February 6, 2024

From the Rector…

Vestries are unique to the Episcopal Church. Though begun in England and Wales as the Anglican expression of governance, vestries evolved into parish church councils as their power waned in matters of state and became more focused on the church. Vestries got the name because they often met in the sacristy or vestry of the church—the room in which the priest vested. Though we no longer meet in the vestry and don’t even call that room a vestry anymore, the name stuck and continues to be used in the American and Scottish Episcopal Church.

This past weekend, your vestry and clergy spent Friday and Saturday together on retreat. We didn’t meet in a vestry or even at the church, but in a conference room several miles away from the church. We spent our time in prayer, getting to know one another a little better, discussing what it means to be an Episcopalian, orienting to our responsibilities as a vestry, and doing a little business—like electing wardens and passing a budget. We broke bread together, laughed, and even shared in some uncomfortable conversations about the church and who we are. It was an incredible time together that instilled us with a significant amount of hope for the future. 

On Sunday, at the 10:30am Eucharist, the vestry, wardens, and clerk were invested with the responsibility of faithful leadership in the year ahead. As part of the liturgy, we prayed prayers—For the Parish (BCP p. 817) and For the Unity of the Church (BCP p. 818)—which offered language calling us into healing and reconciliation even in times of division. It was a powerful moment in which not only did our vestry commit to engage and perform the work of governance with diligence, but to do so to the honor of God and for the benefit of the membership of CoA. 

The investiture was then followed up by our Senior Warden, Virginia Humphrey, reading a statement of support for the rector of CoA. As I am that person, I will admit, it was a touching and powerful affirmation that I needed to hear. I knew that they had passed such a resolution but did not expect it to be proclaimed so publicly. Words cannot adequately express my gratitude for that act of compassion and kindness. 

Rectors make mistakes, and I am no exception. The joy is in the willingness to forgive mistakes and move forward into new ways of being. That is as true in the church as it is in life, family, and friendships. I have been far from perfect in these past five and a half years, and you have stuck with me anyway. Thank you for that. And thank you for the many notes and emails and texts and verbalizations of encouragement and support. It is powerful to be in a place that desires the building up of the body of Christ and understands its clergy, as well as its laity, to be a part of that body.

The work of your vestry this weekend was not only in the affirming and building up of one another, it was also in the visioning of the days ahead. We elected Virgina Humphrey as Senor Warden and Philip Sellers as Junior Warden. We are ready to get to work on the recommendations offered to us by our consultant, Scott Holcombe, voting to establish a Governance Task Group to be chaired by Ellen Brooks. We will also establish a Roles and Responsibilities Task Group to be announced in March. We passed a balanced budget for 2024 of $1,355,077. Our budget can be broken down into Mission Giving at 12%, Program Expenses at 5%, Administrative Expenses at 26%, and Salaries at 57%. We also began work on a Vestry Covenant that each of us will sign at our February meeting.

It was a good retreat. The spirit of the weekend, and of the vestry as a whole, was in the building up of CoA and the desire to see her succeed as a means of building up God’s kingdom. To that end, I hope (and request) that you will keep the church, your vestry, and your clergy in your prayers.  

Light and Life,