O God, you led your holy apostles to ordain ministers in every place: Grant that your Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may choose suitable persons for the ministry of Word and Sacrament, and may uphold them in their work for the extension of your kingdom; through him who is the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Prayer For the Choice of Fit Persons For the Ministry)
As we search for the next rector of St. Gabriel’s we are mindful of our call to discern the will of God as revealed by the Holy Spirit, to arrive at God’s choice to meet the challenges that lie before us that only God can know. We have met to pray, plan , and work together, with an emphasis on prayer and learning to work as a community of trust to learn to recognize God’s will in our lives and in our Parish Family. We continue to work diligently to provide a process that is thorough, fair, and in compliance with Diocesan and Episcopal Church guidelines, while open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
The Parish Survey coincided with the easing of the COVID case count, which enabled us to kick off the survey with a “Survey Social”. Participation was high, and we are grateful for the thoughtful and prayerful responses we received. The Survey Results may be viewed here.
PHASE ONE – SELF-STUDY
The first phase of our journey , the Self-Study Phase, has been completed, with the closing of our Parish Survey and compilation of findings, the publication of our Parish Profile, and the posting of our Community Ministry Portfolio.
The Parish Profile may be viewed on the Diocese of Central Florida Transition Ministry Web Page.
The Community Ministry Portfolio is a collection of entries into a database maintained by the Office of Transition Ministry of the national Episcopal Church, which allows Episcopal priests from all over the country to find information about our parish and the qualities we need in our next rector. This casts a “wider net” for our search, to interest priests who may not have been looking at Central Florida prior to seeing this listing. This database can only be accessed by searching priests and diocesan transition ministers across the country.
The Office of Transition Ministry Website is here (but community ministry portfolios are not accessible to us).
PHASE TWO – RECEIVING NAMES
The successful posting of our completed Profile and Portfolio at the end of August brought us to Phase Two: Receiving Names. We are officially receiving names until October 31, but we are also moving ahead with evaluation of names already received.
PHASE THREE – EVALUATION & INTERVIEWS
Our job now is to study the candidates whose names we receive from Canon Holcombe and review the information in their application packets to evaluate how well they match the criteria identified by the parish in our Parish Survey as most important in our next rector. We do this by applying a preliminary evaluation individually and then discussing as a committee. From this process we are identifying candidates that seem worthy of an initial interview, and we have been developing this process (format, questions, and technical setup) to soon begin this step.
The next step will be to prayerfully compare our individual impressions of each candidate and how they fit into our needs identified in self-study, to develop a composite understanding to select a shortlist of candidates for further discernment. Further interviews, including site visits by a Search Committee “Away Team” of two or three members will deepen our understanding of these candidates’ gifts and graces as they relate to St. Gabriel’s mission and needs. From this the committee will meet and pray to identify a recommendation to the vestry.
PHASE FOUR – THE VESTRY DECIDES
The vestry will then interview this candidate and decide whether to extend a call.
We on the Search Committee are encouraged by your faithfulness in prayer for us and for St. Gabriel’s during this process. It has been 45 years since St. Gabriel’s conducted a full rector search, and we are in a “learn as we go” mode of operation. But this reminds us continually of our need to rely on God, and that is who will make this process ultimately successful.
Please continue to pray for us, our next rector, and for the vestry as they lead us through this challenging time.
With Gratitude to God,
St. Gabriel’s Search Committee
Michael Van Heusen