Our Rector Search

Grace Church is in the process of searching for a new Rector to be called in 2014.   Please follow the work of our Search Committee in their reports below.

Grace Church is especially grateful to the Rev. Margaret Schwarzer, who is serving us so faithfully as our Interim Priest.

Our Parish Profile is available online.   Please read it here.

April 2, 2014:
Have you wondered why many search committee members have been missing from the pews recently? Over the past three Sundays, three-member teams of search committee members have been out visiting five very strong candidates. We observed their preaching and celebrating, interviewed each one over a long lunch and spoke to a variety of others about their style, their gifts, and their track records. These five visits now are completed, summaries are being written, and on Sunday March 30 at our fourteenth meeting we began discussing each one in preparation for narrowing the list to three finalists. We also have begun to discuss the format and scheduling for the full-day visits in May by finalist candidates, who will be meeting with Margaret and the Grace Church staff, with the Vestry, and with the full Search Committee. The upcoming weeks? For the most part, we will be taking a breather during the remainder of Lent, when both we and the candidates will be fully occupied.
 
The twelve-plus weeks since January 1 have passed by at an increasing pace for us all. We received applications from 27 clergy, representing a volume of information considerably greater than has been the case in days of searches-past. The national church, ECUSA, has created an 8-page online form to be completed for their Office of Transition Ministry, including eight essay questions asked by the national church. In addition, the candidates wrote letters of application specifically for Grace Church. The national documents arrived online, as did the Grace Church applications from 26 of the 27 applicants (with one via USPS) - many of whom attached sample sermons online, or sent links to YouTube and other audio and video sources so that we could hear, and sometimes see, the person preaching to a congregation. If the initial materials looked promising, and we were considering the person for a phone interview, we asked 2-3 essay questions of our own, and requested two sermons, if these had not yet been submitted. Thus interview appointments were scheduled with about 1/2 of the applicants.  These interviews, by phone from Margaret's office, each for 20-25 minutes, made use of a standard set of five questions which we had developed. Susan Keefe was the primary interviewer, with the remainder of the Search Committee, the two Wardens and Diocesan consultant Phil Whitbeck listening in. Before the questions were begun, Susan asked each interviewee to lead us in prayer. Near the end of each interview, the candidate was invited to quiz us, and committee members chimed in with answers. Following each interview - no more than three phone interviews per evening - we held group discussions, and quizzing of each other. Thus, by consensus, we were able to identify five very strong candidates who "might be a good fit for Grace" each of whom would become the subject of a three-person Sunday"observation" visit as described above.
 
From among these five strong candidates, we expect to invite (about) three individuals who have been successful in the earlier stages of our process, to spend a day at Grace in May - which will include meeting Margaret and the Vestry. The final stages, and call by the Vestry, will be described in a later update.
 
March 16, 2014:
On Sunday, March 16 the Rector Search Committee held its thirteenth meeting. At the meeting, we finished the last of our (previously scheduled) phone call interviews with selected candidates. We also continued to schedule Sunday visits to meet with and to observe five selected candidates, while they were celebrating and delivering sermons. 
 
Thus, beginning on March 16, in teams of three, we began visiting the five candidates; this preliminary visiting stage is expected to be concluded by March 30. Then, we expect to invite (about) three individuals who have been successful in the earlier stages of our process, to spend a day at Grace- which will include meeting Margaret and the Vestry. The final stages, and call by the Vestry, will be described in a later update.

March 9, 2014:
On Sunday, March 9 the Rector Search Committee held its twelfth meeting. Grace Church was officially listed with the Diocese and with the national church (ECUSA) as "receiving names" during the months of January and February, thus we received several new applicants during the final week.
 
We are still conducting (previously scheduled) phone call interviews with selected candidates, and scheduling Sunday visits to meet with and to observe candidates celebrating and delivering sermons. We will be visiting (approximately) 5-6 candidates and we expect to invite (about) 3 individuals who have been successful in the earlier stages of our process to spend a day at Grace which will include meeting Margaret and the Vestry.

March 2, 2014:
On Sunday, March 2 the Rector Search Committee held its eleventh meeting. Grace Church was officially listed with the Diocese and with the national church (ECUSA) as "receiving names" during the months of January and February, thus we received submissions from several new applicants during the final week - and still are receiving additional documents from the more recent candidates.
 
This meeting had an agenda similar to our other recent meetings: we have been conducting (previously scheduled) phone call interviews with selected candidates, and discussing the initial written submissions from more recent applicants - including reading (or listening to) sample sermons. As we will be meeting with (about) 5-6 individuals who have been successful in the earlier stages of our process, we are now beginning to schedule Sunday visits to meet with and observe candidates in action.

February 23, 2014:
On Sunday(s), February 9 and 23 the Rector Search Committee held our ninth and tenth meetings. Grace Church is officially listed with the Diocese and with the national church (ECUSA) as "receiving names" during the months of January and February, thus these two meetings were quite similar in their agendas. At the February 9 meeting we discussed our methods for committee decision-making, agreeing unanimously that when the time comes to make a recommendation to the Vestry, our Search Committee will do so by a committee consensus, rather than by a simple majority vote. The Committee thought that it was important to plan many weeks ahead, in order to establish clear procedures for decision-making.
 
Otherwise, the two February meetings had very similar agendas: we have been conducting (previously scheduled) phone call interviews with selected candidates, and discussing the initial written submissions from more recent applicants - including reading (or listening to) sample sermons. Further along in the process, we will be meeting with (about) 5-6 individuals who have been successful in the earlier stages of our process.
 
Do you have a suggestion for the Rector Search Committee? If so, you can speak with one of us - or submit the suggestion in writing, in the Rector Search box on the table in the Grace Church Office.

 
January 26, 2014:
Sunday, January 26 was a busy day for the Rector Search Committee - marked by three events. In the morning, we  reported to the Grace Discussion Group that the Parish is officially listed with the Diocese and with the national church (ECUSA) as "receiving names" during the months of January and February. Andree and Ellen explained to GDG that we would be asking the Parish Meeting preceding the Annual Meeting to support our Warrant Article: to delegate to the Vestry, the authority to issue the Call to the new Rector (rather than have a Parish Meeting issue the Call), in order to maintain the confidentiality of candidate names throughout the duration of the Search. 
 
After lunch, the Parish did vote to pass the Warrant Article; we thank all for supporting the proposal from our Rector Search Committee.
 
Lastly, after the Annual Meeting, the Rector Search Committee held its eighth meeting. We considered additional materials submitted by applicants, and made further detailed plans for the conduct of our telephone interviews which will begin in February. Committee members Diane Droste and Leah Gassett have traded portfolios, with Diane having finished her Vestry term, and (newly elected) Leah beginning to serve on the Vestry.
 
January 12, 2014:
On Sunday, January 12 the Rector Search Committee held its seventh meeting. Grace Church is now officially "receiving names" during the months of January and February. The Grace Church website has been updated; the new Parish Profile is posted there. Copies are available to the parish, either by downloading from the website, or printed copies available in the Church Office and in the Small Hall. We thank all parishioners for their contributions - our task of writing the Parish Profile was made easier yet more complete, because we had good information from parishioners, collected during the two-year Looking Forward with Grace (LFG) planning process, the worship survey, the social action survey, and the two Parish wide meetings last Spring to discuss the qualities we seek in a rector. As we described to the Discussion Group of November 24, the names of candidates must be strictly confidential.
 
At our January 12 meeting, we made further plans to ask for additional materials from some candidates, and to organize our phone screening interviews - as well as preparations for sharing additional Grace Church materials with some applicants.
 


December 7, 2013:
On Sunday, December 7 the Rector Search Committee held its sixth meeting. We have finished the Parish Profile, and have completed answers to the online survey for the "national church" (ECUSA). The Profile has been approved by the Vestry. Graphic designer Deb Perugi is now adding the photos we have furnished, to illustrate the Profile. Thus the Profile and national survey will be sent to the diocese for posting. We expect to be "receiving names" during the months of January and February. Currently, the Grace Church website is being updated; the Profile will be posted there - when this occurs, we will make available to the parish, copies of the Profile. We thank everyone in the parish for their contributions.  Our task of writing the Parish Profile was made easier yet more complete, because we had good information from parishioners, collected during the two-year Looking Forward with Grace (LFG) planning process, the worship survey, the social action survey, and the two Spring meetings, where we discussed the qualities we were seeking in a new rector. As we described to the Discussion Group of November 24, the names of candidates will be strictly confidential.
 
At our December 7 meeting, we began to plan our activities for January and February, when we will be asking for additional materials from some candidates, and conducting phone screening interviews - for which we have begun to plan the procedures and questions.

December 4, 2013: 
Phil Whitbeck, our diocesan search consultant, provided the Search Committee with a two-page document which summarizes the 50+ page guide for parishes in transition (available at the Diocese of Massachusetts websiteWe have reduced his document to highlight the roles of the Vestry and the Search Committee and the major steps in the process.  Questions, comments or ideas about the search process can be directed at any time to members of the Search Committee: Jay Burke, Diane Droste, Leah Gassett, Susan Keefe, Don Kennedy, Leezie Magruder, Harry Rosser, Andree Saulnier, Ellen Sheehy or George Whitehead.  Additionally, our Wardens, David Barbrow and Carolyn Sprich, are non-voting members of the committee and available to answer questions.

To read a "Summary of Rector Search Process" click here.

November 27, 2013
On Sunday, November 24 the Rector Search Committee held its fifth meeting. Earlier in the day we, and consultant Phil Whitbeck, had provided an information session for the Grace Discussion Group. We hope to share with parishioners as much information as possible about the process and schedule - by using the "Grace Today" newsletter, the bulletin board in the Small Hall, and notices on the Grace website within a few weeks. Further, we invite parishioners to ask us (or Vestry members) about the calendar, or steps in the process.
 
We have created a Parish Profile - which will be on the agenda at the December meeting of the Vestry  - a task made easier yet more complete, because we have good information from parishioners, collected during the two-year Looking Forward with Grace (LFG) planning process, the worship survey, the social action survey, and the two Parish gatherings in the Spring of 2013 when we considered, "What qualities do we want our next Rector to have?" At the beginning of the new year in January, we anticipate moving to the "Receiving Names" stage of the process, with the posting by the Diocese of our new Parish Profile, coinciding with the posting on the "national church" (ECUSA) website of our answers to their twelve brief essay questions - a task upon which we are now working.  As was described at the Discussion Group, the names of candidates will be strictly confidential.