Search Committee Letters to the Parish

October 5, 2020

Dear family and friends of St. Stephen’s,

The changing of seasons is upon us and with it the beauty that is revealed as each leaf sheds the green of Summer and is transformed into the beauty of a New England Fall palette.How often do we look forward to this time as Summer passes the days on to the leaf covered path that winds through the colors of Autumn? We know the changing of the seasons and while one may be our favorite, we find beauty and peace in each as we wait for the transition to those days we love the most.

In our parish, we are also in transition and the seasons have been many and the weather within each ever-changing. This day we are waiting for that process of finding which person, which priest, which servant, which child of God will next walk with us into the seasons of our future as a family of faith.

The process of finding that person is steadily moving forward. Our profile has been published and there are many considering whether our parish home might be the next season of their life. Over the next few weeks, the Bishop and Rev. Dr. Rich Simpson will be reviewing the submitted applications and conducting an in-depth review of each application and candidate. Following that their selection will be submitted to your search committee for consideration and discernment as to which of those most closely meets the needs and history and future of our parish and all of those within our walls and beyond. Once the search committee has completed the initial interviews and assessment, they will provide their candidate recommendations to yourVestrywho will then enter into the final process of discernment as to who will be our next rector.

As we wait for this to unfold, there will be anxious moments for each of us. The confidentiality that is mandated for this process prohibits the members of the Search Committee and the Vestry from disclosing any specific information with respect to the ongoing search including information about the status of applications, candidates, or projected dates. We are all waiting for the process to unfold, in God’s time, not our own.

But in waiting is great opportunity. We are blessed with the presence of David DeSmith as our bridge rector, whom many of you have known for years. This pause also offers us, calls us into our own discernment as to who we are as the children of God tasked with the ministry to bring the Gospel to a broken world. To Be the Heart and Hand of Christ to all those we meet and to those who will never know which hands made a cup of water and a loaf of bread possible for them. We are called to be present once again in the Sanctuary of St. Stephen’s for our weekly worship and shared prayers for the world. We are called to look inward, to find that light of Christ that has been with us since birth and see where it can lead us. We are offered time to deepen our faith, to challenge and explore and find all of the seasons that brought that faith to our home and the woodland path that leads to our future. In God’s time, all will be revealed. May the Peace of Christ be with you this day and in the days to come.

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September 7, 2020

Dear family and friends of St. Stephen’s,

I know how difficult the past couple of weeks have been for all of you. John had brought so many gifts to our parish and with them a renewed sense of direction and purpose and perhaps, more importantly, the life he lived; a life of humble service which was and is a beacon we each can follow. In honor of that life, our search for a new rector will move forward with the same deliberate attention that brought this group together at the onset of this process. It is not a process that can be rushed, and it never should be. The mission of this parish, and the members of the search committee acting on your behalf, is to be patient. To open our hearts and minds to the journey that God has put before us. To listen and to truly hear the stories from those candidates who will be presented to us and to your vestry and then through prayer and thoughtful review, select the person whom we believe offers those qualities which will move us forward into our future and also gently guide us through our shared grief. It is our honor to represent each of you in this process. May the Peace of Christ be with you this day and in the days to come.

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July 26, 2020

Dear family and friends of St. Stephen’s,

Hopefully, you are all aware that the Profile Committee has completed the Parish Profile and it has been reviewed and approved by your Vestry. If you have not yet been able to take a look at it, please do. The profile Committee’s dedication and extensive work resulted in a truly amazing profile of St. Stephen’s which will be released by the Diocese to the church as a whole and to those who will subsequently submit their candidate profiles to the Diocese. The Diocese will then, after a thorough review, submit their approved candidate profiles to the Search Committee for our review as the first step in the selection process.

While the profile was being created, your search committee also began to formulate the first steps in the search process. The initial step was a meeting with The Rev. Dr. Richard M. Simpson Canon to the Ordinary for the Diocese of Western Massachusetts and a review of the transition process that has been put in place by the Diocese including the Transition Manual prepared by the Diocese. The next steps involved a careful review of the Congregational Assessment Tool (CAT), a review of all the listening session contributions and the summary provided by the profile committee of those sessions.  Your Search Committee has been meeting on a regular basis through Zoom meetings to discern what information is most critical to gather in our efforts to find the priest that God has chosen to walk with all of us as we move into our shared future.

Please know that each of you is in our hearts and minds as we move through his process. No one priest can meet everyone’s hopes and expectations but we will seek to find that person who offers gifts that will unite us all in Christ and guide us on a path that leads to the continued presence of St. Stephen’s and our many ministries for years to come in Pittsfield and beyond.

Unlike the search process in years past, the Search Committee will not make the final decision in selecting a new rector. It is our task to assess the candidates, conduct interviews and then provide your Vestry with 2 or 3 recommendations. At that point the Vestry will begin the final process and with the approval of the Bishop and Reverend Simpson, call our next rector.

The search process is not a quick one.  We expect that the diocese will present a list of candidates to the Search Committee around mid-September and at that time, after the initial review of submitted candidate profiles, the interview process will begin. It is important to know that our search is a deeply confidential process and specific information about the candidates cannot be shared with anyone outside of the search committee other than the Diocese as needed and the Vestry once candidates are presented to them.

Know that each of you is a part of this process through your presence in our lives and as members of our St. Stephen’s family and be assured that our search is not about finding the person we would choose for ourselves but, the one priest who will be the loving hands and heart of Christ for all.  Thank you for your continued trust and prayerful support.

The Search Committee of St. Stephen’s

David Nevin – Alec Gilman – Cathy Carchedi – Josie Ellis
John Garinther – Susan LeBourdais – Chris Perry – Craig Smith
Rev. Francie Hills – Chaplain – Wendy Webster Coakley – Vestry Liaison