CANON 14: Of Parish Vestries
Sec. 2. Except as provided by the law of the State or of the Diocese, the Vestry shall be agents and legal representatives of the Parish in all matters concerning its corporate property and the relations of the Parish to its Clergy.
Sec. 3. Unless it conflicts with the law as aforesaid, the Rector, or such other member of the Vestry designated by the Rector, shall preside in all the meetings of the Vestry.
I've quoted these entries in Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church because they are worth our remembering as we plan to gather in our Annual Parish Meeting and elect three new vestry members from those qualified to serve.
That we are an "above the average(s)" county seat parish in a southern state brings a certain shape and expectation to this process of choosing lay leadership.
Were we a colonial parish of the Diocese of Virginia the priest would hardly be involved, if at all. Or if we were a large parish inside modern Atlanta's perimeter the rector would have scheduled appointments with anyone of six or more parishioners under consideration.
In one parish in our Northeast Georgia Convocation those interested in this call to serve attend a retreat BEFORE the election, determine their desire to continue, and if so have their names drawn "from the hat" to be voted in through acclamation. You could say they've insured the election will not be a popularity contest.
Theirs is much more like the method for choosing Matthias to fill the spot previously held by Judas of the twelve apostles.
Acts 1:26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.The way in which the remaining eleven came to this "casting lots" included a kind of vetting that made Matthias or Barsabbas the two best from which to choose. Much like our convocational partner parish they avoided a beauty pageant or popularity contest.
We have done some vetting in our setting and there has been a lively dialogue with myself and vestry members inquiring of those who might be willing to stand for election.
Some were first approached by vestry members, some by me and some volunteered to stand. Each brings a strength to share in leadership and discernment for our parish. Not all were qualified. That's by way of another set of standards ordered by our church-wide canons AND diocesan canons.
Each of the potential nominees HAS had some conversation with me. But I am proud to say that our circumstances make it so that those whom we elect will be members of Advent's vestry not MY vestry.
I like that about who we are as a community of faith. No matter who we might think God wants us to elect we can always proceed with the confidence that God can bless OUR choosing.
And just for the record, according to church canons Matthias or Barsabbas would not be eligible for election.