Following a good meeting with the Rev. Canon Janet Waggoner, transition ministry officer with the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, we are now poised to move into the next phase in our search for a new rector.
There are four important groups which have important areas of responsibility in order to have a successful search: the Vestry, the Profile Committee, and the Search Committee, and the congregation.
“The Vestry is responsible for making sure the truth is being told.” In addition, the Vestry will need to make sure there is adequate funding for the search process and to put together an adequate and attractive financial package for the new rector. The Vestry needs to maintain a positive outlook throughout the search process, as frustrations can run high. They are to aid the parish in staying strong at every step and keep the parish moving forward. Finally, they are to take the recommendation of the Search Committee and issue a call. One thing to remember is that this will not be a done deal until the vestry has both a signed contract and a move date.
The Profile Committee
The Profile Committee will put together a profile of St. Martin-in-the-Fields that will include what the members of this faith community are looking for in the new rector. This is accomplished by developing a parish profile through a self study. The profile will be finished by the end of April so that it can be presented at a provincial transition officers meeting in May, where transition officers for three Episcopal provinces network over openings and candidates. The profile will be available on our website, and more importantly, registered with The Episcopal Church Office for Transition Ministry where clergy looking for a rector’s position can view it.
What is a Parish Profile/Self-Study?
The point of the self-study is to clarify what kind of leader the congregation is likely to need. The self-study is intended to look at St. Martin-in-the-Fields and its community and develop the directions of ministry that seem to be calling the congregation. In a sense the self-study tries to discern what the “job description” of the parish is for the next few years. It is from that job description that the profile committee can begin to identify the characteristics and skills they need for the clergyperson who best can lead in that direction. The self-study/profile should drive the search.
The self-study/profile is intended to be a description of what the congregation has discovered about itself, its strengths and its weaknesses. An important part of the self-study comes as the data is collected and before the profile is written, however, by having the congregation react to the data.
The point is not to get precision but to get involvement and engagement as the congregation tries to think what kind of leadership it is going to need. This is to help the congregation get clearer about what kind of challenges lie ahead and to begin to get connected with those challenges even before the new rector is selected.
After the congregation has provided feedback, the profile document can be produced. If the job leading up to this step is well done, many people of the congregation will already be on board with the kind of leadership they will probably need and they won’t have a lot more need for the profile. However, the potential candidates and the people who want to suggest candidates will be greatly helped by the profile.
The Search Committee
The search is the most easily understood step in seeking to change rectors. It is also a very complex operation requiring very astute information management and strict confidentiality on the part of the committee members.
- Many candidates; variable suitability.
- Streamline list of candidates.
- Follow up information sought from candidates, references checked; leading candidates emerge; a short list is made.
- Search committee teams visit high potential candidates
- Several finalists visit congregation; interviews; selection of nominee for vestry action.
- Recommendation made to the vestry.
- Call issued and accepted.
Much of the work of the Search Committee will be done behind the scenes and all of it will be confidential. While it might seem like nothing is happening, the fact is a lot of work is going on.
The following is expected of our congregation:
Respond to any request of the Profile Committee for information. Share your thoughts and points of view by filling out a survey and answering questions that might arise to help the Profile Committee gain more information of who we are, whose we are and where we are going.
Keep this whole process in your prayers. Remember to pray for the Search Committee members by name and pray for our faith community as a whole.
Be patient. This art of the transition period has many moving parts and calls for responses. Some people are quicker in their responses than others.
Final thoughts to fill your heart
Finally, take to heart these words of Teilhard de Chardin:
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are, quite naturally,
impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being
on the way to something unknown,
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability –
And that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually-
let them grow,
let them shape themselves,
without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today
what time (that is to say,
grace and circumstances acting on your own good will)
will make you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of
feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.