What is the Annual Meeting for and who gets to participate?
Annual Meetings for the Episcopal Church are primarily governed by the Diocesan Constitutions and Canons. Our denominational governance is much like our civil governance, Federalist, only the church term for that philosophy in the church is subsidiarity. This concept is ancient. It simply means that dogma and creeds may be church-wide, application and discipline are to be governed as close to the local community as possible. That is why things like marriage and baptism are defined and governed by the Constitutions and Canons of the Episcopal Church, overseen by the General Convention which meets every three years, while administration and formation of the candidates are overseen by the local priest and church community.
There are national Canons which establish minimum standards for parishes and their membership. It is, however, the Diocese which provides the details for what an annual meeting is for and does. The requirement for the annual meeting in the Diocese of Virginia is for the individual churches to choose their vestry leadership. We do other things like report on the budget and report on our ministries, but the requirement is to choose a Vestry.
The Vestry are those members responsible for carrying out the combined duties of spiritual leadership and fiduciary responsibility for the local church.
The next important question, then, is who is eligible to vote for the Vestry?
The answer of the Constitutions and Canons of the Diocese of Virginia is:
“all adult communicants in good standing, registered in the particular Church in which they offer to vote, shall be entitled to vote at the election of Vestry members.” All adult communicants in good standing are further defined as, “those persons aged 16 and older for whom the church has baptismal records, who has consistently participated in the life of the parish over the last twelve months, and who is known to the treasurer.“
Remember, in fine Episcopal fashion, we are looking to include rather than to exclude members and are looking for reasons to make you an eligible voter. This is especially true in this year when we have been held apart for many really good reasons, including the lock-downs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you have questions, please get a hold of the Parish Administrator, Lynn Fallon, at 703-759-2082, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a message in the form below. We will help you get connected to the life of the church and help find ways to get your vote expressed in this year’s elections on February 28, 2021.
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