wardens and Vestry as it deems appropriate. If the Commission does not within sixty (60) days after such submission offer its advice, then such submissions shall be taken as approved by the Commission.

Section 4. Following construction, as-built drawings and specifications shall be furnished to the Diocese as soon as practicable.

Section 5. Should any dispute arise as to the application of this Canon, such dispute shall be referred to the Bishop for resolution.

Canon 20 – Of the Funding of Ministry & Mission

Resolved, that Canon 20 of the funding of the Diocese of Atlanta is changed in full with the new canon to read as follows:

Section 1.  We the people, clergy, and parishes of the Diocese of Atlanta acknowledge our need to give of our time, talent, and treasure for the work of Christ.  We further embrace our strong heritage — expressed both in the Bible and in longstanding Tradition — of parishes supporting one another and joining together to accomplish the work of Christ.  We acknowledge our responsibility to support the episcopacy and to provide for the mission of the Church.  We recognize the tithe as the minimum standard of biblical giving, and we acknowledge the important example our parishes provide to parish members by practicing the tithe.  Finally, we feel strongly the bonds we have toward one another as members of the Body of Christ.  We therefore desire that funding of the ministry and mission of the Diocese be accomplished fairly and equitably, within a framework that promotes both compassion and accountability.  We seek a framework in which no parish will be required to contribute more than a fair share, and no parish will be allowed to contribute less than a fair share.  To these ends:

Section 2.  Ten percent (a tithe) of the average of the past three years’ Net Operating Revenue (as reported on the Annual Parochial Report) shall be the minimum amount each parish shall give in support of the Ministry and Mission Budget of the Diocese.  On or before June 15 of each year, the Finance Committee shall give notice to each parish of its ten-percent minimum contribution (based on its Annual Parochial Report data) for the Mission and Ministry Budget of the Diocese for the upcoming year.  In the event that a parish has not filed a timely Annual Parochial Report, the Finance Committee shall substitute the most recently filed parochial report for its calculations.  Should the parish subsequently file an Annual Parochial Report showing Net Operating Revenues differing from that used in the computation, the Finance Committee shall adjust the required contribution to the Budget of the Diocese, as appropriate.

Section 3.  For most parishes, the ten-percent minimum will be an appropriate fair share.  For some parishes an appropriate fair-share may be a voluntary contribution of more than ten-percent.  Because of extenuating circumstances, a parish may be unable to give the ten-percent minimum and shall be afforded an appeal opportunity as described herein.  Not later than August 15, all parishes shall acknowledge, in writing to the Director of Finance, their commitment to give ten-percent, more than ten percent, or state their intent to appeal.

Section 4.  Any parish believing that, for good cause, it will be unable to give a minimum of ten percent to the Budget of the Diocese may file a written appeal signed by the Rector (or Vicar) and Senior Warden not later than August 15 with an Assessment Appeal Board.  The Assessment Appeal Board shall meet with representatives of the parish filing an appeal.  The parish will be given an opportunity to request a reduction from the ten-percent minimum contribution for the year in question.  The Assessment Appeal Board shall operate pursuant to guidelines and timelines provided by the Executive Board.  In making its determination, the Assessment Appeal Board shall consider, among other factors, the parish’s current monthly financial report, the level of stewardship training and education in the parish, the nature of the annual stewardship campaign in the parish, any extraordinary circumstances faced by the parish, and other data as considered relevant by the parish and the Assessment Appeal Board.  After such review, the Assessment Appeal Board may reduce the percentage of the assessment for that parish for that year or affirm that ten percent is a minimum assessment.  Such decision, and the reasons therefore, shall be communicated in writing to the Rector (or Vicar) and Senior Warden, the Bishop, Executive Board, and the Director of Finance of the Diocese.  In the event that the Assessment Appeal Board grants a reduction, that Board shall refer the parish to the Commission on Stewardship and the Commission for Congregational Growth and Development.  These Commissions will assist the parish leadership in developing a plan to enhance stewardship and enable the parish to increase its giving to the ten-percent minimum.

Section 5.  In the event that annual contributions from any parish fall short of the minimum ten-percent or the reduced amount set by the Assessment Appeal Board, at the next Annual Council of the Diocese the cleric and lay delegates of that parish will be denied vote on all matters of business and denied voice regarding matters related to finance or the expenditure of diocesan funds.  In addition, such parishes shall not call any assistant or associate clergy, nor fill vacancies for such clergy.  In the second successive year of not contributing the fair-share amount, any such parish shall, by operation of this canon, have its status changed to that of an Aided Parish of this Diocese.

Section 6.  The Assessment Appeal Board shall consist of three lay and three cleric members.  The Executive Board, with the consent of the Bishop, shall appoint these six members of the Assessment Appeal Board for a three year term.  Initially, the Executive Board shall establish staggered classes of this board, with two people sitting for a one year term, two people for a two year term, and the final two for a full three year term.  Thereafter, the Executive Board shall appoint two members each year to serve a full three year term. The Bishop shall appoint annually a convener as a seventh member, who will vote only to break ties.  The Executive Board will make a good faith effort to appoint members of the Assessment Appeal Board as follows: two will be appointed from parishes having Net Operating Revenues in the upper one-third of the diocese, two will be appointed from parishes having Net Operating Revenues in the middle one-third of the diocese, and two will be appointed from parishes having Net Operating Revenues in the lower one-third of the diocese.  In addition, the Executive Board will make a good faith effort to ensure broad geographical representation on the Assessment Appeal Board.

Section 7.  Every congregation in the Diocese shall include in its annual budget the amount of its fair-share contribution (assessment) for the support of the Mission and Ministry Budget of the Diocese.  A portion of the annual contribution is to be paid to the Diocese on or before the twentieth day of each month.

Section 8. The Executive Board shall prepare a tentative Diocesan Mission and Ministry Budget and send it to each Vestry.  Each Vestry shall, by a date set by the Executive Board, consider the mission and ministry priorities of the Diocese and report recommended changes in the Ministry and Mission Budget to the Executive Board.  The Executive Board, in its discretion, may develop additional means of soliciting recommendations from the people and parishes of the Diocese.  When the process for receiving such recommendations is ended, the Executive Board, with the assistance of the chairs of Diocesan commissions, committees, and the Diocesan staff, shall develop a Proposed Ministry and Mission Budget that reflects the mission priorities of the Diocese.

Section 9.  Council shall consider the Proposed Mission and Ministry Budget, make amendments as desired, and approve and return the resulting Proposed Mission and Ministry Budget to the Executive Board.  Using the Proposed Mission and Ministry Budget approved by Council, the Executive Board shall establish and adopt the Mission and Ministry Budget in its final form.  Copies of the budget in its final form shall be mailed to all Vestries.  The Executive Board shall give direction to and administer the gross amounts budgeted through its various departments.  The Treasurer shall make a detailed financial status report for the previous and current year to Council in session.

Section 10. This canon shall take effect on January 1, 2006, in preparation for the 2007 budget year.

Canon 23 – Of Church Debt

Section 1. No indebtedness shall be incurred by an Aided Parish without prior approval of the Bishop and the Department of Finance.

Section 2. Indebtedness may be incurred by a Parish without the prior approval of the Bishop and the Department of Finance, where the debt service (i.e., annual payments of principal and interest) including debt service for all indebtedness heretofore incurred for current expenses and still existing, does not exceed 20% of the total annual receipts of such Parish during the preceding fiscal year. Short-term indebtedness in excess of the 20% limit may be incurred when there is reasonable expectation that it can be repaid in its entirety out of Parish receipts within the next three (3) years, and budget provision for such repayment has been so made. No further indebtedness may be incurred without the approval of the Bishop and Department of Finance.

Section 3. The Bishop and the Department of Finance must be notified before any short-term or long-term indebtedness is incurred.

Section 4. Providing that, in computing receipts under Section 2 hereof, amounts from or for endowments or from or by bequests, except income there from not specifically designated, and receipts for expenditures other than parochial shall not be included.

Section 5. Provided that under any circumstances for which approval is required, it shall be granted only when the payment of all indebtedness shall be provided for in a plan of amortization or other method of payment to be submitted to and approved by the same authority.

Canon 24 – Of the Thanksgiving Day Offering

Section 1. Every minister in charge of any Church in this Diocese shall take a special offering for the Appleton Family Ministries Fund for Children and Youth at Risk on Thanksgiving Day or between the Sundays preceding and following Thanksgiving Day, both inclusive.

Section 2. Every such minister shall report annually to the Council as to said offering; and if any be not taken, shall state in the Parochial Report the cause of such omission.

Canon 33 – Of The Vestry

Section 1. The Rector, or Vicar, Church Wardens and Members of the Vestry (called the Vestry) shall administer all the temporal business of the Parish; shall see that all things needful for the public services are provided; shall pay with punctuality, at the intervals agreed, the stipulated salary of the Rector or Vicar and others; shall inform themselves of the orders and times of all offerings required by the Canons of the Diocese and of assessments imposed by the Council, and take measures for the obedient fulfillment and due liquidation of these obligations; and before the close of each fiscal year, if the treasury be deficient, the Vestry shall collect, as far as practicable, by subscription or otherwise, a sum sufficient to liquidate all of the current annual obligations of the Parish.

Section 2. The Vestry shall, prior to the Annual Parish Meeting, cause to be written and delivered to the Rector or Vicar or, if there be none, to the Wardens, a full, accurate and faithful statement of the temporal condition of the Parish. This statement (to be designated the Annual Report of the Vestry) shall show, among other things, what money, lands and other property have been received during the year past and from what sources what money has been expended and for what objects, what property has been exchanged or mortgaged or sold and for what purposes and what debts are owing by the Parish and what security, if any, has then owned by the Parish. This Annual Report shall be communicated to the Annual Parish Meeting as provided in Canon 31, Section 8. (e).

The Vestry shall also furnish and read to the Annual Meeting a separate statement of the money and property held in trust by or for the Parish, which shows:

(a). the nature and purpose of each trust;
(b). when and by whom the same was created, and the kind of instrument under which it was created;
(c). the names of the beneficiaries thereof;
(d). the total value of the original trust fund and the amount of the principal thereof at the end of the preceding fiscal year;
(e). a brief description of the securities in which the same were then invested;
(f). the rate of interest on each investment and the amount of interest in default, if any; and
(g). the disposition of the income there from during such year; which statement shall also show whether or not fiduciary bonds required for such funds by Canon have been approved and delivered, the surety or sureties thereon, and the principal amount of each such bond. An exact copy of such separate statement shall be delivered to the Bishop by the Wardens promptly after each Annual Parish Meeting.

Section 3. There shall be held at least six regular Vestry meetings in each year. Special meetings of the Vestry may be called by order of the Rector or Vicar, or, in case of vacancy, by the Wardens, at any time deemed expedient; and shall call such meetings when requested, in writing, by a majority of the members of the Vestry, which writing shall declare the object of such meeting.

Section 4. Vacancies in the Vestry shall be filled for the unexpired term by a majority of the remaining members of the Vestry at any regular meeting, of which election previous notice shall have been given, in writing, to every member of the Vestry by the Secretary or Clerk.

Section 5. The Rector or Vicar shall preside at all meetings of the Vestry and shall be entitled to cast the deciding vote in the case of a tie. If present, the Rector or Vicar may, if desirable, appoint any other member of the Vestry to preside at a meeting of the Vestry, such designee being entitled to cast the deciding vote in the case of a tie. The Rector or Vicar shall be ex officio member of all Committees.

Section 6. In case there is no Rector, or Vicar, or in case of absence or inability to act, the Senior Warden, or if absent the Junior Warden, shall preside at all meetings of the Vestry. No meeting of the Vestry shall be valid in which there shall not be present either the Rector, or Vicar, or one Warden, except for the purpose of electing Wardens if there be no Rector, or Vicar, or Wardens.