September 27, 2018
Dear friends in Christ,
Since I arrived at Christ Church on September 1, the Vestry, Wardens and I worked on a tentative timeline for Christ Church’s transition process that will culminate in the call of the next rector of Christ Episcopal Church, Dayton.
We have also agreed that between now and the end of the process, the congregation will be well served to receive regular updates on what is happening during this time.
This is the first of the updates, and it contains the general outline of the transition process and the suggested timeline and actions taken during the next year or so. Six “Congregational Profile Gatherings” will be held between October and March, and these meetings will enable to provide input for the Parish Profile, as well as to learn how the Profile is created and what is required of the church. These gatherings are mandatory, as we need everybody’s voice in this process.
Once the gatherings are completed, the profile is written. The writing of the profile will take “as long as it takes.” After that, the timeline shows no dates because the process then becomes flexi le and depends on the time needed to complete the various tasks and to obtain the various approvals for the profile to be posted on the Episcopal Church website and the applications received.
Updates will be printed in the weekly Broadcast, in bulletin announcements, and on bulletin boards around the church. Occasionally you will receive a critical update by special email.
Please hold Christ Church in your prayers as the church moves on and discerns where God will call it to serve. The Wardens, the Vestry and I also ask your prayers as we continue in the process of moving our church forward and growing into the fullness of our baptismal ministry during this time of transition and challenge.
Faithfully in Christ,
The Rev. Joanna Leiserson
The Transition Process and Tentative Schedule
Last week, I shared with the Vestry a sketch of the transition process that will take place as Christ Church moves forward to call its next rector. Following is a very basic, tentative summary of this process.
Who is involved. The interim process is a collaborative project which includes the transition priest, the Diocese (i.e., the Rev. Jason Leo, Canon for Transitions), and the congregation of Christ Church. As a certified interim priest, I will guide the process and lead some of the meetings. The diocese is responsible for making sure that vital documents, church practices, search process, and final call are done properly. You, the congregation, are responsible for making sure that the parish profile, which tells prospective candidates who you are and what kind of rector you want, is accurate, honest, and comprehensive.
To facilitate this process, three committees will be formed:
- Transition team, chosen by the interim priest to act as advisor and consultant to the interim and to look for any issues or structures that need attention.
- Profile Committee, a group of 8-10 persons chosen by application or invitation to create the Parish Profile. This committee will consist of persons involved in various areas of ministry in the church, to ensure that most or all interest groups are represented. At least one or two Vestry members will act as liaison to the Vestry.
- Search Committee, consisting also of 8-10 persons chosen by application or invitation to complete the church’s Portfolio (the complete descriptive package seen by prospective candidates), and to conduct the actual search itself. Again, at least one Vestry member will serve on this committee, and there may be carryover from Profile to Search, to ensure continuity.
Congregational Profile Gatherings. We are required to offer congregational meetings leading up to the writing of the Parish Profile. I understand that you have already done a congregational survey and have also held some meetings to discuss issues of identity and core values. So you have already done some of the homework while Fr. John was still here. You will not take another survey! However, there will be a meeting to discuss parish identity and core values, that will differ in approach from what you have already done, and will be open to discussing what may have changed since the departure of your rector. Here is the general schedule and topics:
October 28: A Bird’s Eye View of the Church. Where is Christ Church in terms of size, life cycle, structure, and other institutional variables that affect the calling of a priest.
November: Parish Identity and Core Values. We will cover what you did not cover in your summer sessions, using a different approach, in order to confirm your corporate sense of identity and core values. This is very important, as identity and core values form the foundation of the profile and the image that you project to prospective candidates.
December: Hallmarks of a Healthy Congregation. This is a presentation originating at the diocesan level, that will help you to identify at Christ Church what has worked here and what you would like to improve upon. Topics include hospitality, outreach, education, worship, administration, and other issues.
January: Heritage: Your history and legacy, and how you got to where you are now. Simply put, we reflect on the past and its lessons in order to transform the future.
February: Generations and their Impact on the Church: This is tentative, as I heard that you have already explored this topic. We may also cover issues of leadership, staffing, and connections to the community around you, whether secular, denominational, or interfaith.
March: Goals and Mission. An important of your Parish Profile will be the page that tells prospective candidates what you see as your future and your mission ahead; what are your goals; and what you want in your next rector and in the church in the next ten years.
These meetings are considered to be “mandatory,” as they are the platform by which each member of the parish has a voice in articulating their own thoughts and opinions about that they want and hope for, in a rector of a church that welcomes them and fits their needs.
Very Tentative Timetable
*OTM refers to the Office of Transitional Ministry, a part of the Episcopal Church. The OTM guides individuals and congregations through times of discernment, search, and calling. It is responsible for publishing on its web page the Church Portfolio (which includes the Parish Profile) that candidates use to identify a potential call.
Questions? Please ask Joanna (firstname.lastname@example.org). This is a tentative and general schedule and is subject to change. It also may be incomplete.
How long? Interim ministry practices have shown that the “average” transition period, between the beginning of the interim period to the call of the rector, is 18-24 months. So please be patient. The process needs to be deliberate and careful, and done well, in order for you to call the rector that fits your parish. Often our message to an impatient congregation is “Slow down.” If you take two months to call a rector, it may well be a two-month rector. We will move ahead with deliberate speed. The transition priest and Vestry will keep you updated regularly.
Updates. Regular transition updates will be provided on the weekly Broadcast, bulletin announcements, and on the parish website. Updates will be done by Joanna, and then by the Profile and Search Committees.