Monday, January 23, 2006

The Council of Elders

Yesterday was my church’s “annual meeting.” This is the day when they combine the 8:00 and 10:00 services into one service so that all voting members of the church can be there to take care of business for the year. Usually this involves a review of the budget and of the annual reports from various committees, along with elections for the delegates for the following year’s Diocesan Convention and for new Vestry members.

The Vestry is an Episcopal Church parish’s governing body. It’s what my brother calls the “Council of Elders.” Because that sounds much cooler than Vestry. Usually at Grace Church, we have nine Vestry members, and each member serves a three year term. They rotate the terms, though, like the Senate does, so that each year, three people finish their terms and three new people come in.

We’re in kind of an odd situation, though, because we don’t currently have a rector. We didn’t elect new Vestry members last year—each person who was on when our former priest left agreed to stay on for an extra year so that we would have some continuity of leadership and stability. It’s very difficult for a church without a full time priest to maintain its focus, and this would help.

We still don’t have our new rector, but we’re expecting to call someone by Easter. (I’m on the Search Committee, and that is a hugely involved process, but I’ll not get into that now.) So they came up with a novel idea. The three people who would have gone off this year will stay until June, but three new people would be added.

I was one of those three, voted in by secret ballot.

I didn’t want to run at all. First of all, church government makes me more than a little uncomfortable, and second of all, I may not even be here next year. I’m going to grad school. I don’t yet know where, but I am going. I may be as much as 5 hours away! It’s not right of me to take on a three year obligation when I may be gone by this fall. But the Senior Warden (Vestry Chair) and Secretary kept at me and at me when nominations were being taken. In fact, I’d go so far as to say they nagged me. But being the absolute wuss I am, I couldn’t bring myself to say no. I would keep saying maybe, or I needed to think about it, and never gave a straight answer, so my name showed up on the ballot.

Other nominations were taken, aside from the ones printed on the ballot. All I would have had to do would have been to raise my hand and ask that I be removed from consideration. But oh, no, I couldn’t do that either. Too scared, too nervous, too shy. I prayed like you would not believe while the voting was going on, that they would decide other people would be better suited than I.

Didn’t do a bit of good.

So now, if I go away to grad school, I’m going to be in the rather craptacular position of having to resign from the Vestry. Now, I’m sure I’m not the first person to have done so for reasons of moving away, and it’s not like they don’t have plenty of experienced people to step in and take over. Still, no one’s going to like it.

All in all, I’m feeling pretty disgusted with myself today. :-(

4 comments:

Tirithien said...

You remember what I said, my love?

You will find a way, and I'm here to help. :-)

naive-no-more said...

You shouldn't feel disgusted with yourself at all. You are there to offer your resonsibilities intil your life takes you in a new direction. You may not have to resign at all. No sense fretting over it just yet. These things have a tendancy to work themselves out no matter how much we worry. Just do the best job you can with the task at hand and nobody can fault you for that.
Hugs!

naive-no-more said...

*until
*tendency

*&^&^$#(* cast!

naneth said...

You are on The Council of Elders because God wants you on the Council of Elders. This is His purpose for you, for NOW. So, it's okay. And if you have to leave, that's okay, too.

Things always happen for a reason. :o)