Resolution A:
Amend Article VI Sec. 6.4
of the Constitution 

Lay members of Executive Council and Standing Committee as Delegates of Convention



Secretary of the Convention

Last Update: November 20th, 2023


The 174th Convention postponed this constitutional amendment indefinitely. 

Resolved, That Article VI of the Constitution of the Diocese of California be amended as follows:

(deletions in bold strikethrough text and insertions in bold italic text):

Sec. 6.4. The delegates and alternates, who shall must be members of The Episcopal Church as defined by its Canons, shall be elected annually by the Cathedral congregation and by each parish and mission congregation in union with the Convention in accordance with the Canons of the Diocese. Each such delegate and alternate shall must be a member of the congregation from which elected.  Additionally, all duly elected and appointed lay members of the Standing Committee and the Executive Council will be delegates until the adjournment of every Convention held during their terms. 


This constitutional amendment will be presented to the Convention in 2023 for a first reading and vote. If adopted, it will only come into effect following a second reading and adoption at the regular meeting of Convention in 2024.

Article VI.4 is also clarified by replacing several of the ambiguous “shall” verbs with the more precise “must”.


Q: Why make this change?  

A:  The bigger question is why have we not made this change?  Today, lay Convention reps to the Executive Council and the Standing Committee are excluded from voting in Convention unless they have taken the extra step to be elected in any given year as Convention delegates by their congregations.  Members of Executive Council and Standing Committee are arguably particularly well-informed on Diocesan issues and serve for, respectively, three and four-year terms.  They are elected to those positions specifically by Convention delegates.  In some cases, lay Convention reps are senior officers in the Executive Council and the Standing Committee, but are still not allowed to vote at Convention, while clergy Convention reps are allowed to vote in all cases.  The proposed change creates fairness and parity in voting between lay and clergy serving in senior leadership positions.  Other Dioceses have made this update, particularly those who have newer canons. One example in California is the Diocese of El Camino Real.

Q:  Will lay members of the Standing Committee and the Executive Council count as part of their congregational delegation?

A: No. Unless otherwise elected as delegates to represent their congregations, lay members of the Executive Council and the Standing Committee would represent their respective governance bodies as delegates. Their congregations will remain eligible to send an elected delegation whose size is determined under Section 6.6 of the Constitution.

Q: Why does it read, “through the adjournment of every Convention held during their terms”?

A: To make clear that lay Standing Committee members terming out at the election of their successors during Convention continue serving as delegates until that Convention adjourns. Executive Council members’ terms, under the current canons, begin in January of the year following their election.  To be more specific, this change is being sought because of long-term fairness and to fully utilize expertise in Convention. The maximum number of lay votes added would be no more than six and as few as three and the change wouldn’t be effective until the 2024 Convention. 

Q: Will adopting this change affect the voting delegates for the bishop’s election this December?

No. Convention must adopt this constitutional amendment with a majority vote at two conventions in order for it to come into effect, so the earliest it could become effective would be during the next regular meeting of the Convention in the autumn of 2024.

Submitted by:

Sherry Lund, Chair of Executive Council
The Rev. Br. Richard Edward Helmer, Secretary of the Convention


  1. Emily Hopkins

    I appreciate this change that will empower more and well-informed lay people.

    • Emily Hopkins

      Upon further reflection, I withdraw my support of this canon change. Do we want to create super-delegates? This has the potential to create up to 20 of them, a significant voting bloc. Surely our efforts should be directed to informing and engaging the broader electorate.

      • Sherry Lund

        There is no exchange of effort here in approving this change and informing and engaging the broader electorate (I support the latter entirely). We can do both. I confess that I don’t understand the reference to super-delegates, but there is no significant “voting pad” by making this change.

        In actuality, there are 70 members of the clergy (fully retired, serving in various parishes or in other capacities) that, by current Canon, could submit a letter to the Bishop, be seated at this Convention, and vote. That is stacked against another perhaps 5-7 lay votes for people who are elected by you and specifically represent you, the whole Convention. There is a tremendous numbers bias for Clergy vs. Lay votes built into our current structure. Adding 4 or even 7 lay votes would barely make a dent in the inequity that is already present.

  2. La diputación de la comunidad El Buen Pastor, Belmont

    [See below for our best try at an English translation]

    Esta resolución propone separar a un pequeño grupo de laicos que son elegidos por la convención –y no representativamente por las congregaciones– para comités de liderazgo. La resolución propone dar a estos líderes laicos un voto en la convención sólo porque forman parte del Comité Permanente o del Consejo Ejecutivo. La justificación es que el clero elegido para formar parte de estos comités puede votar en la convención en virtud de su orden. Parece que la situación actual hace que los laicos en los comités se sientan tratados de manera desigual.

    Decir que los miembros laicos no delegados del Comité Permanente o del Consejo Ejecutivo son víctimas del clericalismo porque no tienen derecho a votar en la convención en virtud de su servicio en el comité es una falta de respeto para aquellos de nosotros que realmente hemos experimentado lo que se siente no poder votar y ser víctimas de quienes hablan por y por nosotros en la iglesia y en la sociedad.

    Nuestra pregunta es, ¿por qué los laicos que sirven en estos comités no están satisfechos con su ya tremenda influencia en la diócesis a través de su servicio en los comités de liderazgo? ¿Cuánta influencia necesitan? ¿Por qué no pueden confiar en que los delegados laicos y el clero voten, como lo hacen todos los demás? El clero puede votar en virtud de su orden, lo que requiere años de discernimiento a nivel comunitario y diocesano, capacitación y rendición de cuentas continua en una escala no comparable al trabajo de los laicos en la iglesia. Los dos órdenes son diferentes, eso es parte de nuestra política y de nuestra identidad.

    Si bien es posible que otras diócesis no valoren la equidad entre todos los delegados en el orden laico, esperamos que la Diócesis de California sea líder en justicia social y preserve la elección congregacional como el único medio equitativo por el cual los laicos votan en la convención. Hay tantas cosas que podemos hacer para abordar el clericalismo, pero esta resolución tiene consecuencias no deseadas: priva de sus derechos a las personas que se encuentran en los márgenes de la iglesia al erosionar la equidad de acceso al voto en el orden laico.

    [Translation to English through Google translate, from the delegation of El Buen Pastor de Belmont, a Spanish-speaking community in existence for nearly thirty years and able to vote at convention since 2021 thanks to the efforts of Bishop Marc, with support form Christopher Hayes and Father/Brother Richard Edward Helmer. We ask for your grace with the challenges of language differences as we write from our hearts on this matter with support from clergy and lay supporters.]

    This resolution proposes to set apart a small group of laypeople who are elected by the convention––and not representatively by congregations––to leadership committees. The resolution proposes to give these lay leaders a vote at convention only because they serve on Standing Committee or Executive Council. The justification is that clergy elected to serve on these committees can vote at convention by virtue of their order. It appears that the current situation makes laypeople on the committees feel unequally treated.

    To say that non-delegate lay members of Standing Committee or Executive Council are victims of clericalism because they are not entitled to a vote at convention by virtue of their committee service is disrespectful to those of us who have truly experienced what it feels like not to be able to vote and to be victims of those who speak for and over us in the church and in society.

    Our question is, why are the laypeople serving on these committees not satisfied with their already tremendous influence in the diocese through their service on leadership committees? How much influence do they need? Why can they not rely on the lay delegates and clergy to vote, as everyone else does? Clergy are able to vote by virtue of their order, which requires years of discernment at the community and diocesan levels, training, and ongoing accountability on a scale not comparable to the work of laypeople in the church. The two orders are different, that is part of our polity and our identity.

    While other dioceses might not value equity among all delegates in the lay order, we hope the Diocese of California will be a leader in social justice and preserve congregational election as the sole, equitable, means by which laypeople vote at convention. There are so many things we can do to address clericalism, but this resolution has unintended consequences: it disenfranchises people at the margins of the church by eroding equity of access to voting in the lay order.

    • Sherry Lund

      • Your observation that denying a few lay people the ability to vote causes them to feel unequally treated is accurate. I am sorry to hear that you feel that this is disrespectful to your feelings of not being able to vote. There is certainly no intent. Many of us are specifically attracted to the Episcopal Church for its strong advocacy for social justice. While there is much work to be done, we are committed to the path of justice for all.

      • You suggest that leaders are dissatisfied with their influence on the Diocese and that we may be seeking more power and influence. I would invite you to think about this issue a little differently. I would suggest that members of the Standing Committee and Executive Council have agreed to be in these roles to serve the church that they love and to work to assure that it will exist for successive generations. We are people in the pews, just like others, trying to do our best. When my term is over, I am not seeking any other office. I will have served my term and my church as best I can.

      • You talk about your desire to “preserve congregational election.” If I am hearing this correctly, it sounds like you are advocating for keeping the current system of proportionate votes for lay members. But if there is no limit to the number of clergy members who can vote (there may be one per mission or parish, or four or five; some retired; some working in other capacities), that disrupts the concept of proportionate voting and shared lay/clergy governance. I would say that the system is not proportionate or equitable today.

      • I would add that there is a significant logical inconsistency built into today’s voting practice. The Executive Council is specifically charged with representing the Convention when Convention is not in session. That means that all Executive Council members (including those who are not given a vote at Convention) vote on matters of governance in the Diocese 363 and ¾ days of the year, but not on the 1 and ¼ day that Convention is in session.

      • Why would someone want to vote? Probably for the same reason that women wanted to vote and why it is so important and meaningful: to share equally in the democracy in which they reside; and in this case, to share in the community of faith that they love and serve.

  3. Warren Wong

    Dear Clergy and Lay Delegates:
    I raised a question after the All-Deanery Zoom session on Sept. 7 to Br. Secretary and to DioCal Executive Council chair Lund.

    Reading the proposed text: “Additionally, all duly elected and appointed lay members of the Standing Committee and the Executive Council will be delegates until the adjournment of every Convention held during their terms. ”

    This legislative language also applies to the Lay members of Executive Council elected or appointed by each of the six deaneries (between 6 to 12 delegates) as well any of the Lay members appointed by the Bishop (upto 5 seats).

    Therefore, this Amendment to the DioCal Constitional will actually increase the number of Lay delegates between 13 to 27 seats detailed below:
    Standing Committee (4)
    Executive Council
    – dio convention (3-6)
    – six deaneries (6-12)
    – Bishop’s appointees (0-5)

    In summation, I propose we table this legislation and explore a better alternative for the 175th Diocesan Convention after we elect and confer with the Bishop Coadjutor. Thank you.
    Thank you.

    • Sherry Lund

      • There is a tendency to “do further study and ask the new Bishop” on a huge number of issues. One of the Executive Council’s values this year is to fully engage in our work now, and not put everything on hold for a new Bishop. We want to be in the best shape possible when we welcome that new leader. Because a constitutional amendment like this will require two annual conventions and the Bishop’s concurrence to pass, the new Bishop will have ample opportunity to weigh in on the proposal ahead of next year’s Convention.

      • Warren does raise one good point on the numbers affected. I did not intend to include the Bishop’s Appointees (1-5) as delegates, as they are appointed by one person (the Bishop) rather than elected by a body. I appreciate that point and plan to make this amendment on the floor.

      • Warren suggests that (subtracting the up to 5 Bishop’s Nominees), theoretically 24 additional votes could be added. In reality, this year, only 5 EC/SC members combined are not parish delegates and would be the additional numbers allowed to vote. The large majority of deanery-elected members are also Convention delegates for their parishes.

      • Dave Frangquist

        This is getting pretty messy. The purpose of having bishop’s appointments to Executive Council was to help ensure that EC has the resources it needs for its work and that underrepresented communities are included. Appointees don’t necessarily speak for the bishop. What message are we sending if someone appointed to include an underrepresented community is then excluded from the privilege accorded to other members of EC? We seem to be uncovering a number of unintended consequences here. I suggest that may indicate that this constitutional change is not ready to move forward.

  4. Rev. Jon Owens

    I think if we want to be inclusional and respect people’s time you give them a vote. the reality is this would not impact this many as many delegates already serve on the deanery and get elected to the council or committee. The reality is this is not a super bloc, people who serve on our EC or standing committee are not trying to become super delegates and they don’t have time to to craft resolutions for convention, but what they are responsible often is toe result of convention and the execution of everything we vote on. People on these committees usually are slightly more informed than the standard delegate because they deal with these issues each month as opposed to a simple debate that the Diocese of California convention often likes to get itself into and not always help people get the full background. Having served as a former chair of Executive Council I am in favor of this resolution. It is just good common sense. Why wouldn’t you want people to chime in with a vote if you are going to have them work on your wishes? Executive Council is tasked specifically with handling the temporal affairs and representing the convention between conventions, but you don’t want them to vote? That doesn’t make a lot of sense.

  5. Br. Richard Edward Helmer

    For reference, several dioceses — both relatively new and longstanding — have provisions similar to this proposal in their constitution and canons that enfranchise lay members of their Standing Committee and their Board of Trustees/Board of Directors (equivalent to our Executive Council) with seat, voice, and vote at their conventions. These several dioceses include El Camino Real (here in the State of California), Oregon, Olympia, and Colorado.

    • Deb White

      Br. Richard Edward, I see that there is a difference in what Sherry and Warren have identified as the correct number of delegates this might effect. I recognize that this changes depending on the year, but can you please provide an educated guess so that we can better analyze the possible implications of this change?

      • Richard Edward Helmer

        Thank you for the question. Having reviewed our list in credentials today, I can confirm that for this convention, there are 6 lay members of Executive Council and 1 lay member of Standing Committee who are not elected delegates to the Convention. (A total of 7.)

  6. Patricia Ramírez Herrick

    Gracias por esta respetuosa discusión.

    Nuestra perspectiva es que el orden del clero es distinto y no comparable, razón por la cual vota por separado hacia una mayoría distinta. Escribimos desde el orden laico a favor de la elección representativa como medio único y equitativo de poder votar para los laicos. Esta medida va demasiado lejos y erosiona esa igualdad en el orden público.

    Las personas elegidas a servir por la convención y no por las congregaciones no deberían tener voto en el orden laico. El servicio en estos grupos de liderazgo conlleva suficiente influencia; una votación con consecuencias injustas no deseadas no está justificada y no debería ocurrir. Esto es injusto e irrespetuoso para aquellos de nosotros que entendemos lo que realmente se siente al no tener voz.

    In English translation:

    Thank you for this respectful discussion.

    Our perspective is that the clergy order is distinct and not comparable, which is why it votes separately toward a separate majority. We write from the lay order in favor of representative election as the sole and equitable means of the ability to vote among laypeople. This measure goes too far and erodes that equality in the lay order.

    People elected to serve by the convention and not by congregations should not have a vote in the lay order. Service on leadership bodies comes with enough influence; a vote with unintended unjust consequences is not warranted and should not occur. This is unjust and disrespectful to those of us who understand what it really feels like not to have a voice.

  7. Ron Hermanson

    I would also be interested to table this for now and have the Committee on Governance review the proposal to determine any unintended consequences and bring back a proposal; for next year. During this review, there might be a more full review of whether of not we have other inequities in voting or lack of access. Specifically, it is my understanding our institutions do not have both voice and vote and would like to see this changed.


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