Maine to California Call Process Lessons

I have continued to ‘collect’ parish profiles that offer the search committee information, good examples and insight from the experience of other congregations.  This latest batch starts with your worst nightmare—a process nearly completed but the candidate backs out and the search process must start all over.  This is not an omen or warning just a reminder that sometimes “stuff happens” and we must be flexible and adapt.

This group of profiles also includes some from the Diocese of California where there are currently twelve open search processes looking for rectors.  Candidates who look at one will surely look at other opportunities in the Bay Area and while this is not a competition between parishes it reminds up that our “curb appeal” and first impression can make a powerful difference.

Here is my latest list of profile and parish examples to consider:

St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Camden, Maine.  This profile is insightful because after calling a new rector, the candidate changed his mind and they had to start over.  It took more than two years to finish their process.

St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Saratoga, California.   This is an interesting case study and profile because St.Andrew’s has an Episcopal Day School that some at St. Timothy’s have dreamed of having.  The school has grown and almost seems larger than the church itself by becoming the focus of the parish.  The profile provides a sense of priorities and proportions.  See the rector search process timeline and click on the steps to get a sense of how arduous the discernment and call process is in a complex setting. The complete search process package used by St Andrews is one of the best I have found.

St. Bartholomew Episcopal Church, Livermore, California.  St. Bart’s in also in the midst of a rector call process and has named the Rev Debra Low-Skinner as Interim Rector.  Their parish web site has a useful status update on that call process available to the congregation.

St. Mary the Virgin Episcopal Church, San Francisco. The Rector at St. Mary the Virgin departs in January 2011 and they will begin the same search for a new rector as St. Timothy’s.  These two parishes share many similarities and concerns and for the search committees there will surely be opportunities to compare notes, share resources, and build a stronger future working relationship with this parish. I have included their home page link above but here is nothing yet posted on it about their call process.

St. Stephen’s Belvedere Episcopal Church, Tiburon.  St. Stephen’s is one of the twelve parishes in the Diocese of California searching for a new Rector.  This means a lot of candidates will be looking at the Bay Area opportunities.  The parishes range in size from small to the largest in St. Timothy’s and St. Mary the Virgin.

Christ Episcopal Church, Sausalito, California.  If you have never visited this small, quaint church it really is worth the ferry ride to Sausalito.  Christ Church is also involved in a rector call process and the Rev Amanda Rutherford May is the Interim Rector.  This parish has developed a simple, yet heartfelt Rector Profile Letter to describe who they are and what they seek in a new rector preferring to let their location speak for itself.

Lessons Learned
  • God already knows who the next Rector of St. Timothy’s will be. The job of the search committee is to get the congregation to discern prayerfully, openly, and transparently build a consensus around what it seeks to be in the service of Christ.  The search process is 80% discernment (who are we, what do we believe, how do we tell our story, how do we live our story day by day?) and 20% execution (get discernment process right so we develop a consensus, prepare a parish profile congregation supports, define the call criteria and job specification to be clear what we seek, invite candidates, screen candidates against call criteria, narrow the field to finalists, visit and pray, make the call.) Sounds easy, right?  It is if we let God guide us along the way and re-learn the lessons of loving one another as He loved us.
  • Do it Right so you don’t have to do it Over.  Remember the 80/20 Rule.  Someone once told me finding a new rector is like painting your house 80% of the work is preparation. This is why I worry about artificially imposed deadlines (bring us finalists by year end 2011), because God does not work that way.
  • There is not a competition between the parishes for rector candidates. But candidates who look at DioBytes to screen Bay Area clergy opportunities will certainly check all of them out.  Here there is a perception competition to put the best face on the parish and make it attractive to the best candidates.  To call this a marketing campaign seems crass, but candidates will quickly get a sense of whether the congregation ‘has its act together’ and is ready to call a new rector.
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One thought on “Maine to California Call Process Lessons

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