By Eddie Grim
Some people think that they know what a vestry does, but actually don’t, and a lot of people realize that they only have a vague idea at best. Before we think about what the vestry does, we need to be clear about what the vestry is not, It is not simply a corporate board!
The vestry does as the canons (church laws) say, having primary responsibility for “all matters concerning its corporate property and the relations of the parish to its clergy.” Since the canons give primary responsibility “for the conduct of the worship and the spiritual jurisdiction of the parish” to the clergy, it is often thought that the vestry just takes care of secular things like money and the buildings, and the clergy takes care of all the spiritual things.
The vestry does take care of things like budgets, expenses, and the upkeep of church property, but it does so as a part of a shared ministry, and it does so with a constant concern for the programs and activities of the church. All of us in the church are a part of the ministry of the church. The vestry is simply an agent of the larger congregation, helping to guide and enable the ministry of the church in cooperation with the clergy, staff, and volunteers.
We open every vestry meeting with a time of study, reflection, and prayer. We close every meeting with prayer and scripture. During all the in-between times of decision and discussion about budgets, policies, and property, we are constantly asking the question “how will this affect the ministries and programs of our congregation”?
It is also important to realize that we are not a separate or special group of people. We are not congregational celebrities or church power brokers, we are just ordinary people serving as representatives of the congregation of which we are a part. We are elected to serve. We are servants of the church.
Yes we are required often to make difficult decisions. We do a lot of hard work. Our meetings are usually very long, but we also have the privilege of sharing this ministry with some of the best, most dedicated members of our congregation, along with equally dedicated clergy and church staff, and we do find time to laugh and enjoy good times together as well.
No we are not just a corporate board. We are not given only the task of taking care of secular things. We are members of this congregation who are given the privilege of serving in matters that are both secular and spiritual, and we do it with great joy and satisfaction.