Episcopal Diocese of Washington

To draw people to Jesus and embody his love
for the world by equipping faith communities,
promoting spiritual growth, and striving for justice

Clergy and Parish Transitions

The process of calling a new rector is one of mutual discernment for the vestry, search team, and candidates in partnership with the bishop. This exciting time of seeking the best match for priest and congregation requires a major commitment of time and resources.

On behalf of the bishop, the Rev. Dr. Robert Phillips works with parishes and clergy in transition with clergy and congregations on all aspects of the process. 

For Clergy Leaving a Congregation

For clergy leaving a congregation, a good beginning to a new ministry is predicated on a good ending 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.

Leaving a Congregation

For the Parish in Transition

The length of the transition process depends upon many variables, including frequency of vestry and search team meetings, the general health of the parish and the time required to gather data and develop a parish profile. Flexibility is essential. Avoid establishing arbitrary deadlines. 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 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 "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 the Rev. Dr. Robert Phillips.

Transition Resources

Letter of Agreement Templates