In the Episcopal Church, the Vestry is a board of lay people who serve the local church in many ways. Their primary responsibility is to serve as stewards of the resources of the church, that is, the property and finances. They also have a roll in choosing a new rector when that position is vacant. In many churches, as at Advent, the vestry supports the clergy and staff by overseeing or leading program activities. The vestry thus has important roles in the ministry and mission of the church.
Our vestry members are elected to three year terms and can serve a maximum of two consecutive terms. Occasionally members find they must resign for a variety of reasons. The vestry can vote to fill the term with another person, or leave the position empty until the next annual meeting. The vestry can also change the number of vestry members with a minimum of nine and a maximum of 15.
The vestry usually meets once a month. The meeting times are published and any member of the church may attend the meeting. Occasionally the meeting will be adjourned to a vestry-only, confidential discussion of personnel issues.
At every meeting the finances of the church are reviewed. The treasurer presents the results of the previous month and the members have a chance to see whether any corrections are needed. This helps us stay on track for budgets and allows us to review and respond to any unexpected expenses. The vestry members also provide reports on the committees they serve when there is something that impacts the church and requires vestry action or if there is an opportunity for different committees to collaborate on an activity. This allows all vestry members to be aware of the activities, successes and issues of the church.
Vestry members serve the church. They are not elected to represent a particular point of view or mission, but to represent the best interests of the church as a whole. But Advent is a church with different viewpoints and diverse enthusiasms for mission, so controversial decisions do have to be made. We ask vestry members to respectfully listen to and reflect on the different opinions offered, and then to vote their consciences for what they believe is best for Advent. Once a decision is made, all members must support the decision, even if they didn’t agree with it.
As I finish my second term on vestry, I have been reflecting on the challenges that the vestry has faced and at what we have achieved. I am grateful for the chance to work with so many fine people to help Advent move forward on its mission and for the opportunity to know so much more about the ministries that are Advent. I am thankful to have been able to serve, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of the new vestry. The slate of candidates will be published on March 31 and the elections will be at the Annual Meeting on April 28. Please join us on Sunday, April 14th when you will be able to meet the candidates.