Did You Know? August 24

Posted on Aug 20 , 2014 in Did You Know

 Why do all ordained clergy associated with a parish leave when the Rector leaves?

 A few weeks back I wrote about how “all baptized people are called to make Christ known as Saviour and Lord”. It is a direct quote from the ordination service putting the emphasis on what the New Testament calls “the priesthood of all believers“. A church is the gathering of the people of God in a geographical area not a building. Those people together reflect on their call to make Christ known in their unique area. The Bishop is the one “called to guard the faith, unity and discipline of the Church” ensures that the call stays focused on making Christ known.

 However, in a practical sense this is actually an art not a science and as such there are no formulas for doing this. It is to be a “body of Christ” activity. Priests and Deacons are trained to bring leadership, to guide, and direct but they are only one individual in this body. As you all know ordained clergy come and go. When a Rector leaves the church (that is the people of God) is to articulate and discern their call in their Parish (geographical area) and then outline the gifts they believe would help them fulfill this call. To ensure that this is truly the work of the people of God and not the leading of a trained Priest or Deacon, the Bishop has all ordained step aside during this process and remove themselves from the congregation. By very nature Priests and Deacons have their own unique gifts and ideas as to how worship and ministry should be done. It is an art though, not a science, and the body as a whole, needs to do the hard work of discerning the way forward and not default to any trained leadership that might still be present.

 By having all Priests and Deacons remove themselves, the Bishop ensures that this will not happen. When the new Rector arrives they will be new and unknown. If there were clergy who were still connected that were known and familiar to people, the natural tendency would be for people to turn to them, when what is needed is for the new Rector who has been selected to begin to develop pastor roles and leadership.

 In the interim between Rectors, an interim Priest is appointed, who is there to fulfill the Bishops leading in that Parish, without influencing the work of the people.

 The Reverend Allan Carson

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