Deanery Convocations

Canon 9.02

Resolved, that Canon IX, Section 9.02 of the Canons of the Diocese of California be amended as follows (deletions in bold strikethrough text, insertions in bold italic text):

Sec. 9.02. Convocation.

There shall be a convocation for each Deanery at least four two times a year, one of which shall be held between November 1 and December 31 of each year to elect representatives to Executive Council September 7 and the Annual Diocesan Convention to consider matters coming before the Convention. All Clerics serving congregations and institutions or who have been assigned by the Bishop to duties within the Deanery, and all Delegates and alternates representing congregations within the Deanery, shall be entitled to a vote. All other Clerics Canonically Resident in the Diocese and residing in the Deanery and all communicants in good standing of The Episcopal Church registered in a congregation in the Deanery shall have seat and voice, but not vote.


Proponent’s Explanation: 

Current canon requires deaneries to hold four meetings a year, and hold one for the election of representative to Executive Council between November 1 and December 31. This change would allow deaneries, at the discretion of lay and clergy leadership, to meet two times a year, one of which will be a pre- Diocesan Convention meeting held between September 7 and the date of convention. These dates are based on when convention materials will be available to the deaneries. 

Deaneries are not limited to two meetings, but must hold two. Each deanery can decide how many total meetings are needed for delegates to engage in diocesan governance and topics within the deanery. The goal of this canon change is to give each deanery the freedom and authority to decide how many meetings are needed, while not requiring more meetings than a deanery may need.   

Note: Each deanery will need to make provision for the election of representatives to Executive Council, taking into account those from the deanery who are running for Executive Council at Diocesan Convention. 


Submitted by: 

The Rev. Chris Rankin-Williams, Marin Deanery (
The Rev. David Ota, Peninsula Deanery


Endorsed by:

The Rev. Melanie Donahoe, Peninsula Deanery
The Rev. Richard Helmer, Marin Deanery
Ms. Sarah Lawton, San Francisco Deanery
The Rev. Christopher Martin, Marin Deanery
Mr. Warren Wong, San Francisco Deanery


This proposed canon misunderstands the importance of the deaneries in Church governance.

In 2010, the Deanery Task Force (DTF), after two years of work, successfully recommended a canon amendment requiring four convocations per year for two reasons. Although the canon at the time, like this proposal, called for only two, most of the deanery bylaws called for four. The DTF hoped that a permanent baseline of four meetings would lead to more gatherings to explore and implement inter-parish interaction and leadership, and in fact recommended five or six meetings per year.
Second, under the 2010 amendments, the deaneries’ duties expanded; instead of just being a venue for hearing about the upcoming convention, the deaneries were expected to provide education in the governance of the Diocese, model mutual lay/clergy leadership training and development; provide communication between the Diocese and the congregations and institutions located in the Deanery; and offer support to ministries located in the Deanery. Maybe all that could be squeezed into four meetings, the DTF implicitly thought, but not two.

Realizing how all things change, the DTF made provisions for change. First, it recommended that “the structure of the Deaneries should be subject to ongoing routine review by the Committee on Governance or other appropriate body to assure that the structure continues to meet current needs and is in accord with best practices.” In addition, a new canon established the Deanery Coordinating Committee (DCC), which is composed of the officers of all deaneries and meets at least quarterly to review the overall functioning of the deaneries and exchange ideas. It has, for example, offered to help the Peninsula Deanery in any way it can, given that deanery’s current crisis of leadership.

Instead of approaching these existing structures with suggestions on improving the deaneries, including reducing the number of meetings, the leadership of the Marin Deanery was simply asked whether the number of meetings could be reduced to two. Since it couldn’t, this proposed canon change was offered.
The proposal carries grave risks. Should it pass, it is clear that there will be an effort to reduce the number of Marin Deanery convocations to two meetings a year, and this may or may not succeed. If it does, the reduced number will indubitably lead to decreased experimentation in the format of meetings, such as the recently started voluntary theological reflection program. It may lead to much longer meetings, focused on business, rather than allowing delegates to meet with each other and talk about the workings of their churches. It may lead to a flight of officers or of attending delegates, dooming the deanery entirely.

If we are to make changes in deanery governance, it is far better to have discussions with the bodies designed to work with all the moving pieces, rather than to shoot from the hip. This proposal, which is opposed by the DCC, should be rejected.

Jay Luther
Interim Chair
Deanery Coordinating Committee

2nd Vice President
Marin Deanery

(Endorsements to follow)

It seems to me that we all agree that our congregations need each other more than ever, and that we need to find ways to work together if we're going to make a missional impact on our communities. This proposal seems to be headed in the opposite direction. It also acknowledges that "Each deanery will need to make provision for the election of representatives to Executive Council, taking into account those from the deanery who are running for Executive Council at Diocesan Convention." So it admits it creates a problem without offering a solution. I can't support this change.
Dave Frangquist
Secretary of the Convention
Member, 2010 Deaneries Task Force

Below is an FAQ about this canon change. Ministry of deanery in not only defined by work the of the deanery convocation.
This canon change is focused specifically around fostering missional impact over holding meetings because a canon requires meetings to be held.

What is the objective of the canon change?
To bring minimum deanery meeting requirements into conformity with the requirements of the wider canons.
Under the canons, the deanery convocation has two primary governance tasks: prepare for Diocesan Convention and the election of officers to Executive Council. The canons would still require a minimum of two meetings to fulfil these governance obligations.
Additional deanery meetings could be scheduled at each deanery’s discretion to accomplish local mission goals.

Does this canon change limit the number of deanery meetings?
No. It gives each deanery the freedom to decide how often and when they want to meet. Lay and clergy leaders of each deanery would work with deanery delegates to determine what meetings are wanted/needed beyond the minimal canonical two-meeting requirement.

How does this impact ministry in a deanery?
A deanery is a geographical area comprised of all the congregations within that area. The ministry of a deanery is all the ministry taking place in the deanery, not only the work of delegates and deanery meetings. In some deaneries, most collaboration between congregations takes place outside of the formal meetings of deanery, acknowledging different passions and skill sets, and that some work does not fit well into the structure of a deanery meeting. Other deaneries utilize delegates and deanery meetings for collaborative ministry within a deanery. This canon change simply gives each deanery the freedom to operate in a way that best fosters the ministry of the entire deanery. There is no requirement that all collaborative ministry in a deanery flow through a deanery convocation.

Does this canon change limit the ministry of lay delegates?
No. It empowers lay delegates and clergy to meet based on local mission and ministry objectives while still meetings governance obligations. It gives lay delegates more of a voice in how often and why deanery meetings are held.

Does this mean clergy are only required to attend two deanery meetings?
No. All clergy and lay delegates are expected to participate in the two required meetings AND any additional meetings, if a deanery decides to hold more. The clergy alone do not decide what meetings a deanery will hold. In deaneries where clergy participation is low, we hope this change will encourage clergy participation.

I am pleased to report that Scott Buckingham, President of the Alameda Deanery, and Jim Wiant, Vice President of the Contra Costa Deanery, join in my above Opposition to the proposed amendment to Canon 9.02.

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