CONSTITUTION AND CANONS
CELTIC CHRISTIAN CHURCH
Promulgated on the Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord, March 31, 2002.
+Joseph A. Grenier, Ph.D., Presiding Bishop of the
Celtic Christian Church
As the Church Grows
For some time now I have been preparing a series of canons for the church, with the intention of providing it with a basic structure which will allow it to function effectively as it develops and grows. And I wanted these canons to be in the church's Celtic spirit, that is to say counting as much as possible on the sense of responsibility and abilities of the individuals and communities in the church, rather than on a vertical structure of authority. They were prepared only after quite a bit of consultation, both with persons in the church and with others outside of it. They went into effect on Easter Sunday, the day on which we celebrate the resurrection of Our Lord. May the grace of our living Lord bless these efforts to help us all walk in his way.
+Joseph A. Grenier
The Celtic Christian Church is a catholic, apostolic and orthodox church. Its faith is that of the first seven ecumenical councils of the undivided Christian Church. This faith is expressed in the Nicene Creed as formulated by the Council of Nicea in 325 AD and enlarged slightly by the Council of Constantinople in 381 AD. As part of that faith the Church celebrates the seven Sacraments or Mysteries of Baptism, Holy Communion, Confirmation or Chrismation, Penance or Reconciliation, Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders and Anointing of the Sick, and it believes in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
The Celtic Christian Church lives its faith in the spirit of the ancient Celtic Church which flourished in Ireland and other countries in the first eleven centuries of the Christian era. This spirit is one of small communities based on family, friends and kin, episcopal jurisdictions based on spiritual spheres of influence rather than territories, a relationship of bishop to people which is that of "anamchara" or Soul Friend, an awareness that we are part of the spiritual life, immersed in it while living in the material world, and an awareness of the holiness of all creation and our role as stewards of that creation.
The Celtic Christian Church is open to all Christians who recognize their faith in the statement made above and who desire to live that faith in the Celtic spirit just described.
The mission of the Celtic Christian Church is to serve and support its members in living out their faith in all the varied circumstances of their everyday lives, and to reach out to persons in need by responding to their needs and bringing them Christ’s message of hope and forgiveness.
To aid it in fulfilling its mission, the Celtic Christian Church has established the basic structure and responsibilities that are determined in the following Constitution and Canons.
CONSTITUTION AND CANONS
Chapter I. The Celtic Christian Church
Canon I-1. The legal name of this Church is The Celtic Christian Church (hereafter referred to as "the Church").
Canon I-2. The Church is incorporated in the State of Pennsylvania.
Canon I-3. An individual community of the Church may incorporate if it so chooses, and it is encouraged to do so if such incorporation will help it in better fulfilling its mission.
Chapter II. Organization
Section II-A. Members.
Canon II-A-1. Those persons, clerical or lay, are members of the Church who subscribe to the Christian faith and Celtic spirit described in the Mission Statement given above and who freely choose to associate themselves with the Church.
Canon II-A-2. Persons who are not members of the Church and who wish to participate in its liturgical services are welcome to do so. If their faith allows it and they wish to do so, they are also welcome to share in its Eucharistic table.
Canon II-A-3. All members of the Church participate fully in its spiritual and material services. All also assume responsibility, each according to his or her situation and possibilities, for its welfare and its ministry.
Section II-B. Communities.
Canon II-B-1. The local community (base community; worshipping community; cell group), is the basic structure of the Church. It is composed of those persons who freely choose to associate themselves to it and who are geographically close enough to participate regularly in its activities.
Canon II-B-2. In keeping with the Celtic spirit of the Church, each community is small enough that its Pastor is able to know and serve all its members and all its members are able to know and support each other. When a community becomes too large for that, it divides into two communities. Each community decides for itself when it will divide into two.
Canon II-B-3. Each community is led by a Pastor, who is responsible for the spiritual service of its members and the ministry of the community, and also for the appropriate use of the available means of the community in the material support of needy members and of persons to whom the community ministers. Each community chooses its own Pastor, normally from among its own members, keeping in mind that a Pastor is one who serves, after the model of Christ the Good Shepherd.
Canon II-B-4. The Pastor of a community need not be a priest. Since, however, celebrating the Sacraments is an important part of the spiritual life of a community, the community is encouraged to call forth from its membership a person who might be called by God to serve it as a priest. A person who feels so called and desires to respond then requests admission into the formation program for Holy Orders.
Canon II-B-5. In keeping with Christ’s injunction to love our neighbors as ourselves, each community develops a ministry to needy persons outside of itself. Each community, under the direction of its Pastor, decides for itself which ministry it will exercise, guided by the needs of the wider community and its own possibilities.
Section II-C. The Church.
Canon II-C-1. The Church is composed of its various communities. As in the case of the membership of those communities themselves, the total number of communities must be small enough that the one Bishop of the Church, who is the Presiding Bishop, is able to know and serve them all. Once their number grows beyond that Bishop’s ability to serve them in this way, the Church will be divided into Jurisdictions, as described in Section II-D. The determination that that point has arrived and the decision to make a first division into Jurisdictions is the responsibility of the Presiding Bishop.
Section II-D. Jurisdictions.
Canon II-D-1. Jurisdictions, the equivalent of Dioceses, are based in the Church on personal relationships, rather than on territories. Each is composed of those communities for which a Bishop is responsible, wherever they may be located.
Canon II-D-2. When a new Jurisdiction is formed, the communities which are to constitute it choose the person who will serve them as Bishop. The candidate is then presented to the Bishop of the existing Jurisdiction, who is still responsible for the new Jurisdiction. If this Bishop has a serious objection to the candidate, he or she brings the matter to the Presiding Bishop of the entire Church. The Presiding Bishop makes a final decision and informs the electing communities, who are asked to choose a new candidate if necessary. When a candidate is accepted, the Bishop who is still responsible will arrange his or her consecration. With that consecration the new Jurisdiction is constituted and the new Bishop is responsible for it.
Canon II-D-3. Each Jurisdiction is autonomous in its own internal matters.
Canon II-D-4. After the first division of the Church into two Jurisdictions, the Presiding Bishop remains the Bishop responsible for the older Jurisdiction. As the Church grows and new Jurisdictions are formed, the Presiding Bishop may continue to be the Bishop of a Jurisdiction. Once the Church grows to the point that the work load of the Presiding Bishop no longer allows him or her to care properly for a Jurisdiction, a new Bishop is chosen for the Jurisdiction for which the Presiding Bishop is responsible. From then on the Presiding Bishop may not be the Bishop of a Jurisdiction. The decision to separate the offices of Presiding Bishop and Jurisdictional Bishop is the responsibility of the Synod of Bishops.
Chapter III. Governance.
Section III-A. The General Synod.
Canon III-A-1. In keeping with the Celtic spirit of community and personal responsibility for and participation in the life of the Church, the General Synod is the highest governing body of the Church.
Canon III-A-2. The General Synod is convened once every three years, at a date and place to be determined by the Presiding Bishop.
Canon III-A-3. The General Synod is composed of the Bishops of the Church, the Pastors of the Communities, and one other member of each Community, elected by the Community.
Canon III-A-4. Three months before the date of the next meeting of the Synod, the Bishops of the Jurisdictions ask their Communities to present them with issues they feel should be decided by the General Synod. The Bishops forward these, along with their own material for discussion, to the Presiding Bishop. The Presiding Bishop then prepares the agenda for the meeting and forwards it to the Bishops, who send it on to their Communities.
Canon III-A-5. Only for a very serious reason will a member of the General Synod not participate in it. Two thirds of the members of the Synod must be present for the Synod to take place.
Canon III-A-6. The Presiding Bishop of the Church presides at the sessions of the Synod. He or she may choose another member of the Synod to preside in his or her place at one or another of the sessions.
Canon III-A-7. A two-thirds majority of the votes on any issue is necessary to decide that issue.
Section III-B. The Synod of Bishops.
Canon III-B-1. The Synod of Bishops is composed of the Bishops of the Church. It meets once a year, under the presidency of the Presiding Bishop, at a date and place determined by the Presiding Bishop.
Canon III-B-2. Meeting in Synod, the Bishops discuss matters of common concern for the entire Church and decide such common matters needing resolution between meetings of the General Synod. They inform each other of the situation of their Jurisdiction and are open to insights others might have on difficult situations they are facing.
Canon III-B-3. Barring a necessary dispensation from the Presiding Bishop, all the Bishops of the Church must be present at meetings of the Synod of Bishops. On matters needing a vote, a two-thirds majority is necessary for a measure to pass.
Section III-C. The Presiding Bishop.
Canon III-C-1. The Presiding Bishop represents the Church in external matters, and in internal matters that concern the entire Church. He or she convenes and presides at the meetings of the General Synod and the Synod of Bishops.
Canon III-C-2. Until such time as the Church is divided into Jurisdictions, its single Bishop is the Presiding Bishop. Once the Church is divided into Jurisdictions, the Presiding Bishop may also be the Bishop of a Jurisdiction within the limitations set forth in Canon II-D-4 above.
Canon III-C-3. The Presiding Bishop serves for a term of five years, renewable. He or she is chosen by the other Bishops during a regular meeting of the Synod of Bishops, after they have consulted their communities on the matter. An affirmative vote of two-thirds of the Bishops is necessary for an election. If necessary, between meetings of the Synod of Bishops, the Bishops can elect the Presiding Bishop by means of a telephone conference call.
Canon III-C-4. If the Presiding Bishop is gravely remiss in his or her service to the Church, he or she may be removed from office by a two-thirds vote of the other Bishops during a regular meeting of the Synod of Bishops, or in an emergency by means of a telephone conference call, after they have consulted their communities on the matter.
Canon III-C-5. No authority in any of the Church’s Jurisdictions is given to the Presiding Bishop by virtue of his or her office except in the specific cases indicated in these Canons.
Section III-D. Bishops.
Canon III-D-1. The Bishop serves the spiritual welfare of the individuals and communities in his or her Jurisdiction. He or she is first and foremost an Anamchara, a Soul-Friend, to those persons, and only secondarily an administrator.
Canon III-D-2. To be ordained a Bishop a person must be at least thirty years of age, have received the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, have been ordained a Deacon and a Priest, and possess the theological formation necessary to guide the Church prudently in the area of doctrine.
Canon III-D-3. A Bishop is chosen by those he or she serves. When a Jurisdiction has become too large for its Bishop to serve it well and will divide into two Jurisdictions, the Bishop of the undivided Jurisdiction (or the presiding Bishop if this is the first time a new Jurisdiction is created) consults those communities which will form the new Jurisdiction on their choice for their Bishop. All will then proceed as in Canon II-D-2 above.
Canon III-D-4. If a Bishop is gravely remiss in serving his or her Jurisdiction, it is the responsibility of the communities of the Jurisdiction, under the direction of their Pastors, to so inform the Presiding Bishop. He or she then examines the situation carefully and brings the matter to a special meeting of the Synod of Bishops. The Synod, by a two-thirds vote, may remove the offending Bishop as Bishop of that Jurisdiction.
Section III-E. Priests.
Canon III-E-1. A priest serves the members of his or her community in their relationship to God. Like the Bishop in a Jurisdiction, the priest is first and foremost an Anamchara to the persons in the community. He or she must be for them a model of what a dedicated and joyful Christian life is meant to be.
Canon III-E-2. To be ordained a priest a person must be at least twenty-five years of age, have received the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, and have been ordained a deacon.
Canon III-E-3 Because of the nature of a priest’s ministry and because of the complexity of the world in which that ministry must be exercised, the Church has established a thorough program of formation in view of Holy Orders. Each Jurisdiction is responsible for the formation of its future deacons and priests, and each may modify the general program in accordance with its own needs. However, the thoroughness and seriousness of the general program are always to be maintained.
Canon III-E-4. If a person feels called to the Priesthood, he or she requests admission into the formation program for Holy Orders. It is the responsibility of the Bishop of that person’s Jurisdiction (the Presiding Bishop, until the Church is divided into Jurisdictions) to admit him or her into the program.
Canon III-E-5. Each candidate for Holy Orders is engaged in the formation program for Holy Orders under the supervision of the Bishop of his or her Jurisdiction (the Presiding Bishop, until there are Jurisdictions) and of his or her mentor The mentor advises the candidate’s Bishop on his or her progress in the formation program and is consulted each year by that Bishop on the candidate’s advancement in the program.
Canon III-E-6. The Bishop of the candidate’s Jurisdiction decides when to ordain the candidate to the Diaconate and then to the Priesthood, in consultation with the candidate's mentor.
Section III-F. Deacons.
Canon III-F-1. To be ordained a deacon, a person must be at least twenty-four years of age and have received the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.
Canon III-F-2. A person who is preparing for the Priesthood must first serve as a Deacon, for a minimum of six months, in one of the communities of his or her Jurisdiction, under the guidance and authority of the Pastor of that community.
Canon III-F-3. Like the Priesthood, the Diaconate is a vocation in itself. A person who feels called to the vocation of Permanent Deacon requests admission into the formation program established for the Permanent Diaconate. It is the responsibility of the Bishop of that person’s Jurisdiction (the Presiding Bishop, if no Jurisdictions) to admit him or her into the Permanent Diaconate program.
Canon III-F-4. Each candidate for the Permanent Diaconate is engaged in the formation program for the Permanent Diaconate under the supervision of the Bishop of his or her Jurisdiction (the Presiding Bishop, if no Jurisdictions) and of his or her mentor. The mentor advises the candidate’s Bishop on his or her progress in the program and is consulted each year by that Bishop on the candidate’s advancement in the program.
Canon III-F-5. The Bishop of the candidate’s Jurisdiction decides when to ordain the candidate to the Permanent Diaconate, in consultation with his or her mentor.
Canon III-F-6. A Permanent Deacon who at some point feels called to the Priesthood will discuss the matter thoroughly with his or her Bishop and spiritual director. If both the Bishop and the spiritual director concur in the belief that God is indeed calling the Deacon to the Priesthood, the Deacon then requests admission into the formation program for Holy Orders. It is the responsibility of his or her Bishop to admit him or her into that program.
Chapter IV. Legal Responsibility
Canon IV-1. Each individual in the Church is personally responsible for adhering to the law, and for any consequences following upon the infringement of the law.
Canon IV-2. The Church exercises due diligence in accepting or approving candidates for the Diaconate, the Priesthood and the Episcopacy, and should not be expected to have a legal responsibility for any financial, sexual or other misconduct on the part of its clergypersons. Accordingly, each candidate for ordination to the Diaconate, the Priesthood or the Episcopacy is required, prior to ordination, to execute an indemnification and hold-harmless agreement with the Church.
Canon IV-3. The sexual abuse of a minor is always to be reported to the competent authority of the perpetrator's civil jurisdiction. The person responsible for reporting the abuse is the Pastor of the perpetrator's community, the Bishop of the perpetrator's Jurisdiction if the perpetrator is the pastor, the Presiding Bishop of the Church if the perpetrator is the Bishop of a jurisdiction, and the Bishops of the Church acting jointly if the perpetrator is the Presiding Bishop.
Canon IV-4. An ordained clergyperson suspected of the sexual abuse of a minor is relieved of pastoral authority and responsibility pending an investigation of the charge. The person responsible for that relief and for the investigation of the charge is the Bishop of the suspected clergyperson's Jurisdiction, the Presiding Bishop if the suspected person is the Bishop of a Jurisdiction, and the Bishops of the Church acting jointly if the suspected person is the Presiding Bishop. If the suspected person is determined to be guilty of the charge, he or she is permanently relieved of pastoral authority and responsibility in the Church.
Canon IV-5. The victim of clerical sexual abuse, particularly if that victim is a minor, is to be treated with pastoral concern, and appropriate counseling is to be provided to him or her.
Canon IV-6. The seal of confession is inviolable. Any priest or bishop of the Church must maintain absolute silence concerning matters revealed or discussed within the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The same obligation is binding upon any non-clerical member of the Church who has knowledge of confessional matter. Any person having such knowledge who is not a member of the Church is expected to respect this obligation.
Chapter V. Religious Orders.
Canon V-1. If it deems it useful for the furtherance of its mission, the Church may found a religious order, or sponsor an existing religious order at the request of its competent representatives.
Canon V-2. In either case, the order itself, under the direction of its competent representatives, is responsible for all of its internal life and organization, as well as any ministry it exercises. No legal responsibility for the order devolves upon the Church.
Canon V-3. In either case, if the order is to be a part of the Church, its Rule and other governing documents must be judged by the Presiding Bishop to be in conformity with the Mission Statement and Celtic spirit of the Church and contain nothing that would contradict its Canons. Once he or she has made that judgment, the Presiding Bishop integrates the order into the Church.
Canon V-4. The Presiding Bishop is the liaison between the order and the Church. For a serious reason he or she may delegate this responsibility to another Bishop of the Church.
Canon V-5. Any problems of the order are to be resolved within the order. If this is impossible, the order may request the arbitration of the Presiding Bishop. If necessary and with the consent of the competent representatives of the order, the presiding Bishop may render a binding decision.
Canon V-6. The order may, under a method of its own choosing, separate itself from the Church. The Presiding Bishop may, for serious reasons and after consultation with the other Bishops of the Church, separate the order from the Church.
Chapter VI. Ecumenical Relations.
Canon VI-1. In a spirit of collaboration with other Christian Churches, a member of the Celtic Christian Church may minister in a community of another Christian Church as an ordained person or, if he or she is not ordained, as a lay person. It is the responsibility of the member’s Bishop to approve that ministry and to set its parameters in consultation with his or her counterpart in the other Church.
Canon VI-2. The Church may establish Concordats of Intercommunion with other Christian Churches whose faith is the same as that of the Celtic Christian Church. It is the responsibility of the Presiding Bishop to establish such Concordats, and to abolish them if he or she judges it wise to do so.
Chapter VII. Property.
Canon VII-1. The Church itself does not usually own property. It may own property that is given to it as a tax-exempt organization. In such a case the Presiding Bishop has the final responsibility for the administration of such donated property and for the correct implementation of all legal regulations that apply.
Canon VII-2. A community may own a property such as a church building or a center for ministry. In such a case the community itself under the direction of its Pastor is responsible for its administration and for any legal requirements.
Canon VII-3. In the event of the dissolution of the Church, any assets remaining after all debts have been satisfied are to be conveyed to a non-profit association qualified under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, to be used for purposes which are as nearly as practicable analogous to those for which the Church was established.
Chapter VIII. Grievance Procedures.
Canon VIII-1. Any grievance is to be resolved, if at all possible, on the local level.
Canon VIII-2. If that is not possible, the grievance is brought by the Pastor of the community, or by a member of the community if the grievance is against the Pastor, to the Bishop of that community’s Jurisdiction (the Presiding Bishop, if no Jurisdictions). The Bishop thoroughly investigates the matter and makes a binding decision.
Canon VIII-3. An ordained Priest or Deacon has the right to appeal to the Presiding Bishop if he or she judges that a fair resolution of a grievance cannot be obtained in his or her own Jurisdiction. In such a case the Presiding Bishop thoroughly investigates the matter and renders a binding decision, in consultation with the other Bishops of the Church.
Canon VIII-4 The Presiding Bishop has the responsibility for resolving a situation in which serious violations have occurred either in the representation of the Church as a whole, or in the spirit and norms of the Church as expressed in its Mission Statement and in these Canons.
Chapter IX. The Canons of the Church.
Canon IX-1. Once promulgated, these Canons are binding upon all members, clerical and lay, of the Celtic Christian Church.
Canon IX-2. Should a question arise with regard to the requirements set forth in any of these Canons, the Presiding Bishop has final authority to interpret the point in question.
Canon IX-3. The Presiding Bishop has the authority to dispense from the requirements of any of the Church’s Canons in an individual case and for a reason that equals the seriousness of the Canon, if in his or her judgment the spiritual good of the affected individual or of the Church itself requires it. The Presiding Bishop may delegate this authority in a particular instance to another of the Church’s Bishops.
Canon IX-4. Amendments to these Canons are discussed and voted upon in the General Synod of the Church. A two-thirds majority is necessary for an amendment to pass. If necessary between meetings of the General Synod, the Synod of Bishops can vote, by a two-thirds majority, a temporary amendment to a Canon.
Promulgated on the Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord,
March 31, 2002.
+Joseph A. Grenier, Ph.D., Presiding Bishop of the
Celtic Christian Church.
May God’s own peace, which is beyond all understanding, stand guard over your hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus.