Recently, Vestry members agreed to use the HolyCow! Consulting tool to help us plan our future. It is an on-line instrument that will help leaders gauge the strength, vitality, and trends in our church. This tool will provide a clear picture of who we are as a church and what directions are most important for choosing our new priest and will be valuable in helping the leaders of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church with this important decision.
All members of the congregation are being asked to participate in the first step which is to conduct a congregational assessment. If you have provided us with a current email address, in a couple weeks, you will receive an email with a unique link to the CAT. We will be asking you to go online by clicking on the link provided and tell us about your experiences in and priorities for our church. Please do not discuss the survey or your answers with others as this may influence their answers.
If you need a paper copy, please come to the office, and we will provide one for you along with a self-addressed stamped return envelope.
All answers are strictly anonymous. We have no way of matching any assessment to a particular person, so please feel free to candidly share your perceptions, opinions and experiences. All members of your family (spouse and all young adults) living in your home are encouraged to complete the survey. INDIVIDUAL INPUT is key to our gaining insight into overall perceptions and experiences. Our future together is dependent on your participation and honest answers.
Thank you for your willingness to be a part of this congregational assessment. If you have questions, please contact any of St. Mark’s Vestry members who will be available to answer your questions.
Frequently Asked Questions for the Exit, Interim and Transition Time for Churches in Search Processes
1. What are the vestry’s responsibilities during transition?
The wardens and vestry are responsible for day-to-day parish life and administration. However, if an interim rector is hired, this person carries the same authority as a rector, with the same degree of oversight and responsibility for the workings of the congregation as a rector would have. The vestry is responsible to contracts with any coach/consultant, the interim rector, and eventually the new rector. The vestry empowers the search committee to carry out its responsibilities. They keep informed of the committee’s work at a non-confidential level. The Sr. Warden works very closely with the interim rector to assure maximum communication and cooperation during the transition and time of interim.
2. What is the role of the search committee?
The search committee in the Diocese of Texas has the sole responsibility for interviewing all potential candidates cleared by the Bishop for the position of rector. This committee is charged with the responsibility of representing the whole congregation, its values, mission and vision for the future. In addition, it should represent work completed during a period of “pre-search’ where congregational identifying statements, surveys and rector profile work were completed. The search committee will prayerfully work together until such time they can recommend one candidate to the vestry for the position of rector. The vestry then votes to confirm the recommendation, issues a call to the individual. If the individual does not accept the call, the search committee continues to do its work until such time that a recommended candidate accepts a call.
3. Who serves on the search committee?
Active, confirmed, pledging members, regular in attendance are chosen usually by a vestry to serve on a search committee. These persons should reflect the demographics and nature of the parish. They are diversified by age, gender, areas of parish life and ministries. However, these persons should be recognized as leaders and are able to dismiss personal agendas for the well being of the whole congregation, supportive of the ministries of the entire parish. Sr. Wardens in the Diocese of Texas often serve as ex-officio members with voice but no vote. Often search committees will have a number of active vestry members serve as search committee members. It is not recommended that vestries serve in total as the search committee.
4. Why have an interim rector, and what does an interim rector do?
The bishop’s office may determine that an interim rector is recommended for a parish in transition. If so, the Transition Officer will provide the vestry with the name of an interim rector. A letter of agreement will be written and signed by the vestry and the interim rector. It is important to welcome the interim rector in a special way. The interim rector provides the leadership necessary to maintain stability during the period of transition. A key task is to help the congregation complete its disengagement from previous chapters in its life as it begins the self-study related to the search process. Specific tasks are decided with the vestry and may include helping the parish come to terms with its history and relationships with previous clergy; discovering the congregation’s special identity, what God is calling it to be in the future; dealing with shifts in leadership roles that naturally evolve in times of transition, allowing new leaders to come to the fore constructively; renewing relationships with the diocese, so that each may be a more effective resource and support to the other; and building commitment to the leadership of the new rector in order to be prepared to move into the future with openness to new possibilities.
5. Why do interim periods take so long?
The temptation at the time of an interim is to rush. It never should be in a hurry. The interim period is the optimum opportunity for a congregation to do internal assessment, reclaim its sense of values, mission and vision/goals and work on issues that need to be resolved. It also must allow time to separate from the leadership of the departing rector. This takes months. In addition, the work of a search committee is significant, arranging for multiple visits, interviews, meetings, etc. with multiple candidates, often at great distances. Their ultimate recommendation of a single person to the vestry is so significant that the committee must do a great deal of discernment, prayer and discussion, all taking significant time. In addition, candidates must schedule their lives around visits. All of this work has to be coordinated with the Canon to the Ordinary who serves as the deployment/transitional ministry officer for the Bishop. This in itself takes time. Finally, sometimes the candidate that accepts the call builds into the process a number of months to prepare for a move. So the time period for the search should never be compared to a business setting. Churches have unique needs and unique processes which must be honored.
6. What is a transition committee?
Once a candidate accepts a call, a transition committee helps smooth over the entry for the new rector. The transition committee should be appointed by the vestry to serve as a committee of welcome, to introduce the new rector and his or her family to the community, to help in relocation, and to assist in the beginning of the new ministry throughout the new rector’s first year. This committee might also plan for an appropriate goodbye to the departing interim rector. This committee is often made up of members of the search committee because of their familiarity with the new rector.
7. How do we welcome a new rector?
Plan a welcoming event. Plan “get acquainted” sessions for the rector and members of the parish. Work together to plan a Celebration of New Ministry. The bishop will be in contact with the new rector to schedule this service. Welcome the new rector into the life of the congregation. Provide a support group for the new rector during the first year(s). Plan for a mutual ministry review after the first six months which will review goals stated in the parish profile. Engage outside resources as necessary for a successful entry.
A letter from the Vestry
July 20, 2017
“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Dear Members of St. Mark’s,
We have all had a few days to absorb the news of Father Baetz’s acceptance of the call to be the Rector at St. Peter’s in Kerrville. We know that you, like us, are overjoyed at this new adventure and place that God has called Bert and Sarah to. We are, at the same time experiencing sadness and grief that this dear family will be leaving us soon.
As your vestry, we want to reassure you that our future at St. Mark’s has never been brighter. Father Bert, in his ministry here, has led us through amazing growth, strong leadership development, and deepened spiritual formation.
As your vestry, we are working behind the scenes to make this transition as smooth as possible. We have met with Canon Kai Ryan from EDOT to discuss this process. Over the weeks and months ahead, there will be many tasks to accomplish. We will find an interim rector, form a search committee, and eventually choose a new rector to lead our parish. We want to keep everyone informed on how this process is coming along, as we know that you will want to be kept aware of these events.
For now, what we would like to ask of this congregation, is for the remainder of their time here, join us in celebrating Fr. Bert, Sarah, Eloise and Oliver! We would like to send them off well to their new home. You can do this by praying for them, loving them, telling them how much they have meant to you, writing them a personal note, and attending a celebration lunch, after the Sunday service on August 6. There will be a box in the parish hall where you can place farewell notes and cards. We are also gathering pictures of our parish family during Fr. Bert’s time here. We are hoping to put together a slide show for the celebration on August 6. If you have pictures you would like to share, please email them to Melissa, or bring them by her office.
It is appropriate and customary to present a departing rector with a gift from the parish. We want the family to have something special to remember their time here at St. Mark’s, and we will also be collecting a purse. If you would like to be a part of this gift giving, you can send a check or money to the office, or place it in the collection plate on Sunday, noting that it is for the “Baetz Gift” in the memo.
Over the coming weeks as you have questions, your vestry will be available to discuss these with you. We are available on Sunday mornings, or if you prefer, please contact us directly so that we can speak with you. We believe that God is calling St. Mark’s to a new and exciting journey, as well! We are excited as we pray that God is stirring the heart of our new rector. We ask that you pray for this as well. We also ask that you pray for us, your vestry, in our discernment during this transition.
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.” Romans 12:12
Grace and Peace,
St. Mark’s Vestry
Alysoun Marks, Senior Warden
Brad Knect, Junior Warden
Rock Moen, Treasurer
Michael Black, Secretary
A Letter from the Rector
July 13, 2017
Spirit of the living God fall fresh on me
Spirit of the living God fall fresh on me
Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me
Spirit of the living God fall fresh on me
Dear St. Mark's family,
The words above are taken from a hymn in one of our supplemental hymnals, and these words have been at the forefront of my recent thoughts and prayers. For my six plus years as your rector, my family and I have come to know the Spirit of the living God through you and our life together at St. Mark's. My family has known life and death in these past six years, and you have been the vessels of God's Spirit carrying us through this most formative time for us.
You have filled me in my life and ministry, and it is difficult to share with you about where the Spirit is now leading me. I have been invited to serve as the next rector of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Kerrville, Texas, and I have accepted this call.
The words from the hymn capture this transition and new calling for me. I see your faces and hear your voices when I reflect upon the ways in which God has melted me, molded me, filled me, and used me for the glory of Christ's kingdom. We celebrate the past six years of our shared ministry, as the Spirit of the living God has fallen fresh on us and transformed our lives together. I am grateful to God for you because you have shaped me into a more faithful husband, father, and priest. I will leave knowing that it is because of you that I will be of good use to the people of St. Peter's and the greater Hill Country.
My last Sunday with you will be Sunday, August 6, and the next several weeks will be a time for us to treasure our chapter of shared ministry at St. Mark's. Following my last Sunday in the parish, the leaders of our strong vestry, especially our senior warden, Mrs. Alysoun Marks, as well as the staff from our Diocese of Texas, will lead St. Mark's into its next chapter of mission and ministry.
In this time of transition, I reflect on the Spirit-filled process that brought me to St. Mark's. Over six years ago, the Canon to the Ordinary and Bishop Doyle's staff helped and guided us when I accepted the call to be your rector. Our current Canon to the Ordinary, Canon Kai Ryan, is already in communication with Alysoun Marks, and Canon Ryan has assured our parish leadership of the bishop's support in this transition.
Please join me in these next several weeks to celebrate the past six years of our shared ministry, and may we be ever mindful and present to the Spirit of the living God who continues to melt us, mold us, fill us, and use us.