What is the vestry?

The vestry is similar to a “board” in the corporate world. Vestry members are parishioners, elected by church members at the annual meeting. The vestry is the legal representative of the parish with regard to all matters pertaining to its corporate property. 

The basic responsibilities of the vestry are to help define and articulate the mission of the congregation; to support the church’s mission by word and deed, to select the rector, to ensure effective organization and planning, and to manage resources and finances.

In sum, the vestry is the lay leadership of the church, responsible for the business of the corporation.

What are the expectations and responsibilities of a vestry member?

Expectations and responsibilities of Vestry members include:

  • Regular Sunday worship
  • Attendance at forums, special events and programs of the church
  • Active involvement in committees and programs of the church
  • Service on Vestry committees (such as finance/budget, stewardship, endowment, buildings and grounds, youth/adult education and community ministry)
  • Providing leadership in stewardship activities, including an annual personal pledge
  • Participation in annual budget development and review
  • Support of the ministry of the Rector and staff in carrying out the mission of the church
  • Attendance at monthly Vestry meetings and annual Vestry retreat
  • Participate (or have participated in) anti-racism training
  • Active involvement in hospitality and welcoming activities
How do you become a vestry member?

Vestry members are elected at the annual meeting. Each year in January, a Vestry nominating committee is formed of active church parishioners, responsible for discerning the next slate of Vestry members. The committee then proposes a slate of candidates to be elected at the Cathedral’s annual meeting in March.

Candidates must have been a member of the church for one year, be over age 21 and have been confirmed or received into the Episcopal Church by a bishop of the church.  Nominees must also have provided financial support, as confirmed by the Church’s stewardship records, within six months prior to the Annual Meeting. 

How long does one serve on the vestry?

Christ Church Cathedral’s vestry currently comprises 12 members who each serve a four-year term. Terms are staggered; each year, three members of the vestry step down from the vestry, and three new vestry members are elected to take their place. Member terms begin at the next vestry meeting after the Annual Meeting, and end at the Annual Meeting of their term-end year.

Who are the “wardens” and what is their role?

Two wardens are typically selected to serve with members of the vestry. The wardens are generally ranked “senior” and “junior.” The mode of selection and duties of the wardens are determined by state law, diocesan canon, or parish by-laws. The senior warden is usually the primary elected lay leader of the congregation, and serves as a principal liaison between the parish and the rector. The junior warden is often given responsibility for the upkeep of the parish buildings and grounds. The senior warden typically presides at vestry meetings in the absence of the rector, and the junior warden presides at vestry meetings if both the rector and the senior warden are absent. In case of clerical vacancy, the senior warden may be the ecclesiastical authority of the parish for certain purposes. 

►Click here to see current vestry members