A Guide for the Parish Advisory Committee 

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So, your Incumbent has announced they’re leaving. Now, what???

The bishop will have received notice from your incumbent indicating their intention to resign and will have communicated with the wardens and the territorial archdeacon regarding the next steps for the parish(es). In consultation with the territorial archdeacon, the bishop may also appoint a facilitator to help with the process to come.

In accordance with Canon Seven s.2(3), the parish corporation will have appointed a Parish Advisory Committee (the Committee) at its first meeting following the Annual Meeting. The Committee will be comprised of (a) the two Church Wardens, (b) one member of the Vestry appointed annually by the Parish Corporation, and (c) two voting members appointed annually by the Parish Corporation, at least one of whom shall, if practicable, be between the ages of 16 and 35.

The territorial archdeacon coordinates with the chair of the Parish Advisory Committee to call the first meeting, normally following the current incumbent’s departure.  The bishop may also give permission for the work of the Committee to begin before the current incumbent has finished in the role, after consultation with the incumbent.

The territorial archdeacon will review the expectations of the Committee and answer any questions that may arise.  The committee will need to plan to meet several times during this process; discerning the next incumbent should not be rushed.

If not already a member of the Committee, the parish treasurer should also be consulted early in the process to establish if a full-time incumbent is viable. Depending on the specific situation, the Committee may wish, or be asked by the bishop, to give consideration to sharing ministry with one or more other parishes going forward.  If there is a decision to consider the sharing of clergy by more than one parish, a joint advisory committee will be established.

Remember, this is a process that requires much prayer and discernment. Don’t rush the process, take the time needed and be encouraged to use the resource staff available to you.

What is a Parish Profile?

Your parish profile is a document that is reviewed by prospective clergy for your parish. It is a document that should give an impression of life, worship and ministry, a vision for the future and a suggested leadership characteristic of your future incumbent. The Parish Advisory Committee is responsible for ensuring it is written/refreshed.

You’ll want to paint a realistic picture of the present realities of the congregation(s) and have done some discernment and consideration of future ministry possibilities (i.e., what is God at work doing in your area and what would He want your parish to be part of).

This document may be the first impression for someone considering joining you in ministry.

The profile provides the facts and information about the parish – ministry/mission, property, finances, demographics and community life. Additionally, it provides a vision for the future of the parish. This document becomes a discernment tool for any future clergy who are considering joining your parish. You’ll want to consider the leadership style and giftings and how they align with the discerned vision for the future.

A template questionnaire for a parish survey and a profile outline have been provided to help you get started. Committee members should also read the suggested resources (Bishop’s Charges, Five Marks of Mission, etc.) to assist in forming the profile, so that it is in line with the vision of the Synod and Bishop.

When your final draft is completed, it goes to your territorial archdeacon for their review. At this point, the archdeacon may return the document to the Committee with suggestions for further work and/or greater clarity. After this, the territorial archdeacon will forward the completed document to the bishop. 

The Profile is Approved!

When the Bishop has approved your parish’s profile, an announcement will be posted by the bishop’s office. The office will look after writing this announcement and the invitation for expressions of interest. This announcement will be posted to the diocesan website, clergy announcements and the national job listing.

The bishop will receive informal expressions of interest and perform an initial assessment of each enquirer. All clergy from outside the diocese are expected to receive the blessing/support of their current bishop before applying anywhere else. The bishop’s office will then send those expressing interest a copy of the parish profile for their review and discernment. The bishop may also provide the profile who have not expressed interest for their consideration.

If the enquirer wishes to formally express interest, they submit a curriculum vitae with three references and a written statement outlining why they feel called to ministry in your parish and this diocese.

If multiple expressions of interest are received by any deadline given, the bishop will discern an order to present candidates to the parish(es). One expression of interest at a time will be sent to the Committee for review.

From this point until a new incumbent is announced by the bishop, the Committee is to maintain strict confidentiality regarding possible candidates and the status of the process.

If the Committee discerns that a given candidate is not an appropriate fit for the parish, they are not expected to proceed further with this person. In this case, the candidate will be removed from the process and the next expression of interest, if one exists, will be sent to the Committee.

If the Committee wishes to proceed, the bishop’s office will help in coordinating a meeting/interview. If the candidate is from outside the diocese or at a significant distance, the first interview can be done using a  video-conference platform.

Meeting with a Candidate

The Committee will meet to determine the format of the interview meeting and what questions to ask the candidate. Again, it is important to spend time in prayer as you prepare. An interview guidelines document has been provided as an appendix by the diocesan vice-chancellor to ensure your interview questions are in order.

Notes should be taken, including who was present, questions asked and answered as well as any other relevant information. At the end of the interview(s), the notes should be sent to the Synod Office to the attention of the Personnel Officer for filing.

The parish covers any costs of the candidate to attend an interview and, optionally, any further visit. If the parish is experiencing financial hardship, funding support can be made available through the Synod.

If both the Committe and the candidate prayerfully discern that they are the next incumbent for your parish, contacting the bishop’s office is the next step. The bishop will have a conversation with the candidate and begins the process of the final steps.

If the Committee discerns that the interviewed candidate is not the right fit, indication is given to the bishop’s office who will then notify the individual.  

If a second (or first in-person) visit is possible, make sure time is budgeted for a tour of the community(ies), the buildings (including rectory if the parish owns one), schools (if appropriate). Remember that this process is meant to be confidential and discerning; making an announcement or public/parish event would not be appropriate, but meeting with a few key people in the parish may be appropriate. 

The Final Steps

Once all parties (the candidate, the Committee and bishop) have confirmed that this candidate is called to the parish incumbency, the Diocesan Personnel Officer will become involved to discuss stipend, benefits, etc. (the diocese has a payroll scale). The start date will need to be negotiated; remember that if the candidate is leaving another parish, it is normal practice to provide three months’ notice (so they will not be starting right away). When the details are finalized, the bishop’s office will send a letter to the Parish Wardens to be read during the church service. The diocese covers to cost of the move, up to a negotiated amount.  

Continue praying for your new incumbent (and family) and for your parish as you both prepare for this new journey together. Once the new incumbent has arrived and settled in, the bishop’s office will begin coordinating a service for the Celebration of New Ministry.

Appendices and Additional Resources