What to do when you're expecting (a new priest)?

So our priest is starting to make more serious noises about retirement, which I suspect will turn into an official resignation at some point in the next year. I'm likely to end up fairly involved with the process of acquiring a replacement, which probably starts with figuring out what the parish wants and needs from a new priest (these might not be the same thing!)

Stipulating that we will talk to the relevant diocesan office and be guided by them in matters of process etc., do any shipmates have useful advice for, for example, how to get the congregation to think usefully about this?

We're a TEC shack, if that affects your answer.
«1

Comments

  • To what extent does the congregation have a say in choosing the new priest? Or - to put it the other way round - to what extent is a new priest "foisted upon" a congregation without much discussion?
  • OblatusOblatus Shipmate
    We're a TEC shack, if that affects your answer.

    A huge challenge for "search committees" in TEC is in getting real feedback from a candidate's current parishioners, particularly vestry members. You can't just go there and say "Your rector is a candidate in our parish's search process...can you tell me about his/her leadership style with the vestry?" Yet that is some very important insight needed in addition to public experience, style, persona. Often there will be an anonymous visit to experience the candidate in situ; generally the visitors pose as just that: random visitors, don't mind us, even though we keep jotting notes. But how the person interacts in smaller contexts is often hard to determine unless there's a way to hear from an inside trusted source who won't spill the beans within that parish.

  • I think that one of the real challenges is deciding what your congregation is really looking for and feels are its priorities, especially if there is a gulf between members who "want things to go on as they have before" (or even "to how they used to be") and those who are desperate for change and a reset.
  • Raptor EyeRaptor Eye Shipmate
    The mistake I’ve seen too often is to look for someone who has the skills the current priest isn’t blessed with, while assuming that he or she will be fully equipped with the skills the congregation are taking for granted.

    A nearby new priest fell out with his congregation very quickly because they assumed he would have the pastoral skills of the outgoing priest as well as the enthusiasm to encourage families to attend church.

    Perhaps ask people to provide two or three positives about the current priest and two or three wish-list skills for the new one, then see which aspects are the most important to the congregation overall?
  • CathscatsCathscats Shipmate
    I have more than once been the person meeting with the Kirk Session of a vacant congregation (Presbyterian, but this still applies) and have had to beg them to prioritise the gifts etc. that they are looking for, as it seems that they have listed anything and everything anyone has suggested.

    As one minister friend said of a vacant congregation that he was looking after, “They think they want Jesus, but if he applied he wouldn’t be good enough.”
  • The C of E doesn't aspire to quite such heights. Most parishes would be happy with the Archangel Gabriel.
  • I often think that the expectations of parishes, set out in adverts in the Church Times, are so high that a combination of the Archangels Gabriel and Michael mixed with all 12 Apostles (including Judas Iscariot, a little low cunning is always useful) and our Resurrected Lord would not be good enough for their 17 parishes, mix of traditions, and 'modern' (tiny) vicarage.

    TEC mileage may vary.
  • Surely that only applies to High Church folk? The Reformed Evangelicals would prefer St Paul while the Broad Church folk might go for Barnabas who seemed to get on well with folk. Perhaps some parishes would like the BOGOF option of Prisca and Aquila.
  • From rather bitter personal experience, check that if the prospective new priest/minister has outspoken theological views there isn't a faction in the congregation that can't tolerate those views.
  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics Host
    As one who conducts parish interim reviews I'd plead that you observe due diligence in assessing your own faith community and its strengths, weakness and needs - alright, SWOT if you like.
  • Tongue-in-cheek - but our experience of three (variously) pretty difficult incumbents on the run (which meant 16-17 years in Methodist land) means that now we have someone competent, reliable, and friendly, we're really really grateful. Really grateful. Did I say *really* - I think I did. We'd like her to extend, and it seems she might. So - to the OP - you could suggest to your parish that they consider a decade or two in the wilderness :smile:
  • Fawkes CatFawkes Cat Shipmate
    Tongue-in-cheek - but our experience of three (variously) pretty difficult incumbents on the run (which meant 16-17 years in Methodist land) means that now we have someone competent, reliable, and friendly, we're really really grateful. Really grateful. Did I say *really* - I think I did. We'd like her to extend, and it seems she might. So - to the OP - you could suggest to your parish that they consider a decade or two in the wilderness :smile:

    So did (1) the hierarchy take pity on you and send you someone good, or (2) whoever selects the ministers get their act together regarding job spec (what you want your new minister to do) and person spec (who you want to do it)? If the second, then I see a potential way to cut down or even eliminate the trip to the wilderness.
  • Zappa wrote: »
    As one who conducts parish interim reviews I'd plead that you observe due diligence in assessing your own faith community and its strengths, weakness and needs - alright, SWOT if you like.

    Sound advice. Heed the words.

    Our Place was four years in the wilderness, relying on a variety of very faithful and devout priests (mostly *retired* chaps), along with a small but feisty group of laity.

    Then we got Father F***wit. Nothing much changed, as we (the laity) still had to do all the pastoral work, as well as arranging most of the extra services e.g. Holy Week and Christmas, because Fr F (especially after he fell in lurve, and married his Lovely Wife) simply couldn't be arsed.

    Meanwhile, our Flying Bishop had flown across the Tiber, but the new man was much better at looking out for us. He found for us the chap I refer to as FatherInCharge, who is such a good, prayerful pastor that I forgive him for the way he sometimes mangles the liturgy!

    I would much rather have the enthusiastic pastor than the man who is only concerned with looking Holy, and making sure that his maniple is on correctly.
  • DavidDavid Shipmate
    Oblatus wrote: »

    Often there will be an anonymous visit to experience the candidate in situ; generally the visitors pose as just that: random visitors, don't mind us, even though we keep jotting notes.

    Mystery Worshipper!
  • Fawkes Cat wrote: »
    Tongue-in-cheek - but our experience of three (variously) pretty difficult incumbents on the run (which meant 16-17 years in Methodist land) means that now we have someone competent, reliable, and friendly, we're really really grateful. Really grateful. Did I say *really* - I think I did. We'd like her to extend, and it seems she might. So - to the OP - you could suggest to your parish that they consider a decade or two in the wilderness :smile:

    So did (1) the hierarchy take pity on you and send you someone good, or (2) whoever selects the ministers get their act together regarding job spec (what you want your new minister to do) and person spec (who you want to do it)? If the second, then I see a potential way to cut down or even eliminate the trip to the wilderness.

    I think what happened was that the previous circuit superintendent felt very sorry for us, and when his term came to an end at another local-ish (and much more attractive) church came to an end, he gave us an extra two years. That was a total relief - and seems to have made us the 'church which has the super for a minister' rather than just 'shite street Methodist community church, on that estate you might have heard of'. And that seems to have meant we got a good minister. Even if all it means is that the faithful old Caribbean Ladies get to die with someone good in the pulpit, and then we close - well, OK, I'd take that. But let's see.

  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Cathscats wrote: »
    I have more than once been the person meeting with the Kirk Session of a vacant congregation (Presbyterian, but this still applies) and have had to beg them to prioritise the gifts etc. that they are looking for, as it seems that they have listed anything and everything anyone has suggested.
    I was on the most recent search committee for Our Place, and our denominational internet-based matching and referral system—officially called the Church Leadership Connection (CLC), but I called it PresbyMatch.com—pretty much requires that kind of prioritizing. Before churches can consider candidates, they have to upload their “Ministry Information Form,” which requires significant congregational surveys and input as well as Session approval and approval by the moderator of presbytery’s Committee/Commission on Ministry. And that form requires rankings or prioritization what gifts or skills the congregation is looking for, which can then be matched (along with other criteria) with clergy in the system.

    While churches are required to use the CLC, at least in our presbytery, they’re not limited to considering candidates matched through the CLC. But we actually found the system worked very well. I’d be somewhat surprised if TEC doesn’t have some kind of similar system.

    My (admittedly limited) observations of TEC parishes looking for a new rector is that a committee that’s considered representative of the parish is appointed, similar to our pastor nominating committee (PNC). The main piece of advice that was given to us and that I’ve given friends on PNCs in other churches is that the search committee should make a decision at the outset that it won’t present a final candidate unless the committee is unanimous. If there’s even one member of the committee who has reservations or concerns, it’s a very good bet that others in the church will have similar reservations or concerns, and that will have the new pastor/rector starting out at a disadvantage from which she or he may not recover. I’m aware of more than one instance where that has played outside created difficulties.

  • I think that there is one thing worth saying, which is that the candidate you all like (because they're affable and fit so well into the ethos of your church) may not be the candidate who would be best for you! For you may actually need a person who will do a bit of prodding and poking, who asks awkward questions and who has some uncomfortable ideas. Not so much so as to alienate people, but to lead the church forward rather than endorsing any lethargy which may be present.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Then we got Father F***wit. Nothing much changed, as we (the laity) still had to do all the pastoral work, as well as arranging most of the extra services e.g. Holy Week and Christmas, because Fr F (especially after he fell in lurve, and married his Lovely Wife) simply couldn't be arsed.

    All Anglican clergy in Sydney have lovely wives - just look at any parish profile.

    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    The main piece of advice that was given to us and that I’ve given friends on PNCs in other churches is that the search committee should make a decision at the outset that it won’t present a final candidate unless the committee is unanimous. If there’s even one member of the committee who has reservations or concerns, it’s a very good bet that others in the church will have similar reservations or concerns, and that will have the new pastor/rector starting out at a disadvantage from which she or he may not recover. I’m aware of more than one instance where that has played outside created difficulties.

    Despite the formal differences between our traditions, that is very, very sensible advice. I don't know how large your selection committees are.
    Ours have 5 members and that gives a good range of attitudes and perceptions across a parish. So if but one committee member has reservations, those will probably be felt through a good portion of the congregation.
  • Gee D wrote: »
    Then we got Father F***wit. Nothing much changed, as we (the laity) still had to do all the pastoral work, as well as arranging most of the extra services e.g. Holy Week and Christmas, because Fr F (especially after he fell in lurve, and married his Lovely Wife) simply couldn't be arsed.

    All Anglican clergy in Sydney have lovely wives - just look at any parish profile.

    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    The main piece of advice that was given to us and that I’ve given friends on PNCs in other churches is that the search committee should make a decision at the outset that it won’t present a final candidate unless the committee is unanimous. If there’s even one member of the committee who has reservations or concerns, it’s a very good bet that others in the church will have similar reservations or concerns, and that will have the new pastor/rector starting out at a disadvantage from which she or he may not recover. I’m aware of more than one instance where that has played outside created difficulties.

    Despite the formal differences between our traditions, that is very, very sensible advice. I don't know how large your selection committees are.
    Ours have 5 members and that gives a good range of attitudes and perceptions across a parish. So if but one committee member has reservations, those will probably be felt through a good portion of the congregation.

    If only the converse were true - our nominating committee were unanimous in recommending a sole nominee but then encountered opposition in the congregation (encouraged, disturbingly, by the then interim moderator).
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    The interim moderator was surely in gross breach of trust (in a general, not legal) sense.
  • Gee D wrote: »
    The interim moderator was surely in gross breach of trust (in a general, not legal) sense.

    Yep. They left ministry not long after under somewhat mysterious circumstances but by then the damage was done.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Alas - and I shan't even think of those possible circumstances.
  • Gee D wrote: »
    Then we got Father F***wit. Nothing much changed, as we (the laity) still had to do all the pastoral work, as well as arranging most of the extra services e.g. Holy Week and Christmas, because Fr F (especially after he fell in lurve, and married his Lovely Wife) simply couldn't be arsed.

    All Anglican clergy in Sydney have lovely wives - just look at any parish profile.

    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    The main piece of advice that was given to us and that I’ve given friends on PNCs in other churches is that the search committee should make a decision at the outset that it won’t present a final candidate unless the committee is unanimous. If there’s even one member of the committee who has reservations or concerns, it’s a very good bet that others in the church will have similar reservations or concerns, and that will have the new pastor/rector starting out at a disadvantage from which she or he may not recover. I’m aware of more than one instance where that has played outside created difficulties.

    Despite the formal differences between our traditions, that is very, very sensible advice. I don't know how large your selection committees are.
    Ours have 5 members and that gives a good range of attitudes and perceptions across a parish. So if but one committee member has reservations, those will probably be felt through a good portion of the congregation.

    Ah, but do the Sydney lovely wives have Capital Letters, like Fr F's Lovely Wife? (You could hear the capitals when he spoke of her, which was not seldom... :grimace: )

    As it happens, our current FatherInCharge was found for us by our Flying Bishop (whilst hovering over a neighbouring Diocese, I think), and was not advertised for in the usual way, Parish Profile and all. There was consultation with the PCC (which included myself at the time), and, although there was, frankly, a feeling that *beggars can't be choosers*, post-Father F***wit, I don't think we could have done any better.

    One advantage of having a Flying Bishop is that he is far more likely to have an intimate knowledge of his parishes - and be known in them - than the average Diocesan. I don't agree at all with the Dead Horse aspect of all this, but we have been fortunate in our PEV.

  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    Then we got Father F***wit. Nothing much changed, as we (the laity) still had to do all the pastoral work, as well as arranging most of the extra services e.g. Holy Week and Christmas, because Fr F (especially after he fell in lurve, and married his Lovely Wife) simply couldn't be arsed.

    All Anglican clergy in Sydney have lovely wives - just look at any parish profile.

    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    The main piece of advice that was given to us and that I’ve given friends on PNCs in other churches is that the search committee should make a decision at the outset that it won’t present a final candidate unless the committee is unanimous. If there’s even one member of the committee who has reservations or concerns, it’s a very good bet that others in the church will have similar reservations or concerns, and that will have the new pastor/rector starting out at a disadvantage from which she or he may not recover. I’m aware of more than one instance where that has played outside created difficulties.

    Despite the formal differences between our traditions, that is very, very sensible advice. I don't know how large your selection committees are.
    Ours have 5 members and that gives a good range of attitudes and perceptions across a parish. So if but one committee member has reservations, those will probably be felt through a good portion of the congregation.
    There is no set number for us, but 5–7 is, in my experience, the norm. (We had 7 on ours.)

    And yes, @Arethosemyfeet, unanimity is no guarantee of success. But in my experience, lack of unanimity is a guarantee of challenges.

  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Yes, the wives are indeed Lovely Wives, even if it's not written in upper case.

    The procedure in Sydney is very strictly set out in an Ordinance (as you might expect). A committee with 5 parish nominators and 4 from the diocesan Synod, and the regional bishop - but who does not have a vote although he chairs the meetings. There are time limits after which the Abp may simply appoint without consultation. And the Abp is under no obligation to appoint a person recommended by the committee.

    Given the mixed nature of the committee, Nick Tamen's comment about a lack of unanimity is not quite as much a necessity. It would be if the parish nominators were in disagreement.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited July 9
    Back in the days of The Church Of My Yoof (which was what would today be called *open evangelical*), the PCC appointed a committee to go into the business of finding a new vicar.

    IIRC, various other groups within the (large) congregation were roped in to help, giving their POV as to who/what was needed, so the committee fluctuated in size - as did its opinions and views - as the process went on.

    As often happens, the man we got in 1973 was by no means a clone of the chap who was retiring (due to ill-health, sadly). Rev New Man was a brilliant pastor, but hopeless at taking services (except, oddly, for the Sunday 8am BCP Communion, which he conducted in a most reverent and decent manner, by-the-book). Rev Retiring Chap was also a good pastor, but by far the better preacher IMHO.

    IOW, whatever the system may be that Your Place uses, it isn't going to result in perfection!
  • Ah, but do the Sydney lovely wives have Capital Letters, like Fr F's Lovely Wife? (You could hear the capitals when he spoke of her, which was not seldom... :grimace: )
    I was going to make the same point, but had no wish to step on your toes ...

  • His mentions of Lovely Wife punctuated pretty well every bl**dy sermon he praught...
    :scream:
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    The procedure in Sydney is very strictly set out in an Ordinance (as you might expect). A committee with 5 parish nominators and 4 from the diocesan Synod, and the regional bishop - but who does not have a vote although he chairs the meetings. There are time limits after which the Abp may simply appoint without consultation. And the Abp is under no obligation to appoint a person recommended by the committee.
    Interesting. I can’t imagine that working in our context. The committee is solely members on the congregation, and we met at least every other week, sometimes more often, for a year. The presbytery exec, the moderator of the presbytery’s Commission on Ministry and a “vacancy counselor” from that Commission were always available to us for consultation or guidance, but only met with us a handful of times. (But the presbytery exec did an informal check on every candidate we were interested in prior to us talking to that candidate, so he could alert us to any red flags.) The committee’s nomination is presented to the congregation, which (at least in our presbytery) votes solely based on our recommendation, without having met the candidate. Presbytery must also approve.

    @Leorning Cniht or another Episcopalian can correct or confirm, but I believe the TEC process is that the vestry appoints a representative committee from the parish, which then conducts the search and makes a recommendation for the vestry to vote on. The bishop’s approval is also required.

  • AnselminaAnselmina Shipmate
    Oblatus wrote: »
    We're a TEC shack, if that affects your answer.

    A huge challenge for "search committees" in TEC is in getting real feedback from a candidate's current parishioners, particularly vestry members. You can't just go there and say "Your rector is a candidate in our parish's search process...can you tell me about his/her leadership style with the vestry?" Yet that is some very important insight needed in addition to public experience, style, persona. Often there will be an anonymous visit to experience the candidate in situ; generally the visitors pose as just that: random visitors, don't mind us, even though we keep jotting notes. But how the person interacts in smaller contexts is often hard to determine unless there's a way to hear from an inside trusted source who won't spill the beans within that parish.

    On the face of it that sounds fine. But tough to achieve. Everything would depend on who your 'inside trusted source' is and why you're trusting them! Either one would trust them because one knows and likes them them, in which case one might already be biased in believing the 'trusted' source; or one is simply trusting yet another stranger's word, except this time outside the formal reference process, where at least there are pathways to investigate informally any areas of concern. Genuinely truthful information from an unbiased source sought or discovered casually could be extremely useful. Who wouldn't like to be sure that their new cleric is not a bully, or will visit the sick, or be a good chair at a meeting eg. But the 'inside trusted source' would have to be someone who is a proven speaker of impartial truth, aware of context and the comprehensive nature of their priest's ministry, and not simply repeating anecdotes or hearsay. One is unlikely to trip over such a find serendipitously, particularly if your candidate's coming from afar.

    Most clergy interviews, however, are surely a couple of days long, aren't they? Involving meeting and chatting with many of the key laity, touring the area and the buildings (however discreetly)? A mixture of social meet and greets and formal panel interviews involving parochial nominators? And wouldn't it be a standard ask for a lay reference to be provided from someone within the parish the priest is coming from? A couple of my interviews involved giving presentations and a meeting-style discussion of various topics. As well as a rather boozy meal in a very acceptable Indian restaurant. It may not be possible to discover every wrinkle that way, but it should still be pretty revealing.
  • john holdingjohn holding Ecclesiantics Host, Mystery Worshipper Host
    Anselmina wrote: »


    Most clergy interviews, however, are surely a couple of days long, aren't they?

    O that that were so. Round here the parish committee will meet each candidate once for a two-hour discussion. Everything else is done on paper (or the equivalent).
  • I've been a parish nominator here for just over 15 years, in which time we have selected five candidates with mixed success. The nominations committee is comprised of three members and two alternates from the parish, and a similar number from the diocese. Such a committee exists in parishes which can meet a full stipend. In parishes which require diocesan financial support the bishop retains absolute right of appointment, although in practice our diocesans have consulted parish leaders.

    In preparation there will be parish consultations, usually led by the regional bishop, from which a parish profile is prepared.

    The bishop proposes a short list of candidates, usually two or three in number, supported by CVs. The candidates may choose to attend an interview with the parish representatives, usually at the home of one of the committee members. If this is the case, then a tour of the parish and its facilities can be arranged. The candidate will also meet with the bishop and diocesan representatives at a different venue.

    The nominations committee then meets with the bishop to deliver their recommendation. The bishop makes the formal nomination and then leaves the room to allow the committee to discuss. Once the committee has reached a consensus, the bishop returns for the final resolution. The parish nominators have the right to decline a nomination on two occasions, but at the the third instance, the bishop has the right to appoint regardless of parish opinion.

    It has been rare for us to undertake mystery worshipper visits, although those of us who have connections to networks in the wider Australian church have made discreet enquiries in the past.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Some of what Barnabas says is what happens here, but other aspects are different. There is the meeting of 2 to 3 hours, at the house of one of the nominators for privacy. Where possible, that would have been preceded by one or two of the nominators attending a service taken by the person being considered. It's a bit hard to think of a plausible excuse for a couple of strangers attending a service but you try. Embarrassing if you run into a mate who's a parishioner at the church being visited.
  • PuzzlerPuzzler Shipmate
    We had a difficult experience with our last appointment. We had been effectively in interregnum for over 3.5 years, as for some of that time our priest was seriously ill but hoping to return. The parish was well looked after by two retired priests and others.
    When we began the process of looking for a new incumbent, the Archdeacon started off by leading a morning of discussion and analysis of the parish. Then various people contributed to a parish profile ( not so much a list of what sort of person we needed). The first advert brought us eventually to a shortlist of two, whose applications had already been approved by the Bishop, and the decision was made by a group of four: Archdeacon, Area Dean and two parish representatives, myself and a churchwarden.
    It was a two day process, with opportunities for a tour of the parish, and to meet key members of the congregation in small groups, the purpose being for the candidates to discover more about us, not for the members to contribute to the decision-making. Formal interviews were with the panel of four. Unfortunately the one who was offered the post asked for time to consider, then turned it down.
    Some months later, there was a second advert, following a tweaking of the parish profile. This time there were replies which were deemed unsuitable by TPTB, and nobody was even called for interview.
    The Archdeacon again came to the parish as there was rather an outcry by this time. AFAICR there was not a third advert, but feelers were put out by TPTB and three more candidates were brought to our attention, interviews set up. But by the time the day came, only one candidate presented - and after due process was appointed. Such vetting as was done was in the hands of TPTB of the Diocese.
    If he had not been appointed after all this, there would have been blood, but suffice it to say that all is not well, and up to 30 members of the congregation, myself included , have since, with great sadness, left that church.
    At no time was there a visit to his then parish, but subsequent hints suggest that not all was well there. With hindsight, we wish we could have known more.
  • DooneDoone Shipmate
    You have my sincere sympathy, @Puzzler, as I had a very similar experience a few years ago and haven’t really yet found another church I feel settled in. How so many priests get through acceptance for ordination, the training process, then are allowed/enabled to continue to leave a trail of devastation I just don’t understand 😢.
  • A sad tale. Did you ever hear just why the first person offered the post turned it down? Or, come to that, why subsequent applicants were deemed unsuitable?

    Our Place was offered a chap who had just retired from his previous parish, and, as the latter was a flagship A-C church in a Certain Large City, I was able to do some online research to get a sort of idea of what the priest was like. The priest himself visited us incognito one Sunday morning (on which I was elsewhere), subsequently paying us (at a later meeting with the PCC) the compliment of telling us that he liked what he saw!

    A date for him to start with us was duly fixed, but, sadly, ill-health forced him to step back, as it were, just before his first Sunday. He did eventually recover, and now serves as assistant priest (PTO) at a neighbouring parish.
  • PuzzlerPuzzler Shipmate
    At least he is now being useful.
    Perhaps we should be more surprised when the right person is appointed, though in the light of all the prayers that ascend throughout the process, you’d hope for a higher success rate!
    Yes, Bishops Finger, we were given valid
    ( though disappointing) reasons for the first chap turning it down, and we did agree that the second batch of applicants were not ideal, when we later read their forms, though it would have been preferable to have been allowed to make up our own minds on that score.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited July 10
    Yes, I take the point that it might have been better if you'd known more about the second batch of applicants at the time.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    edited July 10
    Everyone here probably knows that I am Lutheran. Over the past thirty years, though I have seen three ministers come and go at my congregation.

    Usually want happens is when a minister in my tradition resigns, retires, or simply takes another call, the congregation goes into an interim status. The Bishop will assign a minister who is a trained interim pastor whose job is to help the congregation transition to a new permanent pastor. This position can last anywhere from a year to three years.

    According to the Interim Ministry Network, nearly 60 percent of churches suffer change-related difficulties. The interim pastor's job is to love the church during an often difficult transitional period, grieving the loss of its former pastor -- perhaps suddenly-- while being apprehensive about the future. The interim pastor must take steps to heal the church while carefully moving it toward the day when a new pastor will take over on a full-time basis.

    During the interim ministry, the Congregation needs to do a self-study that looks at its own history; its relationships with previous pastors; its present challenges, its potential for new ministries; and what it wants in a new minister. This is also a good time to discuss the issues of receiving an LBGTQA minister or a minister from another ethnic group etc. The Bishop will likely rely on this self-study to recommend a new pastor (our tradition) or assign a new pastor.



  • The Interim Ministry idea seems very sensible, and is sometimes found in the C of E these days, for the very reasons @Gramps49 lists.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Yes! Interim ministry in my tribe is much like what @Gramps49 describes, except we don’t have a bishop to assign interim ministers. The Session of the church calls the interim, but presbytery can assist in finding appropriate, trained interims.

  • DoublethinkDoublethink Shipmate
    edited July 11
    When you interview, what evidence do you look for that the priest meets your person spec ? And do you use structured references ?
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    When you interview, what evidence do you look for that the priest meets your person spec ? And do you use structured references ?
    We do use references, and they’re part of the evidence that the minister meets the qualifications we’re looking for. And we didn’t hesitate to talk confidentially with others we knew who also knew the minister in question and his or her congregation.

    We also had multiple interviews with any candidate we were seriously considering—2 or 3 Skype or FaceTime interviews, and finally a 2 or 3-day ”interview” that included the candidate’s spouse. (Not, to be clear, to interview the spouse, but because we knew the candidate and spouse were also “interviewing” us. Having the spouse come along gave her or him a chance to meet us, see the area, ask questions, etc., so that they could make a decision together.) This visit typically included 3 meals (Dinner Friday night and lunch on Saturday and Sunday), and our presbytery exec would have arranged for a “neutral pulpit” on Sunday so we could hear the candidate preach.

  • One of our failed nominations was when the husband of the candidate asked how long it would take to reach the coast and go fishing. She rang the bishop later in the day or the day after to advise that she was accepting a parish in a neighbouring diocese which was closer to the water. We may have dodged a bullet.
  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited July 11
    Or a fish-hook. However I do remember a Baptist church in Scotland on a Scottish island which, in its profile, emphasised to prospective candidates how easy it was to get off said island ...
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    One of our failed nominations was when the husband of the candidate asked how long it would take to reach the coast and go fishing. She rang the bishop later in the day or the day after to advise that she was accepting a parish in a neighbouring diocese which was closer to the water. We may have dodged a bullet.

    Not necessarily failed, then.
  • Or a fish-hook. However I do remember a Baptist church in Scotland on a Scottish island which, in its profile, emphasised to prospective candidates how easy it was to get off said island ...

    In fairness that is quite an important consideration - even for ministers without a territorial "parish" it must be good to get off one's own patch from time to time.
  • Indeed so, it was just the impression that was given. (It wasn't a tiny island, by the way: something like Arran or Rothesay).
  • CathscatsCathscats Shipmate
    Oh yes, about twenty years ago I was looking a a parish in Orkney. It had been vacant for 10 years, so they were keen to impress. But one of the ways they tried to impress was to say that with the presbytery so small and each presbytery having to send someone to every committee and board of the Kirk (a structural nicety which changed almost immediately after this conversation) I could be sure of being in Edinburgh most months. While I appreciated the acknowledgement of the need to get away, I didn’t think it was a good selling point. But it was fun to visit and preach in a “neutral pulpit”.
  • Cathscats wrote: »
    While I appreciated the acknowledgement of the need to get away, I didn’t think it was a good selling point.

    Although it's important to be clear about what the job requires. My experience of jobs in general is that people have wildly varying expectations about what a "reasonable" amount of travel is.
Sign In or Register to comment.