Our transition to a new Rector consists of three discrete parts: the celebration of, and farewell to, our Rector of 30 years; the interim period, during which the search for a new Rector takes place; and the call of the 20th Rector of the Chapel of the Cross. This is the first of a series of regular emails that will keep the congregation updated on the entire transition process.
Celebration and Farewell
The Vestry wants this year, concluding with Stephen’s last celebration of the Eucharist on October 11, 2015, to be a year of celebration of his incredible thirty years of service as Rector of the Chapel of the Cross. The Celebration Committee, chaired by Ted Vaden, is now planning that celebration, which will involve the whole parish over the next several months.
Notwithstanding this focus on celebrating Steve’s ministry, people are starting to ask questions about the coming transition. The purpose of this message is an attempt to answer the questions that have already been posed to me and an attempt to anticipate questions that haven’t yet been asked (but certainly will be) in order to inform the people of the parish exactly what will take place over the next two years.
As you will understand, the selection of a new Rector is governed by the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. We are directly assisted in this process by the Rev. Canon Michael B. Hunn, Canon to the Ordinary for Program and Pastoral Ministry. The Vestry met with Canon Hunn a few months ago in anticipation of Steve’s announcement to begin to educate itself on the process.
The Interim Rector
Canon Hunn will again meet with the Vestry in March to begin the process for the selection of an Interim Rector, whose appointment will begin in October, to coincide with Steve’s last Sunday as Rector. The appointment of an Interim Rector is strongly recommended by the Bishop for parishes replacing long-serving Rectors. It is anticipated that the Interim Rector will serve 9-12 months, until the arrival of the new Rector. His or her principal responsibility will be to care for the congregation during the transition period. The Interim Rector will not be eligible to be considered for the position of Rector and will have no role or voice in the selection process for the Rector. The Vestry will serve as the search and selection committee for the Interim Rector, choosing from a short list of candidates suggested by the Bishop.
Appointment of a Search Committee
After the Interim Rector is in place, the search process for the Rector will get in gear. This will be a time for conversation and prayerful reflection for the congregation to articulate who we are as a people and a congregation.
This first concrete step will be the appointment of a search committee by the Vestry. It is my responsibility as Senior Warden to nominate the chair of this committee for Vestry approval. The committee chair and I will prepare a search committee slate for Vestry approval. It is anticipated that approximately one third of the committee will be members of the Vestry. (This is contrary to past practice where a “firewall” was erected between the Vestry and the Search Committee.) Because the Vestry has the ultimate responsibility of choosing the Rector, it is now considered best practice to have this intentional overlap.
The Diocese recommends a committee of six to ten persons, small enough to move quickly and act often, and large enough to be inclusive and able to hear many voices. The search committee serves at the pleasure of the Vestry and does its work on behalf of the Vestry. Canon Hunn will serve in the role of search consultant to the Search Committee.
Ideally one of the members should be a Vestry member who is rolling off (for history); one of the Vestry members should be newly elected (in order to serve with the new Rector for two years.) In addition, the members of the search committee should be
- Mature Christians
- People of prayer
- Not necessarily the loudest, flashiest leaders
- The Trusted ones
- People who can see what is best for the whole congregation
- Good listeners rather than good talkers
The search will be as transparent as possible, with regular reports to the Vestry and congregation, while maintaining total confidentiality regarding the names of candidates.
The Selection of a Rector
The search committee will conduct discernment interviews with various priests, submitting the final three for interviews with the Bishop. Ultimately, the search committee submits one name to the Vestry.
In the final analysis, this is a process of discernment for the parish and a select group of priests who are trying to discern God’s will for them and their families.
Next Steps for the Congregation
The election for the Vestry this spring will be very important, because the persons elected then will be serving during the first two years with the new Rector’s ministry. The 2015 vestry will also act as the search committee for the selection of an interim Rector. I urge members of the congregation to give prayerful consideration about service on the Vestry in this critical time, by nominating those whom you feel would be good stewards or by volunteering to serve.
Second, of course, is the search committee itself. Early in the fall, 2015, I shall issue a call for persons who would be interested in serving on this committee and willing to commit to a significant amount of time to this service.
I hope that this information is helpful. If you have further questions that I have not anticipated, please do not hesitate to contact me.
– James Moeser