At our Annual Parish Meeting on January 25, 7 people were elected to serve a 3 year term on the Vestry. From the outstanding slate of nominees, containing supremely qualified candidates, these 7 now join the Vestry:
As we offer congratulations to them, we now also pray that God will equip each of our Vestry members to lead us as a parish that we might further live into our mission. All members of the Vestry are listed weekly on the cover of this newsletter so that you might keep them in your regular prayers. Fred Tyson will serve as our Senior Warden and Lawrence Hughes as our Junior Warden in 2015.
The Rector and Vestry, in Episcopal Churches, form a complementary team. The Rector works for, and reports to, the Vestry and is entrusted with day-to-day decision making. The Rector also is charged with leading the Vestry and Parish, articulating a vision for our work together and listening to the counsel of the Vestry so that the vision might be ours together rather than that of only one individual. The Vestry and Rector consult with each other so that they may be in agreement about decisions made in the Parish’s interest. Each time I meet with the Vestry, I am grateful for the wisdom of our Church which has given us this order and the traditions of this parish which have held us together for so long. Our Vestry in particular has been blessed with a positive energy which enables them to address challenges as opportunities for growth. Their faith and expectations for success inspire me on a regular basis.
Each member of the Vestry serves on one or more committees and those committees report in at our regularly scheduled meetings on the 3rd Monday of each month at 5:00. In between the meetings, the committees operate in their own ways with their own responsibilities. And to start each year, the entire Vestry goes apart for a two day retreat where we do dreaming for the future and planning for the year ahead. This year that Retreat was held January 30 – February 1 at Camp McDowell.
In parishes as large as ours, the Staff plays a vital role in our common ministry and does the bulk of the work in our operations. Our Staff includes our Maintenance Staff which works hard to prepare our facility for the use it receives on a daily basis. Not only the daily set-up but also the repairs and general care of the building and grounds must be provided for. The Office Staff makes sure that the bookkeeping is in order, that records are properly maintained, and that the many publications are taken care of. The Program Staff imagines, coordinates, and, in large measure, carries out the various events and offerings during the year. The entire staff meets weekly to insure good communication, then the Program Staff meets to make sure all our efforts mesh together, then our Clergy Staff meets to discuss pastoral matters. Additionally the Program Staff meets each 6 months for a day-long planning session so that we might always be looking ahead and better prepared.
The parishioners themselves are not just the consumers of the products delivered by the Vestry and Staff. The parishioners are the ones doing the real ministry in the world and our hope is to insure that we are all fed and nourished in our various ministries. The ministry each member of the parish shares is to worship and grow in our common Christian faith and then to live out that faith in the various worlds assigned to each. Everywhere we go and every situation we are involved in is that place where we are invited to do acts of Christian ministry. Certainly lay ministry would include teaching classes, going on mission trips, volunteering at various functions at the church, and being involved in the programs. But lay ministry primarily is serving wherever we are planted on a given day, being faithful and obedient in our regular life duties. What the Staff and Vestry hope to offer is worship and Christian formation so that we may all enter our various ministries in healthier and more faithful ways.
St. John’s is both remarkable and quite ordinary at the same time. We function as many large Episcopal Churches do around our country, raising up lay ministers who spread the hope of Christ in various ways. Yet our history, resources, and potential are all less ordinary. As we enter this new year with new Vestry members, a wonderful facility, and a professional staff, your prayers for all of us together are invited. May God make himself known among us and through us in 2015, our 181st year as a parish.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.