“God chose his servant David, and took him from the sheepfolds; from tending the nursing ewes he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel, his inheritance. With upright heart he tended them, and guided them with skillful hand.” - Psalm 78:70-72
Every year, lay persons in the parish are elected to assist in the leadership and management of the parish. From a secular perspective, the Vestry are the directors of the legal entity of the parish. Within the life of the Church, the vestry prayerfully assist the Rector in leading the parish, providing representation for the whole of the parish to the Rector, and also in providing administrative support for the work of the parish, particularly around finances and financial accountability. The first duty of any Vestry is prayer, as its leadership role involves prayerful discernment of God’s will for the parish as it helps move the parish forward. The Biblical example of David reminds us that it was first his heart for God, and not the skill of his hand, which made him a great king. So too, while familiarity with finances and maintenance can be useful skills to hold, holiness is the greatest asset of any Vestry.
The Senior Warden’s only function in the canons (laws of the Church) is to notify the bishop of when the parish is without a rector, however in the past, wardens have had responsibility for maintaining good order in public services as well as the collection of alms. Today, there remains continuity with those functions and the Senior Warden often holds responsibility in areas of financial stewardship and maintaining good order in the parish. The Senior Warden will generally chair a meeting if the rector is absent, and assists the rector with personnel issues and other general management and administration matters in the Church.
The Junior Warden is appointed by the Vestry and elected from within their number. The Junior Warden has no specified canonical obligations, however the Junior Warden is generally vested with responsibility for the building and grounds, as well as overseeing other operations of the parish. At St. Thomas, the Junior Warden heads up the Buildings & Grounds committee and helps co-ordinate between volunteer maintenance and special projects, as well as contractors who help maintain the physical plant of the Church.