Most lay leaders and clergy of the diocese know Catherine Jackson, our Appointments Secretary. Her official title sounds rather administrative and bureaucratic, but her ministry is very much one of service to our parishes, guiding congregations, parish reps, Churchwardens and treasurers through the complicated processes related to recruitment and appointment of clergy, She works closely with the relevant Archdeacon, Area Dean and Lead Bishop in giving essential support to congregations from the moment a vacancy is declared, guiding them through the complex matter of discernment, and also offering guidance to enquiring priests about particular posts and assisting with their own sense of calling and search.
As you can imagine, balancing so many interests, keeping things proceeding smoothly and consulting daily with relevant staff and volunteers on safeguarding protocols, finance, health/visa/employment issues, advertising deadlines, as well as arranging and participating in any discernment interviews, is no small task! At any given time in our diocese there can be up to 40 vacancies, and although there are set procedures, in a complex diocese like ours, so often a "bespoke" touch is needed! Just in the last two weeks alone, 4 major posts have been filled, each would have involved countless hours of preparation and staff support. There are approximately 150 licensed clergy in the diocese – but of course there are another over 30 posts that are currently vacant.
Whilst retirement age for Church of England clergy is creeping up to 68, thereby possibly reducing the number of priests who are interested in part-time posts after they draw their pension, in TEC, clergy can now retire on a full pension after 30 years of service. So some "retirees" are as young as 55! Our experience of TEC clergy serving in our C of E parishes has been very positive. Indeed, two of our own Area Deans are clergy from TEC.
Catherine and I had a chance for some discussions with the new Presiding Bishop of TEC while we were at the Episcopal Church Centre. Bishop Michael Curry is a warm, charismatic individual, genuinely interested in our work and mission in Europe. It was a very good connection to make, again for future networking.