Policies in alphabetical order. Click on the + to see the full text of the policy.

  • For several years Diocesan Council has wrestled with how to administer certain canonical requirements. The canons are important in the life of the dioceses because they represent how we express ourselves as Episcopalians.

    Included in the canons are guidelines related to the administration and reporting to the Episcopal Church (parochial reports) and the administration of our diocese (mission share contribution). The canons hold us accountable to each other and hold us to the highest standard of fiscal accountability (annual church audit).

    Over the last several years, there has been an increase in the number of parishes that have not met these canonical deadlines. Some with reasonable excuses, others simple neglect. The canons remove voting rights of parishes for not meeting their canonical responsibilities. Diocesan Council has made recommendations at convention to allow almost all parishes to participate if some rationale has been provided.

    Beginning in 2020 Diocesan Council voted to adhere more closely to the canons. Since this time, Council has seen an increase in compliance and we thank those who have complied. As a part of this compliance, Diocesan Council is providing this notification about the annual canonical deadlines that must be met. Parishes will be held accountable to the canons unless significant circumstances are proven to exempt or excuse the non-compliance. Diocesan Council members will be reaching out to parishes who have not met the deadlines in the past to see what assistance they may provide.

    The three canonical requirements for lay delegate voting at convention are listed below: (See applicable sections)

    • Parochial Report: Due March 1. Special note: Diocesan Council has approved an accounting policy recommendation from the finance committee requiring that the unaudited financial statements or work papers used to develop the parochial report information be attached to the parochial report and submitted to the diocesan finance office electronically, email: dgetreu@diosohio.org.
    • Mission Share: Final mission share payments are due June 30 for the previous year.
    • Annual Audit: A financial audit of the parish’s finances are due by September 1. Guidelines for the annual audit are provided on the diocesan website.

    The diocese has one additional requirement that is due April 1 which is the Annual Reporting Form found on our diocesan website.

    The diocese has a Mission Share Incentive Program. In order to be eligible a parish must submit these requirements by their due date and make monthly mission share payments.

    Diocesan Council understands there are extra ordinary situations that may cause a parish to miss a canonical deadline. A detailed letter should be prepared and sent to the finance office to be presented and discussed at the following Diocesan Council meeting.

    Diocesan Council thanks you for careful consideration to this matter. Questions can be addressed to David Thomson, Diocesan Council First Vice President, at thomsond@nku.edu or the Rev. David Getreu, Canon for Budget and Finance, at dgetreu@diosohio.org.

  • Diocesan compensation guidelines were established by the Advisory Committee on Compensation and Resources (ACCR) and approved by Diocesan Council on September 12, 2015 to provide congregations and clergy with information to make thoughtful and intentional decisions concerning clergy compensation, benefits and expenses according to diocesan standards.

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  • Two weeks per year of service in the congregation for Sabbatical Leave are to be available after the third year, and cumulative through the sixth year. The clergyperson will be paid full salary and benefits while on sabbatical. Sabbatical arrangements shall be made in full consultation with the Vestry or Mission Council to insure benefits for the parish as well as for the clergyperson. Congregations and/or communities of faith are encouraged to contribute an amount equal to two week compensation to a designated sabbatical fund each year. The purpose of this fund is to allow the community of faith to obtain adequate clergy coverage during the sabbatical. Another fund to assist the clergy person’s sabbatical expenses may be established or combined with a budgeted professional development item in the annual budget.

  • Ohio Senate Bill 187 Volunteers who may have unsupervised access to children (Legal Notice)

    The following notification was prepared for congregations in the Diocese of Southern Ohio by the Chancellor of the Diocese:

    On April 22, 2001, a new Ohio law became effective. Its purpose is to upgrade the safety of children who are in the custody of a volunteer. This law applies to all volunteers who have “unsupervised access to a child.” “Unsupervised access” means:

      • If indoors, there is only one adult present in the same room as the child;
      • If outdoors, there is only one adult within 30 yards of the child or has visual contact with the child.

    For volunteers (including Sunday school teachers, unpaid choir teachers, camp leaders, day care helpers, trip leaders/drivers), the congregation must decide whether to do a fingerprint/criminal records check. Whether or not this is done, the congregation must inform each volunteer that the volunteer might be required to provide fingerprints and undergo a criminal records check. This requirement of notice applies to both existing and new volunteers. Existing volunteers must be so informed by April 22. The law does not require that the fingerprinting and background checks be done. The belief is that if a volunteer is informed of the possibility, this lets persons withdraw from consideration for a position that would place them in custody of children.

    If a congregation does a background check on a volunteer and follows the other procedures of the law, it and its agents will be immune from civil liability if a volunteer later harms a child. The rules apply to volunteers who are with children “on a regular basis.” A one-time volunteer need not receive the notice.

    If a volunteer is fingerprinted and checked, and if the report reveals that the person was convicted of certain serious offenses, then the congregation must inform each parent/guardian of all children to whom the volunteer has “unsupervised access” about the person’s conviction(s) – if that volunteer is left in the position. If the volunteer is not put into or left in that position, no such written notice is needed. The effect of this is obviously to encourage congregations not to keep convicted persons in a position of unsupervised access to children.

    The Governor’s Community Service Council will issue in the future “Recommended Best Practices” for organizations to follow, and these will be provided when issued. The Best Practices will include a recommendation that organizations conduct a criminal records check of regular volunteers who will be with children. The background check should be done through the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCII). You may order 100 cards for $10 from BCII, PO Box 365, London, OH 43140. Orders must be placed by letter using your congregation’s official letterhead stationary. You may also obtain cards from your local police station. To use the cards, complete the required information, fingerprint as indicated, sign the waiver on the back, and send with $15, checks made payable to Treasurer State of Ohio.

    If your congregation operates a child-care program other than during hours when parents are at worship in the same building, you should consider whether criminal background checks are required. Under prior Ohio law, criminal records checks are required for certain child-care employees. The law covers a regular day-care center or nursery (outside of worship time), and probably covers Vacation Bible Study and similar extended-hour programs. The law does not specifically define whether an unpaid regular worker is an “employee” for this purpose.

    If you have questions about

    (1) how the new Ohio law affects your congregation or
    (2) whether a particular child-care activity requires background checks for paid and unpaid child-care workers,

    contact the diocesan office at 513.421.0311 or 800.582.1712, fax 513.421.0315. If you have a legal issue, you may address it to the Diocesan Chancellor – Joseph J. Dehner, Frost Brown Todd LLC, jdehner@fbtlaw.com (fax 513.651.6981).

    Added 4/23/2001:


    Section 109.572, Ohio Revised Code lists offenses to be searched during a criminal background check involving child safety. The list is not exhaustive, because it mentions “substantially equivalent” offenses to the following list of Ohio criminal offenses. If a search is conducted through normal channels, the reporting entity will know what specific sections to check and report. Ohio statutory offenses to be checked include the following:

    Murder, voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, felonious assault, aggravated assault, assault, failing to provide for functionally impaired person, aggravated menacing, patient abuse or neglect, kidnapping, abduction, criminal child enticement, rape, sexual battery, corruption of minor, gross sexual imposition, sexual imposition, importuning, voyeurism, public indecency, compelling prostitution, promoting prostitution, procuring, prostitution, disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, pandering obscenity, pandering sexually oriented matter about minors, illegal use of minors in nudity-oriented material or performance, aggravated robbery, robbery, aggravated burglary, burglary, abortion without informed consent, endangering children, contributing to unruliness or delinquency, domestic violence, carrying concealed weapons, having weapons under a disability, improperly discharging firearms into a home or school, corrupting another with drugs, trafficking offenses, illegal manufacture of drugs or cultivating marihuana, funding of drugs or marihuana trafficking, illegal administration of anabolic steroids, improper labeling of hazardous substances, felonious sexual penetration.

    View a sample notice form that you may want to use for new and existing volunteers. (revised 4/23/2001)

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  • Guidelines: Encumbrances and Alienation

    Guidance about the canonical requirements concerning the alienation or encumbrance of real property owned by the congregation (church buildings, rectories, other buildings, and land). These requirements apply to actions of vestries, mission councils, trustees, clergy, or other bodies within the Church.

    Canon I.7.3 of the Episcopal Church requires that the consent of the Standing Committee and Bishop be obtained before a congregation may take action that encumbers or alienates any real property owned or held by the congregation.

    There are some obvious ways in which the real property of a congregation could be encumbered. An example is if a congregation purchases real estate and takes out a mortgage. This is an obvious and immediate encumbrance of the real property. An obvious form of alienation is the sale of real estate.

    There are other ways in which church property can become encumbered or alienated. For example, if:

    A congregation leases space to a third party.
    A congregation signs an agreement to allow a third party to purchase its real estate in the future.
    A congregation grants a third party a right of first refusal.
    An easement is provided to a third party in relation to real estate.

    These are all encumbrances or forms of alienation.

    There are other, less obvious ways in which a congregation could encumber or alienate church real estate. One example is if a congregation commits to significant financial obligations that cannot be covered by the congregation annual budget or financial reserves. In such a case, the failure to meet the committed financial obligations could result in a court judgment against the congregation if it fails to pay, and that would create a lien on church assets, including its real estate.

    All of these cases, and others that could reasonably result in an encumbrance or alienation of church real estate, must receive prior consent from the Standing Committee and the Bishop before a congregation can commit to such actions.

    For more information and additional examples, please refer to Episcopal Church Canon I.7.3 and Canon II.6.3.

    In case a congregation is uncertain about whether prior consent is required, it should seek the advice of either the President of the Standing Committee or the Canon to the Ordinary, prior to taking any action.


    • Before signing any legal document, contract or lease, the wardens and senior clergy should review the document to determine whether the outcome might reasonably result in an encumbrance or alienation of church real estate.
    • Before contracting for or making significant property changes to Church real estate, including changes to the land, structures on the land, or disposing of architectural elements, the wardens and senior clergy should ask the Standing Committee to review the proposed changes. Please contact the President of the Standing Committee or the Canon to the Ordinary if you have any questions (email, phone, US Postal Service) to see if they advise that the Standing Committee review property changes.
    • Provide a brief summary of the plans and/or a copy of any unsigned legal documents.
    • Include contact information for the person from your parish taking the lead on the project.
    • Also share any timetable or deadlines.

    The Standing Committee meets once per month (except for a longer break in the summer). Please take this timing into consideration as you develop your plans.

    After the Standing Committee and Bishop have given their consent to Vestry decisions or plans that will or could potentially encumber or alienate church property, congregations can confidently proceed with their plans.

    The Standing Committee is eager to advise and support congregations in their mission and ministry, and looks forward to helping Vestries and Clergy in making sound decisions about their stewardship of the Church’s assets and real estate.

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    To encumber church property

    The following information is required in order to prepare a formal request to the Standing Committee:

    1. The requested amount of the encumbrance. (The total loan amount from either commercial lender and/or 412 Sycamore, Inc.)
    2. The reason for the encumbrance. The more detailed an explanation is preferred. Pictures are extremely helpful.
    3. A Vestry or Mission Council resolution authorizing the total amount of the encumbrance on the church property.
    4. A plan on how the church will meet the monthly mortgage payments. A cashflow analysis is required.
    5. Financial data: a) The church’s budgeted financial statements from the past year. This should also include the church’s Statement of Financial Position (a balance sheet). b) A current year budget financial statements. Any comments regarding surpluses and deficits, along with any significant changes between years should be noted.
    6. Any other pertinent data such as: a) Construction or work bids are required. b) Damage reports. c) Capital Campaign pledge projected collections.

    For any sale of church property

    The following information is required in order to prepare a formal request to the Standing Committee:

    1. Description of property to be sold.
    2. Amount of money involved in the transaction.
    3. A Vestry or Mission Council resolution authorizing the sale.
    4. Property appraisal.
    5. How the church plans to use the proceeds from the sale.

    Estimated timeline for process

    At least four (4) months before anticipated review of Standing Committee, ask for instructions from the diocesan finance officer for encumbrance.

    Three (3) months before meeting ask finance officer for any help in preparation of required documentation. Ask for meeting dates and let finance officer know which date chosen.

    At least two (2) weeks before the meeting turn in required documents to finance officer. During this time update any information that might have changed.

    Finance officer reviews financial aspects of the encumbrance request. Church answers any questions and/or provides new information or documents if requested. Finance officer needs at least 10 working days to review and prepare report to Standing Committee. Standing Committee requires the finance officer to provide an opinion on the request.

  • Individuals acting on behalf of the diocese may be reimbursed for mileage and other necessary expenditures provided the expenses have been pre-approved by the bishop or his/her designee. Reimbursements will only be approved if received by the Finance office within 60 days of the date of the expenditures (Accounting Policy and Procedures Section 1000).

    The Expense Reimbursement form can be found on our Forms page.

    IRS mileage rate: The standard mileage rate is 58.5 cents per mile for all business miles for 2022.  Additional details

  • Mission Share is the annual financial contribution required from a congregation for the support of the mission and ministry of the diocese.

    The mission share is calculated based on a formula approved at the diocesan convention. The formula is reviewed every five years.

    Calculating a congregation’s Share Ratio

    The calculation is an average of three ratios determined from Parochial Report data

    • Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) = Average ASA of congregation / Total ASA of all congregations in diocese
    • Normal Operating Income = Income of congregation / Total income of all congregations in diocese
    • Operating Expenses = Expenses of congregation / Total expenses of all congregations in diocese

    A congregation’s Share Ratio is the average of the three above ratios. All congregations are then ordered from low to high by Share Ratio.

    Determining Mission Share Rate

    a) Congregation with smallest Share Ratio will be assessed at rate of 6% of current normal operating income

    b) Congregation with Share Ratio closest to average Share Ratio will be assessed at rate of 12.5% of current normal operating income

    c) All other congregations will be assessed at a rate defined by Share Ratio order on a straight line connecting the congregations found in a) and b) above.

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  • The Canons of the Diocese of Southern Ohio require that a congregation pay its Diocesan Assessment, otherwise known as Mission Share payment on a monthly basis (Canon XIII, Section 6). Failure to pay the full amount by June 30 of the following year (Canon XVI, Section 18 (a. 2) can result in a parish being listed as a congregation at risk (Canon XVI, Section 19, (b. 5)) or to lose church status and be designated a mission (Canon XVI, Section 17, (c)).

    The policy of the Diocese of Southern Ohio allows for a congregation to request a Mission Share Review of the upcoming year’s designated percentage. The policy does not allow for a review of prior year amounts that are due to the Diocese. Prior amounts due need a payment plan set up to have those amounts paid off within a specific timeframe subject to approval by Diocesan Council. Forgiveness or reductions of prior amounts due will not be given unless Diocesan Council makes an exception.

    Further, it is the policy of the Diocese that a congregation which is one year behind in its Mission Share payments/Assessment will be contacted by the Mission Share Review Committee to see how the Diocese can assist them in resolving this past-due debt so that the parish is not placed as a congregation at risk.

    Additionally, it is the policy of the Diocese that congregations who are in good standing by keeping their mission share payments current are granted:

    • preference for appointments to diocesan committees and councils at the discretion of the bishop(s)
    • eligibility to seek grants and loans from the diocesan-wide resources
    • permission to move forward in a search for a rector or appointment of an assistant/associate

    Conversely, those congregations which are not current with their mission share payments are enjoined from participating in the above privileges. In addition, Canon XVI, Section 18 (b) states that congregations that are not current with their mission payments shall be denied Lay representation at the year’s Diocesan Convention.

    Mission Share Review Policy

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  • Parochial reports are a critical tool in spotting trends in church growth and giving. The reports also play an important role in developing the diocesan budget and helping staff and commissions to be good stewards of diocesan funds.

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  • The purpose and intent of this policy is to safeguard employees, children, and others where possible from sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse.  The policy is not meant to define an all-inclusive theology of sexual behavior. The Episcopal Church’s teaching on sexuality is based on Biblical principles and the resolutions of General Convention.  The Policy and Procedures that follows focus on the behavior of employed and volunteer personnel in the Diocese of Southern Ohio.  This Policy defines basic terms in order prohibit sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse; as well as retaliation for bringing complaints or participating in the complaint process within the setting of the church and its ministries and sets forth a process for receiving such complaints and resolving them.

    The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Southern Ohio has approved this updated and revised policy at their meeting on April 26, 2018. It is the expectation that this policy be followed by all Vestries and other Governing Boards; and be studied on an ongoing basis.

    Safe Church Policy and Procedures

    See complete information about Safe Church training and policy here.

  • Concerning Alcoholic Beverages in the Local Parish:

    The Episcopal Church does not prohibit the use of beverages containing alcohol among adult members. This Church also supports and has a responsibility to those people who abstain from the use of alcoholic beverages for whatever reason. Many churches do not serve alcoholic beverages at social functions, but for those which do, the following guidelines must be followed:

    • All applicable federal, state, and local laws should be obeyed, including those governing the serving of alcoholic beverages to persons not of legal age to consume alcohol. Service of alcohol must be monitored and those showing signs of intoxication must not be served. Whenever alcohol is served, the rector, vicar, or priest-in-charge must appoint an adult to oversee its serving. That adult must not drink alcoholic beverages during the time of his or her execution of his or her responsibilities.
    • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages must be clearly labeled as such. Whenever alcohol is served, non-alcoholic alternatives must always be offered with equal attractiveness and accessibility. Suggested suitable drinks include tea, coffee, lemonade, soft drinks, fruit juices, and flavored waters.
    • Alcoholic options include beer or wine. Distilled spirits, such as vodka or whiskey, may not be served at Church functions.
    • The serving of alcoholic beverages at church events should not be publicized as an attraction of the event (e.g., “cocktail party”, “theology on tap”, “beer and wine”).
    • Food must be served when alcohol is present, and the serving of alcoholic beverages should conclude well before guests are scheduled to leave.
    • The group or organization sponsoring the activity or event at which alcoholic beverages are served must have permission from the vestry. Such groups or organizations must also assume responsibility for those persons who might become intoxicated and must provide alternative transportation for anyone whose capacity to drive may be impaired.

    Recognizing the effect of alcohol as a mood-altering drug, it would be advisable to consider the nature of the function at which alcohol beverages are to be served. Alcohol should not be served before or during a business meeting of the congregation, vestry, mission council, or other committee charged with oversight of church mission or governance.

    If participants at a church event are paying separately for alcoholic drinks, the event is publicized to the general public, orif alcohol is not accompanied by a meal, special liability insurance coverage beyond the usual prices of the church will most likely be required. Consult with your insurance carrier and Ohio Department of Liquor Control well in advance of the event.

    The use of other illegal mood-altering substances is forbidden at any function of the congregation.

    Sacramental wine must be stored in a safe and secured cabinet under the control of the clergy and altar guild.

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  • The Church Insurance Agency Corporation (CIAC) would like to make the following recommendations in regard to the use of your church property by outside groups:

    ✔ A group holding an activity at your church should provide evidence of insurance by providing a certificate of liability.

    ✔ Groups leasing space from the church should have the church named as additional insured on their insurance policy.

    ✔ Leases should also include a hold harmless provision between the two parties.

    ✔ There should be an agreement as to who will be responsible for maintenance and housekeeping regarding the space being used.

    ✔ Be sure the group using your property understands any restrictions or hazards that they need to be aware of.

    ✔ Complete a safety checklist before turning over the care and control of the property.

    ✔ Check with your diocese to determine if approval is needed for leases over one year in length.

    ✔ Users should typically be non-profit organizations such as AA, Boy Scouts, etc.

    The policy offered by CIAC reads as follows:

    “Insured” includes: “your” member or volunteer, but only for liability incurred while engaged in activities authorized by and performed on behalf of “you.”

    We pay all sums which an insured becomes legally obligated to pay as damages due to bodily injury… caused by an occurrence which takes place in the coverage territory, and the bodily injury or property damage must occur during the policy period.

    We hope that the information provided here will help your church to have a safe and successful event. Should you have additional questions or concerns, please contact CIAC at (800) 293-3525.

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