Rector Search Process

Episcopal Diocese of Washington
Parish Leaders - Rector Search Process

Rector Search Process

The process of calling a new rector is one of mutual discernment, engaged in by the Vestry, Search Team, and candidates in partnership with the Bishop. This exciting time of seeking the best clergy match for a congregation should be carried out prayerfully and with faith and will require a major commitment of time and resources.

For Clergy Leaving a Congregation...

For clergy leaving a congregation, a good beginning to the next stage is predicated on a good end to the previous ministry. The following guidelines are intended to help clergy end pastoral relationships in ways that allow priest and people to celebrate what they have shared and bring closure to the existing relationship.

For The Parish in Transition...

The length of time to complete the transition process depends upon many variables, including frequency of Vestry and Search Team meetings, commitment and willingness of members to work independently in small groups, general health of parish (e.g., it may be necessary to work on conflict resolution or other healing processes before proceeding full-speed with search), length of time required to gather data and develop parish profile, delays due to Christmas and Easter seasons, etc. Therefore, flexibility is essential. Avoid establishing arbitrary deadlines or expectations. The "average" time from the departure of a rector to the calling of a new rector is 12 to 18 months.

The process works best when the roles and responsibilities of Vestry, Interim/Priest-in-Charge, Bishop and Search Team are understood and clearly and consistently communicated to the congregation. The entire congregation should actively participate in the search process, but the Search Team and Vestry should maintain complete confidentiality regarding specific candidates.

The rector will be a member of the Diocese, a partner in ministry with the Bishop. Once the new rector has been called, at the Celebration of New Ministry, gifts will be presented and the Bishop will address the new rector saying "Let all these be signs of the ministry that is yours and mine in this place."

On behalf of the Bishop, the Rev. Canon Preston Hannibal works with clergy and congregations on all aspects of the process. Clarity about the process is essential to assure it works effectively for the Vestry, Search Team, parish members, candidates and diocesan staff.

The "Parish Transition Process" document provides an overview of the transition process. It is not, nor should it be used as a step-by-step guide. It outlines the interim period in four stages:

  1. Separation & Planning
  2. Congregational Assessment
  3. The Search
  4. Start-Up

Additional resources are available from Joey Rick.




St. George's, DC
Photo Tom Wolff

Transition Resources

Parish Transition Process [PDF]

On Leaving a Congregation [PDF]

Find Supply Clergy


Please contact Joey Rick, Canon for Congregational Vitality.

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