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Anglican Church Worldwide (ACW) > CANONS



I. Organization and Administration

Canon 1  Of The General Synod

1.01 Annually, and at the time and place appointed, the General Synod will convene; all delegates will be seated.  

1.02      The right of calling special meetings of the General Synod shall be the option of the House of Bishops vested in the Council of Bishops. An absolute majority of the Council is needed to call a special meeting.

1.03      The General Synod shall vote as one body.

1.04      All officers of the church shall be elected at the meeting of the General Synod.

The Treasurer shall give a bonded conditioned on the faithful performance of their duties.

1.05      The Metropolitan, or his proxy, shall preside over the Synod.                                  

Canon 2  Of the Presiding Bishop and the Council of Bishops

2.01      The Council of Bishops shall elect one of its number to be Presiding Bishop.

2.02      The Presiding Bishop shall preside over the House of  Bishops and take order for the consecration of bishops when duly elected. He shall perform such other duties prescribed for him by the House of Bishops of the Church.

2.03      In the event of the disability of the Presiding Bishop, the House of Bishops shall elect another by majority Bishop.

2.04      The term of office of the Presiding Bishop shall be two years. He may be re-elected for one additional two year term. The Presiding Bishop may resign his office with the consent of the majority of the Council of Bishops.

Canon 3   Of the General  Council

3.01      It shall be the duty of the general  Council, under the direction of the Presiding Bishop, to implement the decisions and resolutions of the preceding General Synod during its recess.

3.02      The clerical and lay member from each Diocesan Council of Advice shall be elected by the Diocesan Convention and shall serve until their successors are elected. Their term of office shall be determined by the Diocesan Convention which elected them.

Canon 4  Of Dioceses

4.01      The diocese shall be the primary unit of jurisdiction in this Church. Each diocese shall be governed by a Bishop whose authority shall be defined by the canons. The diocese shall have geographical boundaries which shall be established by the Council of Bishops and ratified by the General Synod.

4.02      Each diocese shall have its own canons, a Council of Advice, a Chancellor who shall be a practicing attorney licensed by the state in which he/she resides, a Treasurer, a Secretary, and a Diocesan Court. The duties of the aforementioned shall be defined in the canons of the diocese.

4.03      Whenever any diocese ceases to be viable due to the lack of financial resources, diminished number of parishes and/or insufficient number of parishioners, the remaining parishes may request the dissolution of the diocese. They may request permission to join another jurisdiction or allow the Presiding Bishop, with the consent of the Council of Bishops, to assign its parishes and territory to the Bishop in closest proximity. This decision shall be ratified by the next General Synod.

4.04    The Bishop of the diocese which has been dissolved shall become Bishop Suffragan of the diocese which has received his territory.  

Canon 5  Of Missionary Districts

5.01      The Council of Bishops may, upon recommendation of the Presiding Bishop, establish a Missionary District in any area where there is need, and where no organized Diocese presently exists.

Canon 6  Of Parishes and Vestries

6.01      Every congregation shall belong to the Church in the diocese in which its place of worship is located. Every congregation of this church shall be incorporated within the state where it is located.

6.02      Every parish shall, if possible, own its own property and have control over it and neither the diocese nor this Church shall have any equitable interest or trust estate therein.

6.03      The Rector of the parish shall be chosen by the vestry with the consent of the congregation. The Bishop shall license the credentials of the priest chosen to be Rector before he is canonically instituted.

6.04      The vestry of the parish is the governing board chosen in accordance with the laws of the state, diocesan canons and its own by-laws. Each parish shall define the qualifications for the members.

Canon 7  Of Clergy and Congregations Seeking Affiliation
7.01      A congregation of Christian people, holding the Christian faith as set forth in the catholic creeds and recognizing the Holy Scriptures as containing all things necessary for salvation and using a rite approved by this Church or declaring its intention to do so, may make application for affiliation with this Church to the Bishop of the diocese in whose jurisdiction the congregation is located.

7.02      A minister who has not received Episcopal ordination and desires to serve such a congregation shall conform to the provisions of canons on ordination. A minister who has been ordained by a bishop not in communion with this Church but whose ordination is nonetheless considered valid by the Council of Bishops may be admitted in his Orders.

7.03      A Bishop who has been consecrated by a Bishop or Bishops in a jurisdiction other than the jurisdiction of this Church may apply for affiliation with this Church through the Bishop of the diocese in which he resides. The applicant shall supply proof of his diaconal and priestly ordination as well as his Episcopal consecration together with a recommendation, if he gives it, of the Bishop of the diocese in which he resides.

Canon 8  Of Intercommunion Agreements
8.01      This Church may, from time to time, enter into intercommunion agreements with other Orthodox Catholic Churches. Such agreements shall become effective upon recommendation of the Presiding Bishop and the Council of Bishops, and approval by the General Synod.
Canon 9  Of the Laity
9.01      A baptized member of this Church is a person who has received the Sacrament of Holy Baptism with water in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and is enrolled in a parish of a diocese of this Church.

9.02      It shall be the duty of a communicant of this Church:
(a) to worship God every Sunday in his Church unless reasonably hindered, and, in the event of such hindrance, to read privately the office of Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer; to observe his or her baptismal vows, and so to live as not to give scandal to the Church of God;
(b) to  observe all applicable canons of this Church;
(c) to give regular support to the Church. the biblical tithe being the duty of every Christian, as evidenced by the books of the Treasurer of the Parish.

Canon 10  Of Holy Matrimony

10.01    Holy Matrimony is the lifelong union of a man and a woman, blessed by God with the full authority of the Church, for the procreation of children (if it be God's will), and their physical and spiritual nurture, for the purpose of mutual love, comfort and honor, and for the safeguarding and benefit of society.

II. Worship            

Canon 11  Of Translations of the Bible

11.01    The Lessons at Morning and Evening Prayer and at the Holy Communion shall be read from a translation of the Holy Scriptures approved by this Church, among which are the following: The King James or Authorized Version; The New King James Version; The Revised Standard Version of 1952; The New International Version; The New English Bible.

Canon 12  Of the Standard Book of Common Prayer

12.01    According to Article VII of the Constitution, the 1928 Book of Common Prayer shall be the standard Book of Common Prayer in this Church.

12.02    Only with the approval of the Diocesan Bishop may other rites be used.                                                

Canon 13  Of the Music of the Church

13.01    It shall be the duty of every Rector to see that music is used in his congregation as an offering for the glory of God and as a help to the people in their worship. Hymnals from other denominations are encouraged  to be used.

The Ministry

Canon 14  Of Holy Orders in General
14.01    No one may be ordained Deacon until he has reached the age of twenty-one (21) years, nor Priest until he has reached the age of twenty-four (24) years, nor bishop until he reaches the age of 35.

Canon 15  Of Postulants

15.01    An adult communicant member of this Church who believes himself called to the Sacred Ministry shall consult the Rector or Priest in Charge of his parish.

Canon 16  Of Candidates for Holy Orders

16.01    Any postulant who has met the requirements of Canons may apply for admission as a candidate. The application shall be endorsed by the vestry and the Rector or Priest in Charge of the parish of which he is a member, and by two members of the Board of Examining Chaplains and the Council of Advice of the Diocese. If he is not a member of a parish of this Church, he shall be endorsed by two (2) priests and five (5) Godly lay persons.

16.02    The Bishop shall admit said person as a candidate within thirty days, except for weighty cause, and so note the same in the records of the Diocese and advise the Board of Examining Chaplains. If said person is not admitted, he shall be notified within thirty days of the reason thereof. 

16.03    Before applying for ordination to the diaconate, the candidate must pass examinations in the following subjects:

1) Holy Scripture: the Bible in English, its contents and historical background;

2) Church History: a general outline;

3) Anglican Church History;

4) Doctrine; the Church's teaching set forth in the Creeds and the Offices of Instruction;

5) Liturgics: The contents and use of the Book of Common Prayer;

6) Practical Theology: The office and work of a Deacon; the conduct of public worship; principles of sermon composition and delivery; principles and methods of Christian education in the parish; the missionary work of the Church; Constitution and Canons of the Church and the Diocese to which the candidate belongs; the use of the voice in reading and speaking.

16.04    The Bishop may remove any candidate for Holy Orders who fails to present himself for examination for Deacon's Orders within three years, and shall note this action in the diocesan records.       

Canon 17  Of Ordination to the Diaconate

17.01    A candidate for Holy Orders, having passed the required examinations, shall apply to the Bishop to be ordained Deacon, also submitting a recommendation from the Priest who endorsed him as a postulant (or another Priest who has knowledge of the candidate), a recommendation of the vestry of the parish to which he belongs, and the recommendation of the Council of Advice.

Canon 18  Of Ordination to the Priesthood

18.01    A Deacon desiring to be ordained to the priesthood, having passed the examinations of the Board of Examining Chaplains, shall apply to the Bishop to be ordained Priest, submitting to him the credentials set forth.

Canon 19  Of Clergy Ordained in Other Churches

19.01    Where is any doubt as to the validity or regularity of such ordination, the Bishop shall ordain him sub-conditione.

Canon 20  Of the Election of Bishops

20.01    When there shall be an occasion for the election of a Bishop, the Ecclesiastical Authority of the jurisdiction for which the election is to be held shall notify the Council of Bishops and the several Councils of Advice stating the particulars of the call. In the case of the resignation, incapacity, or death of the Bishop, the Council of Advice of the jurisdiction shall notify the Presiding Bishop of the vacancy and the Presiding Bishop shall make the above mentioned notifications. Within forty-five days of the notification, the Diocesan convention shall convene and proceed with the election according to the Canons of the Diocese. Following the election, the Ecclesiastical Authority shall notify the Bishop-Elect immediately who shall accept or decline the election within three days of the notification.

20.02    Upon the acceptance of the Bishop-Elect, the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese shall submit the name and credentials of the Bshop-Elect to the Council of Bishops and the several Councils of Advice. Within thirty days of the notification of the election, the Council of Bishops and the Councils of Advice shall vote to confirm the election, an absolute majority of the Council of Bishops and each of the Councils of Advice being needed for confirmation. Failure of any of the Councils to respond within the specified time shall constitute confirmation. If the election takes place within sixty days prior to a General Synod, the election shall be confirmed by a majority of the Synod.

20.03    Upon confirmation of the election, the Presiding Bishop shall take order for the consecration of the Bishop-Elect by at least 2 Bishops or 3 consenting Bishops of the Church.

20.04    In all particulars the services of the consecration and ordination shall be under the direction of the Presiding Bishop and 12 persons must be present at the service.

20.05    Any Bishop in this church shall be able to resign his position with the consent of the majority of the Council of Bishops.

Canon 21  Of the Duties of Bishops

21.01    Every Bishop shall reside within the limits of his jurisdiction and shall not absent himself there from for more than three months without the consent of the Council of Advice.

21.02    Every Bishop shall visit every congregation in his diocese at least once in every three years for the purpose of examining their condition, preaching the Gospel, celebrating the Holy Eucharist, and confirming those presented for that purpose.

21.03    Every Bishop shall keep a register of his official acts.

21.04    A Bishop may not perform any Episcopal act within the jurisdiction of another Bishop without the consent of that Bishop or, in the absence of a Bishop, the Council of Bishops.

21.05    The resignation of a Bishop shall be addressed to the Council of Bishops and shall become effective upon acceptance by the Council. A Bishop retiring or resigning shall retain his seat and vote in the Council of Bishops and is subject to these canons

Canon 22  Of the Duties of Priests
22.01    Every priest in charge of a congregation shall see to it that a Parish Register is kept in which shall be recorded:
(a) all baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and burials within such parish;
(b) all divine services of said parish, whether in church or elsewhere, with notation of the date, place, nature of service and attendance;
(c) all communicants of said parish, with notation of how received, how and for what cause removed, and designation of whether active or inactive;
(d) a list of families in the parish.

22.02    Every priest in charge of a congregation shall:
(a) at every Confirmation deliver to the Bishop a list of names of those being confirmed;
(b) advise the Bishop on every Episcopal visitation of the spiritual and temporal state of the parish, delivering to him for inspection all parish records he may request;
A clergyman moving from one diocese to another, in order to gain canonical residence within that diocese, shall present to the Ecclesiastical Authority thereof a testimonial from the Ecclesiastical Authority of the diocese from which he is moving,

22.03    No priest moving from one diocese to another shall officiate as Rector or Priest in Charge of any parish or congregation of the diocese into which he moves unless and until the Bishop of the diocese into which the priest is moving shall have received Letters  from his previous Bishop.

22.04    Any priest who desires to officiate temporarily outside the confines of this Church shall obtain proper permission from the Ecclesiastical Authority of the diocese in which he is resident.

Canon  23  Of the Duties of Deacons

23.01    Every deacon shall be subject to the authority of the Bishop.

Canon 24  Of Deaconesses

24.01    The Bishop shall have the right to set apart for the Order of Deaconess women who will be selected and trained for the ministry.

Canon 25  Of Lay Leaders
25.01    The Rector, at his discretion, may use qualified communicants, male and female, to read the Old Testament Lesson, Psalm, and Epistle Lesson within the context of Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer and Holy Communion. This person shall be known as a Lector, and shall receive an annual license from the Diocesan Bishop.
Canon 26  Of Offenses for which Bishops, Priests and Deacons may be tried
26.01    A Bishop, Priest or Deacon of this Church shall be liable to Presentment and trial for the following offenses, crime or immorality;
(a) holding or teaching publicly or privately and advisedly, any doctrine contrary to that held by this Church;
(b) violation of the Canons or the Constitution of this Church;
(c) violation of the Constitution or Canons of the diocese to which he belongs;
(d) Conduct unbecoming a clergyman.

26.02    The Bishop alone has the authority to pronounce sentence on a priest or deacon convicted as indicated in these canons.

26.03    The Council of Bishops alone has the authority to pronounce sentence on a Bishop convicted as indicated in these canons.

Canon 27  Of Renunciation of the Ministry
27.01    If any clergyman of this church not under presentment shall declare, in writing, to the Ecclesiastical Authority of the diocese in which he is canonically resident, his renunciation from the ministry of this Church, it shall be the duty of the Ecclesiastical Authority to record the declaration and request so made. The Bishop, being satisfied shall upon his judgment make a decision


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