Governance

St. Dunstan's Vestry

The Vestry is the "Board of Directors" for the parish corporation. The Vestry is the authoritative body of the Congregation. The Vestry is responsible for determining the policies and goals of the congregation and is to communicate with the congregation about the goals, concerns, and functioning of the Church. The Rector is a member of the Vestry, the President of the parish corporation, and presides over meetings of the Vestry and Congregation.

Origins

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 leadership 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 responsibilities 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 to develop the goals and mission statement that shape our ministry at St. Dunstan’s.  The Vestry also serves as an advisory council to the Rector who by church law is the parish’s chief liturgical and pastoral officer.

Typically, the Vestry has the following responsibilities:

  • Exhibit faithfulness in worship and participates in the activities of the parish community.
  • Lead in the financial support of the parish, having accepted the tithe as the minimum standard of giving and at the tithe or working a proportional giving plan to that end.
  • Function as a sounding board and an impartial source of support for the Rector.
  • Maintain upkeep of church property (the Rector determines use).
  • Maintain liability and other forms of insurance.
  • Establish short-term goals (yearly) and then evaluate their success.
  • With the rector, create a vision for the parish that will require long range-planning.
  • Maintain a working list or digest of parish policies, records, and Vestry decisions.

Membership

The Vestry consists of Confirmed Communicants of the parish in Good Standing elected by the congregation at the Annual Parish Meeting which is held on the last Sunday of January.  The Vestry of St. Dunstan’s has twelve elected members.  Each year, the rector appoints the Sr. Warden and the vestry elect the Junior Wardens, Clerk and Treasurer.  The Wardens must be chosen from within the Vestry members while the other officers can be from the vestry or the parish at large.  A vestry member normally serves a three year term.  The terms are staggered so that only one third of the Vestry is elected each year.

Meetings

The Vestry of St. Dunstan’s presently meets on the third Tuesday of each month.  Unless otherwise noted, all meetings are open to members of the congregation.  At the monthly meetings the Vestry reviews and approves 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.

How are Vestry members selected?

Before the annual meeting, the congregation submits names to replace the four members whose terms are scheduled to expire.  A nominating committee consisting of two retiring members of the vestry, two members from the parish at large and the rector review the nominations and then invite the top vote getters to an informational meeting.  Those willing to have their names put forward then appear on the ballot at the annual meeting.  Nominations from the floor are also allowed and when the slate is closed, the congregation votes for the candidates of their choice.  The first four candidates receiving a simple majority of votes are elected to take the place of the members whose terms are expiring.  Terms are three years.