Meet Our Vestry Clerk

Vestry Clerk – Ruby Downs

I have attended St. Martin’s since 1998 and this is my second stint on St. Martin’s vestry. Elected back in 2000, Carole Clary and I introduced ourselves as “recovering Baptists.” 19 years later I’ve totally recovered from my childhood church and enjoy the expansive inclusion of everyone in the Episcopal Church as well as its liturgy, theology, and women clergy! I usually attend the 5:05 worship service and facilitate the Book Club on the fourth Tuesday evening of each month.

My job on Vestry is that of Clerk, a position called “secretary” in most organizations. One is elected Clerk by vote of the 12 vestry members. Of course, the clerk’s main job is to take accurate minutes of vestry meetings. Since I take notes on my MacBook during the meeting, I have to only “spruce them up” afterwards. Once approved at the next meeting, the minutes are posted on the bulletin board and in the official files.

Vestry reports and resources are kept in a Dropbox account with the Clerk as its custodian and open to all on vestry. It’s a great way to reduce paper usage and members can read all reports before each month’s meeting.

The Clerk is a member of the Executive Committee along with the Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Treasurer, and Priest-in-Charge. This group meets the week before the vestry meeting to plan the meeting, but minutes are not taken. Whew! Another task for the lay Executive Committee members is to sign checks weekly. Two members must drop in the office after a worship service, review the documentation, and sign all checks prepared by the Parish Administrator. No clergy or staff can sign checks.

Several parishioners and vestry members attended the Invite Welcome Connect leadership conference at Grace Church in March. You need to get ready for you are going to be hearing Invite Welcome Connect a lot. We invite you to participate in transforming St. Martin’s so that newcomers feel authentically welcomed and find a place where they can genuinely connect with others. We want them to build strong relationships and fill their need for belonging.

Hunting dead ancestors is one of my passions as demonstrated by my trip to Stewart Co., Tenn., nine months ago to meet newly found cousins from England and Delaware, all of us descendants of James Madison Downs. They are related through his son by his first wife. She died, and he married my great-grandmother in 1870. Apparently, Jim shot someone making it necessary for him and Rhoda to quickly leave Tenn. and settle in Hickory Co., Mo., leaving his son behind in Stewart Co. Until 2014 when I connected the two branches, my new cousins did not know where their great-grandfather had gone. Now they knew and we arranged to meet in the Downs ancestral homeland!

I’d always wanted to see what a “cabin” in the hollows of Tennessee looked like. I still do! As we arrived at a little red cabin their ancestor had lived in, I jumped out of a pickup truck’s bed. I learned it’s hard to experience an ancestral cabin when you are lying in the grass with a broken wrist and leg.

First, don’t jump out of a pickup truck!!!! Second, if you do lose your mind for 10 seconds and jump, be sure you have a church that will pray, feed, and support you during a long, long recovery! St. Martin’s was there for me. I want newcomers to find that community and build relationships supported in God’s love at St. Martin’s. You can help make that happen by participating in Invite Welcome Connect as it unfolds in the months ahead.

Ask me about Invite Welcome Connect!

Ruby Downs