Voice of the vestry: Who we are, what we do

By Donna Olendorf

When I told my daughter that I had been selected to serve as Sr. Warden at Grace, she said “Congratulations!” Long pause. “What’s a Sr. Warden?”

I suspect she’s not the only one who’s unsure about the role that a vestry warden plays, and in fact, I’ve been reading up on the position myself – being new to the job and all.

Some of the books I read were scary, with subtitles like A Failure of Nerve; others like The Vestry Resource Guide were friendly and provided helpful advice. But the best information I got came from Daniel, Katheryn, and lay leaders like Barb Klugh who were kind enough to share their experiences with me.

Senior Warden Donna Olendorf
Sr. Warden Donna Olendorf
Jr. Warden Jeff Tibbits
Jr. Waren Jeff Tibbits
Vestry member John Strickler
Clerk John Strickler
Vestry member Mary Merrill
Keep Mary Merrill







It turns out that there is tremendous flexibility in how vestries are structured and that Grace follows some, but not all, of the most common conventions: As Sr. Warden, I am the “rector’s warden” while the Jr. Warden is the “people’s warden.”

Grace also has a Clerk, who takes minutes and is responsible for correspondence., and a special executive known as the “Keep,” whose job it is to remind us that this is a sacred ministry and that practical concerns should never overshadow our spiritual mission.

Vestry work is always done in partnership with the rector, but our authority lies in different spheres. Daniel is responsible for the spiritual life of the congregation. Worship, Education, Pastoral Care, and Parish Staff all fall under his jurisdiction. The Vestry is responsible for the business side of church operations, including finances, buildings and grounds, and the relations of the parish to its clergy. Daniel is the spiritual leader and we are the legal agents; together we provide leadership for Grace.

As we begin the new year with new members and fresh enthusiasm, here are some key projects at the top of our list:

1)   Community meals to hone our vision

2)   Add a 3rd service on Sunday mornings

3)   Prepare for the 150th Anniversary Celebration in 2017

4)   Plan out a building project that adds an elevator and more space

5)   Transition Jubilee Ministries to new leadership

As your Sr. Warden, I look forward to serving the congregation by getting to work on these, and other, goals. I’m not exactly shy, but I am an introvert, so if you have the chance, please introduce yourself to me. Together we can build our vision for Grace.


Our website is brand new! We are still adding and refining content. Please let us know if you find any errors or missing links.

Share on email