Resolution #7: Standardized Templates for Key Common Personnel and Administrative Documents

Secretary of the Convention

Last Update
October 25th, 2021

The Convention took no action on this resolution. The Committee on Resolutions referred this matter to Executive Council for further action.

Resolved, That the 172nd Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of California, in accord with the Diocese of California’s commitment to Collaboration and Transparent and Accountable Leadership, requests Executive Committee to establish a program to provide standardized templates, or the functional equivalent, for certain documents commonly needed by parishes and missions;

Resolved, That such documents, or equivalents, shall include (1) Church Employee/Personnel Manual for parishes and missions, specifying at least the minimum requirements required by law and policies of this Diocese and The Episcopal Church for employment practices; (2) a template for Real Estate Equity Share Agreements between clergy and parishes and missions; (3) a template for a Facility Use and Rental Policy Agreement; and (4) such other documents as Executive Council shall direct; 


Resolved, That the program shall further provide for the regular and ongoing maintenance and update of all such documents, as necessary, and for the training of parishes and missions in their use;

Resolved, That except to the extent that Executive Council shall determine the implementation of this resolution to be infeasible in whole or in part, this Convention requests that it be implemented as quickly as possible; and

Resolved, That Executive Council shall report its progress in implementing this Resolution to the 173rd Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of California.

An employee manual is a tool of Transparent Leadership, one of the foundational tenets of The Beloved Community. It sets clear expectations for employees, and provides clear, accessible information. It usually addresses the organization mission and values, clarifies expectations, offers support, outlines benefits, the processes for requesting vacation sick leave, or other time off, and describes disciplinary processes. It enables policies to be clearly and consistently interpreted, applied, and communicated. It equips clergy members and managers with information needed to answer questions and make decisions and ensure answers and actions are consistent with policies. It saves time. When questions arise, the manager doesn’t have to investigate past practices, understand what others do, etc. It helps to ensure fairness between and among employees. Consistent compliance with policies provides a better workplace for employees. It reduces confusion and misunderstandings about practices and expectations. 


The other two templates are frequently needed by parishes and also lend themselves to centralized development. “Collaboration to build the Beloved Community is sharing resources among congregations and working with external agencies that provide services we do not or cannot.”

Shared housing/equity agreements are complex agreements often developed by vestries who are inexperienced with them and who may only create one every 5-20 (or more) years. There have been numerous examples of subsequent misunderstandings and difficulties that have arisen with these due to the lack of experience with them and the haste in which they are created during hiring. 

Another common need is for a parish facilities and rental agreement. 

Collaboration is good stewardship. Requiring each parish to retain separate legal counsel to create and re-create these handbooks and documents is inefficient and expensive. 

An Employee/Personnel Handbook is one of the basic tools that is part of being a good employer. Employees deserve to have transparency and clarity about vacation time, sick and maternity/paternity leave, and other policies. This clarity also benefits clergy who may not be sure what is best or even common practice. Employers and employees should be able to consult the Handbook to answer their questions and know that there is consistency in application of policies. For a Handbook to be useful, it is not enough to create it, but it must be updated, and those changes need to be communicated in a timely manner to parishes. 


Equity Share agreements for housing between parishes and clergy are common but not uniform and have sometimes resulted in unnecessary disagreements and conflict after the fact. 


Facility Use and Rental agreements are common to most, if not all, parishes. Individual parishes may fill in their own pricing structure and make simple modifications as needed, but it doesn’t make sense for each parish to hire legal assistance to re-create the same basic template. 


This resolution will benefit clergy, lay leaders, employees, as well as parishes in that there will be more direction and uniformity from church to church and an overall saving in costs as well as paid and volunteer time. Today, many congregations are repeating the same work to develop the same documents and processes. Centralizing these common efforts allow congregants and Vestries to focus more time and money on the work of the Church and less on duplicating work required to run the Church. 


Submitted by
The Rev. Beth Phillips, Rector, Christ Church Portola Valley and Woodside,
The Rev. Iain Stanford, Rector, St. Peter’s Redwood City 


Endorsed by 
The Rev. Michael P. Barham, Vicar Holy Family Episcopal Church, Half Moon Bay and Good Shepherd, Belmont
The Rev. Todd Bryant, Rector, St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, Danville
The Rev. Jeff Dodge, Rector, St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Fremont
The Rev. Melanie Donahoe, Rector, Church of the Epiphany, San Carlos
The Rev. Stacey Grossman, Priest in Charge, St. Francis of Assisi, Novato
The Rev. Dede Jameson, Deacon, Christ Church Portola Valley
The Rev. Rob Voyle, Interim, Trinity Church, Menlo Park
The Rev. Lori Walton, St. James, Fremont

The Rev. Jane McDougle, Vicar Holy Innocents, San Francisco

The Vestry of Trinity Menlo Park

The Rev. Dr. Stephen Hassett, Rector, St. Stephen’s Orinda
   Vestry:    Betsy Biern, Senior Warden
                   John Donnelly, Junior Warden
                   Roy Elliott, Treasurer
                   Dan Swander, Finance Committee Chair
                   Maria Hjelm, Vestry and Stewardship Chair
                   Jan Spieth, Vestry and Parish Life Chair