Melissa Semmes-Thorne, one of our wardens, provides answers to some of the questions that have been raised about our search.
Q: Who will be our new rector?
A: We won’t know that for 12-18 months.
A: Because, unlike the Catholics and the Methodists, the Episcopal Church does not just assign us a new rector. We have to go through an interim period, which involves discerning what it is we need in a new rector, creating a profile of our church which explains who we are, and then searching out a new minister. During this period of time, we will have an interim minister.
Q: Who will do the discernment stuff and the profile, and then the search?
A: We will create committees for each of these, made up of members of the congregation. The Transition Coordinator for the Diocese and the Canon to the Ordinary will be helping us out with this. If you are interested in being on one of these committees, please let us (any member of the Vestry, or one of the Wardens) know. We will be looking for a variety of different kinds of people for these committees: different ages, different sexes, different backgrounds, and different lengths of time that they have been members.
Q: Can I be on the search committee?
A: Potentially, yes. The vestry is currently in conversation with people to be on the search/discernment committee. It will be made up of 7-9 people, of differing backgrounds, ages, and lengths of membership, representing all elements of our congregation. If you are interested, please talk with any member of the vestry. Unfortunately we cannot guarantee that you will actually be named to it, because of the need for congregational diversity on the committee.
Q: Will it really take that long?
A: We are hoping that it will be closer to 12 months rather than 18 months. Part of what we need to do is get used to doing things differently than what Father Ed had us doing. A new rector will bring new things to us, and we need to be used to doing things differently in order to accept what our new rector will suggest. This does not mean that everything will be different. There are certain things about the way that Holy Trinity functions that are too important to disregard or dispose of. But a new rector will bring new ideas that may be wonderful, and we need some time to learn to be open to those ideas.
Q: Why must it take a full year to go through the search process the Diocese insists upon?
A: It does not have to take a full year. In fact, the Diocese would be thrilled (as we would be) if it took less time. However, they do not want us to rush the process, and end up having to do it all over again. (This has actually happened, more times that they would like. In trying to accelerate the process, churches end up being less than thorough in their discernment, and then have to start over when they are unable to call a rector who fits with the congregation.) The search/discernment committee needs to be formed, take the time to become comfortable with each other, and discover the spiritual and practical process of calling our new rector. They need to listen to what the congregation says in the cottage meetings to find out what we want. Only then can they begin to find the right person for us.
Q: Who do I need to talk to if I’m crabby about what’s happening, or I have ideas, or I want to be a part of these transitional committees?
A: Any one of the Vestry or the Wardens
Q: You keep saying we’re in a time of transition, but we don’t see much “transitioning” happening, other than some changes here and there in our services. Why haven’t we seen more progress in our search for a permanent rector?
A: We could not begin our search until we called an interim rector to guide us through the process. Pastor Deborah did not start with us until mid-November, and we then needed time to get to know her, as well as get through the seasons of Advent and Christmas. She has had the special training that all interim ministers are required to have, and is a seasoned interim, who will do all she can to make this a year of learning and spiritual growth. The next steps are currently in process right now: creating a search/discernment committee, scheduling cottage meetings to find out from all of our members how they perceive our church and what they want in a new rector, and restoring the rectory.
Q: Is our “profile” complete, and if not, what needs to be done to finish it?
A: Our profile cannot be completed until the search/discernment committee begins its work. The profile of Holy Trinity Wenonah will be a document that basically explains who we are and what we want. The search/discernment committee has to figure that out before the profile can be completed and sent out.
Q: Can we proceed with the search even though the rectory has not been renovated?
A: Absolutely. The rectory is well on its way toward renovation. If you were at the annual meeting you will have heard the report of the rectory committee: what progress has been made, the direction we are going in continuing the process, and when the work will be happening. This is occurring simultaneously with the work the search/discernment committee is doing. We anticipate that the rectory restoration will be completed by the time we call a new minister.
Q: We liked Terry O’Connor, the supply priest we had throughout the summer and into the fall. He interacted with members and children, and would be a good fit. Can he be considered?
A: Terry was great. If he is interested in applying for the position of our permanent rector, he is absolutely welcome to do so. We do have to bear in mind that he does have a full time job, as the assistant principal of a grade school in Galloway Township. He would have to give up that job to become our rector, and we do not know if that is feasible for him.