On the Emmaus Road
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How can a church best respond when their priest tells them “I’m retiring,” or “I’ve been called to another parish?”
This book outlines to receiving a new ordained leader, recognizing that every parish is different. Discerning exactly what your parish needs can be both a challenge and a joy, and On the Emmaus Road affirms that you can listen to God’s voice while attending to other day-to-day tasks. Based upon several years of doctoral research into the work of search committees in the Diocese of Virginia, this book has been refined through the experience of using its new methodologies in over seventy-five calls.
With both traditional and creative new approaches to the clergy search process, Thorpe gives a wealth of resources for your parish to not only survive the days to come, but thrive in the midst of them.



Publié par
Date de parution 17 novembre 2020
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781640653023
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,1098€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Copyright 2020 by Mary Brennan Thorpe
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written permission of the publisher.
Unless otherwise noted, the Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Church Publishing 19 East 34th Street New York, NY 10016 www.churchpublishing.org
Cover icon by Mary Brennan Thorpe Cover design by Marc Whitaker, MTWdesign Typeset by Rose Design
A record of this book is available from the Library of Congress.
ISBN-13: 978-1-64065-301-6 (paperback) ISBN-13: 978-1-64065-302-3 (ebook)
In gratitude for the bishops, colleagues, lay leaders, parishes, and friends who informed and encouraged this work, because your gifts and graces shine throughout this book.
No words are enough for Doug, my encourager and partner in life, love, and writing. I am blessed.
I. Introduction
The Structure of This Book
II. A General Outline of the Transition Process
III. For the Departing Priest
IV. For the Vestry: Phase One
a. Vestry Involvement in the Process: A Quick View from 10,000 Feet
b. Planning a Good Goodbye
c. Options for Calls: A Closer Look
d. Securing an Interim
e. Calling a Priest-in-Charge Rather Than Using an Interim Rector
f. Selecting a Discernment Committee and Committee Chair
g. What Is the Work of the Discernment Committee?
h. The Commissioning of a Discernment Committee
V. Other Vestry Considerations
a. Communications during the Time of Transition
b. Staff Issues
VI. Particular Considerations for Challenged Parishes and for Challenging Times
a. Challenged Parishes: Growing Smaller and Poorer
b. Challenged Parishes: Bad/Sad/Mad Endings
c. Challenging Times
VII. For the Discernment Committee: Phase One
a. An Overview of the Work Ahead
b. Communications and Vestry/Committee Interactions during the Time of Transition
c. The Self-Study Process
d. Tools for Self-Study
e. Mind the Gap: Bridging Information-Gathering between Who Are We Now and Who Is God Calling Us to Be Next?
f. Preparing the Community Ministry Portfolio
g. It s Done
h. Promoting Your Position
VIII. For the Vestry: Phase Two
IX. For the Discernment Committee: Phase Two and Final Steps
a. The Spiritual Nature of the Work You Do
b. First Stage Interviewing
c. Behavioral Interview Guide
d. Short-List Work
e. On the Road: Visiting Candidates in Their Own Parish
f. For the Discernment Committee: Final Phase
X. For the Vestry: Final Steps
a. One More Goodbye: To Your Interim Rector
b. Welcoming Your New Priest
c. When Something Goes Sideways
d. How the Diocese Welcomes Your New Priest
XI. Last Words
Appendix A: Sample Surveys
Appendix B: Some Guidelines for the Conduct of Focus Groups
Appendix C: Appreciative Inquiry-Style Congregational Meeting
Appendix D: Community Ministry Profile Worksheet
Eighty-four calls.
Since I began this work of transition ministry several years ago, we ve midwifed more than one hundred calls for rectors, vicars, priests-in-charge, and deacons-in-charge in this diocese. Add in the facilitation of appointments of a number of interim rectors, and it s safe to say that almost every possible mistake has been made, a great number of unusual situations have been faced, a range of all possible emotions felt.
So consider this book, based upon research as well as the lived experience of transition in Episcopal churches of incredible variety, your way to avoid repeating mistakes you don t need to make, a way to navigate the usual pitfalls, a way to see the goal clearly and move toward it confidently.
What s the goal?
Here s what it is not: hiring a priest. You re not contracting with a plumber (although many of us have plunged a few toilets in our parishes). You re not figuring out who the best heart surgeon is to fix your ticker (although many of us have sat with and wept with and prayed with parishioners with broken hearts). You re not hiring a lawyer to sort out who owes who what when someone has cheated you (although many of us have facilitated knotty and painful conversations between those whose relationships have been torn).
You re seeking God s will for your parish in the next chapter of its story, and discerning what spiritual leader will help you write that chapter.
That might seem a bit intimidating-how do we hear God s voice?-but this book will help you get there. Through process, prayer, wisdom from those who have done this before, you will find the priest you need, and you might find that as the process evolves, this experience will be spiritually transformative.
The title?
The metaphor of journey is often used to describe the call of a new ordained leader, and sometimes jokingly people say that they felt like the Israelites in the wilderness, searching for the Promised Land over a forty-year span. That s a dark image, and a frightening one.
So perhaps another journey metaphor is more helpful, and more apt. Consider the two disciples walking to Emmaus after the resurrection (Luke 24:13-35). Cleopas and a companion are walking home. Jesus has risen from the dead, but they don t understand that yet. They re talking about everything that had happened, perhaps feeling a little traumatized by it all. They encounter a stranger. They share this weird story, and how disappointed they were that things didn t turn out the way they d hoped. The stranger instructs them to think about it differently. They still are distracted and can t wrap their minds around it. It is only later that evening, when they eat dinner together, when the stranger breaks the bread and blesses it and shares it with them, that they realize what is happening, WHO is happening . . . and then he s gone. They reflect on it: Were not our hearts burning within us when he was with us? They go back to Jerusalem to the other disciples and proclaim what they ve experienced, as they hear of Peter s encounter with the risen Lord.
When a parish is in transition, it does feel like a journey. There s grief at the departure of the prior priest if it has been a good tenure and grief at dreams unfulfilled if it has not. There s concern about what the future might hold. There s worry about how one does this work of managing the parish and how one secures another priest.
But there will be moments of hearts strangely warmed, if the level of anxiety about this transition can be addressed honestly, appropriately, and prayerfully. God s will-not individual preference-will be the thing you seek. God is always doing a new thing (Isa. 43:19) and now God is doing a new thing with and for you and God s providence is sure. The wisdom of the great cloud of witnesses who have navigated this journey can inform you. May the best practices and tools contained in this book be a road map and a comfort as you journey.
The Rev. Dr. Mary Brennan Thorpe
Canon to the Ordinary
The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia

The Structure of This Book
From Constancy and Peace . . .
It is a fact of life that those who live as part of a faith community see it as a constant in their lives. They know where it is, when it meets, what will happen there, and how the rhythm of the liturgy, the calendar, and the usual practices of the community shape the common life of the parish. It is, to many, a place of comfort and stability.
So what happens when the community is thrust out of that stability into a state of transition? What happens when the priest 1 departs?
. . . To Transition and Change
This book will walk you through the process of that time of transition step-by-step, with attention to the various roles of those who will be helping the parish find new leadership. It also recognizes that each parish is unique, and that one process doesn t fit all. Our intent is to help parishes seek God s will as they begin the next chapter of their story.
This work should be done efficiently, but not at the expense of time to hear the Holy Spirit s guidance. It is work that should be done in a way that recognizes that every voice in the parish matters and should be heard, but not every need can be met. It is work that names that parishes need clergy with different gifts at different times in their existence, and sometimes it is work that names uncomfortable truths with no easy answer.
Transition is holy work. It is our prayer that this process will be spiritually transformative, not only for those who do the identified tasks of transition, but for the entire parish, as they are reminded of God s providence and God s habit of surprising us.
How to Read This Book
You will see sections addressed For the Vestry, For the Discernment Committee, and For the Departing Priest. You are welcome to read any or all of it-vestry members are not forbidden from reading discernment committee chapters and vice versa -but please understand that certain tasks are assigned to particular groups for a good reason.
There are variations in practices in each and every diocese in the Episcopal Church, because contexts differ and context matters. Your bishop, your canon to the ordinary, your transition ministry officer 2 are your best guides as to what are the practices and limitations and

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