Vestry Job Description

St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church Job Description: Vestry Member 

Revised 2019

What is a vestry? 

According to the parish by-laws and the National and Diocesan Canons, all Episcopal churches must have some form of vestry. Vestries serve as the governing and legal decision-making body of the parish. More importantly, vestries also serve as the visioning and and goal-setting body of the local parish. In this way, serving on the vestry is different from simply being on a corporate board, or being in a business meeting. Being a member of the vestry is a form of ministry, with a sacred and exciting spiritual component to the work. Vestry members are also close working partners with the clergy team. 

Eligibility for election
Since vestries, in their capacity as governing boards, have fiduciary responsibilities towards congregations, state law often dictates that all members of the vestry must be of legal majority ages. Our church by-laws allow any person 16 years of age or older to serve on the vestry. Vestry members should be active members of the parish, but do not need to be confirmed or received into the Episcopal Church. Election of vestry members occurs at the Parish Annual Meeting. While not technically in our parish by-laws, and while exceptions are always possible, here are some helpful boundaries to keep in mind when considering running for the vestry: 

  • With the exception of the clergy, it is recommended that employees of the congregation should not hold a seat on the vestry. It is also recommended that family members of employees of the congregation should not hold a seat on the vestry. 
  • Clergy family members should not hold a seat on the vestry.
  • Generally speaking, no more than one person from a family should be on the vestry at the same time.

Terms of Office
While the terms of vestry members varies from congregation to congregation, St. Dunstan’s vestry members are elected to serve a three-year term. If for some reason a vestry member is unable to complete their full term, they are expected to notify the Senior Warden within a least one month of the Parish Annual Meeting.

Eligibility for re-election
You may run for two consecutive terms on the vestry (a total of six years). After the second term, you must take a full year off before running for vestry again.  

Qualifications and Gifts

We seek to invite people to serve on the vestry of St. Dunstan’s who… 

  1. Have a love of God and a commitment to following the way of Christ; 
  2. Are a voting member of the parish who has made an annual pledge to support the parish during the current year;
  3. Are active in and knowledgeable (or willing to learn) about the congregation, its programs and governance;
  4. Have strong leadership skills with the ability and willingness to listen, communicate, and cooperate with others;
  5. Are known as someone who is open-minded, approachable, and respected by members of the congregation;
  6. Has a capacity to seek to solve problems and learn from mistakes, recognize accomplishments, and give thanks for those things that build community and further the mission of the Church;
  7. Respect other church leaders and follow the model for decision making outlined in the parish by-laws and Vestry Leadership Covenant (adopted August 2012);
  8. Purposefully strive to be a servant of the people without a need to be the “most important person” or to be the one with the right answers to everything;
  9. Have enthusiasm for this ministry and role. 

Time Commitment:

  1. Monthly vestry meetings to review the life and work of the congregation, plan ahead, anticipate and resolve problems;
  2. Occasional special meetings of the vestry, as required;
  3. Vestry retreat (usually once a year);
  4. Regular attendance at weekly worship services (ideally, the members of the vestry, as a whole, attend or visit all regular services); 
  5. Frequent attendance at congregational events: coffee hours, meals, fundraisers, adult education programs, pastoral services, etc.;
  6. Meetings of a parish ministry committee, if appointed as liaison to that committee; 
  7. Occasional diocesan meetings, as requested;
  8. Annual parish meeting.

Responsibilities of the Vestry

While we acknowledge that no single member of the vestry may be called upon to fulfill all these responsibilities, we aspire to have our Vestry be a body that, as a whole: 

  1. Prays faithfully for the rector, leaders, and members of the congregation and the diocese;
  2. Offers their talents, as appropriate, to support the congregation’s ministry;
  3. Brings the whole self to the table – mind, body, and spirit; 
  4. Risks openness with your ideas, beliefs, concerns and hopes; 
  5. Seeks out ideas and opinions from members of the congregation regarding affairs of the parish; 
  6. Is available to discuss any and all concerns and vestry decisions with members of the congregation in a supportive way, including encouraging complainants to speak directly to those involved (avoiding triangulation) and discussing problems with the rector or wardens; 
  7. Assists in identifying persons for leadership roles, and, in consultation with the rector, invite them to serve in these roles;
  8. Participates in and stays in touch with the work of our ministry committees (e.g. Buildings & Grounds, Finance, Outreach, Liturgy & Worship), and, as needed, assists committee chairs in communicating ministry needs and activities to the vestry;
  9. Pledges financial support early in the annual giving campaign; 
  10. Strive to be active ministers of the Gospel in daily life and work; 
  11. In collaboration with the Junior Warden, Buildings and Grounds Committee, and Parish Administrator, helps ensure that the parish’s facilities and properties are kept in good repair and are sufficiently insured; 
  12. In collaboration with the Finance Committee, assumes fiduciary responsibility for the parish, including the preparation of an annual budget, the approval of expenses over $1000, and regular budgetary monitoring and review. 

If you have any questions about serving on the vestry at all, please feel free to speak with any current member of the vestry at St. Dunstan’s. They would be very happy to help you. Being on the vestry can be an empowering and spiritually deepening experience. If you think God is calling you to this ministry, please consider running for vestry. Your congregation values and needs your leadership and skill!