Formation of the Search Committee
The Search Committee is a creation of the Vestry and works for and on behalf of the Vestry. Routinely the Committee is formed soon after the previous Rector or Vicar leaves the parish or mission. The Senior Warden, on behalf of the Vestry and with the concurrence of the entire Vestry, appoints members to the Search Committee. It is important to keep in mind that in accordance with the canons of our church only the Vestry can issue a call and then only with the approval of the Bishop. It is clear, therefore, that the Search Committee serves in an advisory capacity, albeit a crucial capacity.
Composition of the Search Committee
The Search Committee should be as broadly representative of the parish as possible in a manner carefully selected by the Vestry. It should be made clear to the congregation that, though volunteers for the committee are given careful consideration, because balance is so crucial they may or may not be appointed to the committee. It is not appropriate for staff or other clergy to serve on the Search Committee. The chair of the Search Committee may be designated by the Vestry or may be elected by the committee itself in an early meeting. As rule of thumb the size of a search committee is roughly equal to the size of the Vestry. At least one Vestry member (often two) should be appointed to serve on the Search Committee to serve as a liaison and information link.
Desired Characteristics of Members
In the body of Christ no one members possess all gifts, but rather we need one another. Likewise no one Search Committee member will have all the desired characteristics but together in Christ we are whole. Here are some desirable characteristics:
– Good organizational skills (essential for the chair!)
– Team player
– Person of prayer
– Member in good standing (attending church, giver of record, etc.)
– Willing to work for the good of the church and not partisanship
– No hidden agendas
Clarity about expectations
Before the work of the Committee begins, there should be clarity about the Vestry’s expectations for this work and the form of the final nominations. (For example: How many names does the Vestry want to have for their final consideration? Should they be ranked by order of preference or not? Are there special geographic or salary limitations to be placed on the search?) A search process budget, if not already formulated, should be developed and approved by the Vestry to include such expenses as consultant fees, questionnaire design, printing, videos, brochures, travel expenses of Committee members and prospective Rectors and spouses as well as relocation expenses. Care should be exercised to ensure clear lines of fiduciary responsibility between Vestry and Search Committee. A joint meeting with Canon Bennett, the Vestry and the Search Committee is most often scheduled very early in the search process.