I have been a member of St. Paul’s Cathedral since December 2009, and a member of Chapter since January 2021. I felt a bit frustrated when I first joined Chapter that I didn’t accomplish much during my first 2 years, partly due to the pandemic restrictions. When the opportunity arose to volunteer to be the People’s Warden, I jumped at the chance. I really had no idea what the role of the People’s Warden was when I agreed to be nominated for the office. Essentially, the People’s Warden is the “junior” warden. Here at St. Paul’s, the warden is elected by the Chapter. In some parishes, the junior warden may be given responsibility for the upkeep of the parish buildings and grounds. The junior warden presides at vestry (Chapter) meetings if both the rector and the senior warden are absent. In case of clerical vacancy, the wardens begin the institution at the beginning of the service by addressing the bishop. They express the congregation’s intent to welcome the new minister and state that the new minister has been selected in a prayerful and lawful manner. If the new minister is the rector or vicar of the congregation, a warden may present the keys of the church to the new minister during the induction ceremony. In some parishes, the senior warden is known as the “priest’s warden”, or in our case, the “Dean’s warden”, and the junior warden is known as the “people’s warden.” Historically, in the Church of England, one warden was named by the priest and the other chosen by the congregation.
The wardens also have fiduciary duties, including signing checks and legal documents. They write monthly reports and attend the Chapter meetings. And are expected to attend various functions such as funerals.
In terms of day-to-day functions, at least one of the wardens is expected to attend the myriad committee meetings, and acting as a liaison between the committee, Clergy, Staff and Chapter. As People’s Warden, I have been attending the Building and Grounds, Capital Campaign Leadership, Stewardship, Mutual Ministry, Finance, Family Ministry, Women Together and Endowment committees. With so many meetings, I am grateful for Zoom!
My favorite part of this this assignment is interacting with so many different members of the Cathedral. I have met and gotten to know several people who were not in my immediate circle. The volunteers on the various committees have taken on a lot of responsibility, and everyone plays a role in the proper functioning of the church. St Paul’s is blessed to have a group of dedicated volunteers and staff, and some people wear several hats.
I encourage those of you who are looking for a way to participate more fully in the activities at St. Paul’s to join a committee, or run for Chapter. It has been a rewarding experience for me so far, and I hope to continue for the foreseeable future. There is a lot to be accomplished as we recover from the pandemic and expand our outreach. It’s a team effort, and all are welcome to play a part.
Kimberly H Fernandez