Canon 1. Introduction.
1.1 The corporate name of this church will be Holy Christian Orthodox Church.
1.2 Within these canons it will also be referred to as "this church," "this faith community," "this denomination," or "the HCOC."
1.3 The HCOC is a validly consecrated and constituent member of Christ's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, which unites all Christians throughout the world and throughout history.
1.4 The COC shall be incorporated in the State of New Hampshire.
Canon 2. Doctrine.
2.1 This orthodox faith community shall worship the One True Triune God ‑ Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
2.2 This church shall be part of God's Kingdom, unconditionally embracing all persons of faith and all persons seeking to discover or rediscover their faith.
2.3 This church shall establish dioceses, parishes, religious communities and other necessary institutions to evangelize the world.
2.4 This church shall be subject to the creedal statements established by the Ecumenical Councils of the Universal Church at Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus and Chalcedon.
2.5 This church shall accept as the definition of Christianity the creed associated with the Council of Constantinople of 381, CE. This creed is commonly referred to as the Nicene Creed.
2.6 This church shall accept the Apostles' Creed as a valid statement of faith.
2.7 This church shall accept the Athanasian Creed as a valid statement of Trinitarian theology and Christology.
2.8 This church cannot alter, change or revise any of the above-mentioned creeds.
2.9 The Statement of Faith of Archbishop Matthew is the minimum statement for admission to this church.
Canon 3. Membership.
3.1 Any person baptized, confirmed or received into full membership, according to the approved liturgical and sacramental rites of this church by a deacon, presbyter or bishop in good standing, is a full member of this Church.
3.2 A person may terminate their membership with this Church through the liturgical rite of reception within another faith community or by submitting a letter of intention to their local pastor or local ordinary.
3.3 A person who terminated their membership with this Church may petition for readmission by submitting a written request to the local pastor or to the local ordinary.
3.4 Members who fail to profess or follow the Creedal Doctrines of this Church will be notified by their bishop that, unless this failure is corrected, termination of membership through formal excommunication will occur. In such matters, a member must be provided with formal documentation of any charges and be given due process to respond and question any person making charges against them.
1. If a member who has been formally confronted and informed of their error and acknowledges such, but refuses to recant or correct their heresy, they shall be excommunicated by order of the diocesan bishop.
2. If a member who has been formally confronted and informed of their error recants and corrects their heresy, the excommunication process is thereby terminated.
3. The House of Bishops shall be the Ecclesiastical Court of final appeal.
Canon 4. Baptism.
4.1 Baptism is necessary for salvation in fact or at least in intention. It is the sacrament by which all people are freed from their sins, are reborn as children of God, are, configured to Christ by an indelible character, and are incorporated in the Church. It is as validly conferred only by washing with true water together with the required form of words.
4.2 Baptism should be administrated in accord with the order prescribed within the approved liturgical rite books.
4.3 One who is not of sound mind (non sui compose) is equated with an infant; so far as Baptism is concerned.
4.4 Baptism is to be conferred either by immersion or by pouring with the prescriptions of the proper authority being observed.
4.5 The traditional place for Baptism is in a church or oratory.
4.6 As a rule adults are to be baptized in their own local parish church and infants are to be baptized in the parish church proper to their parents, unless a just cause suggests otherwise.
4.7 Outside of cases of necessity, Baptism is not to be conferred in private homes, unless with the permission of the local ordinary.
4.8 The ordinary minister of Baptism is a bishop, presbyter or deacon in good standing, with due regard that the prescriptions of the proper authority be observed.
4.9 To be baptized, it is required that an adult have manifested the properly formed will to be baptized, be sufficiently instructed in the truths of faith and in Christian obligations and be tested in the Christian life by means of the catechumenate; the adult is also to be exhorted to have sorrow for personal sins.
4.10 Unless a grave reason prevents it, an adult who is baptized is to be confirmed immediately after baptism and participate in the celebration of the Eucharist, also receiving Communion.
4.11 Parents and legal guardians are obliged to see to it that infants are baptized.
4.12 An infant in danger of death is to be baptized without any delay.
4.13 For the licit Baptism of an infant, it is necessary that:
1. The parents and/or legal guardians or at least one of them gives consent.
2. There is a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the faith of this orthodox faith community.
4.14 If there is a doubt whether one has been Baptized or whether Baptism was validly conferred and the doubt remains after serious investigation, Baptism is to be conferred conditionally.
4.15 A foundling or abandoned child is to be Baptized unless upon diligent investigation proof of Baptism is established.
4.16 If aborted fetuses are alive, they are to be Baptized, if possible.
4.17 Insofar as possible, one to be Baptized is to be given a sponsor who is to assist an adult in Christian initiation.
4.18 To be admitted to the role of sponsor, a person must:
1. Be designated by the one to be Baptized, by the parents or legal guardians, or in their absence, by the pastor and is to have their qualifications and intention of performing this role.
2. Have completed their sixteenth year.
3. Not be the father or mother of the one to be Baptized.
4.19 A Baptized person who belongs to a non‑orthodox ecclesial community or another validly consecrated catholic community may act as a witness to the Baptism, together with a member in full standing within this Church.
Canon 5. Eucharist.
5.1 The celebration of the Eucharist is the action of Christ Himself and the Church; in it Christ the Lord, by the ministry of a presbyter, offers Himself, substantially present tinder the forms of bread and wine, to God the Father and gives Himself as spiritual food to the faithful who are associated with His offering.
5.2 Those who can validly serve as Christ to confect the sacrament of the Eucharist are validly ordained presbyters or bishops.
5.3 A presbyter or bishop who is not canonically impeded celebrates the Eucharist licitly, observing the prescriptions of the following canons.
5.4 A presbyter or bishop may apply the intentions of the Mass for anyone, living or dead.
5.5 Presbyters or bishops may concelebrate the Eucharist, unless the welfare of the faithful requires or urges otherwise.
5.6 A presbyter is to be permitted to celebrate the Eucharist even if said presbyter is unknown to the rector of the church. Such presbyter must present a current letter of faculties or recommendation issued by their local ordinary or religious superior.
5.7 Remembering that the work of redemption is continually accomplished in the mystery of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, presbyters and bishops are to celebrate frequently; indeed daily celebration is strongly recommended, since even if the faithful cannot be present, it is the act of Christ and the Church in which presbyters and bishops fulfill their principle function.
5.8 The ordinary minister of the Eucharist is a bishop or presbyter.
5.9 The pastor and parochial vicars, chaplains and the superior of a community in apostolic life have the right and the duty to bring the Most Holy Eucharist to the sick in the form of Viaticum.
5.10 Any baptized person, not prohibited by canon law, must be admitted to Holy Communion.
5.11 The Most Holy Eucharist may be given to children who are in danger of death.
5.12 It is the responsibility of the parents and those who take the place of parents, as well as the pastor to see that children who have reached the use of reason are correctly prepared and are nourished by the Divine Food as early as possible.
5.13 All the faithful, after they have been initiated into the Most Holy Eucharist, are bound by the obligation of receiving Communion at least once a year.
1. The above precept must be fulfilled during the Easter season unless it is fulfilled for a Just cause at some other time during the year.
5.14 The Christian faithful, who are in danger of death, arising from any cause, are to be nourished by Holy Communion in the form of Viaticum.
5.15 The Most Sacred Eucharistic Sacrifice must be celebrated with bread and wine, which a small quantity of water is to be mixed.
5.16 Holy Communion is to be given under the form of bread alone or under both kinds in accord with the norm of the liturgical custom or even under the form of wine alone in case of necessity.
5.17 It is forbidden for a celebrant to consecrate one matter of the Eucharist without the other.
5.18 In celebrating and administering the Eucharist, bishops, presbyters and deacons are to wear the liturgical vestments prescribed by the rubrics.
5.19 The celebration and distribution of the Eucharist may take place on any day and at any hour, except for those times excluded by liturgical norms.
5.20 The celebration of the Eucharist is to be celebrated in a sacred place, unless in a particular case necessity demands otherwise; in such a case the celebration must be done in a respectable place.
5.21 In sacred places where the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved, there must be someone who has the care of it.
5.22 The Most Holy Eucharist is to be reserved regularly in only one tabernacle of a church or oratory.
5.23 Consecrated hosts are to be reserved in a ciborium or vessel in sufficient quantity for the needs of the faithful; they are to be frequently renewed and the old ones properly consumed.
5.24 In churches or oratories where it can be permitted to reserve the Most Holy Eucharist, there can be exposition either with the ciborium or with a monstrance or other appropriate vessel, observing the norms prescribed in the liturgical books.
5.25 Exposition of the Most Holy Sacrament is not to be held in the same part of the church or oratory during the celebration of the Mass.
5.26 The minister of exposition of the Most Holy Sacrament and the Eucharistic Benediction is either a bishop, presbyter or deacon.
Canon 6. Confession and Reconciliation.
6.1 Individual and integral confession and absolution constitute the ordinary way by which the faithful person who is aware of serious sin is reconciled with God and with the Church.
6.2 A person who has had serious sins remitted by a general absolution is to approach individual confession as soon as there is an opportunity to do so before receiving another general absolution unless a just cause intervenes.
6.3 Presbyters and bishops, who are in good standing, are the ministers of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
6.4 For the valid absolution of sins it is required that, besides the power received through sacred ordination, the minister possesses the faculty to exercise that power over the faithful to whom the minister imparts absolution.
6.5 The local ordinary, as well as the competent religious superior, may revoke the faculties to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation from a presbyter for just cause.
6.6 Even though a priest may lack the faculty to hear confessions, any priest or bishop validly and licitly absolves from any kind of censures and sins any penitent who is in danger of death, even if an approved presbyter or bishop is present.
6.7 In hearing confessions the confessor is to remember that they act as a judge as well as a healer and is placed by God as the minister of divine justice and mercy, concerned with the divine honor and the salvation of souls.
6.8 The confessor, in posing questions, is to proceed with prudence and discretion, with attention to the condition and age of the penitent, and that the confessor is to refrain from asking the name of an accomplice.
6.9 If the confessor has no doubt about the disposition of a penitent who asks for absolution, absolution is not to be refused or delayed.
6.10 The confessor is to enjoin salutary and suitable penances in keeping with the severity and number of the sins, but with attention to the condition of the penitent; the penitent is obliged to perform the penances personally.
6.11 The sacramental seal of the confessional is inviolable. Therefore, it is a sin for a confessor, in any way or form, to betray a penitent by word or in any other manner for any reason.
6.12 An interpreter, if needed, is also obliged to preserve the secret., and also all others to whom knowledge of sins from confession shall come in any way.
6.13 Even if every danger of revelation is excluded, a confessor is absolutely forbidden to use any knowledge acquired from a confession when it might harm the penitent.
6.14 One who is placed in authority can in no way use for external governance knowledge about sins which the confessor, or others cited, has received in confession at any time.
6.15 A member of the Christian faithful is obliged to confess, in kind and in number, all serious sins committed after baptism and not yet directly acknowledged in individual confession, of which one is conscious after diligent examination of conscience.
Canon 7. Sacrament of the Sick.
7.1 The anointing of the sick is conferred by anointing them with oil and using the words prescribed in the liturgical books.
7.2 The anointing is to be carefully performed while observing the words, the order and the manner prescribed in the liturgical books; but in cases of necessity it is sufficient that one anointing be made on the forehead or even on another appropriate part of the body, while saying the entire formula.
7.3 The communal celebration of the anointing of the sick can be performed according to the prescriptions of the ordinary of the diocese.
7.4 Every presbyter and bishop who is in good standing validly administers the Sacrament of the Sick.
7.5 The Sacrament of the Sick can be administered again to a member of the faithful who, after a period of recovery, begins to decline and once again becomes seriously ill.
Canon 8. Marriage.
8.1 The matrimonial covenant, by which a couple establish between themselves a partnership of the whole life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.
8.2 Marriage is brought about through the consent manifested between the parties who are capable of giving consent. No human power can replace this consent.
8.3 All persons who are not prohibited by canon law can contract marriage.
8.4 Pastors of souls are obliged to see to it that their own ecclesial community furnishes the Christian faithful assistance so that the matrimonial state is maintained in a Christian spirit and makes progress towards perfection. This assistance is especially to be furnished through:
1. Preaching and catechesis; so that the Christian faithful may be instructed concerning the meaning of Christian marriage and the duty of Christian spouses and parents.
2. Personal preparation for entering marriage so that the parties may be predisposed toward the holiness and duties of their new state.
3. Assistance furnished to those already married so that, while faithfully maintaining and protecting the conjugal covenant, they may come to lead holier and fuller lives.
8.5 If they can do so without serious inconvenience, Faithful who have not yet received the sacrament of confirmation are to receive it before being admitted into marriage.
8.6 It is strongly recommended that those to be married approach the sacrament of reconciliation and the Most Holy Eucharist so that they may fruitfully receive the sacrament of Marriage.
8.7 Before marriage is celebrated, it must be evident that nothing stands in the way of its valid and licit celebration.
8.8 All the faithful are obliged to reveal any impediments they are aware of to the pastor or to the local ordinary before the celebration of a marriage.
8.9 A person must have completed their eighteenth year of age prior to entering into the sacrament of Marriage.
8.10 A person who, for the purpose of entering marriage with a certain person, has brought about the death of that person's spouse or one's own spouse, cannot attempt such a marriage.
8.11 Affinity in the direct line in any degree whatsoever invalidates matrimony.
8.12 Those who lack sufficient use of reason are incapable of contracting marriage.
8.13 The internal consent of the mind is presumed to be in agreement with the words or signs employed in celebrating matrimony.
8.14 Marriage can be contracted through an interpreter.
8.15 Only those marriages are valid which are contracted in the presence of the local ordinary or the pastor or a presbyter or deacon delegated by either of them, who assists, and in the presence of two witnesses, according to the rules expressed in the following:
1. The one assisting at a marriage is understood to be only that person who, present at the ceremony, asks for the manifestation of consent and receives it in the name of the church.
8.16 Unless they have been excommunicated, interdicted or suspended from office or declared such, whether by sentence or decree, within the confines of their territory, the local ordinary and the pastor, in virtue of their offices, validly assist at the marriages of subjects as well as of non‑subjects.
8.17 As long as they validly hold office, the local ordinary and the pastor can delegate to priests and deacons the faculty to assist at marriages within the limits of their territory.
8.18 Outside of a case of necessity, the rites prescribed in the liturgical books approved by the church are to be observed in the celebration of marriage.
8.19 If the marriage was contracted in a parish where a spouse was baptized, the pastor of the place where it was celebrated is to send a notice of the contracted marriage as soon as possible to the pastor where the baptism was conferred.
8.20 Local ordinaries and other pastors of souls are to see to it that the orthodox spouse and the children of a ecumenical marriage do not lack spiritual assistance fulfilling their obligations and are to aid the spouses in fostering the unity of conjugal and family life.
8.21 For only serious and urgent reasons can the local ordinary permit a marriage to be celebrated secretly.
8.22 Parents have the most serious duty and the primary right to do all in their power to see to the physical, social, cultural, moral and religious upbringing of their children.
Canon 9. Dissolution of the Marital Bonds and Consecutive Marriage.
9.1 Recognizing the reality that some marital bonds may dissolve and cannot be reconciled, the Church does not believe that the sacramental grace can remain present in a marital relationship in which there is emotional or physical violence, permanent abandonment or the inability of marital fidelity. The grace or the sacrament is not present in such relationships of pain and misery. Thus, the Church must allow persons the freedom to leave such relationships and to permit such persons the opportunity to invite Christ into a spirit‑filled marriage.
9.2 One may petition the Church to declare a marriage non‑binding and dissolved for the following conditions:
1. emotional or physical violence.
2. psychological violence.
3. permanent abandonment.
4. habitual inability to maintain marital fidelity.
5. recognition of true sexual orientation inconsistent with the form of the marriage.
9.3 One who wishes to enter into a consecutive marriage must present documented evidence of such conditions from their previous marriage to their pastor prior to attempting a consecutive marriage.
9.4 Upon obtaining all necessary information, evidence and documentation related to a petition, the local pastor will investigate and ascertain the weight of the evidence and submit a recommendation to the local ordinary that a Grant of Dissolution be granted.
1. A Grant of Dissolution cannot be granted prior to the finalization of a civil decree of divorce.
2. The local ordinary must respond to petitions for a Grant of Dissolution within one month of receipt.
3. The local ordinary has sole faculties to permit a Grant of Dissolution.
9.5 Petitioners for a Grant of Dissolution, who have had two or more previous marriages, must make their petition directly to the local ordinary.
9.6 Petitioners who submit false information or omit information on their applications, will have their petitions summarily dismissed.
9.7 Candidates for a consecutive marriage must be provided with extended pastoral counseling prior to entering into the sacrament.
9.8 Dispensation from Canon 9 can only be made in matters of life and death situations.
Canon 10. Holy Orders.
10.1 By divine institution, some among the Christian faithful are constituted sacred ministers through the sacrament of Orders by means of the indelible character with which they are marked. Accordingly, they are consecrated and deputed to shepherd the people of God, each in accord with there own grade of orders, by fulfilling in the person of Christ the Head the functions of teaching, sanctifying and governing.
10.2 The Orders are the episcopacy, the presbyterate and diaconate.
1. Orders are conferred by the imposition of hands and by the consecratory prayers which the liturgical books prescribe for the individual grades.
10.3 Ordination is to be celebrated within the solemnities of Mass of Sunday, however, it can take place on other days, even ordinary weekdays.
10.4 Ordination is to be celebrated in a church and the clergy and other members of the Christian faithful are to be invited so that a large congregation may be present for the celebration.
10.5 The minister of sacred ordination is a validly consecrated bishop.
10.6 The principal consecrating bishop in an episcopal consecration is to associate at least two other consecrating bishops; but it is especially appropriate that all bishops who are present should consecrate the bishop‑elect along with bishops mentioned.
10.7 Each candidate is to be ordained to the presbyterate or diaconate by their own bishop or with legitimate dismissorial letters from their bishop or religious superior.
10.8 A bishop can confer orders outside of their own jurisdiction only with the written permission of the local diocesan bishop.
10.9 Only a baptized and confirmed candidate validly receives sacred ordination.
10.10 It is required that in the judgment of the same legitimate superior of a candidate is considered to be useful for the ministry of the Church.
10.11 In order for a candidate to be ordained he or she must possess the required freedom.
10.12 Those who aspire to the diaconate or the presbyterate are required to receive and fulfill an accurate program of formation.
1. Candidates for the diaconate or the presbyterate must be a full member of the Church prior to their consideration to enter into secular or religious formation.
10.13 As part of the application process to enter into secular formation, candidate must fulfill the following:
1. provide documentation of their baptism, confirmation and any marriage.
2. provide documentation of the dissolution of any marriage.
3. complete a criminal background check.
4. complete a standard psychological examination.
5. provide documentation of academic credentials.
6. completion of application forms.
7. anticipate their financial obligations for tuition to a graduate school of theology.
8. fulfill the residency requirements of the local diocese.
10.14 The local director of vocations will impanel a review board of clerics in good standing to consider the application of all candidates and present their recommendations of the board to the local ordinary for final decision. The decision of the local bishop is final and not subject to review.
10.15 As part of their formation process, candidates will enter into the minor orders of Cleric, Porter, Lector, Acolyte, Exorcist, and Subdeacon prior to the Order of Deacon.
10.16 Candidates will enter into the Order of Deacon just prior to the start of their internship. The local ordinary must evaluate the readiness of the candidate prior to calling the candidate to Order.
1. The length of the internship will be decided by the local ordinary.
10.17 The Order of Deacon cannot be dispensed for candidates to the Presbyterate.
10.18 After all circumstances have been taken into account in the prudent judgment of the proper bishop or the competent major religious superior, only those should be promoted to Orders who have an integral faith, motivated by right intention, possess the required knowledge, enjoy a good reputation, good morals, proven virtues, and other physical and psychological qualities which are appropriate to the order received.
10.19 Only for a canonical reason, even if it be occult, can the proper bishop or the competent major religious superior forbid access to orders with due regard for recourse in accord with the norm of law.
10.20 The presbyterate is not to be conferred upon those who are less than twenty-one years old and who do not possess sufficient maturity; an interval of at least six months is to be observed between the diaconate and the presbyterate ordinations.
10.21 Candidates must complete their theological studies prior entering into the Order of the Presbyterate.
10.22 In order to be promoted to the order of deacon or of presbyterate, the candidate is to give to their own bishop or to their competent major religious superior a signed declaration written in their own hand, testifying that they are about to receive sacred orders of their own accord and freely and they will devote themselves perpetually to the ecclesiastical ministry. This declaration is also to contain their petition for admission to the reception of orders.
10.23 The following are irregular as regards the reception of orders:
1. A person who labors under some form of mental illness or other psychiatric defect due to which, after consultation with experts in the medical field, they are judged incapable of rightly carrying out the ministry.
2. A person who has committed the delict of apostasy or heresy within the Church.
3. A person who has committed voluntary homicide.
4. A person who has committed sexual assault.
10.24 A neophyte is simply impeded from receiving orders, unless they have been sufficiently proven in the judgment of the local ordinary.
10.25 The faithful are obliged to reveal impediments to sacred orders, if they know of any and can provide documentation, to the ordinary or to the pastor before ordination.
10.26 Ignorance of any irregularities and impediments does not exempt anyone from them.
10.27 For one to be promoted to sacred orders, the following documents are required:
1. Certification that the studies prescribed have been duly completed.
2. Certification that the diaconate has been received if it is a question of those to be ordained to the presbyterate.
3. Certification that baptism, confirmation, marriage or Grants of Dissolution have been received and that any additional ministries requested have been received, if it is a question of those to be promoted to the diaconate.
10.28 As regards the inquiry concerning the qualities required of an ordinand, the following prescriptions are to be observed:
1. Testimonials from competent persons.
2. In order that the inquiry may be properly conducted, the diocesan bishop or the major religious superior can employ other means which seem useful in accord with the circumstances of time and place.
10.29 In order for a bishop to proceed to the ordination of one who is not the bishop's subject, it is necessary that the dismissorial letters refer to the fact that all necessary documents have been furnished and that the inquiry has been conducted in accordance with these canons and that the suitability of the candidate has been proved.
10.30 If, despite all of the above considerations, the bishop has certain reasonable concerns doubting the suitability of the candidate for ordination, the bishop is not to ordain the candidate.
10.31 After the ordination has been conferred, the names of those ordained and the ordaining minister, along with the place and date of the ordination, are to be noted in a special register and maintained as part of the official records of the diocese.
10.32 The ordaining bishop is to give each of the ordained an authentic certificate of the ordination which was received.
Canon 11. Incardination of a Secular Cleric.
11.1 Candidates for clerical incardination into the Church must be full members of the Church prior to their application. No application shall be given prior to reception into the Church as a lay member.
11.2 As part of the application for clerical incardination, candidates must fulfill the same requirements as stated in Canon 10. 13
11.3 If there is a pastoral need, the local ordinary may grant candidates for Clerical Incardination the title of "Cleric in‑Care" and provide them with basic faculties to assist the bishop.
11.4 The local director of vocations will apply Canon 10. 14 to the application process for a candidate for clerical incardination.
11.5 If it is determined that the candidate comes from a tradition that does not have valid apostolic succession and/or lacking the completeness of the Rite of Order, the local ordinary will fulfill the necessary sacramental validity through the imposition of hands. As a sign of respect to the previous community, the imposition of hands will be done in a manner as to not demean the dignity of the previous community.
11.6 Candidates for clerical incardination must possess a Licentiate in Sacred Theology or an equal degree or they must complete their academic studies prior to being incardinated.
11.7 The length of time for the process of incardination will be decided upon by the local ordinary, in consultation with the candidate and the clergy of the diocese.
Canon 12. Episcopal Incardination
12.1 Members of the episcopacy from another catholic community are permitted to make application for Incardination into this Church.
12.2 Candidates for episcopal incardination must fulfil the requirements of Canon 10.13.
12.3 Candidates for episcopal incardination must fulfill the requirements of Canon 11.1.
12.4 Candidates for episcopal incardination must make their application to the Metropolitan/Archbishop of this Church, who will then act as episcopal director of vocations.
12.5 Once a candidate for episcopal incardination has been received into this faith community, the Metropolitan/Archbishop may grant presbyterial faculties to bishops who have begun the process of incardination. Such bishops, granted presbyterial faculties, will be affirmed and given the title of "Bishop‑in‑Care." While accorded the respect of their office, such bishops are not ineligible to vote in the House of Bishops, nor can they act as spokesperson for the Church. If a candidate for episcopal incardination has not fulfilled Canon 11.6, they must do so prior to making final petition for incardination.
12.6 Upon completion of a minimum of 1-year up to three-years transitional process, the Synod will make their decision regarding the granting of full episcopal incardination in the Church.
12.7 Upon being incardinated into the Church, such bishops will take their seat within the House of Bishops and be given full episcopal faculties and duties.
Canon 13. Bishops.
13.1 Bishops within this church are called forth in service and in leadership by the Patriarch and the Synod of Bishops, upon the recommendations of the House of Clergy, House of Laity and the People of God.
13.2 Bishops shall serve the church as either a local ordinary of a diocese, auxiliary bishop of a diocese or chorepiscopus.
13.3 Bishops are called forth because of a liturgical, sacramental or pastoral needs. Bishops are also called forth for their spiritual guidance, theological knowledge, academic wisdom and pastoral ability.
13.4 Candidates for the episcopacy shall be presbyters who have been ordained or incardinated into the Church for a period of no less than 3 years or qualifies under article 12.6, are active in their standing without leave of absences during the reviewed period prior to candidacy and are currently in good standing within the Church.
13.5 Candidates for the episcopacy must possess appropriate academic credentials.
13.6 For a just cause a bishop may request a leave of absence from their faculties. Such requests are made to the Metropolitan/Archbishop, who shall grant such leaves after appropriate pastoral investigation of the cause and consultation with the Patriarch and appointment of an administrator for the period of the leave of absence, who will work directly with the Patriarch.
13.7 Auxiliary Bishops requesting a leave of absence must apply to their local ordinary, who will submit the request to the Patriarch.
13.8 The bishop of a diocese or local vicariate must reside within the jurisdiction to which they are appointed.
13.9 The bishop of a diocese or vicariate possesses all the rights, prerogatives and responsibilities inherent in that office, as long as they are not in violation to the canons of the church.
13.10 Auxiliary bishops shall assist the local ordinary in the pastoral care of the diocese or vicariate they are called to serve.
Canon 14. House of Clergy.
14.1 All clergy who are on active status and in good standing in their diocese or religious community are members of the House of Clergy.
14.2 The House of Clergy shall actively involve themselves in matters concerning the church and shall make recommendations to the House of Bishops regarding matters of importance to the church.
14.3 The House of Clergy shall be convened and presided over by the Vicar of Clergy who shall act as a member of the Council of Advisors.
Canon 15. House of Bishops.
15.1 The House of Bishops shall be responsible for advising the Synod on matters pertaining to:
1. The House of Clergy
2. The House of Laity
3. National Church policy
4. Agenda for the National Church Conference.
15.2 The House of Bishops shall be comprised of all bishops from each diocese and all Bishops‑Emeriti of the Church.
Canon 16. Synod of Bishops.
16.1 The Church shall accept its responsibility as a organization that must effectively and efficiently respond to the needs of its members.
16.2 The Synod of Bishops shall be responsible for pastorally governing the church on matters of theology, doctrine, christology and orthodoxy. In addition, The Synod of Bishops shall also be responsible to ensure that the church functions within the confines of civil and federal law.
16.3 All secular and religious order bishops, who are active and in good standing in the church shall be members of the Synod of Bishops which shall have a maximum number of thirteen (13) bishops.
16.4 The Synod of Bishops shall be responsible for the spiritual life of the church and of all its members.
16.5 The Synod of Bishops shall be responsible for the collective adherence to the spirit and letter of the properly approved canons and policies of the church.
16.6 Upon the recommendation of those concerned with the welfare of the church, who are in good and active standing, the Synod of Bishops shall elect one of their peers to serve this church as Patriarch for a term of service until the age of 75.
1. Candidates for the office of Patriarch must be an active bishop within the church and in good standing for one full year prior to assuming office.
2. If, at the time of the election of a new Patriarch, there is no candidate who fulfills the one year membership requirement within the Synod of Bishops, then the requirement is dispensed.
Canon 17. Patriarch.
17.1 The Patriarch shall pro‑actively serve as national spokesperson for the church.
17.2 The Patriarch shall pro‑actively evangelize the Gospels.
17.3 The Patriarch is responsible for convening the Quarterly meetings of the Synod.
17.4 The Patriarch is responsible for convening the National Church Conference at a location accessible for all to attend.
17.5 Upon election as Patriarch, the presiding bishop shall appoint a vicar‑general who shall assume the duties of Patriarch on a acting basis, should the office of Patriarch become vacant prior to the end of the current term.
1. The vicar general shall have the responsibility to contact the members of the Synod of Bishops, House of Bishops, House of Clergy and House of Laity of the vacancy. The Houses of Bishops, Clergy and Laity shall make recommendations to the Synod regarding the selection of a new Patriarch no later than three months after the vacancy occurs. At that time of their recommendations, The Synod of Bishops shall elect a new Patriarch.
2. The vicar general shall perform other duties assigned by the Synod of Bishops.
3. During the transitional period, the vicar general shall act as spokesperson for the church; consulting with the Synod of Bishops and the House of Bishops for guidance prior to making any pronouncements binding upon the church and its members.
Canon 18. Clerical Leaves of Absences.
18.1 Upon written request to their local ordinary or competent major religious Superior, clerics may petition for a leave of absence from their clerical functions and duties.
18.2 Upon receiving the permission of the local ordinary or the competent major religious superior to enter into a leave of absence, all clerical faculties are on hiatus and no cleric on leave is permitted to publicly function in a clerical role.
18.3 A cleric shall be granted a six month leave of absence, with the option for an additional six months. After one years leave of absence, a serious review must be taken prior to granting any additional leave time.
Canon 19. Clerical Suspension.
19.1 If after one full year's leave of absence, a cleric declines or refused to discuss their future with their local ordinary or competent major religious superior shall be placed upon full clerical suspension, with the possibility of canonical removal from office.
19.2 Should any cleric remain steadfast. in disobedience to theology, christology, dogma, sacramental theology, orthodoxy or orthopraxis, despite the efforts of their local ordinary or competent major religious Superior, that cleric shall be placed under clerical suspension until such time that they correct their errors.
19.3 Any cleric who fails to fulfill their vows of obedience to their ordinary, regarding pastoral policies or directives and matters stated in 19.2, such clerics shall be placed under clerical suspension until such time that they correct their errors.
19.4 Suspended clerics who habitually decline to correct their errors shall be removed from their clerical offices by action of the appropriate ordinary or major religious superior.
Canon 20. Clerical Resignation from the Church.
20.1 Any cleric can petition to leave the Church by submitting a letter of resignation to their local ordinary or competent major religious superior. By Such an act, the cleric surrenders all clerical faculties, rights, privileges and honors within the Church.
Canon 21. Ecumenical Faculties.
21.1 Dual affiliations with other denominations not in communion with this church are prohibited for secular clerics and professed religious, faculties may be granted to a cleric of this church to pastorally function within another Christian community.
21.2 A cleric of this church may petition for permission from their local ordinary to provide ecumenical pastoral assistance to a community that is not in communion with this church, who are without pastoral care or are in transition and attempting to secure pastoral care from their denomination. In such cases, this church and its clerics are forbidden from initiating any type of recruitment of that parish body. To do otherwise would be in violation of the spirit of cooperative ecumenism.
21.3 A cleric of this church may petition their local ordinary to provide pastoral care to a community that is not in communion with this church, only if that faith community has formally expressed, in writing, their desire to discern the possibility of continuing their journey in faith with this church.
21.4 It shall be the responsibility of the local ordinary of this church to choose a cleric suitable to assist such parishes in their discernment process. It shall be the direct, personal responsibility of the local ordinary to remain involved in such a discernment process.
21.5 Clerics of this church may freely celebrate or concelebrate with a faith community which has entered into a formal covenant of Intercommunion.