Beginners Guide to Parliamentary Procedure

Part of the work of the Diocesan Convention is to establish or to change policy for this diocese and to make recommendations to the General Convention of The Episcopal Church. The way we establish or change policy is through the adoption of resolutions. Resolutions may be presented to the convention by individual delegates or by diocesan committees, commissions, or other bodies. We participate in this decision-making process through parliamentary procedure modeled on the experience of the British Parliament.

Some basic elements in this process are:

A RESOLUTION, the means by which the convention takes action.

1. Resolutions may be presented by the Committee on Resolutions on the basis of:

a. Proposals submitted in advance by delegates,
b. Reports of other convention or diocesan committees, or
c. Its own initiative.

2. Any resolution proposed by a convention committee does not require a second.
3. In order for consideration to be given to a resolution submitted by a delegate after the deadline set by the Rules of Order, a 2/3 votes (to suspend the rules) is required.

An AMENDMENT to any resolution may be offered by a delegate.

It must be seconded and presented in writing to the secretary in order to be considered.

1. It must be germane to the intention of the resolution.
2. If an amendment is accepted by the original proposed and seconder, it becomes part of the main motion and does not require a separate vote.
3. An amendment can be offered to an amendment on the floor, but no other amendment can be offered until the one under consideration has been voted on.

A SUBSTITUTE for any resolution may be offered by a delegate.

1. It must deal with the same subject as the original resolution but with a different intention, so that if adopted it can replace the original.
2. It must be seconded and presented in writing to the secretary.
3. A substitute can be amended in the same way as the original resolution.
4. When debate on the substitute has been completed, the convention then returns to perfect the original resolution.
5. The substitute is voted on first. If it passes, it replaces the original, thus becoming the main motion, and then must be voted on again in order to be enacted. If it fails, the original resolution is before the convention.

DEBATE on a resolution is governed by the Rules of Order and any special rule offered by the Committee on Dispatch of Business.

1. Only clerical and lay delegates to convention may take part in debate.
2. Within the limits of the rules, debate can be terminated (“moving the previous question”) only by a 2/3 vote (because it requires a suspension of the rules, affecting the freedom of the house).
3. A “call for the question” from delegates does not bring debate to a close. That can be accomplished only when a delegate is recognized, moves the previous question, and the motion is seconded and passed by a 2/3 majority. When the chair asks “Are you ready for the question?” the chair is simply inquiring if any delegates wishes to speak further to the motion. If not, the chair puts the resolution to a vote.


1. When the time for debate on a resolution has ended, votes are taken on all pending motions.
2. In all voting, the ayes and nays may be called for by voice vote or by a show of  delegate cards.
3. If the chair is in doubt or a delegate and seconder so request, the tellers count the ayes and nays.
4. Delegates are to remain in their seats during voting.


1. The chair decides all questions of parliamentary order. Any delegates may appeal to the whole house from the ruling of the chair; in such case the question to the house is, “Shall the ruling of the chair be upheld?”
2. The rules of parliamentary procedure adopted in the past by the Diocesan Convention and amended from time to time guide the convention. In circumstances not covered by those rules, Robert’s Rules of Order are consulted.
3. The sole purpose of parliamentary procedure is to enable a large body to accomplish its work in an orderly and effective fashion, not to manipulate or frustrate. In that sense it is “gospel,” not “law.”