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A Search Update from Your Wardens

June 11, 2017

As you may recall, the search process defined by the diocese involves three phases: discernment, outreach to candidates, and choice.

Since February we have been engaged in discernment; in a series of meetings let by Canon Eric Law, we have looked at our past—the good parts and the less good parts—so we could better discern the path forward—and at our present—cataloging ministries, finances, and demography. Two of those work products are already up on our web site under Rector Search, and I invite you to visit and share your thoughts. Finally, during the last of Canon Law’s visits last month, we asked every member of the congregation to identify in writing the most important qualities and character we should seek in a new rector. We got a very good response, which we are collating on a spread sheet that we’ll share with you as soon as it’s complete.

The next stage involves outreach: seeking and interviewing candidates; before sharing specific information I want to share some words of good hope. Last Sunday your vestry met with Bishop Frank Griswold, the former Presiding Bishop of the United States, seeking his wisdom about searches; he had some excellent specific advice, but his first two thoughts are ones we want to share with you. He began with a question, “Is anyone anxious about the search and about whether we’ll be able to call the right person? Of course you are, and that’s part of the process.” “But,” he continued, “TAKE YOUR TIME. Be thoughtful but not anxious.” We think that is wise and Spirit-filled counsel.

Now to some specifics. After our conversation with Bp. Griswold, your vestry decided to proceed by appointing a search committee largely separate from the vestry, whose charge would be to interview candidates and bring to the vestry a limited number of names for final consideration. If you have the name of a priest you think would be a good candidate, by all means let us know.

And, in the near future your vestry will be deciding on the scope of the search and asking people to serve on that committee; if you are interested (or if you know of someone else who would be a good member of this group), we’d be happy to know. But before you line up, let me note a couple of qualifications: 1) this phase needs to be conducted in absolute confidentiality; not a word of a name or a detail of an interview can be public—or we will, without a doubt, lose the strongest candidates; 2) the work will be pretty intensive, with some long, full days concentrated over the summer and early fall, so if you have significant travel plans or other time constraints, don’t volunteer; 3) in identifying a committee, your vestry will want to have broad representation from many parts of the congregation and people of varying spiritual gifts and personality types, so you have to promise not to be disappointed if you’re not selected.

And a final word about timing, that is necessarily tentative. In our fondest hopes, we would have called a rector by the end of calendar 2017, even though that person might not be available until later than that. But—to echo Bp. Griswold–it’s more important to get this done right than done fast, so that timetable may have to slide. And meanwhile we are blessed to be in the very good hands of Bishop Catherine and our present clergy.

Stephen Yeazell, Senior Warden syeazell@stjla.org 

Emily Abbott, Junior Warden abbott@stjla.org