Democracy rules the way an Episcopal Church is run, the rules of which are set up in the Episcopal Church Canons. A General Convention meets every three years if there are any changes to be made to the Constitution or the Canons. A pastor heads the parish who rules in concurrence with a parish vestry.
The parish is with the jurisdiction of a diocese which is again supervised over by an elected Bishop. The General Convention encompasses representatives sent from the diocese.
The Church Canons
The Episcopal Church abides by the Canons which are nothing but the rules and laws to be followed. The national church, the diocese, the province, and every parish obey these set of laws set by these canons.
A rector heads the parish of the Episcopal Church. The church vestry guides the elected clergy in maintaining all the facets of the church. To render any kind of education to the parishioners, dealing with the financial or any other church businesses or reaching out to the community is the responsibility of the vestry. The rector does not interfere in these matters and does voice any opinion on any vestry matters unless there is a tie.
The members of the parish elect the treasurer, junior warden, clerk and six members at large, only the senior warden is selected by the rector. The members who are at large enjoy the responsibility for a three year term and gives a break for one year before being eligible to be re-elected. This church vestry oversees matters such as spiritual, financial and in general the physical well-being of all the parishioners.
The General Convention
The governing and the legislative body of the Episcopal Church are known as the General Convention. It consists of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies. The chief pastor is also elected who presides over the proceedings. This Convention meets once in every three years to tide over any discrepancies.
House of Bishops
Active and retired bishops are elected by the General Conventions to form the House of Bishops, one of the two houses. According to the laws of the General Convention these members meet every three years for legislative purposes. In addition to that, they also meet twice a year but not for any voting function. Changes to the legislation are made only after a consensus is reached between the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies.
House of Deputies
One of the General Convention’s houses is known as the House of Deputies. It consists of eight representatives from every diocese of the Episcopal Church. A particular geographical area is covered by the diocese. From the eight representatives, four are lay leaders and four clergy. A president is elected for the House of Deputies during the General Convention meeting every three years. The meeting is attended by more than 900 members and this president serves the church for three years, at the end of which a re-election is held.