The vestry of an Episcopal Church is an elected group of parishioners responsible for oversight of the church. To be eligible for vestry duties, one must be at least 16, an active member of the parish for at least six months, be a confirmed Episcopalian and receive the Eucharist weekly.
The vestry provides financial oversight for the church, preparing an annual budget and filing a corporate report yearly. Vestry members raise money for the church, pay salaries and bills and take care of all assets held by the church. Assets the church may have include endowments and trust funds. The vestry also governs the sale or transfer of any securities held by the church. The vestry approves or recommends any salary increases and denies or approves any expenditures.
Property management is another duty of the vestry; responsibilities include maintaining buildings, furnishings and the surrounding property. If upgrades need to be made to physical property, the vestry decides what changes can be made and allocates funds to these changes. Property management includes the rectory and parking lots as well; all should be free of any hazards. The vestry also holds the duty of making sure that all property is insured.
A rector of an Episcopal Church won't have time to handle oversight of the church alone, and that is why the vestry exists. The rector is the head of the parish and is also called a reverend or priest. As a member of the vestry, the rector is president of the parish corporation. The rector does not vote on church matters unless there is a tie. The vestry acts in partnership with the rector, and not as a CEO with staff to direct. All work collectively and provide guidance to the rector as needed.
Parishioner Recruitment and Enrichment
As a group of elected individuals, the vestry must seek ways to form community among parishioners. A vestry defines its own mission, goals and values, depending on the variety of backgrounds among the vestry members. Celebrations, picnics, outings and other events are organized and carried out by the vestry as a way to build community within the church. The vestry also oversees the religious education of both adults and youth within the parish.
Community outreach is vital to the spiritual growth of members in a parish; it may include raising money for a good cause, providing meals to homeless individuals or cleaning up a local park. By establishing committees, the vestry oversees any outreach efforts by members of the parish.
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