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Mass. Studies Canons, Constitution

Tracy J. Sukraw of the Diocese of Massachusetts reports on a review of the diocese’s constitution and canons:

Working closely with the bishops and chancellor of the diocese, members of the Committee on Constitution and Canons have been consulting and meeting over the past several months with diocesan governance groups and staff, deanery assemblies and clergy groups to get initial input, and they continue to welcome additional questions and suggestions through June 15, by e-mail to cccommittee@diomass.org.

Why? Most in the diocesan community haven’t read through these governing documents recently—if ever—so why ask for their suggestions? Why are the constitution and canons important? Why revise them?

“The mission strategy adopted in 2016 asked our diocese to take a look at its governance to see where it works and where it needs changes to make it much more responsive to the needs of the church going forward,” the Rev. Christine Whittaker, the committee’s chairperson, said in an interview.

Four of the committee’s five members are lawyers and all have expertise in Episcopal Church structure and governance. Still, they see responsibility for the task at hand as one they share with the entire diocesan community, they said in interviews.

“In doing this, we really want to consult as widely as possible,” Whittaker said. “We’re not aiming to go away in a corner and come back with what we as a committee think would be the perfect constitution and canons, and then say to everyone, ‘Here you are.’ We see ourselves really as the people who will put into effect what our diocese wants and needs.”

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