“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” – Matt.13:44
The name and background of the anticipated new rector was released to the parish on Sunday, and the announcement was followed by cheers and applause of welcome to the Rev. Dr. Deborah Meister, and of gratitude for the work of the Search Committee and Vestry. Since the process of calling a new rector is thoughtful, prayerful and, at times, tedious, it requires a lengthy commitment of time and energy from both the Search Committee and the Vestry, and from the applicant. We are all grateful to Deborah for engaging in the search process and accepting the invitation to serve as the new Rector. We are also grateful for the workings of the Holy Spirit that guided all those involved. Now we will wait a bit longer for her to arrive and begin her new ministry with us. It is a new ministry for Deborah and a renewal of the ministry of this parish.
Several people have asked me if I would share a bit of what I have experienced when I began as a new rector, having been a “new” rector in three different parishes during my ministry. First, you should know that, as exciting as it is to be called as rector of a parish, the new rector will probably also grieve the separation from her “old” parish, and feel a bit of anxiety about her future life in this new community. Parish ministry is all about relationships, and clergy develop unique caring relationships with parishioners both as their priest and spiritual guide, but also as their friend. So my first reaction to starting in a new parish is to miss my old parishioners, the fun we had, those I married, baptized and helped to lay to rest. Clergy also grieve the loss of former trusted clergy colleagues, now at a distance. Second, there is also a bit of anxiety as the new rector begins and may pray, “Dear Lord, gently reveal to me why you have called me to serve in this parish.” The profile does not predict the future and many times the reason that a new rector is called to a parish is revealed later when a significant event occurs and the rector is needed in an unanticipated and wonderful way. Third, in the first few months of starting as rector, I always felt a bit disoriented. Moving to a new parish also means finding a new home, new doctors, stores, schools and hospitals, and learning the unexplained, unwritten system of the area in which it all happens. There is new vocabulary to learn: Metro, GW, AU, inside the Beltway, the Close, Shelby, Trenbath, Nourse, Warner, Crossroads and more. There are parishioners’ names and stories to learn, and this all takes time and patience.
Please give Deborah all the time and space she needs to settle in as she discovers the hidden treasures in this parish. Remember, she has “sold all that she had to buy this field”.
Thank you, Carol, for your personal and inspiring perspective. You highlight many aspects of transition, which we might otherwise have overlooked and which we should all bear in mind as we prepare to welcome Deborah into the St. Alban’s community. I enjoyed this post.