The Vestry is an elected body that is charged with the temporal governance of the parish. This is a very important and essential ministry within the life of Saint Johns. The vestry sets the annual operating budget, oversees its finances, is active and involved in the ministries of the parish, insures the parish has everything it needs for worship and ministry and is kept after a godly fashion, and acts as an advocate in the relationship between the rector and the faithful as well as assisting and supporting the rector in the spiritual leadership of the parish.
The Canons of the Diocese of Mississippi spell out very clearly the duties and responsibilities of the vestry, so if you are thinking of running for vestry or nominating someone, please read Canon 23 as you prayerfully consider these things.
SECTION 1. (a) The Vestry of every Parish shall consist of the Rector when there is one, two Wardens, and not less than three nor more than eleven Members of the Vestry; except that Parishes with more than three hundred Communicants may, if they so elect, have not more than fifteen Members of the Vestry. The Wardens and Members of the Vestry shall be confirmed Communicants, at least twenty-one years of age, canonically resident and actually residing in the Parish and entitled to suffrage at its annual meeting at which they are elected.
(b) The Wardens and Members of the Vestry shall be elected for such terms and on such conditions as may be provided in the By-Laws of the respective Parishes, and shall hold office until their successors are elected and shall have qualified; provided, however, that the principle of rotation shall be followed in all instances and that in no case shall a Warden or Member of the Vestry serve more than six consecutive years as a Warden or Member of the Vestry.
(c) In the event of a vacancy in the office of Warden or Member of the Vestry, caused by death, removal, resignation, or inability to serve, the Vestry may, in its discretion, elect a qualified person to fill the unexpired term of said Warden or Member of the Vestry.
SECTION 2. (a) The Vestry shall fix the date, time and place of regular monthly meetings.
(b) Special meetings may be called by order of the Rector, or, in case of the vacancy or absence of the Rector or his/her inability to act, by one of the Wardens, acting according to seniority, at any time deemed expedient; provided that all members of the Vestry be notified; or when requested in writing by a majority of the Vestry; which writing shall be sent to the Rector, Wardens and other Members of the Vestry, and shall declare the object or objects of such meeting.
(c) A meeting of the Vestry to be valid shall have present either the Rector, or in case of his/her absence or inability to act, one of the Wardens. Still, in case of the vacancy or absence of the Rector and both Wardens, a meeting shall be valid when a quorum of the Vestry is present; and, a presiding officer being chosen from the number present, business may be transacted; provided the meeting has been called according to the above Section 2 (b).
SECTION 3. The Vestry shall elect and call the Rector in accordance with the provisions of the Canons of the General Church. (See also Canon 35 Section 2) The Vestry shall see that all things needed for the public services are provided; shall collect and disburse all money due and received for Church purposes, and shall have the same audited annually; shall pay with punctuality the stipulated salaries of the Clergy and others; shall inform themselves of the order and time of all collections required by the Canons of the Diocese, and of assessments which may be imposed by the Council, and take measures for the obedient fulfillment and due liquidation of these (see Canon 33 – “Penalties”); shall provide adequate insurance coverage; and before the close of each parochial or ecclesiastical year, if the treasury be deficient, the Vestry shall collect, as far as practicable, by subscription or otherwise, a sum sufficient to liquidate all the current expenses of the Parish.
SECTION 4. Before the annual Parish meeting, the vestry shall cause to be written and delivered to the Rector, or if there be none, to the Wardens, a full, accurate and faithful statement of the number of meetings held by the Vestry during the year, and the number of such meetings attended by each Warden and Member of the Vestry. At the annual Parish meeting, said statement shall be presented and read to the parishioners there assembled and the statement duly filed and recorded in the Minutes and Records of the Parish. The statement shall also declare what money, lands or other property had been received during the preceding year, and from what source; what money has been expended, and for what objects; and what property has been purchased, exchanged, or mortgaged, and for what purposes.
SECTION 5. It is the duty of the Wardens and Members of the Vestry to preserve order and decorum in and around the church building on all occasions whatever, and especially during the time of Divine Worship, and to admonish persons guilty of any unseemly levity or rudeness.
SECTION 6. When at any time the Parish is without a Rector, the Parish shall become the spiritual care of the Ecclesiastical Authority.
SECTION 1. The Wardens shall be distinguished as Senior and Junior, although all duties belong to both. They shall see that the Parish duly provides the church with a standard lectern Bible, containing the Apocrypha, and copies of the Book of Common Prayer and the Church Hymnal, of proper size of the standard editions, for use in the sanctuary, chancel and nave; that the Parish provides proper linens for the altar, and the elements of bread and wine meet for the celebration of the Holy Communion; proper and suitable vestments for the Clergy, servers and choir. It shall be their duty to see that the alms and other offerings of the people are gathered in decent basins provided for that purpose. Further, the Wardens shall be responsible for all other things necessary for the regular and well-ordered worship of Almighty God, and shall cooperate with the Rector in all efforts to develop and set forward the spiritual life of the Parish.
SECTION 2. The Wardens shall have a care that the church building be kept in good repair and clean, as becometh the House of God, and that any other Parish buildings and the premises around them be maintained in proper order.