A Governing Body
The Vestry is the governing body of the Parish and consists of 15 members of the Parish who are elected by the congregation. It is the Vestry’s responsibility to be the final decision-making body which hires the Rector, approves the parish budget, makes parish policy decisions, and spends the parish’s money on mission, ministry, and maintenance.
The Vestry consists of a Senior Warden, a Junior Warden, and a Youth Warden (high school age), each of whom are elected by the Parish for a one-year term. The other 12 members of the Vestry are elected for three-year terms, normally with four members elected each year. At its first meeting in each calendar year, the Vestry appoints a Clerk and a Treasurer.
The Rector presides at meetings of the Vestry, which are held on the first Tuesday of the month. In the absence of the Rector, the Senior or Junior Warden presides.
The Role of a Church Vestry
Casts and Affirms Vision
Maintains Fiduciary Integrity
Advises and Listens
Delegates and Empowers
Encourages and Motivates
Exercises Spiritual Disciplines
Engages in Outreach Ministries
Adapted from “How to Hit the Ground Running” by Neal O. Mitchell
Monthly Meetings (includes leading devotions and refreshments annually)
Major parish events including the Annual meeting
Serve as Sunday Vestry Person of the Week several times each year.
Annual Retreat (an off-site overnight)
Annual planning day
Ministry to others
A Church Vestry and A Board Meeting
Most people are more familiar with how a board operates than a vestry. Though some of the functions are similar, a vestry differs from a board of directors in several significant ways. It strives to base its decision making process on Christian teaching, to recognize the dynamic of being part of a parish family and to take seriously each members calling to be a spiritual leader.
St. Mark’s Vestry attempts to live into its calling by setting meetings during a worship service. The Order For Evening (BCP page 109) – one of the ancient monastic rituals of prayer called “The Hours”- begins and concludes each gathering.
A family environment is fostered by frequently including a period of reflection upon a way in which God has been present to each member since the last meeting. It is important that members of the vestry know and care about each other in a way that models our Baptismal Covenant (BCP page 304).
Even the word “vestry” itself is a reminder of its unique role in the life of the church. The “vestry” began as simply a room in an Anglican church where the clergy “vest” or put on the “vestments” (the special clothes worn during the liturgy). The church council also met in this place out of convenience. Eventually the council took on the name of the room. Just as by “vesting” for worship clergy take on a special role representing Christ and the greater church, so the vestry has a charge to faithfully care for the parish church as part of the body of Christ—alive and at work in our world today.