The vestry is the governing board of the parish, consisting of the rector and elected lay members. The word vestry originally referred to the room where the priest put on his vestments. Because lay leaders would often meet there to discuss the affairs of the parish with the rector, the term eventually came to refer to the group who governs the parish. The vestry’s primary responsibilities include:
- oversight of the parish’s finances and buildings,
- choosing individuals to fill positions of leadership and representation (rector, convention delegates, and others),
- serving as an advisory council to the rector, who by church law is the parish’s chief liturgical and pastoral officer.
- St. Stephen’s vestry consists of the rector plus nine lay members elected by the congregation at the annual parish meeting in late January. Adult communicants in good standing are eligible for a term of three years. The terms are staggered so that each year three members retire from vestry and three new members take their places.
The rector is the presiding officer of the vestry. Other officers include
- the senior warden, who serves as the vestry chairperson in the rector’s absence
- the junior warden, who is chiefly responsible for the oversight of building and grounds
- the clerk of the vestry, who handles the minutes and vestry correspondence
- The clerk and treasurer are chosen by the vestry from among the members of the vestry or the congregation at large.
St. Stephen’s vestry meets on the third Saturday of each month at 8:30 am and on special occasions as needed. The annual parish meeting is held the end of January each year.