If you are a younger member of St. Nicholas Church – say, between the ages of 15 and 35 – I’d like you to consider whether God might be calling you to serve on the Vestry.
I know what you’re thinking… First, “Of course not!” and second, “What’s a Vestry?”
Let me answer the second thought first.
What’s a Vestry? In an Episcopal church, the Vestry is the elected lay leadership body responsible, along with the Rector, for assuring the practical and spiritual well-being of the Parish. The term parish refers to both the people of the church’s congregation and the people of the neighborhoods which the church serves. (The reason it’s called a Vestry is because in old English churches and early American Episcopal churches, the only private place for them to meet would have been in the Vesting Room, where the clergy put on their robes.) Vestries operate differently in different parishes. In some Episcopal churches they operate like a corporate board of directors, in others the individual Vestry members function like departments heads of an organization.
At St. Nick’s, the Vestry acts more as the keepers of Parish’s vision, mission, and ethics. In other words, it is the Vestry’s job to keep us on track, by providing oversight and liaison to the various ministries, making sure we are always asking “Why?” (“Are we doing the right things for the right reasons?” And “Are the things we do furthering the work God has given us to do?”) and “How?” (“Are we taking the risks God wants us to take and avoiding imprudent risks?” and “Are we furthering the values of the kingdom of God?” and “Who is not currently at our ‘table’ and how do we invite them?”). And this last question is why we seek people of all age groups to serve. Sure, there are items of business to attend to, but at St. Nick’s we believe every team, guild, or committee – including the Vestry – is called to be a Christian community first and a working body second. Which is why every Vestry meeting at St. Nick’s starts with Bible study, and begins and end with prayer, not just for the church’s business but for each other.
What are the qualifications? Actually, the real question is, “What are qualities?” And these include: a desire to lead by serving and by example, a willingness to question why things are as they are and to imagine what God might want to be different, a readiness to both bring your own point of view to the table combined with an openness to seeing issues from others’ points of view, and the ability to keep one eye on how we are doing in the present and another eye on where our vision is calling us to end up. Certainly, a little maturity doesn’t hurt, but not so much in age as in understanding and attitude…and in that vein, being Confirmed (having made a mature commitment to Christ) certainly couldn’t hurt.
What is the time commitment? The Vestry meets once a month for two hours, on a date mutually chosen by the members after the new Vestry is sworn in (currently the 3rd Wednesday from 7:15pm – 9:30pm. In addition, a pair of Vestry members are assigned as liaisons to each of our five Ministry Areas: Worship, Christian Formation, Parish Life, Outreach, and Administration (Finance, Admin, & HR), and meets with them in person and by phone or email as needed, but at least quarterly.
Interested? Got more questions? Still think it’s a crazy idea but want to try it anyway? Contact the Rector, the Sr. Warden, or (when he returns from his Canadian vacation) the Jr. Warden/Nominating Committee Chair.
I won’t see you at church this Sunday. I’ll be recovering from surgery. So I tell you what? Come to church anyway and pray for me, and I’ll see you the following Sunday.
In Christ’s love,