House of Deputies

All major decisions affecting the life of the Episcopal Church are made jointly by lay people, clergy
and bishops.

Parishes elect a vestry to govern the affairs of the parish in conjunction with the rector, who is sought and elected by the vestry.

Parishes also elect lay delegates to attend an annual diocesan convention with all the diocese's clergy and bishops. Diocesan conventions vote on the major policy decisions of the diocese, set the budget for the diocese and, at times, make statements about issues in the church and in civil society. Diocesan conventions also elect bishops to help lead their dioceses.

Diocesan conventions elect deputies as members of the House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church's triennial General Convention. The General Convention sets the mission priorities, budget and policies of the Episcopal Church for the next three years. It approves changes to the Church's Constitution and Canons, and broadly defines the standards of worship.

The Archives of the Episcopal Church
Research Report: The DFMS and The Episcopal Church
Prepared For: President of the House of Deputies, Gay Clark Jennings
Date: September 14, 2012

What is the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society?
In 1820, the General Convention adopted a constitution for "The Protestant Episcopal Missionary Society in the United States for Foreign and Domestic Missions" in order to provide a means--by raising and distributing funds -- to support missionaries in states and territories in which the Church was not yet organized. This first constitution, however, was deeply flawed. Right from the beginning the governance of the DFMS was at issue in terms of the rights of laity and bishops and who would have seat and vote on the board of directors. The 1821 Special General Convention looked at this salient concern along with one relating to GTS. Acting on the Presiding Bishop's request, General Convention adopted a new constitution and a new name: The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.