Many parts of Episcopal worship look Roman Catholic; however, our governance has a more Protestant sensibility. While the rector, or senior priest, is in charge of worship decisions and is the head of staff, the vestry, or board of directors, is responsible for the financial health of the parish as well as the maintenance of its physical plant. Vestry members serve three-year terms with one-third of the board changing each year. The president and vice president of the parish are called the senior warden and junior warden, respectively. Wardens are elected for one-year terms with the option of running for three consecutive terms. They, along with the rector, serve as the executive committee of the parish for the daily needs of the congregation. Vestry members are elected at a parish-wide meeting held each January, at which the parish receives the new budget for the year, considers bylaw changes, and chooses members for the diocesan convention.
St. Mark’s has a finance committee, which advises the vestry on financial matters as well as builds a budget each year. There is also a personnel committee that acts as a council of advice to the rector and assists in staff evaluations each year.
Our parish belongs to a diocese, which is a collection of Episcopal parishes in a particular geographic area. Every diocese elects a bishop who is the pastor to the clergy of the diocese and acts as the executive officer of the diocese. The bishop is joined in ministry by the diocesan Standing Committee, which is a group of both lay and ordained members who are elected at the once-yearly diocesan convention and serve a bit like a vestry though at the diocesan level. In addition to the Standing Committee, people from around the diocese serve on the Executive Council, the body that ensures that the will of the yearly diocesan convention is carried out.
Each parish sends members to the convention, where they agree to the budget of the diocese as well as entertain any resolutions that come before that deliberative body.
If you have questions or are interested in serving in a leadership capacity in church or diocesan governance, please contact the office and ask to be connected to either the rector or senior warden.