A group of lay people are elected each year by the congregation, serving on a rotating/staggered basis, to work with Fr. Tim, Deacon Michael, & the staff for the long-term ministry vision, goals, or other specific needs of the congregation. Vestry members also collaborate with Fr. Tim in specific ministry areas as you will see below:
Mary Belle Marshall
Evangelism & Outreach
Vestry members are legal representatives of the church, charged with specific responsibilities by canons (church organizing laws) of the Episcopal Church to be fiduciary agents for the temporal affairs of a congregation, specifically church finances and property management.
The traditional view used to be that the vestry took care of money and property, while the rector took care of people and souls.
The truth, however, is that clergy and vestry are joint stewards of a congregation, and over the years, vestries and rectors have forged the understanding that people, finances, and buildings is one of a shared ministry and vision to which God calls us.
The call to serve on vestry means working collaboratively with fellow vestry members and the rector to create a vision and plan of action that reflects God's dream for the congregation - and how the congregation creates God's Beloved Community in the CENLA region (Central Louisiana). It means cultivating healthy, congregation-wide conversations about where God is calling St. James to serve each other and the community - and then doing it!
“Simply put, there are clear canonical (church) guidelines for who gets to vote about money, elected leadership, and property (vestry) and who gets to choose about worship services, formation, and the overall spiritual direction of St. James (rector),” says Fr. Tim. “We (vestry and clergy) get that, and while we respect our church canons we see our role at St. James as a collaborative ministry and relationship, rather than one about who gets to do what and who can vote.” Fr. Tim adds “we need each other; this is the reality. This is a shared stewardship and minstry of God's people, the church, and community.”
Some of this information comes from Vestry Resource Guide, Episcopal Church Foundation, 2015.
Worship is why we gather and every aspect of church life begins, and is rooted, in prayer and worship. As an Episcopal Church, St. James worship is shaped by the Book of Common Prayer, a compilation of prayers and service norms for public worship that date to 1549, so that members of the church - lay and clergy - can use one book for daily prayer, Sunday services, wedding ceremonies, and funerals, to name just a few of the myriad worship services that we take part in to mark all the big and really important moments of our life.
Some ask, "why use a book?" when God can hear spontaneous prayers. Yes, we can pray without a book, but many people throughout history have found that using a prayer book, and at fixed hours of the day, helps their prayer life, especially when we don't have words.
Best-selling author, Jana Riess, puts it so well, like this: "Maybe one reason I'm enjoying fixed-hour prayer so much is that it gives me a break from the me-me-me nature of my own spontaneous prayers. There is a deep rest associated with ancient prayers I didn't contrive myself. I don't have to be alone with my subjective experience, my little life. I am free to rest in the words of those who are often far wiser, and who have walked this path already."1
You can check out a free, on-line version of the Book of Common Prayer by clicking here or learn more about the history of the Book of Common Prayer by clicking here.
A Worship Committee works with Fr. Tim to ensure we have trained volunteers to assist with all that's needed for worship services, and that our service flows smoothly and is meaningful for parishioners and visitors alike. Volunteers include vergers, acolytes, altar guild, baptism and wedding coordinators, flower guild, funeral coordinator, Lay Eucharistic Ministers, choir, and ushers. We refer to worship in the Episcopal Church by using the Greek word liturgy, which means "the work of the people"; the worship of God is truly something shared by everyone. Worship is not a performance, but the sacrifice we offer to God of a broken and contrite heart. (Psalm 51.18)
Our prayer is that St. James is a place where all can find a place to worship, serve, and belong. We need each and every one of you to make that prayer a reality.
1 Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My Neighbor by Jana Riess, p. 150.
We recognize that evangelism can be a difficult word for many people, conjuring up all kinds of images and past church experiences of pressure or a notion of a one-size-fits-all understanding of life with God. We may picture Bible thumping or being told we have to agree with a minister 100% in order to get to heaven.
Evangelism simply means good news, particularly the good news that "in Jesus Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us." (2 Corinthians 5.19)
Evangelism is simply telling the stories of Jesus' ministry and teachings about the Kingdom of God, and inviting others to Jesus' own invitation to follow.
Evangelism is simply telling our story of how God has been present in our lives, and how other people in our lives strengthen us as Jesus' disciples.
Evangelism is simply describing the intersection of God's story with our story.
Evangelism is simply an invitation for friends to visit St. James, and to "Come and see."
Click on The Way of Love to read about Michael Curry's, our Presiding Bishop, vision for evangelism.
Outreach flows out of our understanding that Jesus told his disciples, and anyone who would listen, to "love our neighbor as we would love ourself." We don't always get this right, and we help each other in a faith community to understand what this means and to support one another in our daily practice as disciples.
Click here to check out some of our outreach ministries.
Stewardship can be defined simply as managing the gift that God has already given us. Stewardship is looking out for others when the inclination is to look out only for ourselves. We are taught in the earliest of Hebrew scripture that God created and then turned over certain managing responsibilities to humans (Genesis 1.26-29).
Stewardship of the earth, our bodies and health, church buildings and finances, and each other means that from the earliest of time we have a responsibility to the earth and its creatures, to ourselves, and to each other. It's that simple and yet that complex.
A significant aspect of stewardship is the support of the church and its ministries and programs. Simply put, churches rely on pledging, or regularly planned giving to the church, plate contributions, estate planning, and other contributions to sustain our presence and ministry. Our budget and ministry is only made possible by you!
Vestry and others in the church work with Fr. Tim to be the best stewards of all that we have and do now for ministry, and for how we can provide ministry for the future. This stewardship includes a Finance Committee that works with Fr. Tim and the vestry for budget planning and forecasting, and an Investment Oversight Committee that ensures we are fiscally responsible for the future.
Contact Fr. Tim @ 445.9845 if you have questions about money and the church, and ways you can pledge or include St. James in your estate planning or wills.
Contributions and/or pledges can be made online in a safe way by clicking here.