Vestry Nomination Process
While it may seem early, it is important that the entire parish begin now to get ready for the Vestry election which will be held at the Annual Meeting in January. It takes a long time for us to receive the names of the people you think would serve well, then invite those people to allow their names to be put forward in nomination, and then to publicize those names long enough for the parish to make an informed decision.
First of all, to be qualified to serve on the Vestry one must be a Confirmed Episcopalian and a member of the parish. The other qualification is that one must support the parish and the Episcopal Church with a financial pledge. The only involvement I, as the rector, have in the nomination process is to receive the list of names being considered by the Nominating Committee and make sure these two qualifications have been met. I do not submit names for them to consider. My job is to allow the parish to go through the election process and then serve with whomever you elect. The Vestry is the governing body of the parish and all that is accomplished here is the result of a partnership between the Vestry and Rector and Staff. Your participation in the nominating and election process helps build a healthy partnership.
The Nominating Committee consists of the seven members of the Vestry who are in the last year of their three year term. This year those serving on the Nominating Committee are: Dick Arrington, Georgia Holmes, Austin Huffaker, Alice Longshore, Jean Smyth, Bob Young, and Bill Eskridge who serves as Chair of the Committee as the Senior Warden. They are already at work developing a list of people they believe would serve the parish well as Vestry Members.
The parish plays the vital role of providing suggestions of names for the Nominating Committee to consider. The names you submit are suggestions, not nominations, so it is not necessary that you get the person’s permission before presenting a name. If you have never given the Nominating Committee names to be considered, I hope you will take the opportunity to do that this year. Look around during worship and parish events and think about who would serve well as Vestry Members. Look for those already active as opposed to those you think should be more active.
If you are approached by the Nominating Committee, please say yes. There are always things in life that we think would make serving on the Vestry difficult. You might think you are too busy, too young, too old, too inexperienced, too tired of serving. But if the Nominating Committee comes to you, it is because they have thought long and hard and want you in particular to serve. Saying no to them blocks the effectiveness of the process and hurts the parish.
Each year the Nominating Committee seeks to have a balanced slate presented for election. Each year we elect 7 people to serve a 3 year term. Each year 14 names are presented for election so that you may have a choice as to those who serve. The Nominating Committee tries to build a slate that has people of varying ages. We need people who are young and have a fresh perspective. We need people who have some wisdom of experience. We need people who have been in the parish only a few years who might see some things the rest of us cannot see. We need people who have been in the parish longer who see some things that can only be seen with experience. We need a balance of male and female. We need business minds, creative minds, people who think theologically, people who think practically, people who are risk takers, people who are careful. The great thing about a Vestry of 21 persons is that we have room for a variety of approaches. Every year 7 fresh new voices come on board and every year 14 experienced voices remain. It’s an inspired system which has been in operation for many, many years.
One challenging dynamic in our system is that each year 7 people “win” an election and 7 people “lose”. Those who do not get elected typically experience a letdown. It feels like fellow parishioners have said they don’t want you on the Vestry. The reality, in fact, is that all those nominated are being asked to serve and all are qualified. Some parishes use different models for their elections. Some go through a nominating process and then literally draw names out of a hat. Some parishes go through a nominating process and present a final slate for an up or down vote by the parish with no individual selection. The Vestry is considering other ways of electing new members but remain convinced that our current way of electing is the best for us at this time.
While we tend to think of balloting as the most important part of the election process, it is actually the nominating portion of the process that is more crucial. The more names that are presented, the better. The more people who seriously consider themselves as potential vestry members, the better. And the more the nominees can see the great service to the parish they are providing just by having their names on the ballot, the better. As Christians we are called to serve humbly and faithfully. You serve the parish well by providing names and by allowing yourself to be on the ballot when invited.
You may contact any member of the Nominating Committee to submit names for consideration. Bill Eskridge, who chairs the committee, may best be reached by email (firstname.lastname@example.org). The Annual Meeting will be held January 26, 2020.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.