Clergy Manual

This manual applies to all Episcopal clergy who function in the Episcopal Church in Western Oregon, whether deacon, priest, or
bishop, active or retired, licensed or canonically resident, parochial or non-parochial, full-time, part-time, or bi-vocational, residing
within the diocese or elsewhere.

For information regarding continuing education, compensation and benefits, Mutual Ministry Reviews, vacation/leave/sabbatical
time off, covenants of ministry, and leave-taking, please see the Personnel Practice for Clergy section in the diocesan Policies
and Procedures Manual.

The Episcopal Church in Western Oregon’s Policy and Procedure Manual

The Episcopal Church in Western Oregon’s Constitution and Canons

The Episcopal Church’s Constitution and Canons


What we seek in clergy

The Episcopal Church in Western Oregon seeks clergy to serve in this diocese who:

  • Center their life in Christ and are spiritually grounded, attending to spiritual direction and prayer, the study of Holy Scripture, and whose love of Jesus Christ is evident in their lives. We desire leaders who share their faith by connecting their story to God’s story and who have the capacity to demonstrate this in thought, word, and deed.
  • Are Christian stewards who can connect the life of faith with finances, friendships, and the resources essential to thriving faith communities; who practice tithing and can witness to the power of tithing in their lives.
  • Are mature emotionally and spiritually and who continue to deepen this maturity through counseling, mentoring, and spiritual direction.
  • Understand authority and have a clear understanding of their own authority while respecting the authority of the leaders of the church.
Clergy Participation, Orientation, & Support

Diocesan Participation

Clergy are expected to live into their ordination vows through participation in diocesan activities, serving on governing bodies, commissions, working groups, and attending clergy conferences and the annual meeting of the diocesan convention. Clergy are also expected to identify and develop lay leaders for diocesan leadership.

All clergy are expected to be familiar with the content of the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Church in Western Oregon, and the bylaws of their local congregation.

Thriving Leaders

All active clergy new to the diocese are expected to participate in Thriving Leaders. This program is also required for all first-time rectors/vicars/priests-in- charge. Thriving Leaders provides training in a wide range of practical and pastoral skills for parish ministry in this diocese.

Learn more about Thriving Leaders here.

Clergy Companions

Each newly ordained person and each ordained person from outside the diocese coming into a cure in this diocese will be provided a companion. The role of the companion is to offer hospitality and orientation to the diocese. This relationship requires trust as all conversations are held in confidence. Companions are encouraged to utilize the Diocesan Resource Center for assistance when additional support is needed.

Required Trainings & Background Check

Safe Church, Safe Communities

Sexual abuse is defined as the abuse of power, disregard for another’s dignity, and betrayal of the trust and integrity of the pastoral and professional relationship. An imbalance of power always exists between clergy and a parishioner in a pastoral relationship. It is imperative that clergy establish and maintain clear boundaries.

All clergy are required to participate in Safe Church Trainings: Safe Church, Safe Communities. All clergy licensed or canonically resident in the Episcopal Church in Western Oregon are required to have this certification in their file in the bishop’s office. This training must be renewed every three (3) years. Learn more about the Safe Church Training here.

Clergy are responsible for assuring that every area of the church’s life is free from sexual harassment and misconduct. All clergy are responsible for modeling, supporting, and educating others about diocesan abuse prevention policies in their ministry setting.

Retired clergy who certify to the bishop that they are completely retired and do not exercise their ordained ministry in any context are exempt from this requirement.

Anti-Racism Training

In 2000, the General Convention of The Episcopal Church approved Resolution B049, which stipulates that “the lay and ordained leadership of the Episcopal Church, including ordained persons, professional staff, and those elected or appointed to positions of leadership on committees, commissions, agencies, and boards be required to take anti-racism training and receive a certification of such training.”

Further, B049 stipulated that “…each diocese maintain a register of those who have been trained.”

In 2010, the Commission to End Racism (renamed Engaging Racial Justice Working Group) proposed substantial changes to the approach and materials used in our diocesan training, with the intention of developing materials that were more focused on the specific issues and historical context of the Pacific Northwest.

At the present time, the Anti-Racism training requirements for clergy in the Episcopal Church in Western Oregon are as follows:

  1. All clergy are expected to have completed anti-racism training within the past ten years, and to have forwarded documentation of such training to the bishop’s office.
  2. Clergy in active ministry are strongly encouraged to take one of the recommended trainings currently offered by the diocese, available on this page.

Oxford Document Background Check

All clergy are required to have a current Oxford Background Check on file in the diocesan office. The only clergy who may be exempted from this requirement are retired clergy who certify to the bishop that they are completely retired and do not exercise their ordained ministry in any context.

Learn more about background checks here.

Discretionary Funds & Expense Accounts

Clergy Expense Accounts must be kept separate from the Discretionary Fund. In the case of an audit, the taxing authorities will want to be shown that these funds are independent of one another.

Discretionary Funds

Any expenditures from this fund need to be in accordance with the Episcopal Church Title III Canon 9 Section 6 (b). Suggested procedure for the flow of funds:

  • All monies designated as a part of the discretionary fund should be given to the church, not the clergyperson. (This may include designated plate offerings, funds from capital gifts, designated contributions for weddings, funerals, etc.) The treasurer deposits these funds in the Discretionary Fund Account, and this becomes part of the church’s financial record.

Three possible ways for the clergyperson to disperse funds are:

  • The clergyperson makes a check request to the Treasurer, who issues a check from the Discretionary Fund Account for the person in need, or
  • The clergyperson writes a check for the person in need from the Discretionary Fund Checking Account. The checkbook and backup documents must be open for audit.
  • The clergyperson writes a check directly to the vendor who is providing the needed assistance.

An outside auditor or a parish audit team audits the Discretionary Fund at year-end, and reports to the vestry and the diocese.

Some of the items for which a Discretionary Fund should be utilized. All of these items are for the needy, poor, or afflicted.

  1. Food
  2. Lodging
  3. Transportation
  4. Medical Bills
  5. “Pious and Charitable Uses”

Expense Accounts

Suggested Procedure:

  • An expense budget or budgets is/are established for the clergyperson by the Budget Committee, approved by the vestry/BAC, and made a part of the annual congregational budget.
  • The clergyperson makes expenditures in accordance with the general outlines of the suggested expense items below.
  • The clergyperson provides the treasurer with bills and/or invoices for payment/reimbursement. The treasurer issues a reimbursement check for such expenditures to the clergyperson.

Reimbursements are not required when filing tax reports.

The outside auditor or the parish audit team audits this (these) account(s) at year-end, and reports to the vestry and the diocese.

Expense account items are noted below. These expenditures should be related to church activities. If an expenditure is large, unclear in purpose, or causes a budget overage, there should be a prior discussion between the clergyperson and the vestry/BAC before it is made (and documentation in the minutes of the meeting.)

Expense items may include:

  • Continuing Education
  • Conferences (tuition, meals, and transportation)
  • Auto Expense (includes accounting for mileage)
  • Business Expense
  • Organizational membership costs
  • Books and Journals
  • Consultants
  • Business meals/Business entertainment
  • Other professional expenses

Note: Clergy may choose to place honoraria from weddings, funerals, baptisms, etc. (gifts not specifically designated “discretionary fund”) into a “Rector’s/Vicar’s Program Fund,” which the clergyperson administers to the benefit of the church.

All receipts and gifts must first be deposited with the parish treasurer and then disbursed accordingly so that there is a clear record and accountability.


Clergy Wellness

The health and well-being of the clergy of the diocese are an important part of the well-being of the Church. The diocese requires that a Letter of Agreement should include all benefits, including medical and dental insurance, sick leave, pension, continuing education time and funds, and sabbatical planning. These should also include annual vacations and a variety of national holidays. Clergy are encouraged to participate in regional clericus groups and in peer support groups.

Ordained clergy have promised to pattern their lives (and those of their families or households) in accordance with the teaching of Christ so that they may be wholesome examples. The following standards are essential for healthy clergy:

  • We give adequate attention to our spiritual health by observing daily times for prayer, spiritual direction, scripture reading, and meditation with the Daily Office as the guide in our tradition.
  • We give adequate attention to our physical health, including regular check-ups, regular exercise, healthy eating habits, and moderation/abstinence from any use of alcohol, tobacco, or drugs.
  • We give adequate attention to our emotional health, and when there is a need identified by ourselves, our families, friends, or colleagues, will seek professional help.
  • We spend intentional and significant time with our family, household, and friends beyond the community in which we serve.
  • We observe at least two days off work each week, or their equivalent, and endeavor to enlist support from our congregation in honoring these times of rest.
  • We take one full month each year for vacation as a time for recreation and renewal, plus compensatory time off after especially busy times, such as Christmas and Easter.
  • In accordance with the policy of the Episcopal Church in Western Oregon, we make every effort to reach a mutual agreement with our congregations and/or ecclesiastical authority to plan for periodic sabbatical leave or an equivalent for refreshment, renewal, and growth.
  • We maintain a regular program of continuing education in consultation with clergy colleagues, bishop, and congregational representatives.
  • We maintain regular contact with other colleagues through clergy associations, clericus, and colleague groups.
  • We seek avenues of community involvement and/or friendships that allow us to relate to others where we are not the clergy/congregational leader.
  • We practice responsible stewardship of our financial resources. We accept the tithe as a minimum standard of giving, and if we are not already tithing will adopt a systematic plan of moving towards that minimum.
  • We participate in Diverse Church (Anti-Racism) Training and Safe Church Training.
  • We have a canonical responsibility to participate in diocesan activities, serve on diocesan boards and committees, attend clergy conferences called by the bishop, and attend the Annual Meeting of the Diocesan Convention. Such participation is considered to complement local duties, not conflict with them.
  • We are bound by and familiar with the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church in Western Oregon, and the by-laws of the local congregation, giving special attention to the disciplinary materials of Title III and Title IV of the Canons of the Episcopal Church.
Pastoral Care & Spiritual Direction

Clergy are not to claim directly or by implication any pastoral or professional qualifications that exceed their actual qualifications or abilities.

Clergy are expected to make appropriate referrals for matters that go beyond moral, spiritual, or religious guidance or whenever the needs of parishioners exceed those that can be competently handled by the clergyperson.

Clergy are to seek appropriate professional assistance for their own personal problems and conflicts, especially those that might impair their pastoral ability and judgment.

Clergy should not work in isolation but must be mindful of the need to maintain collegial and professional associations. It is necessary for the clergy to develop and maintain such associations for the purposes of maintaining supervisory skills, theological and spiritual insights, educational acumen, and current knowledge of resources for ministry. Participating in a clergy support group is encouraged.

Reconciliation of a Penitent is a sacramental act of the church. When hearing a sacramental confession (the rite of Reconciliation of a Penitent), it must be remembered that the confidentiality of a confession is morally absolute for the confessor and must not be broken. However, if the penitent confesses to child sexual abuse, the confessor can and should withhold absolution and notify the authorities. *Clergy are subject to Oregon law requiring the reporting of child abuse and elder abuse and must be familiar with and strictly comply with all applicable laws and rules. Clergy are to take counsel with the bishop and chancellor of the diocese when addressing these matters.

Clergy should treat all pastoral conversations as confidential; however, if a person communicates an intention to harm themselves or others, this should be reported as appropriate.

Clergy must be familiar with and strictly comply with the diocesan policies regarding sexual misconduct, including the requirement to report misconduct to the diocese and, if it involves minors, to the authorities.

Non-Parochial & Retired Clergy

Non-Parochial Clergy

Chaplains and other non-parochial clergy are encouraged to participate in all appropriate diocesan activities. They should provide an annual report to the bishop if they have performed any duties of their ministry in that year.

The form for this report is found here, or clergy may contact the diocesan office.

Retired Clergy

Retired clergy who are canonically residents have a seat, voice, and vote at the annual meeting of the diocesan convention and are encouraged to participate if possible.

Regardless of their ministry activities, retired clergy are expected to continue to maintain an orderly relationship with the bishop. They should keep the bishop informed of any address change or any other major change in their circumstances. Retired clergy who are not responsible for a congregational parochial report are expected to provide an annual report to the bishop if they have performed any duties of their ministry in that year. The form for this report is found here or in the bishop’s office.

Retired clergy who are able should be mindful of their responsibility to support the ministries of the active clergy in whose cures they reside or from whose cures they have retired.

Upon reaching the age of 72 years, all retired clergy in the Episcopal Church in Western Oregon, licensed or canonically resident, must comply with Canon III.9.8 of the Constitutions and Canons of the Episcopal Church.

Canonical Residence/Letters Dimissory

A Priest from another diocese shall not be in charge of any congregation in this diocese until obtaining from the bishop a certificate stating that the priest’s Letters Dismissory have been received from the diocese they have left.  The transfer and receipt of Letters Dismissory must conform to TEC Title III, Canon 9 Sec. 4.

Unless a deacon has been licensed in the Episcopal Church in Western Oregon, they may not serve as deacon for more than two months. Deacons may not transfer Letters Dimissory without written consent from the bishop of the Episcopal Church in Western Oregon. (Title III, 7.6)

The bishop does not normally accept Letters Dimissory for interim clergy or retired clergy.


Immigration Matters

Clergy who are not citizens of the United States are required to have official permission to work before they may be deployed in Oregon. Non-citizen clergy must provide documentation of their immigration status to the bishop’s office to cooperate in resolving any questions about their status and to inform the bishop of any changes in their status. In addition, they must meet all of the requirements of Canon III.10.


Role of the Deacon

Deacons serve directly under the authority of and are accountable to the bishop diocesan.  Their ministry assignments are made by the bishop in consultation with the convenor of the Community of Deacons. Deacons will have a letter of agreement using the template provided by the bishop’s office. Deacons who have been assigned a ministry in a faith community will be supervised by the priest in charge on behalf of the bishop.  Annual reviews should be conducted between the supervising priest and the deacon, as well the deacon should seek the bishop’s guidance regarding challenges or questions regarding the ministry placement.

Deacons serve as servant icons of ministry in the liturgy. They proclaim the Gospel, bid the prayers and serve at the table, prepare and place on it the offerings of bread and wine, and assist in the ministrations of the Eucharist. The deacon also dismisses the assembly at the close of the service.

Deacons interpret the needs of the world to the church and are especially concerned with the poor and marginalized of society.

Relationship to the Bishop

Deacons will report annually to the bishop regarding their life and work.  This report may be in the form of a letter or an in-person conversation.  For two years following ordination, deacons will continue a process of formation authorized by the bishop.  The bishop will assign a mentor for the newly ordained deacon. The mentor and newly ordained deacon will meet for at least one year to provide guidance, information, and a sustained dialogue about diaconal ministry.

Deacons have a unique relationship with the bishop and are expected to pursue guidance and counsel from the bishop regarding their ministry placement, issues in the local context, and how to best proclaim the Gospel in the world.

The Convener of Deacons works with the bishop to develop Deacon Days three times a year.  These events focus on the charisms of the diaconate as they are expressed through the specific deacons of the diocese.

Assignments & Participation

Deacons may be assigned to faith communities, diocesan institutions, or missional settings in local contexts. All deacons will be connected with a faith community. Deacons serve in a non-stipendiary role and should not have a discretionary fund; they may request use of discretionary funds through their supervising priest.

Deacons attend clergy conferences, as they are able.

Deacons with the charism of preaching may preach a deacon’s sermon.

Deacons normally wear clericals only to serve liturgically or when doing so will facilitate servant ministry in the world.

“Deacon Masses” are not to be permitted under any circumstances in the Episcopal Church in Western Oregon.

Download the 2023-2024 Deacon Covenant form here.



Any rector, vicar, or interim priest/priest-in-charge is considered the priest in charge of the congregation. They are:

  • Responsible for maintaining parish records, personnel matters, abuse prevention programs, licensing lay ministers by the bishop’s office, the completion of an annual parochial report, and annual audits.
  • Charged with the supervision of all staff, clergy, and lay. They are to ensure all lay employees have a personnel folder that contains an application, appropriate background and reference checks, IRS form W-4, and an I-9 form as required.
  • Provide regular review and evaluation of all staff and document that process in personnel files which are kept locked in the church offices.
  • Responsible for seeing that vestries and BACs have the appropriate insurance coverage, financial reports, and internal controls and are in compliance with diocesan requirements concerning audits.

A priest in charge may receive reports of sexual misconduct or abuse and must immediately inform the bishop or diocesan intake officer and receive instruction before taking action. The exception is Mandatory Reporting: Clergy are subject to Oregon law requiring the reporting of child abuse and elder abuse and must be familiar with and strictly comply with all applicable laws and rules. Clergy are to take counsel with the bishop and chancellor of the diocese when addressing these matters.

Assisting Priests

Assisting priests serve at the pleasure of the priest in charge of the congregation and are called to support the work of the priest in charge. Assisting priests must have a letter of agreement.

In the event of serious disagreements between assisting clergy and the priest in charge of the congregation, every effort should be made to reconcile, and consultation should be sought if the parties cannot resolve the situation themselves.

If assisting priests come to believe that they cannot offer the appropriate support to the priest in charge of the congregation, they should contact the bishop’s office for a consultation.

Licensed Priests

Licensed priests are encouraged to participate fully in diocesan life. Licensed clergy are subject to the same expectations outlined for all clergy. If they wish to be deployed as supply clergy, they must be conversant and in compliance with the policies of the Episcopal Church in Western Oregon.

Licensed priests who serve as a priest in charge of congregation or as assisting clergy on the staff of diocesan congregations will automatically be relicensed. However, licensed clergy who are not serving in this manner are required to make an annual report to the bishop and to request licensing for the next calendar year, if that is their desire. If no report and request for a license is received, they will be removed from the list of licensed clergy and must reapply to be reinstated.

Licensed priests serving as priests in charge of a congregation or assisting clergy on the staff of diocesan congregations are expected to register for the annual meeting of the diocesan convention. Although diocesan canons do not provide such licensed clergy a vote at the annual meeting, it is customary to grant them seat and voice when the convention organizes for business. Only those clergy who are canonically and physically resident, or serving as a vicar or priest in charge in the Episcopal Church in Western Oregon may vote. (See Article 4 of the Diocesan Constitution.)

Licensed clergy not serving as heads of congregations or as assisting clergy may register for the annual meeting of the diocesan convention as visitors and are encouraged to do so.

ELCA clergy may be considered for license, if requested by a head of congregation. Such clergy must present, in addition to the standard licensing requirements, a letter from their bishop approving the license application. If they are not residing in their home synod, they must also have approval from the Lutheran bishop in whose synod they reside.


The bishop of the Episcopal Church in Western Oregon makes all ministry assignments for curates.

A rector may not recruit or hire a seminarian or a curate without the bishop’s permission.

Seminarians from outside the diocese are required to release their full canonical file from their sponsoring diocese before placement. This includes spiritual autobiography, postulancy letter, candidacy letter, psychological and physical evaluations, evaluations, and reports from Commissions on Ministry and Standing Committees. They must also have the formal release of the bishop of their sponsoring diocese. For assistance, contact the missioner for thriving congregations.


All clergy canonically resident or licensed and in good standing may submit their name and material to the bishop’s office along with a request to be included on the list of names given to congregations beginning a search.

Eligibility for deployment in the Episcopal Church in Western Oregon is determined by the bishop and based upon the individual’s qualifications.

Deployment of Retired Clergy

The Church Pension Group governs the salary retired clergy may earn. The bishop must apply for an exemption from these guidelines. This must be submitted at least three months before the deployment begins. The Church Pension Group will not approve requests of clergy who retire and wish to be re-deployed to the congregation from which they retired. The work-after-retirement rules can be found on the Church Pension Group website (

All retired clergy active in ministry must meet the bishop’s expectations of clergy.

Interm Deployment

All questions regarding interim deployment should be directed to the missioner for thriving congregations.

Candidates for interim positions within the Episcopal Church in Western Oregon are expected to meet the bishop’s expectations of clergy, regardless of canonical residence or active/retired status.