Roberta Fraser

I understand that St. Anne's has not been involved in an Intentional Interim process before so here is an overview of what this period is supposed to be about.  Broadly speaking, a time of Intentional Interim Ministry, besides supporting the parish in its life as a parish in most of the normal ways, is meant to give the Parish an opportunity to do some intentional reflecting on: where it is now, where it has been, and where it wants to go.  

Through activities and events such as conversational round-tables, parish ‘town-hall’ meetings, surveys followed by discussion of survey results, consulting with groups, guilds and individuals, information is gathered, stories are told, dreams are cast and discernment undertaken. This process is led by the Interim Priest-in-Charge in consultation with the Wardens and other leaders. The data generated during the interim process will be used in the Search Committee’s work on the profile when this begins.

This is NOT a 'waiting time' or a time when the parish is in limbo waiting for the 'real ministry' to start up again. This is a critical stage in the life of every congregation. The interim period provides a time for the parish as a whole to explore creative future ministry options and to articulate a compelling vision of future mission. This exploration provides the basis for describing the qualities and leadership skills needed in the new Rector to help the parish achieve its goals. To achieve this the whole parish membership needs to be engaged in the process in one way or another.  

The ministry of the parish continues during the interim and the Interim-Priest-in-Charge has the same responsibilities for worship, pastoral care, administration, etc, as does a Rector and generally stays until the new Rector is appointed (although sometimes the Interim Priest in Charge needs to leave for another positon prior to the actual arrival of the new Rector).  

The Interim Process:  While every parish is somewhat different and the exact timing and duration of events during the interim period here at St. Anne's will depend on the particular needs and circumstances of the parish, the following is an outline of a typical interim process:  

Months 1-2:  The Interim Priest-in-Charge, parish leaders and the people of the parish spend time getting to know each other and nurturing their relationships with one another. The Interim Priest in Charge spends time developing an understanding of who does what and how things work in this parish.  

The Interim Priest-in-Charge and parish leadership come up with basic goals for the interim process, a communication plan for the interim period and ways to increase participation of a broader group in the parish in what needs to be done during the interim period, and then begin implementing the plan.  This work continues throughout the interim period. Working with others, the Interim Priest-in-Charge comes up with a basic data-gathering plan for the parish to feed into the search process, drawing on diocesan consultation/facilitation as needed.  

Months 2-4:  The Interim Priest-in-Charge and parish leaders begin the data gathering process with the assistance of others. This will involve processes such as parish meetings, surveys followed by discussion of survey results and consulting with parish groups and individuals. In this process information is gathered, stories are told, dreams are cast and discernment undertaken. The Interim priest helps the parish to identify sources of vitality and strength, and acknowledge their ‘growing edges’ and challenges. All parties continue to nurture their relationships and strengthen broader participation in the parish and the communication plan continues.  

Months 4-6:  Interim Priest-in-Charge and parish leadership checks in on goals for the interim period and completes or revises them as needed. Data gathering and responses to the 5 Interim Period Questions (below) is expected to be complete by the end of this phase.  

The Parish Leadership set specific goals for the next 2 to 3 years based on the data gathered with the parish and the reflections on the strengths and weaknesses of the parish at this time and the preferred future that has been identified in the process.  

Parish leadership and Interim Priest-in-Charge check in with Regional Archdeacon: Is it time to convene the Search Committee? With agreement of Interim Priest-in-Charge, Regional Archdeacon, Executive Archdeacon and Archbishop, the Search Committee begins its work.  

Months 7-9:  The Search Committee meets with Regional Archdeacon, reviews the role and expectations of the Search Committee, and receives samples of profiles. (Membership in the Search Committee is dictated by the Diocesan Canons and includes the current Wardens, Lay delegates to Synod and Alternate Delegates.)                    

Search Committee creates a Parish Profile, using the input of the parish and of the Regional Archdeacon. The draft Parish Profile is forwarded to the Executive Archdeacon and the Archbishop for review.                                          

Search Committee, Executive Archdeacon and Archbishop meet by phone to discuss comments on profile and the Search Committee revises the Parish Profile as needed and forwards it to Executive Archdeacon and Archbishop for final approval and posting on Diocesan and General Synod website(s).

Months 9-12:  The Profile is posted (usually for 6 weeks). All applications go directly to the Synod office. The applications and names of those priests who have applied are kept in strict confidence and will only be seen by those directly involved in the short-listing and interviews. Bishop’s Advisory Committee (BACA) and 2 representatives of the Search Committee are given a week or two to review applications and then meet to shortlist applicants.                                                

The Regional Archdeacon meets with all members of the Search Committee and presents copies of the shortlisted applications and answers questions about the interview process.                          

The Search Committee interviews candidates – if any applicant is from a long distance away then all the applicants (local and distant) may be interviewed by Skype/Facetime to determine who will be brought in for face-to-face interviews. Interviews are held and the Search Committee meets to discern which of the candidates they think is the one best suited to the needs of the parish. The Search Committee recommends their preference for the appointment to the Archbishop. (This is the final task of the Search Committee.) A Letter of Agreement (LOA) is worked out between parish Wardens, Archbishop’s Office and the chosen candidate. A public announcement of the new Rector is made when the LOA is signed by all parties.  

Months 12-15(ish):  Parish prepares for arrival of new incumbent. There is always a period between the announcement of the new Rector and s/he arriving. This is typically 3 months but depending on the current ministry of the new Rector this period can range from a few weeks to several months.  This is a time to get ready to support the new ministry and to say goodbye to the Interim Priest.   

Final Step:  Parish welcomes new incumbent through hospitality, assistance where needed in new city and neighbourhood, induction liturgy etc.

Questions to be Explored, Responded to and Articulated:

The following are some basic questions that need exploring during the interim period in preparation for writing the profile and as a way to prepare the parish to receive its next incumbent in a healthy and engaged way.  

1. What do the parish and the parish’s leaders most value/appreciate about the parish?  Building on this, how would you describe the parish’s identity- what does it uniquely offer its members and prospective members?

2. What are the challenges that the parish faces and what is an approach to meet these challenges?

3. What sense do parish leaders or the parish make of any difficult or troubling events/happenings/patterns in the parish?  What insights have been gleaned from engaging those areas of the parish’s story that are difficult to talk about but have a lingering effect on the parish, its people and its choices?

4. What are the limited number of goals that the parish desires to pursue over the next 2-3 years?  These goals should have both to do with the ministry of the parish and the ways in which the parish will nurture its people in the Christian life and faith.  What needs to be built on, improved, or initiated in the next 2-3 years?

5. What are the qualities and experience that the parish desires in its next incumbent that will assist the parish in meeting the above goals?