The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut

Office of Mission Leadership

The Office of Mission Leadership’s primary responsibility is “to work with parishes in times of transition to help bring about missional transformation.” It includes:

  •  Recruiting, assisting with the selection, and overseeing appointment of ordained leaders committed to God’s mission;
  •  Assisting parishes seeking to call a rector, priest-in charge, or missional pastor (in close cooperation with the bishops);
  • Working closely with the Commission on Ministry and its leadership to raise up missional priests and deacons for the 21st century Church;
  •  Partnering with other diocesan staff, particularly the Canon for Mission Collaboration and Congregational Life, in working with emerging networks and communities of practice in the Diocese of Connecticut to help ordained and lay leaders become more faithful to God’s mission of restoration and reconciliation.

Contact Info

Address:
The Episcopal Church in Connecticut
The Commons
290 Pratt Street, Box 52
Meriden, CT 06450

Phone:
203-639-3501 x115
Fax:
203-235-1008

Our Staff

The Rev. Canon Lee Ann Tolzmann Canon for Mission Leadership 203-639-3501 x115latolzmann@episcopalct.org

Amber Page Gehr Administrator for Transitions & Clergy Support 203-639-3501 x131apagegehr@episcopalct.org

FAQs

Why the change from “search” to “transition?”

  • The time between a rector’s departure and the welcoming of a new rector involves several key phases, of which only one is the actual “search” (recruiting/interviewing/calling). By emphasizing transition — the time between a rector’s announcement of departure to the Celebration of New Ministry — we can more easily step away from the impulse to “fill the gap” (i.e., search) and experience the entire continuum of efforts and activities that comprise this important time in the life of our parishes (i.e., including everything from discernment and prayer to recruitment and celebration, or transition).   

What happened to the Search Committee?

  • In the recent past, Search Committee was the title for those parishioners (wardens and lay leaders) who worked with the Transition Consultant throughout the interim period. The task was to work with all parishioners to create its story (including a brochure), interview candidates, and present the list of finalists for the vestry to call. In our new model, there are four teams suggested, the first two are mandatory and for smaller parishes may be filled by the same members:
    • Discernment Team — to use parish-wide and community interviews, gather data, and develop a story around parish identity, vision, and how it imagines participating with God’s mission within its particular context and culture.
    • Recruitment Team — to develop a series of questions and list of criteria, prayerfully vet the initial list of candidates, and present a slate to the vestry to interview, and from which the next rector will be called.
    • Prayer Team — to commit to daily prayer for all serving the process, select or write a parish transition prayer, and assist with various liturgical celebrations throughout the transition.
    • Hospitality Team — to plan and lead a variety of gatherings and celebrations, from the departing rector’s farewell to the Celebration of New Ministry.

What roles do the wardens and vestry play?

  • The wardens, in concert with the vestry, play a critical role in leading the congregation throughout the transition and help guide the life of the congregation as the canons (church laws) proscribe. From the first phase, they will ensure that priests are available for Sunday services and pastoral care, monitor the temporal needs of the congregation, and assist the bishops in calling an interim rector. At least one member of the vestry serves on the Discernment and Recruitment teams, acting as liaison to the vestry throughout. The vestry receives the list of finalists from the Recruitment Team, interviews the candidates, and calls the next rector.

How are Interim Rectors chosen?

  • The Canon for Mission Leadership works with the Bishop of Record to present candidates for interview to the wardens and vestry (or an ad hoc committee of the vestry).  Two or three candidates are offered, interviewed, and called. If none is viable from the vestry’s point of view, additional candidates will be solicited for interview.

Who are the Transition Consultants?

  • Transition Consultants are women and men from our diocese who have expertise in our diocesan Transition Process, generously offering their time and talent to serve our parishes in transition. Some have served in this capacity for many years and others are newly trained. Each parish is assigned two Transition Consultants, who share the ministry and work the Transition Process together, shepherding parishes through the steps of the process.

What is a “Bishop of Record”?

  • From the selection of interim rector candidates to reviewing the parish profile and conversations with finalists and bishops to signing the Letter of Agreement, one of our bishops serves as Bishop of Record, shepherding the parish throughout the Transition Process.

How long does it take to get a new rector?

  • The timing of a Transition Process, beginning to end, is determined by many factors and is impossible to predict. That said, the new process is set up to take 12-18 months between the Sunday the departing rector leaves to the Sunday the parish receives its new rector.
  • For parishes seeking a rector at less than halftime (missional priest), a shortened process is provided — which includes the assistance of a consultant to help the parish name its participation in God’s mission and focus the recruitment of its new rector.

Who decides which candidate to call?

  • The vestry elects the rector. Before the vote may be called, the vestry is obligated to share the name of the candidate with the bishop, and the bishop has up to 60 days to respond (Canon III 3.9.3 Of the Life & Work of Priests). Our Transition Process details a process that fulfills this requirement in a manner that is best for the parish and our diocese.
  • When the Recruitment Committee makes its initial cut, narrowing the list to six or eight candidates, the names are shared with the Bishop of Record, who calls the candidates’ bishops to discuss the candidate. This ensures that the candidate is free to be called, it ensures the integrity of the slate of candidates, and it safeguards the parish from any otherwise foreseeable complication.

Is this process flexible?

  • Yes. While some components are required for all parishes in transition, the process is built to be both pliable and organic. If the Transition Process is working as intended, it flexes according to the context and culture of each parish, accommodating a variety of situations while maintaining the integrity of the discernment and recruitment that will invite the best rector candidates possible.

Where can we get the details?

  • Visit our Transition Ministry page. Here you will find the entire Transition Process detailed, including dozens of assets used by our Transition Consultants. Remember, this is a living document. As our parishes work the process and offer feedback, we expect that this initial outline will be refined and serve our parishes in transition even more faithfully.  

Topics

  • Transition process
  • clergy new to Connecticut
  • clergy formation (after ordination)
  • fresh start programs
  • letters of agreement (clergy)
  • missional priest overview
  • priest-in-charge overview
  • recently ordained clergy (ROC) gatherings
  • search process (transition process)
  • supply clergy
  • transition consultants