Fellow blogger and Massachusetts priest, Tim Schenck, wrote this paper for seminarians in 2001 entitled From Seminary to Parish: Navigating Your First Clergy Job Search. You can tell Tim and I think somewhat alike by his use of the metaphor, “navigating”. This paper is full of good advice, not only for seminarians, but for the rest of us as well. The only drawback in the paper is the archaic section on filling out the dear departed CDO form. I fear Tim is too busy with his new vocation as a ferret farmer to update an otherwise excellent overview of the search process. That deficiency can be easily remedied by visiting my previous blog on the TMO Portfolio.
Here are a few of Tim’s keen observations, proof-texted from his 58 page paper Baptist style:
One of the biggest obstacles seemed to be the unfamiliar and mysterious clergy deployment process.
Clergy deployment would be much easier if the Church used the Saint Matthias model of placement (Acts 1:15-26).
the hiring process is a time of risk and trepidation for a parish community and for a rector. There is always a profound vulnerability involved when a community seeks to enter into a relationship with an ordained leader. This risk is certainly felt by the interviewee but it is important to recognize parishes and rectors also feel these emotions.
Most newly ordained clergy agree that the quality of the mentor should be your number one priority in seeking a job.
Rectors tend to look at resumes, along with cover letters, as initial indications of your ability to communicate in writing.
Interviewing is not akin to taking your driver’s license test.
If the concept of mutual exploration guides your approach to interviewing, much of the customary pressure is lifted.
The last aspect of interview preparation involves being intentional about knowing yourself, your particular gifts, and the type of parish environment in which you feel called to serve.
Though it might be helpful, priests don’t have slick agents who wear $2,000 suits.
Choreographing your entrance may be more critical for a new rector but it’s also important for a newly hired assistant.