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Identify appropriate open positions

When searching for open positions, clergy should develop a fairly broad screen to help discern which available positions might be appropriate matches.  Elements in an initial screen might be: geography, kind of job (i.e. rector, associate, bishop, etc.), parish size, and compensation.  These elements can be easily discerned in a search of all potential openings.  Once these broader criteria are met, clergy can begin research a more limited number of openings and discern about matching skills, values, and purpose.  Information to answer those deeper questions is often not evident at the beginning of a search process.

Open positions for Episcopal clergy are posted on a variety of websites.  This blog has attempted to aggregate all of those sites to provide a simple portal to all job listings.  On the left hand column of this page, you will find a long list under “Episcopal Clergy Openings”.  The list begins the OTM Portfolio, which contains the most comprehensive listing of job openings.  That is followed by the Transition Ministry Network Newsletter, which contains listings from dioceses in New England, the Mid-Atlantic, Upper South and the Midwest.  A list of individual diocesan websites that post some deployment information follows.   If you know of other online listings, please forward that information to the Discernment Doctor.

The national church’s OTM Portfolio contains an online jobs bulletin board.  It can be reached from a clergypersons’ front page by clicking on the heading “Search Community Ministry Portfolios” found in the upper left hand portion of the page.  The next page has a “keyword” search function at the top.  Underneath are several search categories: by ASA, compensation, current status, diocese, languages, and order of ministry.

Navigating the “Search Community Ministry Portfolios” page to find positions that are open and receiving names takes some effort.  Begin by going to the “Current Status” list and click on “Receiving Names”.   This produces a list of open positions in chronological order, based on when the position data was entered into the computer.  The first entries are the most recently entered.  However, to determine whether a position is still receiving names, you must click on a given position portfolio and look at the date under the heading “Receiving Names Until”, found roughly in the middle of the first page.   You may note that many of the positions on the “Receiving Names List” are actually no longer receiving names.  The best strategy, when searching, is to check the “Receiving Names” list often to monitor positions as they are entered.

The “Current Status” list has several other entries that indicate a position may be ready to receive names.  These include: “Beginning Search”, “Interim in Place”, “Developing Profile”, “Developing Self Study”, and “Profile Complete”.   If you identify a position of interest on one of these lists, you might want to contact the Transition Ministry Officer of that diocese to determine when the position is ready to receive names.  You cannot count on information on the TMO or any other websites to always be current.

Of the other search categories, “Compensation Required for a New Position” and “Diocese” are the most helpful for narrowing a search of open positions.  The “keyword” search function at the top of the page is not particularly effective.

The individual “Ministry Portfolios” found through an OTM search should contain sufficient information for clergy to begin a discernment process.  The “Narrative” section provides short essays about the parish.   The “Connections” section should provide a link to the parish website.  If not, google the parish website.  The “References” section contains contact information.  You may want to contact the Diocesan Transition Ministry Officer to ascertain the status of the parish.  Some dioceses discourage direct contact with wardens or search committee chairs, particularly early in a search process.

Apart from the OTM Portfolio site, the next largest listing of open positions can be found on the Transition Ministry Newsletter site.  This site is sponsored by the Transition Ministry Conference, forty dioceses covering the Upper South, Mid-Atlantic, New England, and Midwest.  The transition ministry officers of these dioceses gather a couple of times a year to share information regarding open positions and potential candidates.  The newsletter lists those positions with comments by the transition ministry officers.   Clergy in these participating dioceses can ask their transition ministry officers to share their resumes and OTM portfolios with other dioceses in the Transition Ministry Conference at their bi-annual gathering.

Many dioceses maintain a transition ministry section within their diocesan website.  The page may contain information about open position and information concerning diocesan policies governing the search process.  The list of dioceses on the left hand column of the Discernment Doctor represents those dioceses who were listing positions during a search in the summer of 2011.  Please notify the Discernment Doctor if there are any omissions.

Some search committees advertise open positions.  These ads can be found in the Living Church and Episcopal Life.

This article has focused on how clergy can identify open positions.  It assumes what a previous blog calls discernment theology, i.e. that clergy should take the initiative in locating new opportunities.  The traditional call theology, which assumes that potential openings should come find clergy, still operates, but is less effective.  The OTM Portfolio, like the CDO before it, contains a matching system that generates potential candidates for a search committee.  The OTM matching system is still a work in progress.  The Transition Ministry Conference has a bi-annual manual matching system.   Transition ministry officers gather around a large table exchanging parish profiles and clergy resumes.  Bishops and transition ministry officers often know about open positions before they are listed and can help guide clergy to what they view are appropriate matches.  I was recently contacted by a search committee that found my name on LinkedIn, so I recommend using social networks.  Good old-fashioned word of mouth can also generate leads.