2/18/2018 - Update

Members of the vestry and our outgoing Senior Warden Jeff Glenn have been meeting with members of St. Peter’s at 9:15 on Sunday mornings to discuss ideas and concerns about the proposed bylaws changes. Several themes have emerged in these conversations which have allowed your vestry to distill and clarify what will be proposed. The following themes have been expressed consistently in all of our meetings:

  • Reducing the length of the terms for our wardens to one year with the ability to serve up to three years consecutively is a good idea because it would guarantee the regular turnover of these offices and it would make it more attractive for St. Peter’s members to step up to serve in these positions.
  • Changing the titles of the wardens to Rector’s Warden and People’s Warden is bringing up fears from prior leadership, even though the position descriptions stay the same.
  • Concern that allowing the vestry to elect the wardens would allow people who had not been elected by the congregation to hold those offices and potentially “dilute” the vote of duly elected vestry members thus allowing the rector to “consolidate power.”

Your clergy, wardens and vestry have heard these concerns and are recrafting the proposed bylaws changes to address the concerns raised as follows:

  • We are withdrawing the proposed change of titles for the wardens from consideration.
  • We will vote to add the Registrar back in to the named officers of the Parish to conform to the Maryland Vestry Act and the Diocesan Canons.
  • We will vote to change the method for nomination and election of wardens, essentially turning the election of the wardens over to the vestry and restore the role of the wardens to a role of advice and counsel (voice but no vote) which will address the concerns about dilution of the vestry vote.

Proposed Change in Nomination and Election of Wardens

The Senior and Junior Wardens of the Church are named as “Officers of the Church” along with the Treasurer and Registrar. Historically, the Officers of the Church serve as an advisory council to the vestry – they offer advice and counsel only and do not vote on any matters. In essence, the primary roles can be viewed this way:

ROLE: Advice and Consent (voice and vote)

  • Vestry member
  • Vestry member
  • Vestry member
  • Vestry member
  • Vestry member
  • Vestry member

ROLE: Advice and Counsel (voice but no vote)

  • Senior Warden
  • Junior Warden
  • Treasurer
  • Registrar

Under the current bylaws, the roles of the wardens at St. Peter’s have been conflated into two additional elected vestry positions; however, this is not the historic intent of their role as Officers of the Church. The only thing the wardens are charged with doing under the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church is making sure that regular worship takes place in the church and the services of a priest are procured. In the absence of a priest, the Senior Warden takes the place of the Rector as presiding officer in vestry meetings (and in the absence of the priest and Senior Warden, this duty falls to the Junior Warden).

The proposed bylaws change will guarantee the elected vestry has an undiluted vote on all church matters and protects their canonical role as the “agents and legal representatives of the Parish in all matters concerning its corporate property and the relations of the Parish to its Clergy” (Title I, Canon 14, Section 2 of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church) by returning the roles of wardens to that primarily of advice and counsel. The following wording is proposed for each section:

Proposed Changes to Article III

Section 2. Nomination of Wardens.

The nominations to serve as Wardens of St. Peter’s Church will be made to the Vestry as follows:

  • Senior Warden is nominated by the Rector.
  • Junior Warden is nominated by the Vestry Nominating Committee or nominated by any group of three or more Voting Members by submitting such nomination or nominations over their signatures and the signature of the nominee to the Registrar at least two weeks prior to the Annual Meeting.

Nominees must be Voting Members of the congregation. Voting Members are encouraged to indicate their willingness to serve as Senior or Junior Warden to the Rector and Vestry Nominating Committee so as to be considered for nomination.

Section 3. Election of Officers.

The Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Registrar and Treasurer shall be elected annually by a majority vote of the Vestry at the first meeting of the Vestry held after the Annual Meeting. Officers must be Voting Members of the Church and may also be members of the Vestry.

The Senior and Junior Wardens are elected for a term of one year and may serve up to three consecutive terms. No lay person may be re-nominated as a Warden for a period of one year after serving as a Warden.

Unless an Officer is concurrently an elected Vestry member, the Officers have voice but no vote in vestry meetings.

Officers are accountable to the Vestry for faithfully performing their duties to the best of their abilities and in the best interests of St. Peter’s Church. Any vacancy in any office shall be filled for the unexpired term thereof by vote of the Vestry.

You may review the exact wording of the existing bylaws side by side with the proposed changes by clicking here.

Download Current St. Peter's Bylaws Here

Download Sample Bylaws from the Diocese of Maryland here