Searching for a Rector

Searching for a rector

by Hall Gardner and Kathryn Jasper

Each week, beginning in August, 12 members of our church community have been meeting to prayerfully guide and discern the call for Calvary’s 22nd rector. 

As we work toward this call, prominent in our minds is the importance of our roles as representatives to each of you in the congregation. Our input and opinions are guided by the weight of who we are as not only individuals, but also members of groups, guilds, and organizations within the greater church. 

The work we are doing is exciting—as a group we have talked about how fortunate we are to be in a position of searching for a rector during this time in Calvary’s story. Calvary is a vibrant, dynamic faith community that is in a healthy place with a congregation ready for forward movement. So—exciting, yes, but also significant. We do not take this work lightly. 

Because we recognize the weight of representing each of you, we want to share with you where we are—and where we’re going. 

In the Aug. 21 adult forum class, the search process was reviewed to provide transparency to the congregation. The steps include:

  1. Formation: In this step, the wardens of the church worked with the diocese to determine who will lead the church during the transition. There are two basic paths: 1) a person trained to lead a congregation through some soul-searching work to determine who they are and where they are headed; 2) a person capable of maintaining the congregation and staff. Also in the formation step a search committee is formed.
  2. Planning: The search committee begins it work by determining roles of the committee members, establishing rules or norms for the committee that seek to maintain working relationships and preparing a parish profile that accurately reflects the congregation.
  3. Implementation: In this step, applications are received and assessed for compatibility. This step requires confidentiality for the benefit of the applicants.
  4. Calling: This step involves focusing on the applicants and getting to know them better through interviews and site visits. This step concludes by determining the one applicant who the search committee believes has the needed skill set for the church at this point in the church’s story.

We are currently in the “planning” phase of this process—and are poised to launch into implementation in October. Through the last two months, we have gotten to know each other better as a group that will have to function highly together, prayerfully considered how to represent Calvary to the outside world, and discussed (at length) who we are and what we are looking for—and I fully expect that discussion will continue through step four of the process. 

A couple of frequently asked questions include:

  • How long will it take?  There is not a deadline on the process and rushing to make a decision could lead to making a bad decision. The search committee is meeting weekly and you can expect us to stay on task.
  • Are you looking for a __________ priest?  Depending on who is asking, “blank” could be young, old, male, female, etc. The search committee is open to whomever possess the necessary traits regardless of age, sex, etc.
  • Is my recommendation of ___________ being pursued?  This question goes back to the requirement of confidentiality for the benefits of the applicant(s). The search committee will give monthly updates to the congregation through articles, announcements, and other forums.
  • What can I do?  You may communicate confidentially with the search committee using the email address: rectorsearch@calvarymemphis.org and please pray. See prayer #13 on page 818 of the Book of Common Prayer.

At this point in the process, the planning work is close to completion. The profile is set to be posted in October both on the Calvary website and on the Office for Transition Ministry website of the Episcopal Church. It is expected the position will be listed until at least the middle of December. We look forward to updating you next month. Thank you for entrusting us with the future of our parish—we are honored to work for and represent you.

Front (l-r): Katy Leopard, Gary Wilson, Matt Seltzer, Bailey Bethell
Back (l-r): James Dowd, Kathryn Jasper, Hall Gardner, Shannon Tucker, Bill Craddock
Not pictured: Betty Jo Dulaney, Gwen Owen, Allison Parker