A congregation typically elects lay delegates and alternate delegates during its annual meeting (although in some places, the delegates are selected by the vestry or mission council). The term of office is generally one to two years. Both of these factors are determined by the parish bylaws.
All congregations are represented by at least two lay delegates. Mission congregations (that is, those that receive financial support from the diocese for operating costs) have two lay delegates; parishes (those that are financially self-sufficient) have four delegates. Congregational clergy who are canonically resident in the diocese also serve as members of the convention and should be considered as part of the congregation’s delegation.
After the election of lay delegates, the congregation’s administrator or clergy must file a certification of the election with the diocesan office in order for the delegates to receive voting credentials at convention. This is done on the Annual Reporting Form. If those reported delegates change prior to convention, a Change of Delegate form must be filled out and returned to the diocesan office for the voting credentials to be transferred to the alternate delegate.
Convention delegates play a critical role in connecting the diocese to congregations. At diocesan convention, delegates approve the diocesan budget, elect leaders for key commissions and discuss matters ranging from internal policy decisions to public policy positions. Delegates also gather for worship together. The bishop delivers a keynote address during convention that typically shares information about ministries across the diocese as well as plans for new initiatives.
The job of a delegate begins at election in the local congregation. Delegates should make an effort to follow diocesan news and to learn about ministries, activities and issues in other congregations (Subscribe to e-Connections) and they should carefully read any information posted on the website. This includes proposed resolutions and budget as well as biographical information about nominees.
All delegates are expected to attend the pre-convention meeting. The bishop presides at the meeting, and this is the opportunity for casual conversation and questions about resolutions or the budget. In 2020, the pre-convention meeting will also include the nominee forum, a chance to get to know those individuals who have offered up their names for consideration to leadership roles in the diocese.
After convention, delegates are expected to report back to the local congregations on the actions and decisions.