VESTRY COMMISSION DESCRIPTIONS
The role of a Vestry or Vestry Committee is governed generally by Canon VIII of the Diocese of Southwest Florida and Canon 17, Section 1C of the National Canons. The Vestry Committee of Holy Trinity operates through a commission system. This means that Vestry members do more than establish a budget and policies for the Church. In addition, each Vestry member is elected to a commission for which they are liaison. It is then up to those Commissioners to help those who implement and oversee the various activities and responsibilities of their commission.
There are currently eight separate and distinct Commissions in operation at Holy Trinity: the Evangelism Commission; the Education Commission; the Fellowship Commission; the Pastoral Care Commission, the Outreach Commission; the Lay Ministry Development Commission, the Stewardship Commission and the Worship Commission (Rector is Chair) . While these are separate commissions, there are many instances where activities and functions of the Commissions overlap and each Commission must support and interact with the other. The Evangelism Commission, for example, through its assimilation effort, helps connect members with the staffing requirements of the various committees of all the Commissions. The Pastoral Care and Outreach Commissions engage in evangelism as they carry out their work. The Fellowship Commission oversees many fellowship events which contribute to the pastoral care of Holy Trinity’s members, and also assists in evangelism at the same time. To facilitate the support and interaction between and among the Commissions, it is important to have effective communications among the Commissions and for everyone working within a particular Commission to recognize that each Commission supports and interacts with the others. All the Commissions work toward the common goal of achieving Holy Trinity’s mission which is to “Comfort and equip God’s people, serve the needy, and bring the lost to Christ.”
Each Commission is made up of a variety of committees or groups (see the descriptions following for each Commission’s specific areas of responsibility). It is the responsibility of each Commissioner to encourage and be a resource to those who staff and oversee the function and operation of the various committees and groups. The Commissioners should avoid actually chairing any of the committees within their Commissions. The Commissioners should continually evaluate the operations of their Commissions and explore ways of improving the performance of their Commissions and the possible need for additional or expanded areas of activity for their Commissions.
The Commissioners are their Commission’s representatives on the Vestry. As such, the Commissioners must ensure that the Vestry is kept abreast of what is going on in their Commission. This doesn’t mean transacting Commission business during Vestry meetings, but rather the Commissioners should alert the Vestry to problems, opportunities, financial needs that are not provided for in the current annual budget, as well as any other important changes or other newsworthy events within the Commission. The Commissioners should also keep their committee chair persons (or a “contact person” for a committee) informed of significant developments that affect their committees or activities directly or indirectly.
The Commissioners need to establish some way of keeping in touch with what is going on in their Commissions and all of its sub-parts. In the past, for example, the Evangelism Commission and the Pastoral Care and Outreach Commissions have held monthly meetings of all chair persons and committee members in the Commissions. It is imperative that the Commissioners develop some way to be in frequent communication with the various committees and groups within their
Commissions. The Commissioners, in turn, are responsible to keep the congregation informed of Commission activities and opportunities. This should be done through the Messenger and the service bulletins as well as announcements during services. Indeed, the Commissioners need to make sure the news concerning their Commissions is submitted to the Messenger on a monthly basis, whether the articles are written by people involved in the Commission or by the Commissioners themselves.
Each Commission will have its own challenges and opportunities as defined by the areas of a Commission’s jurisdiction. The Commissioners need to be visionaries for their Commissions and explore and implement new ways to accomplish the general goals of the Commission as well as new goals as they are developed. A description of the current structure and responsibilities of each Commission is set forth as follows. If you wish to know more about a Commission or the duties and responsibilities of a Commissioner for a particular Commission, please seek out present and past Commissioners to discuss their experiences with their Commissions.
Webster’s New World Dictionary defines evangelism as “a preaching of, or zealous effort to spread, the Gospel.” At Holy Trinity, the spreading and preaching of the Gospel can be divided into two distinct categories: bringing people in the door to hear and experience the Gospel and assimilating people into our community once they are here (so as to better hear and experience the Gospel.) The Evangelism Commission’s committees currently include the following:
Advertising and Publicity – includes advertisements in the Yellow Pages and newspapers, as well as road signs. The advertising and publicity is related to the regular activities of the Church as well as special events (e.g., Easter and Christmas services).
Assimilation – this involves the matching of peoples’ talents and desires with the needs of the Church. Information concerning a person’s “wants” and “needs” is gathered through surveys and the every member canvass may be entered into a computer. When a committee or group is looking for a person or persons interested in a particular area, this is a resource to help find those people.
Education – This is designed to educate the members of Holy Trinity about Evangelism so that we may all become better evangelists.
Hospitality – members that greet newcomers, have visitors fill out visitor cards and act as hosts to visitors throughout the service and fellowship hour.
Newcomers – includes welcome letters and distribution of newcomer packets during visits to newcomers by the laity.
Prospect Development – this committee consists of two sub-parts: “beating the bushes” which involves the distribution of flyers to targeted neighborhoods (the flyers may be as to special events or merely advertise Holy Trinity in general); and charting demographic trends in the areas encompassing Holy Trinity’s “range” (usually a 5-mile radius).
Alpha Program - An international program whereby “seekers” are exposed to the teachings and person of Jesus Christ.
While these are the current committees, the Evangelism Commissioners may decide to add committees or activities, change the role or function of current committees or even eliminate some committees as Holy Trinity grows and its needs change. The Evangelism Commissioners are not expected to chair any of the committees; rather they must ensure that the committees are properly staffed (including to make sure that each committee or group has a chairperson who will help lead that particular committee), oversee the committees to make sure that they are functioning properly and continually evaluate the need for additional or expanded committees.
Historically, the Evangelism Commission has held monthly meetings to review its performance, plan for upcoming activities, and address any other needs or problems. The meetings also serve to help expedite communication within the Commission. The need for meetings and the frequency of meetings, however, is up to the Commissioners as the needs of the Commission dictate.
As the name implies, the Education Commission deals with the education and Christian formation of Holy Trinity’s members.
Sunday School – offered for Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12.
Adult Education – currently offered Sunday morning, Wednesday morning and Wednesday night.
Youth Group – Middle and High School group focusing on fellowship, worship, study, and service to the community.
Young Adult Education – Studies for late teens and those in their twenties.
Vacation Bible School – a one-week session held during the summer for children age pre-k to Grade 5.
Social Events – planning and execution of various fellowship social events throughout the year (includes “traditional” events such as the Progressive Dinner, Easter Brunch, Rally Day Picnic as well as other events that may arise such as baptisms, or some funerals.)
Messenger – monthly newsletter written, edited, and published by the congregation.
Coffee Hour/Refreshments – offered after the 10:00a.m. service during fellowship.
Breakfast - Hot breakfasts are served from 9:00am-9:30am each Sunday throughout the school year. Continental breakfasts are served during the summer.
The Commissioner may find it necessary to have meetings, however, for certain groups within the Commission. For example, periodic meetings of the Social Committee to schedule and plan for upcoming events is necessary.
As with other Commissions, the Fellowship Commissioner is not expected to chair or head up any of the groups or committees within the Commission. The Commissioner must ensure that each group and committee has a leader and is meeting (or exceeding) expectations and needs.
Lay Ministry Development exists in order to support the existing ministries by helping the laity explore God’s gifts and how they might enhance them for the church’s benefit.
In efforts to support existing ministries, as well as new ministries, this commission explores ways people might benefit from training in their ministry areas. Occasionally there are workshops at Holy Trinity, in the Diocese, or locally in the community which lay ministers are encouraged to attend.
By helping the various commissioners find people for ministry areas (matching people’s gifts with needs of the church and the world.)
Women's Spiritual Group
A gathering of women interested in developing their individual spiritual journeys. Open to all women.
Renewal Ministry Areas
Cursillo, Happening, New Beginnings, Discovery Weekend (a parish-wide weekend for spiritual growth.)
The word “Cursillo” means “a short course in Christianity”. It is a method whereby Christians can incorporate tools of discipline into their Christian living. After completion of a three-day weekend, participants gather regularly for prayer, spiritual nurturing transition and fellowship. The evangelical message: Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Your love. Send forth Your Spirit, and they shall be created, and You shall renew the face of the earth. O God, who did instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation, through Jesus Christ Our Lord.
A diocesan-wide renewal movement, open to high school students and similar to Cursillo.
A diocesan-wide renewal movement, open to middle school students and similar to Happening.
The Pastoral Care Commission is under the direction of the Rector. It tends to the needs of the congregation as well as the needs of people outside our church community. The Rector represents this Commission on the Vestry, oversees the various activities of the Commission, ensures that each committee and activity is properly staffed, and works to improve and expand the overall Commission. The Pastoral Care side of this Commission currently includes the following areas:
Health Ministries – Parish Nurse and Faith In Action (Caregivers United) ministries provide ongoing support for stressed members and families as well as health education. Samaritan Counseling Center provides counseling services at a reduced rate for members as well as serves the wider community.
Prayer Chain – a support system of prayers for our church family and others known to us.
Keep-In-Touch – a daily check on various members living alone.
Manna - freshly prepared meals or frozen meals stored for members who have some need to receive meals that only need to be heated up (members who are sick, recovery from surgery or undergoing some other event that makes cooking difficult).
Transportation – provided for members who cannot get out on their own.
Shut-Ins and Hospital Visits – visits to members homebound or in the hospital.
The Outreach Commission is currently active in many areas. A few are as follows:
Bloodmobile – members of Holy Trinity give donations of blood to the “Blood Mobile” which comes to Holy Trinity several times a year. These donations are for Holy Trinity members as well as the general public.
A renewal Prison Ministry, well represented by several dedicated Holy Trinity members, is similar to Cursillo and offered to prison inmates.
Homeless Emergency Project – a shelter for homeless people and other people in need.
F.E.A.S.T. – financial gifts and food delivered to the Palm Harbor food pantry.
F.A.S.T. (Faith and Action for Strength Together) – an interfaith justice advocacy ministry.
Episcopal Relief and Development – a national fund to respond to major disasters. Yearly contributions made by the Commission and periodic contributions from Parishioners.
Public Policy/Advocacy – advocacy on behalf of those in need of assistance and the pursuit of justice in our society.
Religious Community Services (RCS) – donations and delivery of clothing, household items and the items in the “laundry basket” (brought forward at the conclusion of the Offertory during Sunday services).
Resurrection House – a long term transitional housing ministry. Services we provide include visits, cash donations, delivery of “laundry basket” items (see above) and Christmas presents for the residents.
Dominican Republic – mission trips to help our Dominican brothers and sisters in building churches and facilities to help serve the needy and equip the people.
The opportunities under the Outreach Commission are endless. As the resources of Holy Trinity grow, the ability to provide greater outreach will allow the Commission to expand on the existing areas of outreach as well as pursue new areas.
The Stewardship commission is responsible for the administration of the time, talent and treasures of Holy Trinity’s members. The Stewardship Commission has four primary areas of responsibility:
(i) stewardship education; (ii) raising funds for the operating budget primarily through the Every Member Canvass; (iii) raising capital funds for Holy Trinity’s building, debt retirement, or capital needs; (iv) overseeing the investment of capital funds on hand. The Rector, Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Stewardship Commissioner and Treasurer function as the Finance Committee with the Administrator serving in a consultative role.
Stewardship Education – this involves, in part, educating the congregation about the need to give back to God, both sacrificially and sacramentally, not only money (treasures), but also time and talents. Stewardship education also involves educating people about alternative ways to give through various methods of planned giving (e.g., by will, trust, annuities, etc.) Stewardship education should be a year-round effort.
Every Member Canvass – this traditionally has taken place in November and is our annual Stewardship Drive. This drive takes on different formats with the goal of reaching every member to give them an opportunity to make a pledge to the Operating Fund (and Building Fund) as applicable in order to provide for the needs of the Church. While the Every Member Canvass is currently conducted once a year, the person in charge of the Every Member Canvass, together with the Stewardship Commissioner, should work toward a year-round canvass directed to new members.
Capital Funds – this aspect of the Commission currently involves raising funds for the continuation of Holy Trinity’s building program, the renovation of existing facilities, and mortgage payments. At some point, this aspect will become more focused on raising funds for debt retirement, but in either event, for the foreseeable future, Holy Trinity will need to raise capital funds.
Investment Responsibilities – This is directly the responsibility of the Stewardship Commissioner, Treasurer, and the Executive Committee (Rector, Senior Warden and Junior Warden) acting as the Finance Committee, with the Administrator serving in a consultative role, with the advice of investment professionals within the congregation if possible or with outside consultants if needed.
It shall be the duty of the Wardens to protect the properties of the Parish and to see that all things needed for the orderly worship of God and for the administration of the Sacraments and Ordinances of the Church be provided.
A member of the Vestry is appointed annually by the Rector to serve as Senior Warden. The role of the Senior Warden includes, among other things, acting as an ex-officio member of every Commission and their committees; serving as the Rector’s confidant; conducting Vestry meetings in the absence of the Rector; facilitating communications between Commissions; serving as a resource person for the other Commissioners; developing and maintaining
Commission job descriptions; and, in the event something were to happen to the Rector, insuring that the Church continues to operate, and, if necessary, heading efforts to find a new Rector in conjunction with the Diocese.
As the ex-officio member of every Commission, the Senior Warden is responsible for identifying needs within the congregation and bringing those needs to the attention of the appropriate Commissioners or committee members. The Senior Warden also helps the Commissioners oversee the functioning of the Commissions. Further, the Senior Warden is available as a resource to all Commissioners to help with any problems or opportunities that may arise either within their
Commission or in connection with their working with another Commission. When events or activities involve more than one Commission, the Senior Warden should help facilitate communications between the Commissions (as well as identifying activities or events that involve more than one Commission). The Senior Warden is also responsible for preparing and updating these Commission Descriptions.
The Rector relies on the Senior Warden to assist in identifying problems or opportunities and developing solutions or approaches to those problems or opportunities. As such, the Senior Warden should be readily available to meet with the Rector on relatively short notice as problems or opportunities arise. The Senior Warden should also be prepared to assume the leadership role in the
Church should something happen to the Rector.
In essence the Senior Warden acts as a sort of “free safety” (a football term) to help where needed and to identify places where help is needed.
The Vestry annually elects a member of the Vestry to the position of Junior Warden. The Junior Warden is responsible for the care and maintenance of Holy Trinity’s physical plant and property. This includes the buildings the various equipment and supplies that Holy Trinity uses in its day-to-day operations (e.g., copying machines, computers). The Junior Warden must establish and oversee a maintenance program and help identify areas of Holy Trinity’s physical plant and property that need to be repaired or can be improved. Additionally, the Junior Warden oversees the provision and organization of ample parking facilities, playgrounds, safety precautions, and the like. Further, in the event both the Rector and the Senior Warden are absent, the Junior Warden is responsible for conducting Vestry meetings.
The Rector is the chair of the Worship Commission. The Worship Commission is comprised of the clergy and other persons responsible for the Lay Eucharistic Ministers, Lay Eucharistic Visitors, Acolytes, Ushers, Layreaders, Adult and Children's Choirs, Music, and Altar Guild. The Rector will seek input from the commission as he/she formulates worship policy and practice as outlined in the church canons.
Acolyte/Servers –People of all ages who are called to assist at the Altar.
Altar Guild – Prepares the Altar for worship services and maintains altar appointments and linens.
Ushers – Assist the congregation to seating and communion and pass out bulletins.
Organist, Musicians, and Adult & Children's Choirs – Lead the congregation in singing, offer anthems to God, prepare special events to enhance the Church’s spiritual formation.
Renewal Music – Guitars and songs performed during Wednesday night services as well as an occasional Sunday service and other special occassions.
Lay Eucharistic Ministers – Members who are recommended by the Rector and licensed by the Bishop, after receiving training, will administer the elements at Holy Eucharist in the absence of a sufficient number of clergy. They will also take part in reading the lessons and prayers of the people.
Lay Eucharistic Visitors – Those Lay Eucharistic Ministers who are also licensed and trained to be a Lay Eucharistic Visitor for the purpose of taking communion to the ill or infirm who were not able to attend the Service. This is to be done directly following the Service.
Layreaders (Lectors) - Members who take part in the reading of the lessons during the church service.
Assisting Clergy – Priests or Deacons who are contracted to assist the Rector.
Nursery – childcare provided on Sunday mornings for all services by a paid attendant or attendants, who is/are assisted by Parish volunteers. Childcare is also provided during special services and other events.
These descriptions are meant to serve as a guide to existing, new and potential Vestry members as Holy Trinity carries out it’s mission to: Comfort and Equip God’s People, Serve the Needy, and Bring the Lost to Christ.