St. Thomas' Episcopal Church
Friday, August 18, 2017
Bethel, Connecticut
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Proposed By-Laws

 For Congregational Vote on April 2, 2017

Changes from old by-laws are highlighted in yellow

Sections 3B and 4 contain the main changes.





The Annual Meeting of St. Thomas’ Parish will be held on a date within two weeks before or after the fourth Sunday in January, as determined by the Vestry to be in the best interest of the Parish, provided that due notice be given by the Clerk of such meeting as provided in the Diocesan Canons.


The order of business at this meeting shall be:


            A.        Invocation

            B.        Presentation and Adoption of Roll of Voting Members

            C.        Minutes of last Annual Meeting, and if appropriate, of intervening Special Meetings

            D.        Election of Wardens, Vestry Members, Clerk, Treasurer; Election of Delegates and Alternates to                         the Diocesan Convention and others as required

            E.         Rector’s Report

            F.         Treasurer’s Report

            G.        Wardens’ Reports

            H.        Presentation of other reports, including Church School, Parish Organizations, other Committees and activities

            I.          Old Business [Tellers' Report is deleted since there will be no tellers.]

            J.          New Business


The order of business at a Special Parish Meeting shall follow the same order of business in so far as appropriate, but shall be limited to items included in the call for the meeting.


Twenty-five percent of the Voting Members shall constitute a quorum at any Parish Meeting.  All questions shall be decided by majority vote of those present and voting.  No person may vote by proxy.



A.        The policies of this Parish are in conformity with the definitions of membership in the Church in Canon I, Sec. 4 of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, viz., that any person who has received the Sacrament of Holy Baptism with water in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and whose Baptism has been duly recorded in this Church are members thereof; that any member of the Church who has received Holy Communion therein at least three times during the preceding year is a communicant of the Church; that a member or a communicant sixteen years of age or older is considered an adult member or an adult communicant, respectively; and that it is expected that all adult members will have been confirmed or received by a Bishop in communion with this Church, upon appropriate preparation.



B.        Any adult member of the Church, duly recorded as such in the Parish Register of St. Thomas’ Church,   Bethel, Connecticut, is a Member of this Parish; provided that no person may be a member of more than one parish or mission of the Diocese at any time.


C.        Of the Parish Members, only those shall be entitled to vote at any Parish Meeting who shall be adult communicants of the Church and who for at least six months prior to that Meeting shall have been faithful attendants at the services of the Church in this 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; these facts to be determined in each case by the Vestry.


D.        The Roll of the Members of the Parish entitled to vote, as accepted at the December meeting of the Vestry, shall be posted in the Parish at least two weeks prior to the Annual Meeting.  Such Roll shall be presented to the Annual Meeting and, when adopted by said Meeting, shall be the Roll of that Meeting.



A.        The Vestry shall consist of the Rector, a Senior Warden, a Junior Warden, a Parish Clerk, a Treasurer and four Vestry Members.  The Clerk and the Treasurer shall be elected for a term of one year, and are not restricted as to succeeding themselves.  A Vestry Member is elected for a term of two years (unless elected for a shorter term to fill a vacancy).  Two Members shall be elected each calendar year. The Wardens shall             be elected for a one-year term (unless elected for a shorter term to fill a vacancy).  A Warden or Vestry Member may serve for a maximum of four consecutive years.


B.        The Wardens, Vestry Members, Clerk and Treasurer shall be elected by voice vote at the Annual Parish Meeting from the Members of the Parish who are eligible to vote and are at least eighteen years of age,    in accordance with Diocesan Canon I, Sec. 7.  Unexpired terms will be filled in accordance with the  same Canon.







A.        In November the Vestry shall designate a Nominating Committee to supervise the procedure of receiving nominations and to report the Ballot to the Annual Meeting.  The Committee shall consist of at least five (5) persons: The Rector, the Senior Warden, two other vestry members and at least one non-vestry parish member.


B.        In December, the Nominating Committee shall provide opportunity for each Voting Member of the Parish to make written suggested nominations for officers, vestry members and convention delegates.  These must be in the hands of the Committee three weeks prior to the Annual Meeting.


C.        The Nominating Committee will take all written suggestions into prayerful consideration.


D.        By majority vote, the Nominating Committee will name one and only one person for each open position.  Before this vote is taken, the committee shall have ensured that each nominee is eligible and that each agrees to serve.


E.         Nominees for all positions will be chosen as a group by a single voice vote.  A majority vote of the Members of the Parish present and voting is required for election.  If the outcome of the voice vote seems uncertain, the rector may ask for a show of hands.


F.         If the slate of nominees does not receive a majority vote, the nominating committee will develop a revised slate to be voted on at a congregational meeting to be held within 30 days of the regular Annual Meeting.











A.        The Rector shall normally preside at meetings of the Parish and of the Vestry.  The Senior Warden or other lay officer in succession shall preside in the absence of, or the delegation by, the Rector.


B.        The Senior Warden is the Rector’s Warden, and serves as a lay advisor to the Clergy, and is called to serve the best interest of the Rector and of the People.


C.        The Junior Warden is the representative of the People of the Parish, and assists lay persons in their ministry:

·           to represent Christ and His Church

·           to bear witness to Him wherever they may be

·           and, according to the gifts given them, to carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world

·           and to take their place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church.


D.        The Parish Clerk shall be Clerk of the Vestry and of all Parish Meetings, and shall give warning of Parish Meetings in accordance with Canon Law.  The Clerk shall be a voting member of the Vestry.


E.         The Parish Treasurer shall have responsibility for the receipt, custody and disbursement of Parish Funds.    The Treasurer shall present a detailed financial report to the Vestry at least quarterly.  The Treasurer   shall be a voting member of the Vestry.  At the January Vestry Meeting the Treasurer shall recommend    to the Vestry a person to serve as Assistant Treasurer for the Vestry’s approval.  The Assistant Treasurer  shall serve under the Treasurer’s direction, but principally be responsible for the accounting of pledge records and receipts.







A.        Canon I, Section 8 of the Canons of the Diocese: “The property and all business affairs of the Parish shall be subject to the direction, management, and control of the Vestry; except that the disposition of the real estate of the Parish and the borrowing or lending of money shall not be within the control of the Vestry, unless granted by special vote of the Parish subject to Canon IV, Section 3.”


B.        The Vestry shall hold regular monthly meetings.  Special Meetings may be called by the Rector or by petition of three members of the Vestry.  A quorum shall consist of one-half of the Vestry, excluding vacant positions; in determining a quorum the Rector, Wardens, Treasurer and Clerk shall be counted.


C.        The Vestry shall make provision for annual “agreed-upon procedures” examining the Church’s accounts and the accounts of all Church organizations at its February meeting.


D.        The Vestry shall determine in November the date of the Annual Parish Meeting in accordance with By-Law I of this parish.



E.         At the December meeting of the Vestry, a committee consisting of one (1) Warden and the Parish Clerk  shall present a revised Roll of the Members of the Parish entitled to vote at the Parish Meeting.


F.         A Vestry Member shall be expected to attend all regular Vestry Meetings unless there is a valid reason, such as illness, etc.


G.        A Building and Grounds Committee, consisting of Vestry and non-Vestry members, is responsible for the upkeep of the physical plant and properties of the church.  This committee shall oversee the normal maintenance of the physical plant, and shall be responsible for the planning and submitting of capital projects to the Vestry for approval.


H.        The Vestry shall create and supervise other committees to meet the needs of the Parish.









These By-Laws may be amended at any duly called Parish Meeting by a two-thirds vote of those present and voting, provided notice of such proposed amendment has been included in the call for the meeting.



Matters not specified in these by-laws shall be governed by Canons I-IV of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut.