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: September 5th, 2023


Under Review by the Committee on Canons

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.

  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.


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