Vestry: The Five Myths Edition
We are so thankful for the 9 men and women who serve on our vestry. These leaders provide spiritual and fiduciary oversight for our church and serve as liaisons for different areas of our church life. Many sit on the committees that advise the vestry on finances, the facility, outreach, and personnel. In addition to each member’s individual areas of oversight, the vestry meets monthly to advise the rector and make decisions related to the church’s finances and facilities.
Vestry members are elected to staggered three-year terms. Any confirmed member of Restoration is eligible to stand for election to the vestry. Elections are held every year in November.
You might have heard some myths about what’s involved in vestry service. In the spirit of the WaPo, here are some myths… de-mystified.
Myth 1: Vestry members must be uniquely qualified to serve on vestry. (I have read the high standards listed in Titus 1: 5-9!)
Everyone has something to offer, as we are all equipped with spiritual gifts. The vestry is a broad representation of the congregation – all talents, perspectives, and passions are needed. Hannah Royal (former warden) reflects, “It took me a little while to shift my thinking from ‘What do I have to offer?’ to ‘Why and what is God using me to do on vestry?’ I found my years of service on vestry to be hugely beneficial to my own spiritual walk, and my desire to pray and listen to God.”
If you are elected, it is because God wants to use you, no matter your background, leadership experience, or gifts.
Myth 2: OK, we all have spiritual gifts. But I must have technical expertise (like finance, the law, human resources) to serve on vestry.
Again, all of us have special expertise in something. The vestry operates at its best when the members are a mix. Sure, this year it would be great to elect someone with financial expertise, to work alongside Meredith Taylor as Assistant Treasurer. And Becky Mohr could use a fellow vestry member conversant in human resources. But vestry discusses more than personnel issues and financial spreadsheets. Generalists are important as the church ponders strategic directions.
Myth 3: Serving on vestry means I can’t stay involved with what I am really passionate about at church: like children’s ministry, small groups, or outreach.
Again, Hannah offers wise advice, “Vestry actually needs people that are passionate about the various ministries of the church. While on Vestry, you have the opportunity to help those ministries in liaison roles. Being on Vestry also provides an in-depth and holistic view of all that Restoration is doing and may open your heart to other aspects of our church that you never considered.”
Myth 4: Ok, I can stay connected to my favorite ministry. But surely vestry meetings aren’t as interesting as the other committees that I am a part of.
Surprisingly, vestry meetings are not a buttoned-up, formal affair. Yes, motions are approved and passed. But vestry is not your typical business meeting. Instead, there are the essential elements of prayer and fellowship. Peanut M&Ms and seltzer. Laughter, lots of laughter. And always, grace.
Myth 5: Vestry meetings run until midnight.
Vestry meetings are very well organized and run efficiently by our rector. They often end by 10:30pm. Here’s the schedule: the vestry gathers at 7pm for dinner and begins a time of prayer at 7:30pm. The actual “business” meeting begins at 8pm. Fun fact: ever since the vestry started praying for 30 minutes, the meetings have actually been shorter in length!
However, it is important to note that serving on vestry is not just a once a month event. (Do pastors only work on Sundays?) Between meetings, you will be expected to spend time in prayer and preparation and assisting with various reports and parish meetings. The workload often comes in “seasons” and one month you might spend 30 hours on vestry duties and next month only 10.
It is important to be deliberate as you consider the time commitment of the 3-year term. Even so, our vestry always has a wide range of “DC-types” with busy schedules. Everyone is working to carve out space to serve our church!
We hope that you will consider nominating someone (including yourself) to vestry.
- Click this link.
- Give us your nominee’s name and email address (if you have it).
- Please provide 2-3 sentences on why you nominated this person. (a particular experience they have, service you have noticed, character trait that you admire, etc)
- That’s it! Nominate as many people as you would like!
We can promise that vestry members enjoy the honor of serving our church and love the opportunity to get to know the people with whom we serve.
“Think of it as an extended small group experience!” Hannah Royal (former warden)
-Christine Jones, chair of 2017 Vestry Discernment Team
Nominations, including 2-3 sentences describing why you are nominating a particular person (and, yes, you can nominate yourself!) should be sent here.