Originally the word “vestry” referred to the room where the priest would put on vestments, at which time local laity would meet with the priest to discuss the affairs of the parish. Over time the name of the room came to signify the group that governed a parish because it was where they met. While the vestry meeting location has changed, the name has remained the same.
The vestry of an Episcopal church consists of lay members elected by the congregation at the annual parish meeting. The vestry meets monthly to review and approve normal operational expenses of the church, receive reports from various committees, plan and approve capital improvement projects, and attend to concerns within the parish. The vestry also serves as an advisory council to the rector.