17 August 2020
Search Committee Narrows Down Candidates
Dear Beloved Parish,
As Liz Kinchen shared during the August 9th Sunday service, your Search Committee is excited to share with you that we have now entered into the final phase of the process – we have established a trio of “finalist” candidates!
Since the onset of COVID-19, the path forward for our search has been full of uncertainty, however, our committee has remained steadfast in our mission to find the best new rector for our Parish. Over the month of July, we conducted a series of virtual “visits-out” across our 5 “semi-finalist” candidates. These “visits-out” included a series of reference check discussions as well as conversations with the candidates that included a candidate-led worship experience.
These were all deeply spiritual and moving experiences, reminding us how blessed we were with this group of potential new rector candidates. However, upon further prayerful discernment, we were called to bring forward a set of three “finalists”. Between the end of August and the middle of September, each of our final three candidates will visit our Parish. They will meet with the Parish staff, the vestry, the search committee and other church leaders. We will take them on tours of the Parish, the town of Winchester and surrounding communities and visit the rectory.
We must remind everyone that confidentiality remains ever important as we enter this final phase. It is respectful to candidates who are under consideration, that neither their names or status be shared with anyone outside of those meeting with candidates. You can imagine the complication if a Priest active in our process had their intentions become known to their current Parish. We thank you for helping us maintain this strict confidentiality.
We thank you for your continued support and prayers for our work. At this time, we especially ask you to pray for our staff, vestry and search committee as we all meet with the finalist candidates. Pray that each candidate will feel welcome in our hospitality and that it becomes clear to us who God is calling to become the next rector of the Parish of the Epiphany. We plan to make a call for our next rector in October.
We leave you with the prayer we open each Search Committee meeting with:
Loving God, as we gather tonight, help us to pause and remember your presence. We have faith that you are here, within us, among us, between us. In this moment, and in all our work together, help us to remain present to each other, to listen with attentiveness and to speak with care. In this period of transition, guide us in discernment. Give us strength, courage, and wisdom that we may remain open to the call of your Spirit and to the new life that awaits our community. In the months to come, help our beloved parish family to welcome and support a new pastor and priest. In all of this, keep us grounded in your love. We pray in the name of our brother Jesus Christ, the author of our salvation. Amen.
Love in Christ,
25 June 2020
Update from the Search Committee
As you may know, the search for our next rector has been in pause mode for the last couple of months, due to the pandemic restrictions. Recently the Diocese of Massachusetts released this pause, and we are now able to resume our search process, although in a modified manner. The next phase, under normal conditions, is for small teams from the search committee to visit the parish of our semi-finalist candidates, to be present at a worship service, and to meet with the candidate in person. Because most churches are not yet open, we are modifying this ‘visit-out’ phase. The search committee will hold both a discussion with the candidate and a worship experience led by them – all via zoom. We are also in the process of contacting references the candidates have supplied to us. With this information in hand, we will debrief and discern as a committee which candidates we take into the next stage as finalists. The finalists could be a subset of our five candidates, or all of them, depending on many factors. Typically the finalists would come to Epiphany and meet with various groups here. Whether this ‘visit-in’ phase will be in-person or virtual is to be determined. Due to these unprecedented circumstances for conducting a rector search, we want to be as open and inclusive as possible in our discernment, bearing in mind the challenges we are all facing, particularly our candidates. We plan to be working through the summer months on these next two phases, intending to submit a finalist candidate to the vestry in the fall. Ideally, our finalist would join us around the first of the year.
Please continue to pray for our potential next rectors, their parishes, the search committee, our church leaders, and the whole parish as we continue to navigate these unusual times!
26 April 2020
Status of Process Amid Coronavirus
The Search Committee recently completed a series of Zoom interviews with the long list of candidates. After much prayerful the list of candidates for the next rector of Epiphany was winnowed down to five semi-finalists.
10 July 2019
Charge from the Vestry to the Search Committee
Search Committee Members
Please join us in thanking these individuals for putting themselves forward to serve us in this very important call. And please join us in this prayer for the newly formed committee:
Gracious God, we ask your direction and guidance for those who shall choose our new spiritual leader, that we may receive an upright and faithful rector who will care for your people and equip us for our ministries. May they help us ask anew what it means to be the Church in our time, our place. And may we all welcome according to your Spirit the one you are sending to us to lead us into the new days ahead. Amen.
Announcing The Reverend Sarah Conner, Interim Priest
In case you missed the announcement, we want to be sure you know what we have a appointed an Interim Priest, The Reverend Sarah Conner. Rev. Conner has been a full-time interim minister in the Diocese of Massachusetts for more than fifteen years. She has served a variety of parishes over the years, most recently St. Peter’s in Cambridge and Trinity in Concord. Prior to ordination, she worked for several years in publishing. Sarah lives in Arlington; she is a cradle Episcopalian and lifelong New Englander.
Sarah started a well-deserved sabbatical last month, and she will be joining us on 1 October, refreshed and ready to serve with us until we call our next rector.
From a Warden: Blessed with Joy
When I first learned that Thomas was on the ballot for the Bishop of Maine, I got an uncomfortable knot in my stomach. What will we do? How will the wardens and vestry cope with all that needs to get done? The staff will feel unsettled, will they leave too? What is Miriam thinking? We will miss Thomas so much, what do I pray for… that Thomas is not elected?
Now that the election is over and Thomas is indeed “Bishop-Elect,” I have had time to reflect and pray over what is in store for the Parish of the Epiphany, and my feelings have changed. I am very happy for and proud of Thomas, he will be a wonderful addition to the Episcopal diocese of Maine and Maine will be an energizing place for him. The knot in my stomach is gone, replaced by feelings of excitement and anticipation of walking together with all of you during this time of transition.
Thomas was called to be our 10th rector in 2009. His leaving after almost ten years is very normal in the life cycle of an Episcopal parish, although very few Rectors leave their church as a Bishop. We can all expect some type of major change or transition in our lives every ten years or so, and our church life is no different. Dave McSweeney and I are aware that Thomas’ leaving will affect us differently. I am keenly aware that some of our elderly envisioned Thomas presiding at their own or their spouse’s funeral, some of our newcomers may be thinking “I just got here, I hardly know Thomas, and I want to know him better,” our children may not know what all the fuss is about, and many of us fear a time of uncertainty. Please know that we do understand this can be an emotional time and I hope that we make this journey together with grace and prayer.
When I get overwhelmed with too much to do in too little time I turn to lists. The Diocese of Massachusetts makes the transition process a little easier for us by providing a fairly extensive “checklist” of the tasks that we'll complete during this time. One of the first things to do is to give Thomas a proper good bye. We are currently planning a party on the evening of Sunday, March 24th to celebrate with both Thomas and his spouse, Tom Mousin. On Thomas’ last Sunday, March 31st, we will have a luncheon at 11:15 am, after the 10:00 am service. We will have two opportunities to be together, so please put those dates on your calendar and let us know if you can help with organizing either of these events.
Dave and I met with our Regional Canon Martha Hubbard this past Friday, and the next step on the “checklist” is to discuss how to set ourselves up for a successful search. We are very pleased to report to you that Miriam Gelfer, our Associate Rector, will serve as our “Bridge Priest” until we engage an Interim Priest. We also discussed with Canon Hubbard the process for calling an Interim Priest. An Interim Priest is specially trained to assist a parish to evaluate its mission and ministry and to help the parish prepare for the arrival of a new rector. Dave and I will have an opportunity to interview many Interim Priests but Miriam’s time as a Bridge Priest could be as long as six months.
During a time of transition, our diocesan canons make it clear that the role of the Interim Priest is to supervise the staff and to perform the offices of a priest (baptisms, weddings, funerals, services, pastoral care), and the wardens along with the vestry are the chief lay officers and legal agents of the parish.
You will have the chance to hear directly from Canon Hubbard on March 17th. She will preach at both services and speak at the 9:00 am hour when we will discuss in more detail about the search process, so please join us for this important informational session.
“We pray that our new rector will provide long-term stability for us, allowing us to develop, articulate, and work together toward a shared mission for the parish. We hope above all else that every action of our rector will be rooted in Christ and Christian spirituality. We seek a woman or man of God who will embrace us completely and help us love others more fully.”
As I reflect upon this statement taken from the 2008 parish profile and written during a time of transition, I am struck by how blessed we have been. Thomas did bring stability, I have observed that our spirituality has grown both individually and as a congregation, and we certainly love others more fully as displayed by becoming a much more welcoming community than we were in 2008.
Please join Dave and me as we anticipate with joy, and as we share this joy in the next stage of our communal lives together.
Faithfully yours in Christ,