Overview About the Vestry
The Vestry is a group of church leaders elected by the parish to three-year terms, who assume responsibility for St. Mary’s, much like a Board of Directors for a corporation or non-profit organization. Together with the Rector, they determine the policies, budgets, and goals of the congregation. Vestry members are confirmed, adult members of the Episcopal Church who are canonically resident.
Following the model of servant leadership, each member of the Vestry is responsible for the effectiveness of our ministries, shaping and guiding them for the growth of the people of the congregation, and for our mission to the community beyond our walls. Members of the Vestry are also committed to personal growth as leaders and to ministering to one another in a Christian community.
St. Mary’s Vestry
- Kate Muth, Senior Warden(2019)
- Tyler Suiters, Junior Warden(2019)
- Necolle Eimas, Registrar(2020)
- Dave Landeck, (2019)
- Elizabeth Hale (2020)
- Stuart Davis (2020)
- Dianne Simmons (2021)
- Andy Hoopengarder (2021)
- Barb Sheffer (2021)
Vestry members serve a three-year term beginning and ending at an Annual Parish Meeting, with the terms staggered so that each year approximately one-third of the members are replaced. Vacancies may be filled by the Vestry itself, or by the parish at-large at a Parish Meeting. Members who serve a partial term of one year or less are eligible for re-election to a full term.
Meeting Times and Location
Vestry meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the Vestry Conference Room. Once a quarter, the meeting includes Holy Eucharist and begins at 7:00 p.m. The Vestry often does not meet in July or August. Annual Vestry events include the following, and attendance by Vestry members is strongly urged:
- Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper
- Shrinemont Annual Parish Retreat
After consulting with the individual Vestry members themselves about their gifts and interests, the Rector and Wardens appoint each Vestry member as a liaison for one major area of ministry. The Vestry liaison normally is not the chair of the ministry but may be. This is not intended to be a hierarchical structure and collaboration across all committed individuals is encouraged.
Small groupings of Vestry members confer with each other in breakout sessions of monthly Vestry meetings under the leadership or one of the Wardens or the Treasurer. New Vestry members are nominated based on several factors, including their perceived strengths in one or more areas in which openings are being created by the ending of some members’ terms.
Vestry members rotate responsibility for leading a brief worship service of Compline at the end of each Vestry meeting. (See BCP p. 127.) Vestry members also rotate through assignments as “Vestry Person of the Day” after the 7:30 and 9:00 a.m. Eucharist.
Vestry members are indemnified by the parish bylaws and insured by Church Insurance.
Eligibility requirements for Vestry service are as follows:
- 18 or more years of age
- attendant at worship
- a regular contributor to the record
- registered in the congregation for at least 18 months days as
- a baptized person
(a person who has “received the Sacrament to Holy Baptism with water in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, whether in this Church or in another Christian Church and whose Baptisms have been duly recorded in this Church”) (TEC I.17.1) or
- a communicant member
(“a baptized person who has received Holy Communion in this Church at least three times during the preceding year”)
- a confirmed Episcopalian who is canonically resident in the parish.
- a baptized person
Candidates for Vestry should be men and women of prayer, with gifts for ministry leadership. Those gifts are not the same for each person and can be discerned together with the Rector or other parish leaders. Candidates should have a passion for the mission and ministry of St. Mary’s, and be known and trusted in the parish.
The Vestry Nominating Committee considers the following factors in selecting its slate of nominees:
- A mixture of long-time members and relative newcomers is desirable, including those who have demonstrated effective Vestry leadership in the past, but newcomers normally ought to have been active in the congregation for at least 18 months.
- Prior leadership outside of St. Mary’s is good evidence of leadership potential.
- Insofar as it is possible, the composition of the Vestry should reflect the diversity of the congregation as that pertains to gender, age, economic advantage, sexual orientation, ethnicity, full-time vs. seasonal residence, and preferences in worship time and style.
- Vestry members should be willing to commit to exercising leadership in their financial support of the parish by making and honoring pledges and by committing to make St. Mary’s a substantial financial priority as best that is defined by individual Vestry members.
- Vestry members must be willing to act collegially by their collective action and to abide by the lawful decisions of the Vestry and the officers of the parish.
- Willingness and ability to communicate electronically are very desirable.
- Membership in another congregation where an alternate residence is kept, including Vestry or other governing board leadership there, is not a barrier to Vestry service at St. Mary’s, so long as no conflict of interest exists.
- Vestry service is neither a reward for prior service nor a means by which members might be encouraged to participate more actively in the life of the congregation.
Additional Expectations of Vestry Members
- Vestry members should attend Vestry meetings regularly. In the event that any Vestry Member has been absent/unexcused from three consecutive, regular meetings of the Vestry, the seat of the Vestry Member, with the advice and consent of the Rector, may be declared vacant by the Vestry and a qualified Member of the Parish shall be elected to fill the vacancy.
- Vestry members should be regular in worship and attend public functions of the parish when possible.
- Vestry members should be willing to listen to the hopes and concerns of parishioners and bring those to the full Vestry for open discussion and follow-up.
- The Vestry is a deliberative body. We listen to each other carefully and respectfully. We take action when everyone has been heard and is persuaded that the decision-making process is fair. Vestry members are not required to agree with all the decisions of the group or to conceal their disagreement, but they are expected to support the group’s decisions and the integrity of the Vestry and its officers.
- Vestry members keep confidentiality when required, and do not engage in gossip.
- Vestry members have a fiduciary responsibility to support the mission, ministry, and purposes of the leadership of St. Mary’s, the Diocese of Virginia, and the Episcopal Church.
- Vestry members lead a life worthy of their calling, as described in Ephesians 4, and as promised in our Baptismal Covenant (BCP pp. 304-5).
Standing for Election
Election to the Vestry is governed by Canon I.14 of the Episcopal Church.
- At least 12 weeks before the Annual Parish Meeting, which is the first Sunday in May, the Senior Warden confirms and activates a Vestry Nominating Committee consisting of the three Vestry members who are rotating off the Vestry Committee.
- Nine weeks prior to the Annual Meeting, members of the Parish may apply directly to the Nominating Committee or may recommend third parties to the Committee for consideration. St. Mary’s will place a Nominations Box in Paca Hall to collect names. Third party recommendations from Clergy, seated Vestry, staff, and/or family members of potential candidates are appropriate and welcome. The Committee’s action on the recommendation will remain confidential and will not be communicated back to the person making the recommendation.
- Six weeks prior to the Annual Meeting, potential nominees are vetted by the Parish Administrator to ensure that they are eligible to be on the ballot (confirmed or received Episcopalian, etc… see Qualifications section).
- Four weeks prior to the Annual Meeting, the slate of candidates are finalized by the Nominating Committee. All finalized candidates for the Vestry are asked to submit a brief biographical statement for publication. All candidates must be photographed by a church photographer or submit a headshot photograph to St. Mary’s.
- Two weeks prior to the Annual Meeting, information about the slate of candidates are posted in Paca Hall and emailed to the parish.
- The election will take place at the Annual Meeting, which follows the 9:00 a.m. service. In 2018, the annual meeting will be Sunday, May 6th.
The Vestry Leadership (Senior Warden, Junior Warden, and Registrar) are determined by the Vestry Committee. In most cases, the Senior Warden has been a Vestry member for at least one, if not two years. The Vestry Committee finalizes its Leadership no later than by the first Vestry Committee Meeting in May.