The Vestry

If you like to learn more about how you can contribute your leadership gifts in our parish, browse our current listing of leadership opportunities.

In what follows, you’ll learn more about how we are organized….

The inner workings of the church may sometimes seem mysterious.  Perhaps you grew up in another faith tradition and wonder who, how and what’s involved in leadership at St. Thomas’, particularly the elected board, known as the vestry.

In the Episcopal tradition, a bishop calls a vestry, two wardens, and the rector to mutual ministry. The vestry and wardens represent and are elected by all the members of the parish, and the rector’s ministry is simply a local extension of the bishop’s. In partnership, vestry, wardens, and rector share in both the spiritual and temporal leadership of a parish as it seeks to fulfill the Great Commission.

This mutual ministry ultimately requires legal responsibility for the assets of the parish.  The vestry serves a fiduciary role in that they are responsible to see that the funds, buildings, and programs are there so that the mission of the parish can be fulfilled. This responsibility is defined in the canons of the church as well as in the NY Religious Corporations Act.

Vestry Basics

Our vestry has nine members with three new members elected at the January annual meeting, generally for 3 full years.  In that way at least 1/3 of the vestry is rotating off each year, to be replaced by newly-elected members.

The vestry is not elected to represent specific demographics or groups in the parish.  Rather, they are called to listen broadly and discern prayerfully.  Members each bring their own unique gifts and learn to work closely with each other while growing spiritually to help bring the mission of the church to life.

Who can be nominated for Vestry?

  • Baptized members at least 18 years of age
  • Members who have not served on vestry for the most recent term (3 years)
  • Members in good standing as determined by the Rector and who
  • Attend services regularly; contribute time, talents and treasure (pledge)
  • Are effective role models (see page 409, Book of Common Prayer)

What does the Vestry do?

Much is done in collaboration with others, so good communication is vital. The vestry regularly interacts with the Diocese of Rochester since our parish ministry is authorized by and supported by the diocese.

The St. Thomas’ Vestry appoints members to various commissions and committees whose work it empowers and oversees. There are Vestry liaisons on Finance, Property, Stewardship, Endowment, Parish Life, Everybody Welcome, Outreach, and Watchcare. In this way, the vestry, wardens, and rector retain responsibility for all of the ministries of the parish, but invite and empower many others to carry out our shared work.

However, key fiduciary decisions have not been delegated by the vestry and constitute a large share of its work.  The vestry…

  • Approves contracts and budgets
  • Calls the Rector or Interim Rector with the consent of the Bishop
  • Mutually with the Rector, sets policy and procedures for parish life and programs
  • Determines financial priorities; raises the funds needed to operate the parish
  • Monitors financial data to ensure that the parish is staying within its means
  • Ensures that adequate financial controls are in place, including an annual audit
  • Sets goals and objectives for our ministry to progress toward the mission of the church
  • Maintains our property in the best possible condition
  • Appoints the parish Treasurer, the Clerk of the Vestry and our Delegates to the Diocesan Convention

How does the Vestry work?

  • The Rector and Wardens create the agenda for vestry meetings, which are led by the Rector, or in her absence, the Senior Warden
  • The vestry meets monthly, usually on the 2nd Wednesday, from 6:30pm to no later than 9pm
  • Each vestry member is assigned to serve as a liaison to a particular commission or ministry group to assure that the lines of communication are kept open. Each member rotates as Vestry Person of the Day (VPOD) to share announcements prior to weekend services and be available after service as a sounding board
  • Each member is proactive in utilizing “St. Thomas Connect” as a planning and communication tool for the vestry as well as the parish at large