Priest-In-Charge Discernment Process Q&A


What is Bill Bradbury’s status as our priest?  Isn’t there some kind of time limit?

Bill is a “priest-in-charge”, meaning that he joined us specifically for a three-year period of time during which we as a parish decide who we want to call as a full-time priest.  The two distinct differences between a priest-in-charge, which is new to us at All Saints’, and an interim priest, is that the priest-in-charge is with us for a longer (3 years vs. 12 – 18 months) but fixed period of time, and we are allowed to call the priest-in-charge to be our full-time priest, whereas interims cannot be called.  Bill’s three years with us ends March 2015.

I get the impression people like Bill.  Can’t he just stay on?

There’s an important and deliberate process both we and Bill need to go through by the time March 2015 rolls around.  The Vestry has pulled together a Priest-in-Charge Discernment Team that is working on a recommendation to the Vestry, and Bill himself needs to go through his own discernment process, reviewing what he now knows about All Saints’ while considering his professional goals.

Who is on this Discernment Team and what are they doing?

The team consists of Emily Andrews, Kathryn Chamberlain, Darren Collins, Norm Douglas, Debra Forsberg, Matt Hickcox, and Liz Landers, with the wardens (Dave Kuzara and Erik Forsberg) and the Priest-in-Charge (Bill Bradbury) as ex-officio members.  Their primary tasks are to work up a parish profile, develop a Parish Mutual Ministry list, review how we have changed under Rev. Bradbury’s guidance and leadership over the past two years, and then make a recommendation to the Vestry as to whether we feel it is in the best interest of All Saints’ Church to call Bill to be our full-time Rector.

So who exactly makes the decision whether or not to call Bill?

The Vestry, based on the details and recommendation in the Discernment Team’s report as well as what their hearts, as the leaders of our parish, are telling them.

A parish profile?  Mutual Ministries list?  Sounds overly complicated since we have had Bill for two years and know him pretty well.

Both of those tasks are very important, and here’s why:  The last time we looked at ourselves in depth was in 1998 when Rev. David Ferner left us (and we were ultimately joined by Tom Barrington).  That was 16 years ago, and we have changed quite a lot since then.  Although it is sad when a priest leaves a parish, it is also a great opportunity for the church community to take a deep breath and figure out who they are, what their needs are, and where they want to go in the next 3 to 5 years.  So this is our chance to answer these questions about the parish of All Saints’ in 2014.

Can we all somehow be involved?

Yes!  The Discernment Team will be organizing cottage meetings in August and September very much along the lines of the successful cottage meetings held at the same time of year in 2012.  In addition to the fellowship that always comes out these kinds of events, representatives of the Discernment Team will be at each gathering and will lead a discussion akin to a parish survey while taking lots of notes.  Those who cannot join any of the cottage meetings will be given other opportunities to weigh in on the survey questions since we want and need every voice to be heard.

So the parish profile comes out of the surveys presented at the cottage meetings, but what about the Mutual Ministries List?  Where does that fit in?

If the priest officiates at church services, the Altar Guild is in charge of the flowers, and Buildings and Grounds fix the leaks in the roof, it would seem there is no misunderstanding as to what the parish is responsible for and what we expect the Priest to do. Yet in actuality this is a complicated subject, and every church is unique.  Just as we are updating our understanding of who we are and what we want to do in the next 3 – 5 years, we likewise need to re-evaluate our desires and expectations for what ministries and functions and services we want to provide to our parish and community, and which of those ministries/functions/services we prefer to have our priest provide and which we will take on ourselves as lay leaders and members of the All Saints’ community.  The Mutual Ministry List, based on input received in the surveys, will indicate how much we want to be a lay led parish, and where we feel we most need the priest and staff to lead and guide and support us.  So the Mutual Ministry List will, just as much as the Parish Profile, help us decide if the person we have come to know quite well fits with our needs, and it helps Bill assess whether his talents and professional goals are compatible with the parish of All Saints’ Church.

What is the timeline for the discernment process?

Cottage meetings will be held in the August and September timeframe, and in parallel with this the discernment team will be meeting with and soliciting input from commissions and ministry teams.  The parish profile and mutual ministry list will be completed most likely in November, and a complete report that includes a recommendation will be delivered to the Vestry possibly by early December.  The Vestry and Reverend Bradbury then have until March to make their respective decisions, though it would be better if final decisions and agreements can be made in the January or February timeframe.