Legal Powers of the Vestry
The Canons state, “Except as provided by the law of the State or of the Diocese, the Vestry shall be agents and legal representatives of the Parish in all matters concerning its corporate property and the relations of the Parish to its Clergy” (Title I, Canon 14).
Responsibilities of the Vestry
The vestry is the elected body of the parish that shares with the rector the responsibility for oversight of parish life and ministry. Specific responsibilities include:Help define and articulate the mission of the congregation Support the mission by word and deed Ensure adequate resources in leadership and in financial stewardship Manage resources effectively Determine that appropriate programs, policies and procedures have been developed and are followed Oversee the upkeep of church property Oversee the business affairs of the parish Select parish representatives (e.g., for Diocesan Convention, community boards, etc.) Select a new rector, in the event of a vacancy Assess its own work and effectiveness
Responsibilities of Individual Vestry Members
In order for the vestry to function effectively, each vestry member must actively participate in vestry activities and in the life of the parish. Specific individual responsibilities include:Regularly prepare for, attend and participate in vestry meetings.
Be an active member of one of the parish’s ministries.
Assist in stewardship education.
Attend the annual vestry retreat. Attend the orientation session at the beginning of each term of vestry service. Interpret decisions of the vestry and the rector to other parishioners in a supportive way. Maintain confidentiality on sensitive topics. Support the mission of the church, putting overall interests of the church above personal or group interests. Be receptive to individual parishioner’s concerns and, if necessary, be willing to discuss these concerns with the rector, wardens and/or vestry. Learn about the mission, goals, programs, services, activities, strengths and needs of the congregation, diocese and the Episcopal Church.
The above list presents duties that are specifically associated with vestry activities. In addition, vestry members are especially encouraged to participate in diverse aspects of parish life, in order to lead by example and to be visible as leaders:
- Regularly attend worship services
- Lead a life that includes personal disciplines of prayer and Bible study.
- Faithfully contribute to the mission of the church through an annual pledge to the Church.
- Serve in visible roles in parish worship (greeters, ushers, etc.)
- Take part in various ministries and missions of the church.
- Share in the social activities of the church.