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Virginia Seminary can create Missions of the Seminary

Virginia Seminary can create Missions of the Seminary

The Annual Council of the Diocese of Virginia, on January 24th, adopted a change to its Canons that permits Virginia Seminary to create Missions of the Seminary. The seminary has no immediate plans to create missions. The language of the canonical change can be found on the diocesan website under C-1a Missions of a Theological Seminary. Be sure to read the canon in full for the limits it places on this power.

Council also adopted on first reading C-2, a constitutional amendment which would replace “council” with “convention.” If it passes on second reading in 2016, C-2 will implement R-2 which passed on Friday.

By coincidence, C-1a and C-2 are connected to changes in the Constitution and Canons that Council made in the early 1950s during a period of restructuring of the diocese.

Among the canonical changes of that time, Virginia Seminary lost the power to create missions. C-1a restores it.

Restructuring also presents the opportunity for changes in nomenclature. And as Julia E. Randle very recently discovered in her research (PDF, p. 35),

It is now clear that during this period, the Diocese of Virginia changed its annual meeting name from “Council” to “Convention” for the period of one year: 1954-1955.

The 1954 Journal of the 159th Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia, is here.

How did it happen that the annual meeting of the diocese was changed to “Convention” for only one year?

When passed on the first reading (for the constitutional changes), the annual meeting was renamed “Convention” and the new executive entity was named “Council.”

Here’s the rest of the story, as reported by Julia E. Randle (pp. 36-37):

Legally, the 1954 annual meeting had to render a second approving vote for the constitutional changes approved the prior year. Before that action commenced, however, the Rev. Dr. George McLauren Brydon, Historiographer and Registrar of the Diocese of Virginia, “presented a resolution seeking to rescind the change of “Council” to “Convention,” which was referred to the Committee on Canons.” Prior to that committee’s report, however, the Rev. Samuel B. Chilton, a member of the diocesan staff at Mayo House, Secretary of both the 1953125 and 1954 meetings, and later Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia, moved:

Whereas, the following resolution: “Wherever the word ‘Council’ occurs in the Constitution and Canons it shall be changed from ‘Council’ to ‘Convention,’” was adopted by the 158th Council held in 1953 and was through error omitted from the Journal,

Be it Resolved, That the Secretary be directed to include the said resolution in the Journal for 1954 as correction to the record of the 185th Annual Council as it appears in the Journal.

After the passage of the resolution above,

“The Rev. W. Leigh Ribble presented the report of the Committee on Canons. He asked Mr. E.N. Montague to make a statement concerning the difficulties of changes in the Constitution. Mr. Ribble moved that the motion of Dr. Brydon to withdraw the change of the name of this body from “Council” to “Convention” be rejected, and recommended passage on the second reading of the following resolution adopted by the 158th Annual Council of the Diocese of Virginia:

Wherever the word Council occurs in the Constitution and Canons it shall be changed from Council to Convention.

This was seconded and passed.

The record does not include Mr. Montague’s “statement concerning the difficulties of changes in the Constitution,” but it is entirely possible he noted the interconnection between the various changes made, including nomenclature, and that the necessary amendments would require the mandated second vote the following year and delay implementation of the new and desired structure by that same length of time. The entire package of constitutional and canonical changes were then passed, but within minutes it was moved to amend the newly finalized amendments to the constitution to revert the name of the annual meeting to “Council” and rename the “Executive Council” the “Executive Committee.” This amendment passed, and that vote was affirmed by the 1955 “Convention,” that immediately became the 1955 “Council.”

For more see Amended Report on the Historical Development Of the Name of Diocesan Annual Meetings, by Julia E. Randle, Historiographer, Diocese of Virginia 15 January 2015.

Posted by John B. Chilton

John B. Chilton is the grandson of Samuel B. Chilton.


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