Policies

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

  • 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.

    Read more

  • 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:

    LISTING OF OFFENSES TO BE SEARCHED DURING A CRIMINAL RECORDS CHECK UNDER 109.572, OHIO REVISED CODE 

    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)

    Print policy

  • 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.

    Suggestions:

    • 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.

    Print policy

    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 56 cents per mile for all business miles for 2021.  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.

    Learn more

  • 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

    Learn more

  • 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.

    Learn more
  • 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.

  • Policy on Use of Alcohol at Church Functions

    1. Any beverage which contains alcohol must be clearly labeled as such. This applies to any food where alcohol has not been volatilized.

    2. Whenever alcohol is served in any form, non-alcoholic beverages, including sugarfree beverages, must always be offered and served with the same attractiveness and accessibility as those containing alcohol.

    3. The offering of alcoholic beverages at an event should not be advertised and should never be a primary purpose of the event.

    4. All applicable Federal, State and local laws and ordinances, including those governing the serving of alcoholic beverages to minors, must be observed.

    5. Although these guidelines recognize the positive social value of the use of alcoholic beverages, they also recognize that drunkenness is always unacceptable Christian behavior; care must be taken to ensure that responsible persons are in control of the serving of alcoholic beverages.

    6. The group or organization sponsoring the event at which alcoholic beverages are served must assume moral and legal responsibility for those who might become intoxicated, including the provision of transportation for anyone whose driving might be impaired.

    7. It is the duty of the Priest in charge of the congregation, or in his or her absence, the Senior Warden and the vestry, to assume responsibility for the dissemination of and the observance of these guidelines.

    8. Non-church organizations using church facilities are expected to observe the above guidelines.

    UNLESS YOUR PARISH ADOPTS A PARISH POLICY PROHIBITING THE USE OF ALCOHOL ON CHURCH PREMISES (an alternative approach which also has the support of Diocesan Council and the Diocesan Committee on Alcoholism/Chemical Dependency).

    Print policy