Finding a New Parish Priest

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Ernest
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Finding a New Parish Priest

Post by Ernest » Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:44 am

We are in Vacancy, more commonly described as Interregnum, our previous Parish Priest retired on 30th November 2018, which meant that our Parochial Church council were free to look for another Priest to become our incumbent.

The process was already in hand, because the Church Wardens had anticipated the vacancy following the announcement of retirement in August 2018 and had (as they were both new to the game) studied the things that the Diocese, Arch Deacon, Patron and Parish are required to do when a vacancy arises. So, by 16th December we had a draft Parish Profile and Draft Person Specification to vet, which was, once amended and approved sent to the Arch Deacon and Diocese before Christmas. We elected two representative from the PCC, to work with the Arch Deacon, Patron and Bishop to advertise the post and to start the selection process. Even before we'd done that, two priests had indicated to the Arch Deacon and interest in the post.

We have a closing date and interview date already, and if all goes well, a new incumbent could be appointed before the end of April.

This is very quick, my experience of previous vacancies in my previous parish, was months of delay, failed interviews and about 18 months of vacancy, before a new incumbent was appointed, only to stay for 18 months and to move on again, for the whole process to restart. In fact, they only achieved a new Parish Priest after another 12 months of vacancy.

I don't know why some vacancies take some time to fill? Perhaps the Parishes needs and expectations are just to vague or way over what should be expected from an incoming incumbent. Certainly, some adverts that I have read in the Church times, seem to want a cross between a Saint, Senior Manager and Superman/woman. Not many of those on offer.

So, my question to the church would be, why do we not do succession planning, for a new incumbent to be named, before the previous one leave, allowing a period of handover between them, and allowing continuity of mission and ministry, without the uncertainties and unrealistic expectations which arise.

This was common in my army life, when I moved to a new job, we normally had a week together with the outgoing post holder, to allow the accumulated wisdom of how the job was done, and what was needed. And business has succession planning down to a fine art.

I know that the church is not a business, that the incumbent in an office holder, not an employee, but surely we could do better?

Any thoughts?
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Joe Parrish
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Finding a New Parish Priest

Post by Joe Parrish » Wed Jan 09, 2019 10:26 am

A more 'ancient' method was always to have a curate ready at hand and trained, but most churches cannot afford one nowadays. The more 'modern' method is to have at least a 12-18 month trained interim in place immediately to help the parish work through its needs and reorient itself to a new face and new ways. The tendency to move quickly most often leads to a failed call or another priest who stays only 1-3 years, and often somewhat troubled ones at that, sorry to say.
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Ernest
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Finding a New Parish Priest

Post by Ernest » Thu Jan 10, 2019 6:20 am

Thanks Joe, there seems some similarities between how the Episcopal Church and the Church of England do things.

I find it strange that the church seems happy to tolerate a vacancy in this way. I can't think of any other area of work, where a post is just left vacant, with the parish left to negotiate with visiting priests to take Eucharistic services. And it can be pot luck who you get. I've had visiting priests in my last parish, who didn't respect the way things were done, and arbitarily changing things to the confusion of the sides people and servers.

Most visiting priests are retired, but we also get some fine young curates, who might not be of the Central tradition, Evangelical and Anglo Catholic, who have to experience ministry in different contexts as part of their training. They can be great fun as they struggle to understand why things are different, and ask interesting questions of us. It is lovely to share their journeys.

Our last Curate is about to be inducted into an Anglo Catholic parish next week, and his background was as Evangelical, but his experience with us and also working across the deanery, exposed him to other ways of doing things, so he was able to look across a wider spectrum for posts. Many of our parishioners anticipated that he would return, but that doesn't work well in many parishes, to have the curate as the next Parish Priest where they trained. He wisely in my view, chose not to apply.
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Joe Parrish
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Finding a New Parish Priest

Post by Joe Parrish » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:52 pm

Hi Ernie,
The question that occurs to me is why didn't the parish offer the Curate the interim position?
That would be more of the tradition in the US for parishes with Curates.
It seems to work rather well, but as I noted, most cannot afford a Curate.
Peace and blessings,
Joe

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Ernest
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Finding a New Parish Priest

Post by Ernest » Sat Jan 12, 2019 8:07 am

Hi Joe,

That isn't an option here. He would have had to apply with others as all posts are subject to open advertisement under the control of the diocesan bishop and arch deacon. It might be unsatisfactory, but it is the only one laid down by General Synod by measure and the Canons of the Church.

It is a set, legalistic procedure, which is actually part of the law of the country, as the Established Church.

Many people want disestablishment, but I am content with what we have.
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Finding a New Parish Priest

Post by Joe Parrish » Sun Jan 13, 2019 9:55 am

Sounds like he saw better opportunities, since he did not apply.
It always takes the approval of a bishop and archdeacon here as well.
There needs to be order, but that does not always benefit the parish.
Same here; however, savvy bishops are on top of the situation and will have an interim in mind, and in hand, as soon as someone retires.
But it seems oftentimes only the largest parishes get that attention.
However, in this interim time, I am sure your services are valuable, and you may be able to learn new things perhaps faster, 'thrown in the mix'. God has God's plans in mind; our task is probably to discern them.
Peace and blessings,
Joe

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Ernest
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Finding a New Parish Priest

Post by Ernest » Tue Jan 15, 2019 6:28 am

Met the Arch Deacon yesterday.

We have two possibilities but others can still apply before the run out date, later this month. All is confidential and we are not permitted to discuss anything with parishioners now the process to choose a new Incumbent has commenced.

God will provide and help us to decide. :votive2:
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Finding a New Parish Priest

Post by Pam » Mon Jan 21, 2019 7:36 pm

@Joe - I have seen interim positions advertised in the C of E, but not that many. Occasionally a curate in the diocese who's near the end of training may be brought in as an interim, but I think this is usually only if a church is having problems operating during a vacancy.

@Ernie - I think some bishops feel that there should be 'clear blue water' between the departure of one vicar and the arrival of the next one. This will vary very much from church to church. It's sometimes felt that it's beneficial to allow the lay leadership to be in charge for a while, although in practice it can be quite difficult for a church to start any new initiatives until a new vicar is in place so, in practice, it can put a bit of a brake on things and create some frustration.

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Ernest
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Finding a New Parish Priest

Post by Ernest » Tue Jan 22, 2019 6:27 am

Thanks Pam.

Yes, it can be frustrating, for instance you can't change the service schedule while in vacancy, albeit you might cancel some if clergy are not available. Fortunately, so far, we haven't had to do that. And of course, I can always lead a service of the Word if needed. I am leading Evensong this Sunday for instance, but this is one of my regular services to lead on a rota.

But, hopefully, we have candidates applying and interviews very soon, so might have someone in place, sooner, rather than later. The process for this has been smooth, compared to the experience I had of two in my old parish.

God will provide and in the meantime, I am looking towards being on PTO from October, which seems to give me a little freedom to work in other spheres. Both of my supervisors have retired. Incumbent and Community Deacon, which leaves me with a gap, unless I use the Area Dean, but seeing that we did not see eye to eye during my placement with him, I would be reluctant to go down that route

So, I will self supervise for now. There might be opportunities for a churches
together effort, which is being revived locally with a new Baptist Pastor and congregational pastor. I am going to a meeting with them next month, and will see what develops from that. We are looking at either Street Pastors or a Chaplaincy in the community. Still exciting times. :thumbs:
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Finding a New Parish Priest

Post by Pam » Wed Jan 23, 2019 10:57 am

I think the default in most places is for the area dean to function as 'vicar' for things that can't be deferred. Do you have someone you can consult for support if any difficulties arise in your ministry? (Eg a warden of Readers or something like that). That, to me, seems more important than someone supervising in the sense of 'managing' you.

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Ernest
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Finding a New Parish Priest

Post by Ernest » Thu Jan 24, 2019 6:42 am

Hi Pam,

We have a warden of readers and our deanery has two assistant wardens. So, I am happy to speak to them if needed. We tried to set up a deanery network for LLM, and I started it off, but to be honest, individuals within the deanery didn't respond to the initiative. Which was disappointing. I still have the extended network of our training cohort, and we meet socially from time to time, and its interesting to see the directions that their ministry is developing in. One individual went to Mirfield to train for the Religious life, and ordination in the longer term. Others are involved in training new LLM's. And our former NSM curate has just been installed as a Stipendiary Vicar of a Church in the Deanery, something that he never expected. The God of surprises is still active. :thumbs:
Where there is hope and love there is life!
God is Life!
God is Hope!
God is Love!
God Is!!

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