St. Thomas Episcopal Church: The Vestry

The Vestry

In the Episcopal Church, the Vestry is charged with overseeing the administration of a parish church in all matters except those of a religious/liturgical nature, for which the Rector of the parish is responsible. A Vestry (named for the area adjacent to the church sanctuary where clergy put on their vestments before service, and where Vestries often met in the past), has specific canonical responsibilities in the administration of a parish. Some of these include wisely managing the financial assets of the parish for the use of the church, reviewing the work of parish employees and establishing their compensation rates, directing parish resources where they are most needed to meet the needs and responsibilities set before the church, and working with the Rector and other clergy of the parish to set and accomplish the goals which the parish has established for itself and its ministries. The Vestry also produces required reports for the local Diocese on its finances and activities on a regular basis. All members of the Vestry are laity. The St. Thomas Vestry is comprised of nine lay members of the parish. They serve rotating terms of three years each, and are elected by the parish at each year’s Annual Meeting, held in late January. Any adult member of the parish in good standing is eligible to run for election to the Vestry. Each year, three Vestry member’s terms expire and three new members are elected to replace them.

Officers

After the annual election, the Vestry selects three officers from its ranks: A Senior Warden, a Junior Warden and a Clerk. (With the approval of the Vestry, the Clerk’s position may be filled by a non-Vestry member.) A Treasurer is also appointed to serve the parish for the upcoming year.

The Senior Warden is responsible for administering the parish in the absence of a Rector, and provides guidance to the Vestry in setting its agenda.

The Junior Warden, by long tradition in the Church, is responsible for the maintenance of the parish’s buildings and grounds, and fills in for the Senior Warden upon his/her absence.

The Clerk of Vestry prepares and distributes the minutes of Vestry meetings and provides other reports as necessary and requested by the Vestry.

The Treasurer is an appointed position, normally occupied by a person with an extensive accounting and/or finance background. The Treasurer is responsible for keeping accurate accounting records for the parish, for providing such reports as are required, and for giving guidance to the Vestry on matters of parish finance.