Everything You Want to Know

The length of the search process depends upon many variables–including frequency of vestry meetings, search committee meetings, the time required to gather data from the Holy Conversations, and time to develop a parish profile. Flexibility is essential, and the search committee will not establish arbitrary deadlines.

Proceeding with haste will lead to painful results for all: the new rector, the vestry, the congregation, and the diocese.

It is far better for everyone involved to take the necessary time and energy with the search process now, at the beginning of this relationship, than to spend it at its end by dissolving a pastoral relationship with a priest whose own gifts and abilities are not well-matched to the particular gifts and challenges of a congregation. We thank you for you forbearance and prayers as we work through this process with the patience, discernment, and attention that it requires.

How do we contact you?

If you have questions, please email us at parish_office@stlukesdc.org

What is the process for calling a new rector?

We began this process during the COVID-19 pandemic, so everything has been conducted virtually. We held a series of Holy Conversations to determine where we are as a church and what our experience with St. Luke’s has been. The conversations were candid and ultimately served to position St. Luke’s for the next steps.

Once the parish website is updated and the OTM Portfolio completed, the Bishop’s office will post an employment listing on its website, with the Transition Ministries Network, and in the OTM database. Listings may be included on various social media platforms targeted for clergy for maximum visibility. Listings are typically open for four to six weeks. Clergy responding to those listings will be instructed to submit their applications directly to the search committee.

What is the Search Committee Narrative?
The search committee developed a narrative that consisted of eleven questions designed to provide an in-depth view of St. Luke’s. Some of the questions dealt with ministry at St. Luke’s, pastoral care, St. Luke’s as a worshipping community, stewardship and addressing change. The answers to these questions were derived from the Holy Conversations, so your voice was heard. The narrative will also be part of the Parish Profile and/or the OTM Portfolio.
What is the Parish Vitality Assessment?

The Diocese of Washington engaged in the development of a Strategic Plan during 2019. One of the deliverables of the Plan was the identification of three strategic areas for intentional focus. These areas included: Revitalization, Formation, and Justice. Further, through the development of the Revitalization area, seven specific metrics were identified to indicate the degree of vitality of a parish.

The Parish Vitality Assessment (PVA) is used to present an honest depiction of the institutional history and DNA of the parish and to introduce prospective candidates to the fullness of the lifeblood of the parish. The PVA should address each of the seven identified specific metrics that indicate the degree of vitality of a parish.

The assessment will serve as a significant repository of the information required in the completion of the Office of Transition Ministries Community Portfolio as described in the following paragraph. A draft of the assessment should be reviewed by the Canon for Leadership Development and Congregational Care prior to its publication.

What is the Office of Transition Ministry Portfolio?

A group in the National Church helps coordinate diocesan efforts, and in doing so has created a database of both clergy and parish “portfolios.” All clergy are instructed to create a portfolio when they are ordained. Parishes create or update their portfolios whenever they enter a transition period. The goal of the database is to capture data that will help match parishes with clergy seeking employment. After gathering self-exploration data, the search committee is responsible for completing a form whose contents include both a financial/demographic section and a narrative section.

The search committee will engage the vestry to complete the financials – these include things like the salary package. It is diocesan practice that any full time parochial priest be paid at least the minimum annual compensation as determined by the guidelines approved by Diocesan Council and Convention. Compensation guidelines are available on the diocesan website at www.edow.org.

The search committee will work with the data gathered from the congregation to
complete the narrative questions.
The Bishop has identified seven traits of leadership for priests functioning in the diocese. These traits should be available for review by both the Search Committee and prospective applicants to gain clarity and understanding of the expectations for clergy leadership in the diocese.

During the discernment process, the search committee must maintain strict confidence about the candidates being considered. For them to do otherwise is to risk great damage, both to the candidates and to their parishes. Associates, interims and candidates on time-certain contracts might very well be seeking new employment with their parishes’ full knowledge and consent. Other candidates, however, would wisely preserve their current congregation’s morale by not making their job search public. It is career- and parish-damaging when search committee members leak information about candidate identity to parishioners – or even to spouses and friends.

Are Background Checks Required?
Background Checks concerning sexual misconduct, criminal offenses and financial solvency, are required for clergy at any point of transition (pre-ordination, licensing, and employment) in the Diocese of Washington. Once a search committee discerns the candidates it will visit, it must send their names, email addresses, and current bishop information to the Canon for Leadership Development and Congregational Care.

Before Search Committee visits occur, the Canon will also contact each candidate’s diocesan officer to ensure the clergy person is actually licensed and performing well in his/her existing diocese.) The Canon will work with diocesan human resources officers to arrange background checks. Background checks cost approximately $100 each, paid by the parish. During this same stage in the process, search committee members should begin reference checks. Once the search committee has determined which candidate(s) it will submit to the vestry, it should send the list to the Bishop’s office. The Bishop will phone-interview each candidate and their corresponding Bishop and share her impressions with the search committee.

When the search committee has completed its interviews, consulted with the Canon and Bishop for approval of each candidate, and reached a decision, it presents final candidates to the vestry. Depending on what the Vestry requested in its charge to the search committee, the committee might submit a single name, multiple names in ranked order, or multiple names in alphabetical order. The chair or co-chairs of the search committee will make the presentation of the candidate(s) to the vestry.

Then what happens?

Once the employment listing is closed, search committee members will review their
applicant pool. Typically, parishes use a four-stage review process:

1. Review applications (cover letter, resume and OTM portfolio), then determine which applicants to interview via videoconference).

2. Conduct videoconference interviews, then determine which applicants to visit.

3. Assign search committee members to visit candidates in their home parishes (or other live worship experience) to hear them preside and preach and conduct an interview, then determine which candidates to bring to the hiring parish.

4. Host candidates at the hiring parish for a tour of the environs, a meal, and an interview, then discern which finalist(s) to recommend to the vestry.

This process can be adjusted in parishes that get fewer candidates and/or to make use of current technologies.

Will we get to meet them? Will they preach at St. Luke’s?
Unfortunately, no. While that would certainly be fun, there are several reasons why a search is not open for the entire parish to see. First, the process must be very confidential, as considering leaving a current parish is a very sensitive matter. Second, by design, the search committee has been appointed representatives of the parish, and it’s the committee’s job to consider candidates based on the information that our months-long discernment process has yielded. The short-list candidates do, however, typically meet the vestry.
When will the new rector come?
Once our short list of candidates is identified, the diocese goes through an extensive background check process. The timeframe for this process is highly variable, depending on whether a candidate has recently gone through the background check process or not. Even once the new rector is formally called, it’s hard to know when he or she will arrive, as leaving a parish sometimes takes weeks or even months. Both of these factors introduce a high degree of variability around the timing of a start date.
Who chose the Search Committee?
In selecting members of the Rector Search Committee, the Vestry wanted to be mindful of representing the full spectrum of membership at St. Luke’s, including long time parishioners that had been involved in prior searches, newer members, and the wide variety of perspectives found in our congregation. At the recommendation of the diocesan Office of Transition Ministry, the Rector Search Committee engaged a Transition Consultant, Dr. Kay Collier McLaughlin, to guide us through the entire process.
How long will the search process take?
The Rector Search Committee wants to assure you that we are working diligently to call a new rector to lead St. Luke’s into the future. We will be prudent and take the needed time to fully review applications, interview, and discern who will be put forward to the Vestry for final selection. Calling a rector is very different from secular hiring processes, so we are going to be both diligent and persistent in our work while allowing the discernment of the Holy Spirit to guide us.
What is the role of the Vestry?

The Vestry has charged the Rector Search Committee to recommend the names of the three final candidates. The Vestry submitted their portion of the Parish Profile information to the Search Committee.

The Vestry conducts formal interviews during the candidates’ visit and discusses the compensation and benefits with finalists. The candidates will have been provided copies of the most recent Diocesan Clergy Compensation Schedule, the Diocesan Personnel Policies and Procedures, including information about Diocesan benefits and a sample Letter of Agreement by the Vestry prior to these final interviews. The Vestry also invites the Bishop to the final election meeting and receives approval to negotiate with the final candidate.

What is the role of the Parish?
The Parish is central to the development of the Profile, the document that tells who we are at St. Luke’s. The next important role for the Parish is to hold an attitude of prayerful patience as the work goes forward to discover God’s will for us. Your Search Committee is depending on your prayers. Finally, it is the joyous duty of the Parish to welcome our new Rector!