B006 Include the Episcopal Church in Micronesia in the Diocese of Hawai’i

The Diocese of Hawai’i and the Episcopal Church in Micronesia have long been in close relationship, extending well before each entity assumed its current form. Since its admission as a diocese in 1969, the Diocese of Hawai’i has consisted of the islands of the Hawaiian Island group that form the State of Hawai’i. The Episcopal Church in Micronesia (ECIM) currently comprises St. John’s Church on the island of Guam and a preaching station of that church that is located on the island of Saipan. ECIM is under the jurisdiction of the Presiding Bishop, who since 2009 has designated the Bishop of Hawai’i as Bishop-in-Charge.

Recent years have seen an increasing closeness between the Diocese of Hawai’i and the ECIM. Changes in technology have meant that a representative from Guam can serve on Diocesan Council or the Standing Committee of the Diocese relatively easily. The clergy of the ECIM are canonically resident in the Diocese. ECIM clergy attend Conventions in Hawai’i as voting members and laity as guests. Individuals from St. John’s Church do discernment for ordination with the Diocese’s Commission on Ministry. Banking and business connections between Hawai’i and Guam are strong, making support available.

In the light of these developments, the Diocese of Hawai’i and the ECIM wish officially to become a single entity, by expanding the boundaries of the Diocese to include Guam and Saipan, and extinguishing the separate entity known as the Episcopal Church in Micronesia. As evidenced in the supporting documents provided with this Resolution, all the relevant stakeholders support this action – the Bishop of Hawai’i and the Diocesan Convention, on behalf of the Diocese; and the Presiding Bishop and the Bishop’s Council of Advice, on behalf of the ECIM. These documents include a resolution adopted by the Convention of the Diocese of Hawai’i on October 21, 2023, as well as an agreement signed [on DATE] by the Bishop of Hawai’i, the Standing Committee and Diocesan Council of the Diocese of Hawai’i, the Presiding Bishop, and the ECIM Bishop’s Council of Advice, setting out various terms.


Historical context

Guam became a U.S. territory in 1898, and its relationship with The Episcopal Church began shortly thereafter. In the early 1900s, the Missionary Districts of the Church – areas outside of Dioceses that the House of Bishops could place under the charge of a Bishop for missionary purposes[1] – included Honolulu and the Philippine Islands.[2]  In 1904, the House of Bishops placed the island of Guam under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of the Philippine Islands.[3]  Nearly a half century later, in 1949, the House of Bishops transferred Guam from the jurisdiction of the Bishop of the Philippine Islands to that of the Bishop of Honolulu.[4]

On August 21, 1959, Hawai’i became a State of the United States. In October 1959, the House of Bishops in a special meeting adopted resolutions stating that “the Missionary District of Honolulu be defined and limited geographically as comprising those islands of the Hawaiian Island group which form the State of Hawaii” and “affirm[ing]” that “ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the islands of Midway, Wake, Guam and American Samoa in the Pacific Ocean belongs to the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, the charge thereof being placed upon the Presiding Bishop with the power of appointing some other Bishop of this Church as his substitute in such charge.”[5]  Shortly after the House’s action, in October 1959 the Presiding Bishop appointed the Bishop of Honolulu to take charge of the jurisdiction made up of Midway, Wake, Guam and American Samoa.[6]  Various Presiding Bishops have designated either the Bishop of Hawai’i (1989-c.1995) (2009-present) or the Suffragan Bishop for Armed Forces (1979-1989, c.1997-2009) as bishop-in-charge.

In 1969, the General Convention established the Diocese of Hawai’i. As a result, oversight of Guam passed from a Missionary Bishop to the Bishop Diocesan of Hawai’i.


Status of ECIM

The precise canonical status of Guam, and therefore ECIM, is murky. The Journals of the General Convention have variously listed Guam as listed as an “unorganized” overseas diocese (1970) and an “Extra-Territorial” entity (1979). The adoption in 1979 of the moniker “Episcopal Church in Micronesia” for the churches in Guam and the consequent creation of a corporation sole bearing the same name – actions apparently accomplished without House of Bishops or General Convention action – suggest that the Presiding Bishop at the time likely regarded the churches in Guam as akin to “congregations in foreign lands,” over which the Canons gave (and still give) the Presiding Bishop direct and full authority. Nevertheless, in their 1981 commentary, White & Dykman, in their discussion of the Canon on Congregations in Foreign Lands (now Canon I.15), stated:


[1] See Const. Art. VI.1 (1904); Canon 10.I (1904). These provisions are similar to the current Const. Art. VI.1 (2022) and Canon I.11.2 (2022).

[2] See Journal of General Convention (JGC) 1904 at vii.

[3] See JGC 1904 at 790-80.

[4] See JGC 1949 at 32.

[5] JGC 1961 at 80.

[6] JGC 1961 at 19.


Support Documents:

ECIM support Letter

Updated ECIM agreement[2]

Diocesan Resolution re ECIM