New Constitution & Canons, and More – News Roundup December 2023

Welcome to the News Roundup, where we aim to provide brief recaps of current news from the Diocese, including the Standing Committee, Task Forces, and more.

Watch this video of Bishop Stewart’s Christmas greetings:

In This Issue: 
New Constitution and Canons
Standing Committee Members Elected
Annual Report Highlights
Task Force Updates

New Constitution and Canons
At the Diocesan Assembly on Saturday, December 16, the revised Constitution was ratified and canonical amendments were passed by an overwhelming majority of active clergy and delegates. Over the course of the last 14 months, the task force worked collaboratively to receive and discuss input from the American Anglican Council (AAC), the Bishop’s Council, clergy and lay delegates, and ultimately members of the Diocese. 

Significant revisions to the Canons and Constitution included: 

  • Creation of a Synod (replacing the Diocesan Assembly), the primary legislative body composed of clergy and an elected number of lay delegates based on each congregation’s average Sunday attendance. 
  • A Standing Committee elected by the Synod–the Bishop plus three clergy and three laity–assumed oversight of functions of the Bishop’s Council, and other powers and duties as described in the Canons. 
  • Amplifications to Title IV, accusations against priests or deacons, such as:
    • clarified mandated reporter responsibilities (Canon II.5.5)
    • creation of an Internal Review Committee (Canon IV.1.1)
    • a canonical investigator informed by Diocesan policies (Canon IV.4.1.3)

The Constitution and Canons will continue to undergo review in the life of the Diocese through an established Committee. The new Constitution and Canons will be available soon on the diocesan website.

In addition to our Constitution and Canons, governing documents of the Diocese include policies and customaries. Policies approved by the Standing Committee reflect best practices and learnings, usually involve a task force, and provide greater detail. Customaries articulate the customs or practices of the church, and are developed by the Bishop in consultation with the Canon Theologian, Standing Committee, and clergy. These documents would entail liturgy or clergy practice like premarital process or ordination process.

Standing Committee Members Elected
In October, members of the Diocese submitted nominees to the Standing Committee (as described in the last News Roundup here). From the nominees received, the Bishop’s Council created a nominee slate of 12 candidates, six clergy and six laity to fill three clergy seats and three lay seats. 

Following approval of the Constitution and Canons on December 16, the newly formed Synod subsequently met that day. Synod delegates elected these six Standing Committee members:
Fr. Kent Anderson (WI)
Dcn. Kaitlyn Wallet (WI)
Dcn. Will Chester ( IL)
Kate Clark (IL)
Dan Easley (WI)
Alyssa Tennison (MN)

You can read their bios here.

Annual Report Highlights
Bishop Stewart’s 2023 Annual Report included these highlights: 

  • First Revive Conference in two years with in-person participants from around the Diocese. Featured testimonies from church leaders of God’s power at work in congregations; stories of work among migrants, ministry happening in multiple care facilities, deeply practical ways of caring for the unborn and their mothers, and next generation missions work. This ministry is taking place in cities, rural towns, and suburbs.
  • Confirmations and Receptions – 97
  • Ordinations of three new deacons: Dcn. Andy Bramsen, Dcn. Erica Hoyt, and a global partner serving in a high-risk location. 
  • Average Sunday attendance: 2,332

Task Force Updates:

Child Protection Standards
All diocesan churches are continuing to work to align their current child protection policies with the Child Protection Policy Standards by the end of this year. You can read the Standards here. Churches will continue to review and update their policies annually in accordance with the evolving Standards. 

The current diocesan budget includes a part-time safeguarding coordinator position, who, among other responsibilities, wil review evolving best practices, help update the Standards, and assist with additional policies and guidelines. The Upper Midwest remains committed to equipping staff, clergy, and congregations to help protect its most vulnerable members. 

Misconduct Prevention Task Force
This task force aims to create a diocesan policy to address the prevention of abuse in our churches, creating a safer environment for all people, especially the most vulnerable. The task force is gathering resources from other dioceses and will include the work currently underway by the ACNA Governance Task Force involving new processes and mechanisms to receive and respond to allegations of misconduct. 

RSO Task Force
​​The Registered Sex Offender (RSO) Task Force, whose members include clergy, a lawyer, and a lay leader who has experience ministering to RSOs, is in the final steps of formalizing RSO Policy Guidelines for diocesan churches. These policy guidelines have been crafted so that they can be adapted to a wide variety of contexts, from a small church plant to a large established congregation. After extensive research, including other churches’ policies, and in consultation with a legal group who specializes in helping churches develop such policies, the policy guidelines were recently reviewed by Brotherhood Mutual Legal Assist. The task force is in the process of applying those suggestions.

Save the Dates!
Synod & Revive Conference  – October 24-26, 2024

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: 

  1. UMD Stories e-newsletter, which provides encouraging ministry news of how the Lord is moving through churches in the diocese. (See the July issue)
  2. The News Roundup, launched this year to provide brief recaps of current news from the Diocese, including the Standing Committee, Task Forces, and more. 
  3. 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)

Subscribe here to receive our News Roundup, UMD Stories, Leaders’ Latest, and other updates from the Diocese.