The Constitution of the Diocese
As adopted by the Council of the Diocese of Atlanta January 31, 1987, and January 30, 1988, and amended November 13, 1993; November 12, 1994; November 9, 1996; November 8, 2003; November 14, 2008; and November 5, 2011
Of the Diocese of Atlanta
The Protestant Episcopal Church in that part of the State of Georgia lying north and west of the counties of Columbia, McDuffie, Glascock, Washington, Wilkinson, Twiggs, Pulaski, Dooly, Sumter, Webster, and Stewart, (excluding however the counties of Dade and Catoosa and the northern portion of Walker County lying and being in Census Tracts Nos. 201, 202, 203, 204 and 205 as delineated in the Walker County Census Tracts Map dated August 1967) constituting the Diocese of Atlanta, is a constituent part of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, and accedes to the Constitution and Canons of that Church and acknowledges its authority.
Of the Council of the Diocese
1. Clerical Members: Every cleric (a) in good standing as defined by the Canons of the National Church, (b) canonically resident in the Diocese and (c) continuously exercising clerical functions in a parish, or in work under the direction of the Executive Board of the Diocese, or under the Bishop, or engaged as an instructor in any school under the control of the Diocese, or with which the Diocese is affiliated, or who is in the service of the Executive Council, or who is on active duty as a Chaplain with any branch of the Armed Services, or who is a Chaplain with any non-ecclesiastical institution or agency, shall be entitled to the right of membership in the Council of the Diocese after he or she shall have become canonically resident in the Diocese by the Ecclesiastical Authority having received and accepted his or her Letter Dimissory.
In addition to the above grounds entitling a cleric to membership in the Council, any cleric who in the opinion of the Bishop or the Ecclesiastical Authority is exercising any ordained ministry shall also be entitled to membership in the Council, provided however:
(a). Application must be made to the Bishop or the Ecclesiastical Authority; and
(b). The applicant must show that he or she has made a financial commitment to the church and that he or she has a definite understanding or agreement with a congregation or the Bishop as to just what work the applicant is to do that the applicant contends constitutes exercising an ordained ministry; and
(c). The Bishop or Ecclesiastical Authority shall render an opinion as to whether or not the applicant is exercising an ordained ministry and give notice thereof to the applicant, to the Chancellor and to the Secretary of the Council at least ten days prior to the meeting of the Council.
2. Lay Members:
(a). Every Parish and Aided Parish in the Diocese shall be entitled to Lay Delegates and Alternate Lay Delegates elected as provided by the Canons of the Diocese. The number of Lay Delegates and Alternate Lay Delegates from each Parish or Aided Parish is determined by the number of Communicants in Good Standing reported on the latest available Parochial Report from the Parish or Aided Parish. Each Parish or Aided Parish shall be entitled to the following number of Lay Delegates:
Number of reported Communicants in Good Standing / Number of Delegates
More than 3, but not more than 200, 2;
More than 200, but not more than 400, 3;
More than 400, but not more than 600, 4;
More than 600, 5;
and a like number of Alternates.
(b). Any group of confirmed communicants of the Episcopal Church which has a definite organization recognized by the Ecclesiastical Authority and which conforms to the minimum requirements for a Parish may, upon annual request, and approval by the Council, thereafter have one Lay Delegate and one Alternate Lay Delegate to the Council of the Diocese.
(c). Also, in addition to the foregoing, there shall be one youth delegate and one youth alternate, to be known as Youth Delegate, from each Convocation of the Diocese. At the time of Council, Youth Delegates shall be no younger than 16 and no older than 19. Each Convocation shall annually elect its Youth Delegates. If a convocation has a Youth Council, the Youth Delegates shall be nominated by the Youth Council. Each Youth Delegate, or his or her alternate, shall have the right to a seat, voice and vote at the Annual Council when certified by the Convocation to the Secretary of Council in the manner prescribed for other members of Council.(d). Also, in addition to the foregoing, each of the campus ministries of the Diocese of Atlanta certified to the Secretary by the Commission on Ministry in Higher Education as having an organized and recognized ministry among students as receiving financial support from the Diocese shall be represented at Diocesan Council by one student Lay Delegate with seat, voice, and vote.
3. Meetings: The Council of the Diocese shall meet annually at such time as the previous Council may have appointed. No Council shall organize or transact any business unless there be present the Bishop, or the Bishop Coadjutor, or the Suffragan Bishop if there be a Bishop or Bishop Coadjutor and at least one third of the clerics authorized seats in the Council and a Lay Delegate from one third of the Parishes and Aided Parishes in union with the Council, but a smaller number may adjourn. The Ecclesiastical Authority, for cause deemed by that authority to be sufficient, may change the time and place of any annual meeting of the Council. A special session of the Council may be called by the Ecclesiastical Authority whenever in its opinion such session is needful. The time and place for holding any such session, and its object, shall be stated in the call, a copy of which shall be mailed to every member of the Council not later than fifteen days before the session begins. By an affirmative vote of three-fourths of the members present, a proposition, not stated in the call, may be adopted.
4. Organization: Every Council shall be opened with prayer. The Bishop shall be its presiding officer. In the absence of the Bishop, the Bishop Coadjutor if there be one, or in the absence of the Bishop and the Bishop Coadjutor if there be one, the Suffragan Bishop, if there be one, shall be its presiding officer. If the foregoing Bishops be absent, the Priest or Bishop selected by the Standing Committee shall preside until the Council shall elect a President pro tempore.
5. Voting by Orders: The Council shall deliberate and act as one body unless otherwise required by the Constitution or Canons of the Diocese of Atlanta or unless a vote by Orders be requested by one clerical member and two lay members; in which case each clerical member shall have one vote and each lay member shall have one vote. A majority of each Order shall be necessary to have a decision.
6. Response to Emergencies: During Emergencies, as defined in this Article, the Executive Committee of the Diocese may authorize the Bishop or other Diocesan Authority, in the discretion of the Bishop or other Diocesan Authority, to do any of the following:
(a) Conduct the Annual Meeting of the Council of the Diocese virtually (i.e., by electronic means), rather than by having an in person meeting in one physical location.
(b) Alter the agenda of the Annual Council to be limited to essential business or otherwise be streamlined to fit the circumstances.
(c) Postpone the Annual Meeting by as much as six months from the time originally set by the preceding Annual Council.
(d) Postpone for up to 18 months an election for Bishop.
“Emergencies” are extraordinary situations where the ordinary conduct of business is threatened, rendered impractical, or there is a significant threat to the health or safety of potential Council attendees due to epidemics, natural disasters and storms, violent civil unrest, terrorism, war, threats or violence directed at the Council, the Diocese or the Church, or other abnormal events that threaten public safety or the safety of potential Council attendees. The mere saving of expenses shall not normally be considered an Emergency for purposes of this provision.
In non-emergency situations, Annual Council shall be a meeting at a single site with all delegates required to be physically present in order to be counted towards a quorum or to have a right to participate.
Of the Officers of the Diocese
1. The officers: A Secretary, a Treasurer, a Chancellor, a Registrar, Members of the Standing Committee, and such other officers as may be required by Canon shall be annually elected by the Council or as provided by Canon, and shall continue in office until their successors are duly elected, appointed, or chosen.
2. Election of officers: All elections shall be by ballot unless by unanimous consent the ballot is dispensed with, and a majority of the votes cast shall be necessary to a choice.
Of the Standing Committee
The Council shall annually elect members of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Atlanta. When there is a Bishop canonically authorized to act, the Standing Committee shall be a Council of Advice to the Bishop and perform the rights and duties prescribed in the Constitution and Canons of the General Convention and the Canons of the Diocese. If there be no Bishop, or Bishop Coadjutor, or Bishop Suffragan canonically authorized to act, the Standing Committee shall be the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese for all purposes declared by General Convention.
Of the Election of a Bishop
The election of a Bishop of this Diocese shall be held at an annual session of the Council, or at a special meeting of the same, called for that purpose at least thirty days before the time for its meeting, the object being stated in the call and sent by the Secretary of the Standing Committee to all members of the Council. The election shall be concurrent vote by ballot of the clergy and laity, and a majority of each Order on the same ballot shall be necessary to an election.
Of Deputies to the General Convention
The Council shall, not later than twelve months before the opening date of the General Convention, elect four Presbyters or Deacons canonically resident in the Diocese and four lay persons, confirmed adult communicants of this Church in good standing in a Parish, Aided Parish or recognized Worshipping Community in the Diocese but not necessarily domiciled in the Diocese, as Deputies to the General Convention. Such Deputies shall be furnished with a certificate of their election, signed by the Secretary of the Council. The Deputies so elected shall be authorized to represent the Diocese in the next or any special meeting of the General Convention until their successors are chosen. The Council shall, at the same time and in the same manner, elect four Presbyters or Deacons and four lay persons, with like qualifications, as Alternates.
1. Admission: A new Parish may be admitted into union with the Council on motion, by a majority of votes of the Council, having complied with all canonical requirements.
2. Termination: The union of a Parish with the Council may be terminated on recommendation of the Bishop of Atlanta, by a vote by Orders of the Council with a majority of each order approving, all canonical requirements having been complied with.
3. Aided parish: The term “Aided Parish” is included in the term “Parish” unless specific exception be made in any portion of the Constitution or Canons of the Diocese.
Of Amendments to the Constitution
A proposed amendment to this Constitution, if adopted by the Council, shall be referred to the next succeeding annual Council, and if by it adopted, shall become effective.