In 1970 the General Convention of the Episcopal Church passed a new canon, Canon III.1, which required each diocese to establish a Commission on Ministry. The number of members, their selection, and their terms of office are to be determined by diocesan canons.
The functions of Commissions on Ministry specified in the canon are to assist the bishop "in determining present and future needs for ministry in the diocese" and to assist "in enlisting and selecting persons for Holy Orders." Commissions are to develop, train, and affirm lay ministries. They interview candidates prior to their ordination as deacons and may interview candidates prior to their ordination as priests, if requested by the bishop, reporting to the bishop in each case. They assist the bishop in guiding and counseling deacons and other ministers, and they assist in matters pertaining to the continuing education of the clergy.
The creation of Commissions on Ministry reflects the growing sense of the church that broad participation in decisions about all types of ministry is desirable and necessary.