Province III was granted authority by the Constitutions and Canons for the government of the Episcopal Church. There are a total of nine provinces in the Episcopal Church.
How Did Provinces Come To Be?
As early as 1762 William Smith proposed dividing the church into six districts: (1) NH, MA, RI (2) NY, CT (3) PA, NJ, DE (4) GA and Carolina (5) MD and (6) VA, but the idea went nowhere.
In 1850, the General Convention was asked to make a report on placing the dioceses into four distinct provinces: Eastern, Northern, Western and Southern. No action was taken but the conversation continued.
Discussion and committee work on dividing dioceses into provinces or federations went in and out of the General Convention for years. In 1907 the canon for provinces passed in the House of Bishops but failed in the House of Deputies.
Although, a canon was passed by both houses creating “Missionary Departments”. They were based on the geographical division provided in the canon on provinces. Each department was given the power to organize a missionary council auxiliary to the Board of Missioners. This structure was intended to take the place of a provincial system.
After a six year trial the missionary councils were found to be a poor substitute for provincial synods. The greatest weakness was their inability to legislate, they could only discuss missionary matters, therefore few people attended. At the 1913 General Convention the joint commission reported a proposed canon on provinces, which was enacted by both houses with practically no opposition.
So how does a Province work?
According to Title 1 canon 9 section 4 of the Church Canon: “There shall be in each Province a Synod consisting of a House of Bishops and a House of Deputies, which Houses shall sit and deliberate either separately or together. The synod shall meet on a regular basis as determined by each Province for the purpose of organizing and carrying out the responsibilities of the Province as provided in the seat and vote.”
For more information on the Provinces in the Episcopal church go to The Episcopal Church Home Page