Questions for the Rector

What does the word “vestry” mean?

Vestry originally referred to the room where vestments were stored and clergy would put on robes to get ready for worship. In smaller English churches, this might be the only room suitable for a meeting in the church building. Church leaders would speak to clergy there after worship. Over time, “vestry meeting” became a general term for a church business meeting in the Church of England.

In the Episcopal Church in the United States, “vestry” refers to a group which includes the rector and the elected lay leaders of the parish. In the Diocese of North Carolina, a vestry may have a membership of between 6-15 people elected for three-year overlapping terms. The Vestry of All Saints’ has twelve slots, with three “classes” (based on year of election) of four people each. The churchwardens (leaders) are elected from among the vestry for a one-year term and can be reelected so long as the person is on vestry. At All Saints’, Dick Lewis is the Senior Warden (the senior lay person and the ecclesiastical authority in the absence of the rector). Fran Burkett is the Junior Warden.

What is up with the red candle? Does it ever go out?

Episcopalians believe that Jesus Christ is really present in the consecrated bread and wine. Christ is also known as the light of the world. 

In both the church and in the parish hall there are red sanctuary lights which are lit to signify and honor the presence of Christ in the bread and wine present in the aumbry (a box which holds consecrated elements – if it were directly behind the altar that box would be called a tabernacle.) If the sacrament is not being reserved, the light is not lit. Each Maundy Thursday, all of the reserved sacrament is removed, the sanctuary light is turned off and the aumbry door, which is usually locked, is left open until after the Eucharist of the Great Vigil of Easter, when newly consecrated elements are placed to the aumbry.