Vestry election season is upon us. And several important goods are in tension in parish elections. The first is that an effective vestry depends on diverse gifts and perspectives. It needs men and women, of various ages and interests, with different areas of expertise and experience. It needs longstanding members and active people who have joined Calvary more recently. It needs parents of young children, single people, retired people, and representatives active in various ministries such as outreach, Christian formation, music, church finances, and more.
The second good is that any election worthy of the name should be transparent and open. And a lesser factor, but not to be dismissed, is that for many of us it really does sting a bit to stand for an election in a community we care about, but not be chosen. The way Calvary has lived into this tension in recent years is to have a nominations committee, comprised of the previous senior warden and the 5 outgoing vestry members, compile a slate of 5 nominees they believe would fill out our 15-person vestry in a way that would serve the parish most faithfully and effectively. But we publish those names soon after opening nominations to the congregation. This allows parishioners to take initiative and make additional nominations if they don’t believe the slate presented will best serve the parish for any reason. It has also been the case that when a person not on the slate expresses interest one year, she or he is first on the list for consideration the next.
I hope these thoughts help explain Calvary’s approach to vestry elections, even if we’re not terribly unique among parishes of our size and situation, or even among other nonprofit entities. Below are a few more specifics about vestry service and qualifications from our national church canons and parish by-laws. Please feel free to reach out to me directly with any questions or concerns about the ministry of the vestry at Calvary.