23 Aug News Roundup
Welcome to the News Roundup, where we aim to provide brief recaps of current news from the Diocese, including the Bishop’s Council, Task Forces, and more.
Canons and Constitution Task Force
When our Diocese was formed in 2013, the Constitution and Canons that we drafted alongside the American Anglican Council provided us with a foundation to facilitate our mission of revival in the Upper Midwest. As we have grown in the past ten years and faced recent challenges, it has become clear to our diocesan leaders that an update of our Constitution and Canons is needed.
Constitution and Canons are governing documents that operate as a kind of lived out theology of the Church. As the Church pursues her mission to seek and save the lost, these documents provide the needed structure for her life and her missionary endeavors. The Constitution provides a broad framework, while the Canons specify essential details. Last December, after significant discussion, our Diocesan Assembly ratified a revised constitution by a two-thirds majority vote. While working on the revised Constitution, we realized that the Canons, which are far more detailed, require ample time for review.
Thus, the Bishop’s Council approved the creation of the Canons Task Force.
This Task Force, led by Chancellor Charlie Philbrick, is comprised of lay and clergy members from each deanery. They have created a working draft of the revised Canons that will undergo review and feedback opportunities under this working timeline:
- August 29: Review Canon changes with American Anglican Council
- September 11: Draft will be presented to the Bishop’s Council for review and feedback
- September 25–October 9: Draft will be shared with the Diocese for open comment by church members
- October 10–20: Final draft to be created by the Task Force working with the American Anglican Council and Bishop’s Council
- October 21: Draft will be shared with delegates of the General Assembly
- October 26: Delegates will vote on the final draft Canons at the General Assembly
- October 27: Assuming the second ratification of our Constitution and the passage of our revised Canons, we will gather as a “Synod,” which replaces the Diocesan Assembly
We are thankful that the American Anglican Council is consulting with the Task Force again on the proposed Canon revisions, as it did for the Constitution. Laity and clergy from across the Diocese will have opportunity to review and provide feedback before the final revisions are ultimately voted on by delegates at the General Assembly.
Child Protection Standards Task Force
What are the Standards?
Over the past year, ministry leaders from various churches and each deanery collaborated to create a set of minimum Child Protection Policy Standards that each church must follow and review annually. These draft Standards provide a baseline for consistency across the Diocese, although policies will continue to vary based on church size and state requirements.
How are the Standards vetted to ensure best practices?
These draft Standards were approved by the Bishop’s Council in November 2022 and reviewed by Brotherhood Legal Assist in February 2023. All rectors received a copy for review last year, and the Diocese is continuing to gather feedback from churches during a “beta” period this year. We will then evaluate and adjust the Standards for a final version that will be reviewed yearly and updated as best practices evolve in the larger realm of child and youth safeguarding.
How are churches held accountable?
All churches are already in the process of working to align their current child protection policies with the existing Standards by the end of 2023. Churches will review and update their policies annually in accordance with the evolving Standards. The proposed diocesan budget includes a part-time safeguarding position to oversee church compliance and reporting. This person will also review ongoing best practices and help update the Standards. The Upper Midwest is committed to equipping staff, clergy, and congregations to help protect its most vulnerable members.
Other Task Forces:
Clergy Discipline Task Force
Bishop Martyn Minns continues his leadership of the Clergy Discipline Task Force. In April, he completed six months of walking alongside our Diocese as assigned by the Province. Since then, he has served as a consulting bishop to the Upper Midwest, per Bishop Stewart’s request and the Bishop’s Council approval.
The Task Force’s charge is to process and bring to conclusion any concerns or other matters involving diocesan deacons or priests that arose during Bishop Stewart’s leave of absence. It is reviewing relevant materials and seeking expert counsel in determining next steps for those situations—whether that’s reconciliation, formal discipline, or ongoing supervision.
Misconduct Prevention Task Force
In March, the Diocese approved the Misconduct Prevention Task Force to research best practices and guidelines that help prevent misconduct, protocols for reporting concerning behavior, and safeguarding the most vulnerable in our churches–the elderly, and the mentally or physically challenged. The scope of the Task Force’s work will extend beyond the prevention of sexual misconduct to include bullying, harassment, and more.
RSO Policy Task Force
This task force is developing diocesan standards regarding the attendance of registered sex offenders in our churches.
The Upper Midwest seeks to connect you to leaders and ministries across the Diocese via timely updates, clear information, and encouraging ministry reports via three publications:
- UMD Stories e-newsletter, which provides encouraging ministry news of how the Lord is moving through churches in the diocese. (See the July issue)
- The News Roundup, launched this year to provide brief recaps of current news from the Diocese, including the Bishop’s Council, Task Forces, and more. (See the first issue this April)
- Leaders’ Latest, our newest publication to provide regular greetings from Bp. Stewart and introduce another leader, whether a clergy, church staff member, or lay leader from around the Diocese. (See the first issue this June)
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