Thursday, March 26, 2009

Many Miles, Many Questions

I had a good but exhausting day yesterday.

Left home at 0 dark 30 to drive down to the land of Mr. Jefferson's academical village.

I met with a member of a search committee who is also a friend. Her church, a fascinating little multicultural place in the midst of a university town, will be posting their position announcement for a new vicar the day after Easter. They have been through a bad patch with a vicar who wasn't the right fit, and the aftermath of that experience has taken a couple of years to work through. My friend is convinced that I might have the right skill set to help this place move forward and grow again.

Then I spent several hours with an old friend who is the rector of a large church (ASA 511 over two services) about 20 minutes away from the downtown of the same university town. He is looking for an associate rector. His current one is leaving because her husband is going back to school elsewhere. The area is growing, the church is financially healthy, the parishioners are an interesting mix of old and new (and the old welcomed the new), and they have a beautiful new organ and a growing music program. I also went to lunch with the rector and his former senior warden, who is on the search committee. It was one of those job interviews that masquerade as "it's just lunch." I suspect this job would be mine if I wanted it.

Then there is St Middle School, which is still in play and is wonderful but complicated. I would be the easy choice for them. They know me, I know them, we'd remain in the general area where PH works so he could maintain his existing practice, but the cost of living is higher.

The choices look something like this:
1) a place where I would be boss, would work a zillion hours, be in an extraordinarily cool place with very interesting parishioners, would be a hero if I turned it around after it went through some very hard times, and if it worked out I could stay there for a decade, making it worthwhile for PH to start a new practice;
2) a place where I could learn how to be a priest by apprenticing with an experienced, generous and successful priest who is also a grown-up, work a 40-hour week, be a part of a team but not the boss, and would get itchy to leave in two years (which is a challenge for poor PH, for whom building a new practice takes a few years);
3) a place where I would be boss of a sub-unit of a resource-sized parish (vicar of the mission) part of the time plus assistant for outreach and mission the rest of the time, probably work less hours than # 1 but more than #2, have to live out in the 'burbs, a little further out than I would like, but not have to move PH from his practice, and might be a place to stay for several years if it continued to grow, but would involve working with a wonderful but challenging rector (visionary, not detail-oriented, doesn't always close the loop).

Adding to the mix is the fact that this diocese does not normally name transitional deacons to head churches, even as vicars, which would mean the Bishop doing something potentially precedent-setting by approving me for either #1 or #3. That said, I do have the skill set to do the job. Mostly.

Suffice to say, I have a lot to chew on. What say ye?


Lisa Lettau said...

You've always been one to blaze new trails, why should this be any different. If you're the right person for any of these jobs, the powers that be will know it, and then there's that thing of God's will....

Lorraine said...

Hmm... I'm still voting for the "token Episcopalian" for that new church in New Mexico. heehee...

Well seriously, that's a hard choice. I'll be praying that you discern where God is calling you. :)

Kathryn said...

I know that thigs are way different in ECUSA to the CofE but I would not have done withour my 4 year curacy under the mentoring of fab vocar for all the tea in China....THAT was about priesthoodd whereas too much of the daily reality of neing a solo vicar is about admin. If you get the opportunity to breathe in the reality of your calling, take it!

Rev Dr Mom said...

If I had a different rector and a truly collegial and collaborative work relationship I could happily remain an associate (actually I'm an assistant now, but I do the work of an associate, if your diocese makes that distinction). But I understand the itch to be the p-i-c (rector/vicar) too. And folks in my class did go on to be rectors and vicars right out of seminary. Very common in one diocese where they were also required to remain transitional deacons for a whole year.

The best thing is that none of your options sounds bad.

I hope that you end up in a place where you can use you considerable gifts and you and they can flourish.

Kathryn said...

just re-read last night's comment & realised that the art of one-armed typing is still eluding me...hope you could translate all my typos. My favourite to date is the new name for the feast of the resurrection "Waster Sunday" :-)

Anonymous said...

I was a deacon-in-charge and then rector right out of seminary, and I have spent every moment since wishing I had been given the opportunity for a mentor and collegial relationship. Just a thought!