We can’t be a Church without an Annual Meeting. This is not because our by–laws require a meeting, but because God calls the church into community, and a community gets formed when it gathers. A group becomes a community when people come to know and trust and appreciate each other, when they work together for a common good cause, and, usually, when they share a meal together (without food on the table, a group is more likely a business organization).
St. James is not just a social service agency that does its business by email; it is not just a worshiping body that says prayers together and goes home; it is not just a social club that meets for fellowship and ignores the practicalities of our common life. We are a church, so we have a place where we come to worship Almighty God (so we need to paint and heat the buildings and mow and shovel the grounds). We have a God–given job to do (so we have to discern and support our mission). We have ordained clergy and we belong to a Diocese (so we have to support them and decide how much support to give).
Once a year we assemble to make decisions about these things. This year’s Annual Meeting was at 11:30 a.m. on January . At the meeting, we:
Honored and thanked our elected representatives who are retiring from the Vestry and elect officers and new Vestry members,
Celebrated the recipients of the Order of the Fisherman, those who have given extraordinary service to the parish during the past year,
Heard the financial state of the parish and vote to accept the financial report from last year and the budget proposed by the Vestry for the year ahead,
Received reports from all the ministries of the parish with time for questions and discussion.
Expressed our ideas, questions, comments, appreciations, concerns, and hopes.
This last is perhaps the most important part of the Annual Meeting: taking counsel together. Parishes that conduct their business in “parking lot” conversations are not very healthy, because matters that affect the whole congregation are discussed and decided by a few and rumors are rife and some people feel like outsiders. Parishes that discuss their concerns together build a strong basis for their common life and can do great things because they trust each other.
Note: According to our bylaws, those eligible to vote at the Annual Meeting are “adult communicants (16 and over) who for at least six months prior to the meeting shall have been faithful attendants at the services of the Church and the Parish, unless for good cause prevented, faithful contributors to its support, and faithful in working praying and giving for the spread of the kingdom of God."