The Priest-in-Charge Search Process
Q. Does the diocese have a formal process to guide our church during the search process? Will the process include helping us determine our vision for the future of our church?
A. Yes. The diocese has provided the vestry a formal guide book that includes tools and resources for seeking a new priest, along with self-study questions to help us know who we’ve been, who we are, and who God is calling us to be. The diocese will also be available to us as a consultant.
Q. What is the time-frame of the Priest-in-Charge process?
A. The process is normally six months or so. A Discernment Committee, comprised of vestry and church members, will be appointed by the vestry to lead our church in a self-study to determine our needs, our hopes and dreams. The information gathered by the Discernment Committee will be the basis for the clergy search performed by the diocesan Office of Transition Ministry. Based on the diocesan search, 2-4 pre-vetted candidates will be presented to the Committee to review. The Committee will select the best candidate and the vestry will then interview that candidate.
Q. Will all parish members be invited to participate in the parish self-study? Will the information collected by the Discernment Committee be shared with the parish?
A. Yes. Your input is invaluable as we determine our church’s needs and requirements.
Q. Will the congregation get to meet and hear from all the candidates? Will the parish see their biographies and resumes?
A. No. The vestry will select a Discernment Committee that will receive and review resumes, speak with the candidates, hear the candidate’s sermons, etc. Confidentiality will be very important especially since the majority of the clergy candidates will currently be serving a parish.
Q. Will the Discernment Committee go to hear the priest candidates preach? A. That is an option for the Committee. Additionally, the committee may use technologies, like tapes and audios of sermons, and live-streamed services to see and hear the priests. Q. Will the congregation be kept informed of the transition progress?
A. Definitely, yes. Various forms of communication—verbal, written, electronic—will be used to provide information and updates to the parish.
Q. What will be the make-up and qualities of the Discernment Committee?
A. The team will be a cross-section of our parish and include both vestry and church members. Young and old members, new and long-time members, and folks who bring different perspectives and experiences will be important to have on the team. Additionally, team members must have the time to be committed committee members, be able to keep information confidential, and most importantly, have the gift of discernment—being able to listen well, hold their opinions lightly, and seek God’s will.
Q. Will there be a formal job description for the position?
A. Yes. The work of the rector is governed by the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, and the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. The liturgical statement of a priest’s duties is found in the service for the Ordination of a Priest (BCP page 531). Any additional requirements that we have for our rector regarding worship, study, prayer, service to others, administration, etc. will be included.
Q. What is the current clergy applicant pool?
A. The pool is not huge. It does, however, include women and a few persons of color, including African Americans. Although the pool is small, we only need to find the one person that is right for us now.
Q. How do priests know there is a vacancy at St. Philip’s? How are we advertising for the position?
A. The “Episcopalian World” is very small and the diocesan Office of Transition Ministry has both regional and nation-wide connections to that world. Additionally, priests are constantly in connection with other priests about movement within The Episcopal Church. The fact the Mother Phoebe has been elected Bishop is a very big notice we have a vacancy!
Priests During the Transition Period
Q. Will we have supply priests during the transition period?
A. Yes. We currently have supply priests scheduled through February 2019. In the meantime, the diocese is arranging for a long-term supply priest that will be with us until our Priest-in-Charge is called. Once in place, our long-term supply priest will cover Sunday and weekday services, as well as provide pastoral care.
After We Call our New Priest-in-Charge
Q. Once we have our Priest-in-Charge, who should we talk to if we have issues with her/him or issues about the church?
A. You should talk directly to the priest or to the vestry.
Q. What happens if the Priest-in-Charge we select is determined not a good match for us?
A. After our Priest-in-Charge has been with us for about 18 months, a formal, mutual ministry review will be performed. The review will include looking at how well both the priest and the parish are planning for and doing the work of our ministries and programs. If it is determined by either the church or the priest that we are not a good match, we have the option to conduct another Priest-in-Charge search or conduct a traditional search.