The Rev. Tom Gehlsen, Ph.D. firstname.lastname@example.org
Change in transition profile process
Openings in Iowa
Discernment for New Ministry
Search Process Events
Church Deployment Office
A new day
You are about to embark on a new part of your journey with God as a community. We used to call this a "search process." In a sense, we are still engaged in a search, but it is the search for the gifts of the individuals in this community, and the gifts of the community together. It is the search for God's longing for this congregation. It is a search for the many ways in which we can "speak the truth in love" to one another about our hopes and dreams for this community and to share disappointments and concerns. It is an opportunity to reflect on the stories of God's people throughout history, to take heart and to learn the lessons from faithful people throughout the ages. We are searching in the light of God, and "putting on the mind of Christ."
In this discernment process, we ask you to use the tools of our faith as a regular part of your work: Scripture, prayer and story. As a diocese that is committed to a theology of ministry is rooted in Baptism, we also encourage you to make the Baptismal Covenant, and prayers about how you live that covenant together, part of your process. We'll also ask you to use focus groups and interviews and maybe even a questionnaire in the context of ministry together.
First things first
If this process has been launched because your priest has been called to a new place, it's important to mark that event in the life of the congregation! There are a whole range of emotions within your midst, sadness, anxiety, maybe even anger, or relief. For some there is excitement for that person as they move to a new place on their journey, as well as excitement about the opportunities that like ahead in your life together.
As one way to mark that in the community's life, we suggest including a special liturgy as part of a Sunday morning service, preferably the last Sunday that your priest or deacon is with you. This will be a chance to offer thanks, special prayers, acknowledge the range of feelings and to make a commitment together to the time it takes to engage in this discernment process. The bishop will send a letter to be read as part of that service and to help launch you in this new beginning.
Charge to the leadership
During times of transition it's important to make sure important areas of responsibility are covered. Making a plan for how to cover those areas enables the congregation to more effectively take the time needed for discernment. Some of the "tasks" of ministry for the Vestry or Bishop's Committee to consider are:
Pastoral care - Calling on those who are ill, crisis situations, funerals (Are there pastoral care leaders in the congregation who will cover these areas, or can arrangements be made with other ordained leadership nearby, including those from other denominations?) Is there a plan in place for visiting by Lay Eucharistic Ministers and their companions from the congregation?
Clergy supply - If needed, who will make arrangements by contacting and scheduling supply clergy? Lists are available from the diocesan office to help with this. Be sure to let clergy know whether they will be sending off Lay Eucharistic Ministers. It's also helpful to send an order of worship ahead and make sure there is a plan for someone to greet and orient them.
Building Concerns - Who will keep up with the scheduling, opening and closing of the building? Will someone regularly check to make sure everything is in working order?
Bulletins - Who will be putting together the order of worship each week? Do they need to coordinate with supply clergy or lay readers and check with the music coordinator/director? Are the lines of communication clear about getting announcements printed?
Finances - Are the guidelines for check signing in place and an adequate number of individuals available to sign? Regular treasurer's reports will be especially important.
Remember that help is always available from the diocesan office. Once the most pressing areas are covered, the leadership (Bishop's Committee or Vestry) can turn to the formation of a Discernment Committee.
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—Notification of clergy departure to Bishop;
—Orientation of Vestry to deployment process & formation of search Committee.
—Search committee meets to select chair & secretary;
—Process orientation for search committee.
MONTH 3 & 4:
—Two weekend gatherings to explore "discernment."
—Development of parish assessment tool;
—Begin compiling information to create profile.
—Distribute Church Assessment Tool (CAT)
—Receive results from Holy Cow Consulting;
—Develop profile to be submitted to National Deployment Office;
—Receive first round of names.
—Initial screening of names by Bishop & Deployment Officer;
—Initial contact by Deployment Officer to determine interest.
—Determine initial list of candidates by their potential interest;
—Deployment Officer completes "red flag" check;
—Send names and profiles to search committee.
MONTH 10 & 11:
—Search committee mails promotional materials to candidates & possible first step, initial questions to be answered;
—Search committee reviews names of those interested, decides whether to ask for additional information.
MONTH 12 & 13:
—Prioritized list of names is submitted to Vestry, Bishop & Deployment Officer to begin background checks;
—Warden receives names and sets interview dates with candidates;
—Vestry meets with Deployment Officer regarding interview questions to be sure all parties are on the same level field.
—Vestry conducts interviews with search committee in to observe to provide input as appropriate.
—Arrangements are to be made for the candidates to meet with the Bishop during the interview period to receive orientation to the diocese and Bishop.
—When selection is made, the Bishop & Deployment Officer are notified of the name and the terms of the call to be issued. The Bishop will certify whether the person is acceptable under the terms of the call letter;
—Call letter is sent;
—Written acceptance of call is received;
—The congregation celebrates entering a new relationship and new ministry together.