Lay Leadership

In the Episcopal Church, leadership is shared between the clergy and non-ordained lay leaders, which includes a vestry, and its senior and junior wardens. Diocesan delegates and alternates represent the parish at the regional level, including both the Santa Clara Valley Deanery and the Diocese of El Camino Real.

The end of January signals a change in the lay leadership of Saint Thomas. The parish lay leaders who serve as vestry members typically fulfill this role over a three-year term. On occasion, there may be special circumstances where a term of a different length is held.

The 2021 Vestry, Wardens & Vestry Clerk 

Senior Warden: Lou Poulain
Junior Warden: Abby O’Connell

Terms expiring at the end of 2021:
Marilyn Winans, Lou Poulain, Ann Kopischke, Hugo Lopez-Laguna

Terms expiring at the end of 2022:
Susan McVey, Chris Schmidt, tba, tba

Terms expiring at the end of 2023:
Pat Dare, Breno DeMedeiros, Abby O’Connell

Vestry Clerk: Fran Hostettler

Special Thanks

With great appreciation for their leadership and faithful guidance of the parish, we extend a heartfelt special thanks to all past vestry members for  their devoted service. 

Vestry Committees

In addition to selecting a Junior Warden, every year at the annual Vestry Retreat, a new set of priorities and Commissions or Committees are discerned. This happens in early February shortly after the annual meeting of the parish. This year’s Vestry will undergo a discernment process with the establishment of commissions for the year.

2021 Diocesan Delegates & Alternates to Convention

Stephanie Daugherty, Rita Welsh, Hugo Lopez-Laguna, and Abby O’Connell

Joe Gutierrez, Marilyn Winans

If you have questions, or would like to reach the Vestry, Wardens or Commissions, please Contact Us.

Can you tell me more about the Vestry at St. Thomas?

At Saint Thomas, the vestry consists of no fewer than 9 and no more than 12 church members in good standing who volunteer to serve alongside the rector as the main governing body—the lay leadership council of the church.

The vestry is responsible for making managerial decisions, overseeing church property and assets, as well as establishing yearly commissions that provide focus and direction for the parish in the coming year. Vestry members generally serve for a 36-month consecutive term. The terms are staggered so that each year, four new members rotate on replacing four who have completed their final year of service.

Historically, the Vestry would meet on the 3rd Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the Library. These meetings are now held online via Zoom since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

To learn more about the role of the Vestry, The Vestry Handbook and related materials can be checked out in our lending library.  See Online Catalog for available listings.

What are Vestry Commissions and Special Offices?

Each year in early February, the Vestry participates in a retreat to discern its main focus areas for the year.  Vestry commissions are formed, goals and objectives set, and chairperson(s) are selected to implement commission work. They report their progress on a monthly basis to the entire Vestry.

Special Offices are unique duties that vestry members may hold in addition to or in lieu of commission membership.

The Recording Clerk takes meeting minutes at monthly vestry meetings and manages its archive in addition to participating on a commission.

The Rector Search Committee Liaison is a periodic role that typically replaces commission membership. It is established during an interim period between permanent rectors.

In 2013, Saint Thomas experienced the retirement of a beloved rector resulting in the customary formation of a Rector Search Committee.  A vestry member was appointed to serve as a liaison with non-voting member status on the Rector Search Committee. This liaison role facilitates communications and a smoother transition during the interim period.

What do the Wardens do?

Junior and senior wardens are designated members of the vestry who lead its meetings and facilitate communications between church leadership and the people of the parish. They also serve as lay leaders at regional diocesan events.

The Senior or “Rector’s Warden” is chosen by the rector or priest-in-charge to work together to fulfill the mission and vision of the parish. The Junior or “People’s Warden” is elected by the vestry to serve as a liaison between the people and the clergy to ensure that everyone has a voice.

What role do Diocesan Delegates and Alternates play in the parish?

Diocesan Delegates (and alternates, in their absence) serve as representatives of Saint Thomas at regional meetings of the Santa Clara Valley Deanery, and participate in the annual convention of the Diocese of El Camino Real. They provide the collective voice of Saint Thomas in matters relating to diocesan governance, which ultimately influence The Episcopal Church at a national level.

The date for the Diocese of El Camino Real’s 2021 Annual Converntion has yet to be announced.

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