Q: What is the Cathedral Chapter?
A: Often, I have been asked what the Chapter is, especially from those who have not had a cathedral as their parish church and others outside of the Episcopal Church. I thought I would share a short response here as the next Chapter meeting approaches on October 20th.
In the 21st century and at Christ Church Cathedral, the Chapter has general responsibility for the governance of the Cathedral, and maintains oversight of the management of the Cathedra, and sets policies and general guidance for the operation of the Cathedral. It is, for me, the functional equivalent of a parish vestry, except it has a special relationship with the diocesan bishop and the diocese itself. The bishop chairs the Chapter meetings.
The Chapter consists of the dean or priest-in-charge, cathedral canons, four officers, nine lay members elected by the cathedral congregation and three additional canons (clergy) and three additional lay people elected at the Diocesan Convention. The Chapter is scheduled to meet three times a year; in January, April, and October. During the time between the Chapter meetings, the cathedral is administered and managed by the Executive Committee of the Chapter which consists of all the above, less the bishop and the three canons and three lay people elected by the diocese.
The Chapter of a cathedral is said to be derived from the Rule of Saint Benedict. A chapter of the rule book was read at the daily gathering to discuss monastery business, hear a sermon or lecture, or receive instructions from the abbot/abbess, and as the meeting begins with a reading of a chapter from the Rule, the meeting itself acquired the name 'chapter”.