Vestry Covenants and Norms

Every vestry should establish written group norms and a vestry covenant. Norms, which deal with procedure, and covenants, concerned with behavior offer vestries and other groups a framework for managing members' expectations, preconceptions, and anxieties, facilitating the group's work and relationships.Norms and covenants help build the trust and mutual respect that encourages all members to share their gifts and ideas. They also strengthen the team's ability to make decisions and to accomplish great things in Jesus' name. Developing these norms and covenants together is an important element of healthy team formation. 

Issues to consider include:

  • Meetings: length, attendance, cell phone usage, agenda procedures
  • Discussion: listening, handling debate/disagreement, courtesy, respect
  • Confidentiality: balanced with the need for transparence
  • Accountablity: how to test for buy-in before moving on, keeping the conversation in the room for all to be engaged, naming things that are under the surface but getting in the way of the work

To get you started, we offer examples from Episcopal congregations.