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The search process for calling a Rector at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Danville, California is in the final stages. The Search Committee has completed the assessment of all applicants and the top three candidates have been submitted to the Vestry for their interviews. Below are the key activities of our process since last year:

  • Search Committee charged to bring three finalists to the Vestry by Pentecost. Fifteen town hall meetings were held to discern our parish priorities. The Search Committee met regularly with the Vestry to report progress, used an online parish survey and social media to gather input from our youth
  • On May 13, 2017, the Search Committee recommended three finalists for Vestry consideration. The discernment included praying for all the candidates and listening to the Holy Spirit in reviewing results of field visits with six semi-finalists.
  • During June 2017, the Vestry will interview each of the finalists and listen for God’s call of the shepherd best suited to lead the congregation forward.
  • Thank you Denise Obando! Throughout the process, we collaborated and received very useful guidance and help from the Diocesan Office of Transition Ministry.

For more information, please read the Executive Summary of our Parish Profile. It contains Quick Links to detailed information about our parish.

The Vestry will make a final decision that keeps faith with parish expectations and the long term best interests of the parish to find a new shepherd who knows our name and we want to follow for the journey ahead.  The Search process helped Vestry prepare to interview the three finalists summarizing our search results and materials for each.

  1. The Search Committee gave the Vestry three equally well qualified choices in a new rector.  The three finalists keep faith with parish priorities and values.
  2. The Search Committee sent teams of two or three to visit the six semi-finalists. Reporting back the teams avoided being advocates for candidate visited and instead helped the Search Committee find the ‘best three finalists’ by consensus and prayer.
  3. Our Search used a simple but powerful YES, NO, MAYBE process to assess each applicant’s strengths and fit to build a consensus.  This helped us put aside personal biases, talk about differences and discern how the best interest of the parish was served by each candidate.
  4. Our final three were a clear consensus informed by the Holy Spirit assuring the Vestry that we lived into the parish profile priorities and charge to bring them the three best finalists after praying over twenty three candidates over nine months.

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PARISH VALUES @ WORK. Our rector search reminded us what the congregation said about parish values in our 15 town meetings as a way to ground our assessment of each finalist.  How do we see each finalist living into these parish values?

  1. We want St. Timothy’s to feel like home—the first time and every time.  We value our strong, inclusive sense of community and we want a Rector who embraces those values and loves us for who we are.
  2. We value joyful worship and music experiences. Variety is the spice of life and it separates St. Timothy’s from other parishes with a one size fits all approach to worship and liturgy.  We value diverse inter generational worship experiences and want a rector who respects and celebrates our vibrant, progressive experiences and traditional ones.
  3. St. Timothy’s is passionate about outreach and service to others in need.  With Fruits of the Harvest outreach celebrations and active parish involvement in the causes we support we are living into our baptismal covenant to be the Body of Christ in our community.  We want a rector who empowers this passion of ours.
  4. ST. Cares!  As our parish demographics change we recognize the need to expand lay participation in addressing the pastoral care needs of our families and friends in their times of need.  We value a caring community that looks out for each other and we want every person to feel embraced and held up.
  5. We celebrate the blessings in our lives with inter generational fellowship.  It binds the community together as the Body of Christ, makes everyone feel welcome and at home, and it keeps us connected so we know when others need to be held up in their times of need.

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RECTOR PRIORITIES. In reviewing applicant credentials, the parish told us to look for the following characteristics:

  1. A People Person.  Enthusiastic, progressive person to inspire our faith journey, celebrate our inclusive diversity, loves us for who we are, makes us feel like family and helps us live into our Episcopal faith traditions.
  2. Dynamic, collaborative leader, wise steward and manager with well-rounded experience.
  3. Confident shepherd who empowers our lay passions for pastoral care and outreach to serve others.
  4. Engaging worship and liturgy experiences to celebrate our faith in new and familiar ways and keep us engaged in the broader work of the church through the Diocese of California and the interfaith work of the parish.
  5. Be in Community with Us! Be one of us, be present among us, have compassion for us, look us in the eye, know our names, accept us for who we are and help us live into our faith journey.
  6. Give our Kids a faith foundation to guide their lives.  We want a rector who help us grow ourselves and impart a faith foundation to guide our kids future.  Make this a place we want to hangout!  Where we feel we belong.

I feel the Holy Spirit at work among us!  It’s Glorious!

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St. Timothy’s Cares—welcome home the Light of Christ is always on here. Have you noticed that when you ask someone at St. Timothy why they belong to this faith community there is a common theme often spoken emotionally and from the heart. This theme is simple yet profoundly important to who we are and how we live into our faith.

We strive to make all feel as welcome as the prodigal son who was lost and then found by a father who never stopped loving him. Being the Body of Christ at work at St. Timothy’s drives every ministry program. This is our strategy to live into our faith lesson to respond to the pastoral care needs of our parish family.

Our commitment to being a welcoming parish open to all meant to us just that—all means all.  Through it all we felt the Holy Spirit was guiding us and protecting us with His simple message ‘love others as I have loved you’ and so we did—and so we are one congregation with open arms to all who love God and seek Christ in their lives and we gather around one table where we all find renewal, sustenance and hope.

Powerfully Validating Act of Asking for Help.  Once someone decides to make St. Timothy’s their faith home our challenge is to help them discover the many mission and ministry ways that they can serve God.  The single most powerful thing we can do to speed a family’s incorporation into the fabric of the parish is to ask them to help in God’s work.  One person put it this way and his words are more eloquent than anything I could write:

“My wife and I were “floaters” for several years early in our tenure with St. Timothy’s.  It wasn’t until we were invited to a social gathering by other families with young children that we felt a strong bond with the church and it began to feel like the extended family we view it as today.”

The church connects families balancing the many demands on kids’ schedules with a consistent faith tradition that celebrates the living body of Christ in serving others creating a powerful faith tradition to guide their lives. The church helps others find Christ in their lives, fill a void, renew their spirit or find meaning in their service to others.

Growing the Living Body of Christ

Being in Community. We celebrate the ritual and traditions of our faith, the feast days and celebrations of the church seasons and the spiritual power of our corporate worship when we gather around the table as one family becoming the Body of Christ.  The church must also be responsive the needs of the people in the pews, or not in the pews anymore!  We don’t have to give up on church, but we do have to keep it relevant in our lives and those of our kids in a world of constant distractions.

Church was the center of community life in villages as cities grew.  The church was also the center of family life for a long time.  But in our mobile lives today it is no longer the church buildings that center us.  Instead we need ways to stay connected to each other, stay involved in the ministries causes we care about and our life together as the Body of Christ even though we are not physically in the pews. That is what social networks are doing in our business and personal lives. These social networks like Facebook and Twitter shrink our world by connecting us in person-to-person ways we could scarcely imagine only a few years ago.  The church needs to make more effective use of these tools for being in community as a powerful force for good to arrest the decline in church participation by getting people involved and empowered doing God’s work.

Putting social media to work for the church.  Perhaps the single most powerful thing the Diocese of California could do for church vitality today would be create and nurture growth a social network to empower and connect its members. If we get congregations connected together and then connect many congregations together with our missions and ministries, programs and the institutions of the church we could create an online virtual version of the parish hall.  A virtual combination of an Episcopal Facebook of members combined with an Episcopal Linked-In for the mission and ministry work of the church.

In our virtual parish hall we can hang out, and ‘be at home together’.  We can share ideas, collaborate and participate to do our mission and ministry work, offer our time and talent with those who need them, do Bible study or be part of support groups tailored to our needs.

Imagining the church as a social network of the body of Christ does not diminish the role or purpose of the church. We are merely adapting the technology of our lives to do the work of the church.  Our lives today are full of disruptive technology, mobility, going off to college, moving for a new job, joining the military, getting transferred, retiring, losing a loved one, feeling alone.  Each life event or change modifies the rhythms of our lives and at each life stage we need the love and support of the church and the entire body of Christ to live into God’s plan for us.

We’re learning from our experience that social networks do not isolate us or diminish our personal relationships—quite the opposite—they enrich them, intensify them and share them in ways we scarcely thought possible.  Making the church accessible, empowering and a place to be part of something exciting in the lives of people we care about and those far distant we can help.

I have God with me everywhere—why can’t I take church along too?  Because the church grew from the congregations up, it is tough for us to transfer our communities and familial ties to the greater church as a top down organization.  It follows then that as the congregations and parishes of the church struggle, age, decline and fail so does the larger church. The church as the social place we use to connect to others has been superseded by social media, tweets, TXTs and real-time communications.

Here are real examples of the enabling power of social networking in our mission and ministry:

  • Making Youth Ministry Cool Again. Is your congregation struggling to keep youth ministry exciting enough to attract the kids you want to serve?  Most parishes face this reality.  Traditional approaches to youth ministry have trouble getting a critical mass of kids at each age grouping to have a youth ministry programs that is active, exciting and cool enough to compete with the other options our kids have today.  It does not mean we should quit trying, but it does mean we should try different ways to meet the need.  But many DioCal congregations lack the critical mass of kids and can’t afford the resources to hire a full time youth minister.
  • Episcopal Impact Fund. We learned from experience with action network grants for ministries in the six deaneries of the Diocese that many congregations are supporting the same causes while others go wanting.  We learned that the needs are wider than the squeaky wheel of causes that have vocal advocates.  We learned that the process was too cumbersome, too long and didn’t focus enough on recruiting the faithful to get involved.  Life does not work that way.  There is room at God’s table for many hands, many hearts a fire, and many mouths that need to be fed.  EIF Action network is a good strategy we should perfect to be the online Jobs Board of the Episcopal Church recruiting the faith to good causes and supporting their efforts.
  • Dougherty Valley Mission Collaboration. As part of our 50th anniversary celebration St Timothy’s committed to maintain its unbroken chain of faith begun when God called St Paul’s Walnut Creek through the Bishop to plant a mission congregation down the road in the San Ramon Valley.  We worked collaboratively with St. Clare’s and St. Bartholomew’s Livermore to identify mission and ministry needs of a fast emerging new community in the 25,000 homes being developed in the Dougherty Valley area of SE Contra Costa and Southern Alameda Deaneries.  Changes in the priests at each church put on hold this collaboration, but the need remains among the multi-generational households in this part of DioCal. If we had a social network it would make it easier to spread the word to congregations and the DioCal community and introduce ourselves to the people of the Dougherty Valley.

At Pentecost we will hear the Good News in many voices, many tongue and today we’re are trying to make every day Pentecost for someone seeking Christ in their lives and connect to a faith community that can help them along that journey. We need an Episcopal Social Network that helps us bring out the best in us, that connects us of new ways to serve and empowers us to action rather than telling us to sit down and be quiet.  By putting us to work doing the work of the church, the church is helping us ‘be in community’ doing more to enliven our spiritual lives than all the marketing on Madison Avenue.

We are the Episcopal Church but we need new tools and new ways to discover each other anew and to be connected as the Body of Christ.  The church will grow when joy in the hearts of the faithful grows from one simple act of kindness, faith and renewal multiplied like loaves and fishes thousands of times in the hearts of those we touch in God’s name

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Believe!

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Believe and then Watch this YouTube Video

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Bishop Marc Andrus and the St. Timothy’s Vestry has approved the updated parish Executive Summary and our parish OTM (Office of Transition Ministry) profile formally launching the application period for new Rector candidates.   The rector search committee prepared an executive summary profile to provide potential candidates a clear understanding of our values and the St. Timothy’s congregation’s sense of what God is calling us to be in His service.

The profile material summarizes the results of the 15 parish engagement meetings. The search committee met regularly with the vestry to report progress, conducted an online parish survey, and used social media to gather youth input.

St. Timothy’s seeks a rector to help us live into spiritual values enunciated through this parish engagement using an appreciative inquiry process. Our selection process seeks to enable the vestry to call a new rector by Pentecost.

St. Timothy’s Parish Values

During the parish engagement process the search committee asked the parish what they value most about our community.

Community: To us St. Timothy’s feels like home. We value our strong, inclusive sense of community where everyone is welcomed and made to feel like family.  We want everyone crossing our doorstep to feel they are welcome and at home in God’s house.

Worship: Our parish values joyful worship and music experiences.  St. Timothy’s currently provides a variety of worship styles. These include intergenerational spiritual experiences to help everyone live into their faith journey.  These worship styles range from the traditional with organ, contemplative with no music, to Taizé with chants and meditation, and family-oriented with lively music and children’s liturgy to provide our children an embracing experience to build an enduring faith foundation.

Outreach:St. Timothy’s has a high level of commitment to outreach and service to those who are in need. The parish encourages active participation in service ministries and outreach to bring us together, help us live into our baptismal covenant and discern what God is calling us to be as the Body of Christ in our wider community.

Pastoral Care: St. Timothy’s cares.  As our parish demographics change we seek to adapt by expanding our lay participation in pastoral care ministries and service to respond to those needs.  We value having a caring community that helps each other and where every member feels embraced and held up in their times of need.

Fellowship: Our parish values intergenerational fellowship.  Just as we celebrate together and serve others in need we want to be a beloved community of faith among our parish family members and the wider church.

Rector Priorities

 In response to what the parish values most about the church, the search committee asked the parish about their top qualities for a new rector.

What We Seek in a New Rector: The parish seeks an enthusiastic, progressive person to inspire our faith journey, celebrate our inclusive diversity, and help us live into our Episcopal faith traditions.  We know from experience that the parish responds most to someone with strong inter-personal skills, i.e. a “people person”.

Leader: St. Timothy’s seeks a dynamic, collaborative leader, a wise steward and manager with a well-rounded and evident experience.

Pastoral: The parish seeks a rector who enjoys pastoral care, and can empower lay passions for pastoral care and outreach to serve others in times of need.

Worship: St. Timothy’s seeks someone who will provide us with engaging sermons and liturgy to celebrate our faith in both new and familiar ways, while keeping us engaged in DioCal and the interfaith work of the church.

Community: St. Timothy’s is seeking a partner to join us in our growth as a welcoming, inclusive and joyful community. The parish needs its rector to have compassion for us, be one of us, know our names, look us in the eye, and accept us as we are, while helping us achieve our collective vision.

Children, Youth and Families:  St. Timothy’s is seeking a partner to assist in creating an environment where our children develop a faith foundation to guide their lives through children, youth and family ministries, Noah’s Ark Preschool, great music and intergenerational fellowship.

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Yes We Can! Again!!

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“Healing happens when the conversation changes from a focus on the past to a focus on the future. That’s where we are with God’s help—and that is a good place to be.”

I wrote that closing line in my last blog post here in December 2015—8 months ago.  This week the Vestry names a new search committee to re-launch the process of calling a new Rector for St. Timothy’s.  It has been a long journey through a time of healing, false starts and self-reflection to arrive at this point in time.

We got through the stages of grieving the retirement of our rector, then we survived the failure of our first search process and then saw our hopes soar with the completion of the second process and the call of a new rector.  But two years into that new ministry it was obvious to both the rector and the parish that this was not a match made in heaven.  So we entered a new stage, one we never expected to find ourselves—a discernment process on whether to end our relationship and move on.

We grieved the mutual loss of affection and found a sense of reconciliation even in the process of divorce.  Difficult as it was for all, it felt like the right decision to both the rector and the parish.  There was sadness and grace in our parting.  But it was done lovingly, fairly, candidly and left a holy taste in our mouths that helped heal our broken hearts.

A funny thing happened on the way to healing and preparing for another search process.  We discovered new courage to risk rejection again in order to find love again.

So here we are in mid-August 2016 polishing up our profile and getting ready to start ‘dating’ again.  We wish there was something like “Episcopal Match.com” that would offer a proven method to find compatibility.  But alas we must do it the old fashioned way.

So this post is fair warning that I am dusting off this blog and will be posting more frequently to document St. Timothy’s Danville, CA search to call a new rector.

Pray for us!

We have already kissed a lot of frogs on our discernment journey to find wedded bliss.  We need a Prince or a Princess to come along the next stage of our journey.

We have a secret weapon in our search—true faith that God loves us unconditionally.  And the sure knowledge that God does not give us burdens we cannot bear—-He has held us up so far as we’ve wandered in the wilderness in our search for the promised land.

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Healing is Hard Work!

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As I write this December 29, 2015 six months has passed since my last post about our failed rector search process that resulted in the resignation of the chosen candidate after less than two years. Healing in a congregation after a false start takes time. More time than anyone wants. But the last thing anyone wants is to repeat the same mistake.

So what’s happened?

  • The Diocese implemented a structured interim placement and selection process with leadership support from Bishop Marc.
  • The parish called an Interim Rector to help guide us through the search and selection process.
  • The congregation supported the decision to end the relationship with the rector but is grieving.

Tough love is still tough even when you do the right thing for all sides of the relationship. We see the impacts in lower attendance, the loss of long time members who drift away or give up waiting for things to get better.

We face all the usual and customary steps of grieving from shock to anger to acceptance to an openness and even anticipation of a new beginning. I’d say that at this writing we are at acceptance.

The upcoming Vestry election process culminating at the annual meeting in January 2016 seems to be shaping up at a turning point for the congregation. The vestry knows it is expected to start a new search process. The four places around the Vestry table offer an opportunity for fresh faces, new ideas and an opportunity to serve for anyone willing to stand for election. This is a year when it might be healthy to have more candidates than open seats to be filled.

Healing happens when the conversation changes from a focus on the past to a focus on the future. That seems to be where we are with God’s help—and that is a good place to be.

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UPDATE.  After this original blog post was published we learned that the story of a video being the provocation of the attack on our embassy in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Stevens and three others was not the truth.  As you read this update you know this issue has been the focus on Congressional hearings and is part of the 2016 presidential campaign rhetoric.  I left the original post below as written but read it now in the newer context of what you know about the truth of this sad tale. 

Protesters in Libya killed the US Ambassador and three embassy staff members as they fled the US consulate building in Benghazi which had been stormed and set on fire allegedly by al Qaeda-linked gunmen blaming America for a film that they claimed insulted the Prophet Mohammad. In Egypt protesters broke into the US embassy and burned the US flag.

The US State Department put out this press statement prior to the embassy attacks but it has been subjected to fierce criticism for continuing to convey a sense of moral equivalence first laid out in President Obama’s 2009 speech in Cairo in what is widely now called his ‘apology tour’ for suggesting that there is a linkage between American values and policies and Muslim violence.

U.S. Embassy Condemns Religious Incitement

September 11, 2012

“The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”

We have our Priorities Wrong!

While we recognize the sensitivities that Muslims have about the depiction of the Prophet, that is no excuse for storming our embassies let alone killing the US ambassador and his staff.  The decision by the US State Department to blame this on Coptic Christians who are regularly persecuted by Muslims in Egypt and elsewhere is unbelievable.

Never mind the starker reality is that these incidents are not mere protesters out of control but the work of terrorist groups seeking to exploit the sensitivity to create the incident in hopes of provoking a crisis suited to their destabilization goals.  Never mind that this is standard modus operandi in the thousand year old tensions between Sunni and Shi’a and that the killing of Muslims by other Muslims is common place. Never mind that it is no coincidence that these attacks happened on September 11th, yet the State Department announcement completely ignores these realitities as it seeks to avoid hurting the feelings of Muslims.

The State Department statement and our Government’s policy and reaction to this incident is shameful.  Our blame of the Coptic Christians for also wanting to practice their religion is shameful.  Our government’s willingness to abandon our own principles to avoid hurting the feelings of Muslim terrorists is shameful.

We pray for Ambassador Stevens and his three staff members killed in the Benghazi attack.

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