Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Monday, January 30, 2017

What is the Annual Parish Meeting - Rector's Rambling for January 29, 2017

Today, after the 10:00 AM service, we will gather in the undercroft for our Annual Parish Meeting.
A part of the governance structure of the Episcopal Church, the Annual Parish Meeting is our chance to gather together as a corporate body (I know, that is redundant) to do the ‘business’ of the parish.  That business is to receive the financial report of the year past, approve the budget for the year to come, receive reports of committees and organizations, and to elect representatives from within the parish to represent the parishioners for the business decisions of the parish between Annual Parish Meetings, known as the vestry.
After the American Revolution, what was left of the Church of England in the new United States had to organize and develop a governance structure unique to that of England and Scotland.  There, the king, who was the supreme governor of the church, appointed bishops who ruled their dioceses with varying degrees of input from priests and parishes.  That model could not work here in this new country, without a king and suspicious of top-down autocratic leadership style.
After the hard work of the Constitutional Convention to form a system of government with checks and balances, many people who worked on that system were also integral to the forming of a governance system for this new Episcopal Church.  It has a House of Bishops and a House of Deputies (clergy and laity elected by their dioceses), with a Presiding Bishop, and a President of the House of Deputies with executive powers.   The Executive Council governs between triennial gatherings.
At the diocesan level, we have a yearly convention to elect leaders and pass budgets, and occasionally even elect a bishop.  All clergy are represented, as well as every parish by laity elected by their vestry.
This system works if we keep in mind that it is our Lord’s mission we are called to accomplish, by His Grace!  We vote to do His Will, not always our own.