The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut

Priest-in-Charge

The position of priest-in-charge (PIC) has been redefined and clarification made as to when it's an appropriate choice for a parish. Here are some documents related to definition of PIC and the consultants that are chosen to work with them:

  

What is a Priest-in-Charge? 

Serving God’s Mission in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut

 Download a .doc file of this description here

Purpose:

Occasionally, something happens in the life of a parish which causes the parish and the diocesan leadership to enter into a time of deeper conversation, focusing on pastoral care and healing for all of those involved. This is a time for all of us to work on exploring new possibilities for relationships and ministries with the goal of moving to a reinvigorated place, ready to explore collaborative ministries and claiming our place in God’s Mission.

Reasons for the calling of a Priest-in-Charge
  • Following a long term pastorate (This factor alone does not presuppose a Priest in Charge)
  • The previous priest has been removed from ministry or deposed
  • Misconduct has occurred in the parish
  • Financial challenges and /or change from full to part time clergy need to explored before a new rector can be called
  • When a pastoral relationship has ended in conflict
  • When a cleric has died or becomes too ill to serve the congregation 
  • When relationships among lay leaders or clergy have become impaired 
  • Other situations as may be assessed by Diocesan Leadership

 

The goal of Priest in Charge time is to do the work needed to move a parish to a place where they can call a new rector. Typically the appointment is for three years. It may be a full or part time appointment. The Priest in Charge may be considered for the position of rector when the parish is ready to make a call.

 The ministry of the Priest in Charge is to help the parish explore who they are, where they are going and what type of leadership is needed for the congregation to move into a new future.

 Support for the Priest in Charge and the parish will include a consultant paid in part by the parish and in part by the Diocesan Convention Budget. This consultant will offer support and guidance to the Priest in Charge, however it will clearly be the Priest in Charge managing the work of transition and transformation during this time.  The Canon for Mission Leadership and the bishop assigned to the parish are additional supports for the Priest in Charge.

 An all parish gathering, led by the consultant will occur 3 to 6 months into the Priest in Charge time to affirm the importance of building healthy relationships and creating trust. This meeting will also seek to name some of the relevant parish history, some of the challenges and opportunities and raise awareness among parish members of some of the conflicts and challenges before the parish. This will also be a time to name some of the areas of discernment and healing that need to be addressed. It will also explore tools for communication to the parish.

 The Priest in Charge and the Consultant work with the vestry and others during the next six months to articulate and begin work on the goals which emerged during the all parish meeting and further conversations. These goals should focus on an awareness of the discernment and healing that is needed and the changes within the systems which may need to occur and the working toward acceptance of new realities.  Once written, these goals are clearly articulated to the parish and are added to the Priest in Charges letter of agreement.  This is a great time to “Try on” new ideas and opportunities for transformation.

 At some appropriate time after one year, the consultant leads a check in with the Priest in Charge and Vestry on how the parish is doing on goals – what is working well, what concerns, opportunities and challenges or new gifts have emerged and where does the Spirit seem to be inviting our ministries to bear fruit? It is also a time to explore collaborative ministries with neighboring parishes and other community organizations.

 At roughly the two and a half year mark, the consultant leads a check in with the Priest in Charge and the Vestry to see where they are in their transition. Have they engaged the work articulated in the Priest in Charge time? What work still needs to be done? Are different goals emerging? Can we articulate how we are called to join God’s Mission in the 21st century?

  •  Other questions which follow if the parish can articulate its specific ministry in God’s mission include, is the parish ready to call a rector and is the Priest in Charge the person for that call. At this point the bishop, consultant and others work with parish and clergy to discern next steps.
  • If the vestry, Priest in Charge and bishop believe the parish is ready to call the Priest in Charge as rector, then a call may be issued.
  • If all three are not in agreement about calling the Priest in Charge as rector, an interim is placed in the parish, and an abbreviated search process is overseen by the Office of Mission Leadership. On occasion, the Priest in Charge may stay as the interim.