Dear Discerning Priest,
By now you’ve read the portfolio looked at the pictures, and examined the statistics. You may have done a bit of checking around to get a sense of who we are. We welcome your curiosity, and we are just as curious about you. We are eager to join our new rector in the effort to make God’s dream of love and justice visible in the world.
We can say without reservation that we are a healthy parish. We achieved this through high levels of parish participation, and talented leadership over the last twenty-plus years. We prepared thoughtfully, mindfully and thoroughly for our rector search that began in 2016, and we are truly ready for new leadership with fresh ideas. But we’ve been through a bit of a rough patch in 2017, when a new rector called to Trinity ended up leaving after only a few months. It was the result of a situation no one could have predicted, and the departure concerned personal matters that had nothing to do with the Trinity community. But it left us feeling a bit uncertain about this process and disappointed about the need to start over. The good news is that our parish community has continued to thrive, a testament to the cohesion and lay empowerment of the congregation. After a bit of rest, and in the care of a fantastic interim team, we are ready to renew our search with genuine excitement, and with open hearts.
As the portfolio illustrates, shared ministry is integral to life at Trinity. Many parishioners are active in multiple facets of parish life and work. We are deeply committed to inclusive process and consensus. While we value and respect the spiritual and practical leadership that our Episcopal polity places in a rector, as a community we have “lived experience” of parish leadership as a role of first among equals- it feels good to us, it works for us. An ability to manage conflict in an open and healthy manner is important. We are praying for a rector with the confidence to energize, inspire and make tough calls when necessary, but also one who is collegial and consensus oriented, who can wholeheartedly embrace shared ministry as a way of life with authenticity and respect for the views of all parishioners.
We hope for a person with empathy and spiritual depth, a person of mindfulness and commitment to pastoral presence in community. We pray for a meditative person who engages in regular spiritual practice in addition to Sunday worship, who is comfortable and interested in sharing the experience of the spiritual journey. We hope for one who, even if of a more introverted personality, will genuinely enjoy the social aspects of parish life.
Trinity is seeking a rector who will work proactively to equip parishioners to carry their faith and spiritual awareness into every aspect of their life. We are eager for a rector who preaches with courage, creativity and insight. We are grateful for our current tradition of a shared pulpit, and we regularly invite others to preach – members of the Santa Barbara interfaith community, as well as Episcopal priests who are also members of Trinity, and appropriate laypersons. We are grounded in high church liturgy and respect for the Book of Common Prayer, but we appreciate fresh ritual. We have spent many years growing to a place where inclusive language, fresh imagery, and challenging metaphors are embodied in our liturgy, and there is parish consensus that we do not want to move backward in that regard. We are theologically diverse, but trend strongly to progressive and inclusive visions of the divine, and respect for all faith traditions – a good candidate for our community will also bend in that direction.
We are financially sound, although struggling with the universal need to do more with less that characterizes our current economy. We hope you have a good understanding of church finance and are ready to work with the parish on all aspects of our material life, from the challenge of maintaining our beautiful and historic buildings, to the financial management and stewardship necessary to support our ministry and plans for the future.
Hospitality at Trinity is characterized by radical welcome and inclusiveness. We seek someone whose spiritual rootedness is strong enough to be truly open to change and new visions for the future of the church. This means we are oriented toward young families and emerging adults, and desire to be accessible to those new to the Christian faith and disillusioned Christians seeking a new spiritual home. Each Sunday, the presider at the Eucharist reminds us that “all are welcome at God’s table,” a concept that lies at the very heart of our parish experience.
We seek leadership that is outward-looking, that will support and nurture the wide reach of our parishioners into our surrounding community and into the larger world. People from the parish minister in numerous interfaith and secular endeavors, looking to build a more just, peaceful and healthy society, and we hope for a rector who is interested in doing the same. If you are action-oriented, engaged with community, cross-culturally aware and ready to carry the message of God’s love and justice into the world, we will put your talents and energy to good use. We look forward to collaborating with you.
If you are the one called to join us, we look forward to a time of getting to know one another. As the new parish/rector relationship develops, we will be excited to see where the new partnership will take us. We look forward to a time of thoughtful dialog and shared vision. We are eager to receive your ideas, and to experience your response to ours.
May God bless you and guide you on your journey of discernment. We wait for you steadfastly and in peace.
Trinity Episcopal Church
Santa Barbara, California
March 18, 2018