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Guidance regarding Easter General Vestry meetings (COVID 19)

Guidance in respect of possible need for lengthy adjournment of Easter General Vestry meetings and other matters

The Assessor to the General Synod, Mr Lyndon MacCann SC, has given the following guidance to the Honorary Secretaries in respect of the holding of Easter General Vestries:–

–    Under the Constitution – adjournment of Easter General Vestries is possible up to 18th May. In the first instance, dates may be set towards the end of this period

–    For the practical administration of parishes, if government guidance takes us beyond the Constitutional adjournment period of 6 weeks after Easter, the existing select vestry members and office holders continue to hold office until the new office holders are elected.

–    The charities regulators have both confirmed that organisations should follow government advice and will not be considered to be in contravention of the Act in this respect.

–    If Select Vestries had to be suspended pro tem, the Diocesan Council would eventually give direction to parishes that they be convened. The Constitution gives the power to convene select vestries to the Diocesan Council . (Section 16 of Chapter III of the Constitution)

–    Drawing on principles of contract law, and deeming those operating under the Constitution of the Church of Ireland to be engaged in a form of contract  – a situation that prevents the fulfilment of the contract creates a force majeur instant preventing the fulfilment of the contract, and as soon as circumstances permit, the contract should be fulfilled. i.e. a General Vestry meeting shall be summoned.

–    Diocesan Synods – some of these are held these earlier in the year, but they may be held any time to the end of the year. Bishops should consider directing that these will be held in the latter part of the year.


(view the Constitution of the Church of Ireland here)

issued 7th April 2020

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