Originally the word referred to the room where the priest would put on his vestments, at which time local laity would meet with him to discuss the affairs of the parish. Over time the name of the room came to signify the group of men who governed a parish because it was where they met. While the vestry meeting location has changed, the name has remained the same.
Role of the Vestry
The vestry of an Episcopal church has three primary responsibilities. The first two are managerial: to take care of parish finances and the parish buildings. The third is to choose individuals to fill various positions of leadership and representation: the choice of a rector, the choice of delegates to the diocesan convention, and the selection of others as the diocesan canons may stipulate. The vestry also serves as an advisory council to the rector who by church law is the parish’s chief liturgical and pastoral officer.
The vestry consists of lay members of the church elected by the congregation at the annual parish meeting. The vestry of Emmanuel church currently has seven elected members. Each year, the vestry elects the Senior and Junior Wardens. The remaining officers, Registrar and Treasurer, are chosen by the vestry from among the members of the vestry or the congregation at large. Vestry members normally serve a three year term and must be members in good standing of the parish.
The vestry of Emmanuel church usually meets on the fourth Sunday of each month at 6:00 p.m. in the Parish Hall. Unless otherwise noted, all meetings are open to members of the congregation. The annual parish meeting is held in November or December each year.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does the vestry do?
The vestry meets each month to review and approve normal monthly operational expenses of the church, receive reports from various committees, plan and approve capital improvement projects, and attend to concerns within the parish.
Who are the officers of the vestry?
The national and diocesan canons provide only minimal guidance as to parish and vestry structures. It is common for the vestry to have two wardens, for the rector to be the presiding officer, and for the senior warden to preside in the absence of the rector. The Treasurer and Registrar may or may not be members of the vestry and, like the wardens, are elected by the vestry annually.
How are vestry members selected?
Before the annual meeting, the vestry forms a committee to nominate a slate of candidates to replace the two members whose term is scheduled to expire. With approval of the vestry, the nominations are presented to the congregation at the annual parish meeting. When the nominations are presented, the congregation is offered the opportunity to nominate candidates from the floor. When the slate is closed, the congregation votes for the candidates of their choice and the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes are elected to take the place of the two members whose term is expiring at the end of December of that year. Vestry members are elected to serve on the vestry for a period of three years.
Who are the elected members of the Emmanuel vestry for 2018?
Vestry members may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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