I suppose that most of you will have heard by now, that I will be retiring from full-time ministry this summer. My final Sunday in Stuttgart will be 9 July 2017. It makes me emotional to think about it, even though I know it is the right thing for me to do.
My decision to return to Texas has sparked a lot of questions from the good people of St. Catherine’s; at the Parish Council meeting last Sunday, the question on everyone’s lips was “What do we do now?”
Rather than answer this question in a specific St Cat’s way, I would rather try to answer it in a more general way: What does a church do when the vicar leaves?
First and most important, is that everyone realize that the Bishop and Archdeacon are aware of this situation, and they will work at the diocesan level to make sure that the church is not left alone to struggle in the search for a new priest. A process has been developed in the Diocese in Europe utilizing the staff in London to make it all go as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Step One is for the Archdeacon to come and meet with the council to begin developing a Parish Profile. This booklet will inform any potential candidates about the needs, wants, and priorities of the congregation, based on their own input and status. Such profiles often describe the kinds of ministry that the parish is doing, and the kinds of ministry they hope to continue doing in the future. It describes the liturgical style of the congregation, financial resources of the congregation, and tells a bit of the history of the congregation.
Step Two is when the Archdeacon leads the council in writing a job description for the sort of person they are looking for as their next vicar.
Step Three would be to write a sample financial contract showing whether there is a vicarage, how much salary is on offer, what fringe benefits are covered… etc. (This can later be adjusted to fit the particular needs of the person chosen to be the next vicar.) But it gives an idea of what is on offer, financially speaking.
Step Four comes when the diocesan office advertises for the vacancy. They will place an ad in the church newspapers, and on the internet inviting interested candidates to fill out an application. A set time if given for filing applications. Anglican/Episcopal priests all over the world will be eligible to apply if they find the Parish Profile and the Job description, and the financial offering to their liking.
Step Five would be the vetting of all the applications. The best, not usually more then 3 or 4, are then invited to come for an interview with the committee comprising the Archdeacon, the Area Dean, and delegates from the congregation. The Bishop will have a separate interview with each of the finalists. After the interview, there will be a prayerful process of discernment, and a top candidate will be chosen. The vicar-elect, so to speak, will then make a formal visit to the congregation to see if he or she still feels called by God to accept the offer. If he or she declines, then the congregation jumps back to Step Four and begins again.
As I say… this is a sort of condensed description of what can happen generally speaking. Each process is a bit different, but it is all spelled out on the diocesan website. It is not an overnight process, … but it need not take too long of a time. And it has proven over a long period of time to have good results. ( I indeed was selected to be your vicar back in 2006 through this exact process…)
All this is written to say that you cannot expect an overnight answer as to who will be the next vicar. Time will be needed to reveal this. But it will all be done in an open, transparent, and regulated process of matching the best person with the stated desires of the congregation. In this way, we avoid trying to squeeze round pegs into square holes. So… please be patient. God will be present in each step of the process.
In the meantime, we still have lots to do. While I am still vicar, we have Holy Week, Easter, Pentecost, and lots of opportunity for fellowship. We have opportunity for those preparations and introspections which will make writing the parish profile easier. And most importantly we have the AGM whereat the parish council and wardens will be elected. These people will be instrumental to the whole process of selecting a new vicar. And dare I say it…. we have also to finalize the parish budget which will be either limit or allow for a financial package as appropriate.
And through it all, we believe God will be with us. And when God is with us, we have nothing to fear. K+
- Palm Sunday: April 9 11:15 a.m. [Blessing of Palms, Passion Gospel and Communion]
- Maundy Thursday: April 13 6:30 p.m. In the Anglican Centre, Olgastrasse 56 [The Feast of the Last Supper with the Washing of Feet]
- Good Friday: April 14 12 noon & 7 p.m. [Passion Gospel, Veneration of the Cross and Communion from the Reserved Sacrament]
- Easter Vigil April 15 9:00 p.m [beginning at Leonhardskirche and finishing at Katharinenkirche]
- Easter Day : April 16 7:00 a.m. (Early Sunrise Service)
- 11:30 a.m. (Festival Eucharist) followed by a Celebration Lunch and Easter Egg hunt… in honour of the Risen Lord.]
- April 16, 5:30 p.m. in Ulm, followed by an Easter Feast Supper
To make everything run smoothly lots of helpers are needed:
- Palm Sunday – We need people to help set up the outdoor part of the liturgy….
- for both Palm Sunday and Good Friday (2 services) we need “Passion Gospel Readers” This requires lots of people to help read the very long Gospel of the trial, death and burial of Jesus.
- Good Friday – We need strong men to help carry in the crucifix at the Veneration….
- Easter Day we need people to help hide the eggs for the Egg Hunt.
- For the Easter Feast of Feasts we need a hospitality team… to help set up and conrol the pot luck lunch after church.
Booksale and Bakesale...
one of our best fund-raisers, is scheduled for 13 May…all day long. Soon we will start collecting books… but not yet. We don’t have enough storage space. Watch later for an announcement. Susannah will be looking for helpers to manage the cash box and bake for the bake sale. Don’t forget to invite your friends.
Women’s Group Keeping to our usual third Thursday in the month, our next meeting will be on Thursday, 20th April form 10 until 12 in the Anglican Centre. Look forward to seeing you there.
The Bible Study group is thinking of moving to Wednesdays at 7:30 (I think they mean 19:30 Ed.). Would you be more likely to come if it were a bit earlier? Let the vicar know. Thanks.
The Vicar is still the Area Dean…. He will be flying to London 7-8 April for Board of Finance Meeting and… making one more trip to NW Germany for the congregational development project in Bielefeld/Osnabruck/Paderborn area, in May.
The Easter Season is a great time for Baptisms….. One is already scheduled in Ulm,….anyone here looking for a baptismal date? If you want it before July, please talk to the vicar now.
It is almost, but Not yet too late to sign up for Summer Pilgrimage to York and Whitby… in August – a last chance to pilger with the vicar.
AGM… 23rd April – what you need to do : first Enroll….. then come to meeting…. then elect the future… elect those who will represent you in the search for a new vicar.
If you are interested in standing for election please talk to one of the current wardens, the vicar or a member of the church council. Pray for those who will have the responsibility for guiding the next steps of our church’s journey in faith.