The Rev. Mark Asman, announced in 2013 that he would be retiring in May 2016. He had been with us for 20 years, and with foresight and generosity, had let us know in plenty of time to begin preparing the way—both collectively as a congregation, and individually in our own hearts—for his departure.
In late 2014, the vestry began the work of establishing a Portfolio Committee, whose mission would be to listen in various ways to the voices of the congregation, and to incorporate what they heard into a parish profile. This listening process included a comprehensive parish-wide survey, a series of 12 very well-attended parish conversations on Sunday mornings after church, and the open-ended invitation to contact members of the Portfolio Committee with any questions, suggestions, and observations. In August 2015, the Portfolio Committee hosted a Trinity History Day—a great success in number of attendees, in the personal and corporate information that was added to our timeline, and in furthering our commitment to naming “what is life-giving here.”
In the autumn of 2016, Trinity called a new rector, The Rev. Christine McSpadden. There was parish-wide excitement about beginning the “next chapter” of our story. Due to unforeseen circumstances, after a few months, our new rector resigned. The parish was stunned, but parish leadership quickly took action. A series of forums was offered after the Sunday services. Attendees were encouraged to express their feelings of sadness, fear, anger and concern. They were also assured that we would get through this difficult situation. The forums diffused what could have been a very negative and decisive time for the parish.
The vestry was proactive. They identified a candidate for the interim rector and initiated the process with the diocese to get that person on board. The interim rector, together with the interim associate rector and the parish leadership have “steadied the ship.”
Trinity is just fine. We have not only weathered an unsettling experience, we are emerging stronger and more self-confident than ever. The whole experience demonstrated the value of our commitment to shared ministry and our strong sense of community. And now, once again, we are excited to be looking to a future with a new rector.
At the beginning of 2018, we wanted to check back in with the parish so we invited parishioners to participate in an Appreciative Inquiry Summit. The January weekend was an opportunity to envision Trinity’s future mission and the qualities and skill set of a rector who will lead us into that future mission. The Summit produced a list of seven consensual parish values: pastoral care, children and youth, lay leadership, buildings and grounds, community outreach, worship and welcome and hospitality. Because of time constraints, we were not able to complete the task of framing those values into missional priorities.
In March, parish leaders—vestry, parish council, search committee members and church staff—came together at its annual leadership retreat with the express task of finishing the work that began in January during the parish-wide summit. While a list of missional priorities emerged, we agreed that some of these priorities saw a high degree of satisfaction and that they probably needed more “management” than leadership to affect change. Through the process, five areas were identified as places to stretch and on which to focus our attention. These five areas are: church growth, community presence (institutional/organizing), stewardship, communications and governance structure. These areas therefore, relate to the leadership qualities that we will be looking for in a new rector to lead us into our future together.
So now, as we “dust off” this portfolio of Trinity Church once again, it is the result of our listening and learning—a process that has already made a profound congregational difference just by the fact of doing it. We find ourselves now—having celebrated our 150th anniversary last year—on the cusp of a new beginning in the life of Trinity Church.