February 2019 was the start of the year for St. Andrews vestry. We held our first meeting, and began the process of forming a new working team. Our focus, as I see it, is on supporting our mission “To know Christ and to make Christ known”, supporting our minister, Father Martin, and overseeing the business of operating the church in accordance with our mission. But what did that look like in 2019, my first year on the vestry?
Under the expert guidance of Liz Herriges, our senior warden, the vestry held the March retreat and identified three priorities for the year: the ministry for youth and families, steward- ship in all its variations and the challenging, ongoing work of the kitchen remodel committee. The overarching theme for these priorities was that of increased communication; not only talking and being transparent about what the vestry was working on, but the more difficult task of listening with an open mind and heart to one another and to every member of our parish community. We were determined to practice being a welcoming community…something Father Martin stresses before every communion service.
The vestry regularly asked ourselves how our work was supporting our mission, and as I listened to the sermons and read epistles at 8am service, I was struck by how often God asks us to listen…..to His word and to Jesus’ teachings. That by listening we would hear what God wanted us to focus on. How did that translate into the day to day work of the vestry in 2019?
The vestry established a schedule for priority reviews and identified ways to share what was being worked on or completed, and our senior warden held us accountable. We, as a group, committed to including an article in the monthly Tartan about thoughts each of us were working on or struck by because of our work. We also started a quarterly “Chat with your vestry” whereby at least two vestry members made themselves available to meet with members of the congregation after service. Our task was to listen and communicate….hear the concerns and ideas of our fellow parishioners and answer any questions about ongoing vestry work as possible. (Turns out sometimes we didn’t know all the answers but we vowed to find out what we could and share). We had some success…..members came and chatted with the vestry so this practice will continue, as will the Tartan articles (although I apologize for not getting this article in for March but a freak accident temporarily derailed me). The youth and family committee learned that families with young children were concerned their kids were too noisy and distracted to bring to services, so they created the very popular busy boxes to help families know everyone, in- cluding busy children, are always welcome. The new website was launched and it is easy, attrac- tive, informative, current and welcoming. I hope you’ve had the opportunity to poke around. Other projects included the completion and adoption of St Andrews personnel policy and the beautification of the sidewalk area on Jackson Street along with weeding and pruning (an ongo- ing project as every gardener knows). I’m sure I’ve missed many other acts of communication, but the 2019 vestry made a good start.
So now on to 2020. Using the strategies set down last year we will continue to focus on communication to ensure all our members have a chance to be heard and listened to with regard to the work of the vestry. I am excited to be serving as senior warden this year which , to me, means listening even more. Knowing Christ is a lifelong task that we do individually and together. Listening is a critical piece of knowing Him. If I listen with a more open mind and heart, I will hear what God has to say to me and be a better steward of His work. Please feel free to share your thoughts, concerns and comments with me, and any other member of your vestry……we are all in this together.