This week I explain what it means to serve on Vestry at St John’s and invite those who may be interested to contact our Nominating Committee.
This is the time of year when several vestry members form a nominating committee in preparation for our upcoming election in late January. Nine members comprise St John’s vestry, and each member serves a three-year term. Terms are staggered, so that each January, three people whose three-year term is finished step down, and three new people are elected. In this way, there’s always a body of experience on the vestry, along with a fresh influx of new folks with new perspectives and ideas. Every member brings his or her own unique set of skills to the table.
Any member of St John’s in good standing is eligible to run for vestry. You’re in good standing if you’ve been confirmed or received into the Episcopal Church (or intend to do so at the next opportunity), attend worship regularly, and give of your prayers and resources for the mission of the church. Each fall our nominating committee recruits people to run, trying to assure they present to the parish a slate of candidates who cover the demographic bases in our faith community: young families, retired folks, single adults, 730am attendees, 930am attendees, newer members of the church, longtime members of the church, and so on. I also take part in recruiting good people to be candidates for election to the vestry, hence this issue of The Rector’s Pen addressed to each of you!
Vestry meetings are held once a month, on the third Tuesday evening. They begin with a potluck and then a half hour of spiritual formation led by the vestry chaplain. We make this a priority because above all other roles and responsibilities of the vestry, members need to be willing to take part in spiritual formation. It’s been said that the health of the vestry informs the health of the entire body (the parish), and we take that assertion seriously. Some of the work the vestry does together in this half-hour time is community building. Always it includes prayer. My goal is for departing vestry members to be sad about leaving our small group when their three-year term is completed. I want serving on vestry to feel more like a privilege than a burden.
That’s not to say there isn’t work involved! Vestry members are called to model for the parish what it means to be willing to deepen one’s faith in an intentional way, through the disciplines of study, prayer, service, and worship. Before each meeting, there are minutes and several reports to be read. On infrequent occasion, there are special meetings. Vestry members will serve as liaisons to the staff and major ministry areas of the church. Vestry members oversee the legal and fiduciary matters of the church. Vestry members work with the Treasurer to amend and approve the annual budget. From time to time, several vestry members will form a subcommittee to work on a special project or the development of a new policy. The vestry also serves as a de facto stewardship committee, assisting the rector in carrying out the fall pledge campaign. Finally, vestry members model intentional hospitality by offering the welcome announcement at the beginning of each 930am service.
Most people who are elected to vestry don’t come to the table with conversancy in financial statements or a particular fluency in spiritual practice, law, budgeting, or policymaking. Rather, they come with hearts committed to the health of our parish and its members, a willingness to listen, discern, learn and serve. At the end of their terms, they note they have learned more about the church than they ever imagined, have made good and close friends with their fellow vestry members, and have learned something about their own capacity for leadership and for saying “yes” to God.
If you’d like to know more about serving on the vestry, please contact a member of our nominating committee: Wayne Grider, Sarah Doelger, or Sue Morse. Or contact me or Father Ted or Mother Amy. Please do so soon: in the next ten days would be ideal, as we publish names, photos, and short bios in December in preparation for our Annual Meeting (and election) on January 27, 2019.