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  • Writer's pictureSt. Matthews

A Vestry, Vest-tree? Annual Meeting?

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

If you aren't’ familiar with some of the terms used on occasion in the Episcopal Church, like Vestry or Annual Meeting - here are a few definitions and examples that might help you understand better how St. Matthew’s operates and what to expect at the beginning of each year when we prepare for incoming Vestry candidates and our Annual Meeting.

What is a Vestry?

A Vestry, (sadly, not a tree that grows vests) is a word that originally referred to the room where a priest would put on their vestments (another church term meaning the distinctive garments/clothing worn by the leaders of worship). This term then began to stand for the group that would use that space to discuss the governance of the church, (like a board of directors). While Vestry meeting locations have changed, the name has remained the same.

The Vestry's primary responsibilities:

  • To care for the parish finances

  • To care for the church building and grounds

  • To choose individuals for positions of leadership

  • To serve as an advisory council for the church Rector who is the church’s chief liturgical and pastoral officer.

The Vestry members should (taken from

  • Seek God’s guidance in their work and decisions

  • Seek means to form a community

  • Act in concert with the rector

  • Hold each other accountable

  • Seek continuity AND embrace change

Who can serve on the Vestry?

The Vestry consists of lay members (adult members, in good standing) of the church elected by the congregation at the annual parish meeting. Vestry members normally serve a three-year term and must be members in good standing of the parish.

What does the Vestry do?

The Vestry meets each month to review and approve normal monthly operational expenses of the church, receive reports from various committees, attend to concerns within the parish, and discuss strategic planning.

Who are the officers of the Vestry?

Each parish is able to assemble this functional board of directors to best fit its unique needs and strategic goals. Typically, most Vestries have Senior and Junior Wardens, a Treasurer (which we call Stewardship), and a Registrar (a person who takes the meeting minutes) in addition to committee leaders for various leadership areas in the church.

Here is an example of some of the Vestry roles at St. Matthew’s:

Senior Warden - This position serves as counsel for the rector and leader for the Vestry

Junior Warden - Tends to take care of the physical property and buildings of the church.

Treasurer/Stewardship - Oversees the finances and stewardship goal of the church

Various Committee Leaders for areas like Outreach, Reverence, and Spiritual Formation.

How are Vestry members selected?

Before the annual meeting, a slate of candidates is presented to the Vestry. The nominations are then presented and balloted upon at the annual meeting. Vestry members are elected to serve on the Vestry typically for a period of three years.

Who can vote for the Vestry?

All adult members of St. Matthew’s in good standing (and confirmed youth age 14+) are eligible to vote and must attend our annual meeting to vote. In order for the candidates to be elected, a minimum of 10% of the active members of St. Matthew's must be in attendance and vote. So... join us and VOTE!

What’s an Annual Meeting?

In the Episcopal church, every parish is required to conduct a general meeting of its members once per year. During this meeting, we celebrate all of God’s blessings through St. Matthew’s for the year, view photos, and hear stories of the impact on the community and the world. Additionally, this is where the new Vestry members for the upcoming year are voted in, any important changes proposed for the church are discussed, and a question and answer session is held.

The annual meeting also includes an “Annual Report” which serves as a snapshot of the parish during that time summarizing all the activities, groups, and ministries from the year. Our Annual Report can be found on our website under the 'About Us' section and is updated late January/early February every year.

Have more questions about our Vestry or Annual Meeting? Contact

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