Thursday, August 03, 2006

Bishop too king? Putting nominators to work

A thought on Anglican HR
Thanks to Dave for this thought.

Anglican churches in Sydney have a complex and fascinating system for replacing rectors (senior ministers/senior pastors/priest in charge/etc). I'm not sure how similar/different it might be elsewhere; I'd love to hear. As part of this process, each year the vestry meeting (=AGM) elects around five people to be 'nominators' for the year. This means that they are entrusted with the weighty task of doing nothing all year. Nothing, that is, unless the rector leaves/dies/commits gross sin. If the parish is thus left without senior leadership, then this group starts looking for a replacement. They have a very busy and weighty job of selecting, interviewing, and making recommendations to the Archbishop (there is then a further complicated process in which both the Diocese and the parish have a significant say. As I understand it, this is significantly different to many Anglican dioceses in which the bishop is king). Anyway, much as I'd love to hear reflections on/experiences of this process (or those within other systems), my main point is that nominators don't do anything for years at a time (one Sydney parish had an incumbent for 36 years recently: a long time between drinks for the nominators...).

But, what if... rectors were to make use of nominators at other times? In particular, whenever there is a new staff appointment to be made, the rector could use the nominators as a consultation panel, or to do the legwork, or to run the interviews, or all of these and more. I'm a big fan of consultative leadership. I also like the fact that the rector has tenure in a parish and can't easily be dismissed at the whim of a congregation. The ideal is for rector and congregation to build a relationship of trust in which the rector can lead by invitation and example, by exhortation and consultation, rather than decree. This is all fairly obvious, and indeed, it might be that most parishes already do something like this (if so, let me know). In any case, perhaps making use of nominators in this way (as the trusted elected representatives of the parish) would be a simple but effective way of demonstrating and building trust, of training nominators through letting them cut their teeth on smaller decisions, and of ensuring that new appointments fit not only the rector, but also the congregation(s).

PS This post is no criticism of any recent staff appointments at church. It arose from observing the bun-rush for parish jobs amongst fourth years at college at the moment and reflecting upon the variety of processes found amongst parishes.
Ten points for naming the Sydney church in the pic.


Jess Smith said...

I was dissapointed with the title of this post. I think that the Annual Moore College chess competition which is fast approaching must have gone to your head. Please get a better title.
Love an under-used nominator (a.k.a wife)

Aaron G said...

The process in the Brisbane Diocese is similar with a few differences. Here is the way it works (I think).

- Along with the Parish nominators, there are Diocese nominators – a panel of clergy who join the Parish nominators.
- This combined panel submits a name to the Archbishop.
- For every three rectors there are no nominators, the Archbishop gets his pick.

Interesting suggestion about a nominating board for other positions. For my job I was interviewed and selected by a specially appointed committee. But it was one chosen specifically for this position.

byron said...

Yep - that's the same in Sydney, except for the every third rector bit... How do you feel about that? Are you a fan? Why not allow the parish a say in every selection if there are also Diocesan nominators involved?

Justin said...

Andrew Graham, King of Christchurch St Ives, uses the nominators [and others] in the interview process for new staff. It was good to see.

michael jensen said...

Yes, I think the trend towards autocratic leadership is a DISASTER. Also, nominators need to get practice in hirin' ministers and thinking about what is involved, because it can be a job they do once in a generation, and it is liable to be done badly. Furthermore, with curates etc, the rector can just appoint someone who is fine by him but totally inappropriate to the congregation and it takes an awful lot of pain for everybody to work this out.
Mind you: I am amazed at how hard we find it to work with each other, curates and rectors that is. I know of hardly any happy working relationships in this regard.

Ok Byron, what are YOUR plans for next year?

byron said...

the trend towards autocratic leadership is a DISASTER
Where do you see this trend?

I am amazed at how hard we find it to work with each other, curates and rectors that is. I know of hardly any happy working relationships in this regard.
That's a sad admission: our most highly trained Christian leaders consistently failing to get along. I'm sure there are many exceptions that readers could name (feel free to do so!), but my fear is that you might be right more often than not.

Ok Byron, what are YOUR plans for next year?
Well, not being an Anglican candidate (yet?), I am in no danger of being a upstart curate causing problems for some poor rector!* So I guess my answer is: I wish I knew... I hear that Jsutin recommends taxi-driving! If you hear of anything good, let me know. ;-)

* Though I could always be an upstart LSW causing problems for some poor rector. Maybe I'd be less threatening in that case?

byron said...

Dear under-used nominator,
I work and study in a system where people have titles like 'rector', 'curate', 'godfather', 'catechist', and 'grand pooh-bar' ('bishop' to those outside Sydney - yes, we've ditched another Anglican tradition!) - do you still think my title's odd?

Anonymous said...


You're decidedly not an Anglican candidate, so why do you care? And as for your under-used wife who's a nominator - do you want her to spend each Sunday at another church looking for people to steal and come or work for Barneys?

More importantly are you furthering the gospel with this post or comtinuing your tyrade of superciliousness?

For once - just SHUT-UP!

byron said...

Anonymous, I fear I must have wronged you in some way. If so, I am sorry. I would be very happy to talk about it further if you wish. If you would like to contact me directly, you could send an email to byron dot smith at moore dot edu dot au.

Justin said...

I know of hardly any happy working relationships in this regard.

MPJ -- you are a good mate and all. But is this really true? I can't see it.

Bryon -- Is there a reason that I am Jsutin?

Drew said...

It's a common typo - Because 'J' is typed by the same finger as 'U', often the finger typing 'S', which should follow the 'U', actually gets in first.

Obviously, these fingers should have consulted their nominators.

Byron: I hope that the look for work next year goes well, and isn't too messy.

byron said...

Ah, Derw, you are so naïve... So quick to nominate a justification of my 'mistake' as accidental... (thanks! and thanks re next year). But my fingers are all obedient to their episcopal head.

Jsutin: for the same reason that you've been calling me Bryon. :-) ... or perhaps :)-
Now that we've had this difficult conversation, I am ready to call off my attack fingers. Truce?

(NB perhaps this interchange has only served to justify anon's allegation!)

Anonymous said...

I must go and check the archives...

My humblest apologies....

Justin said...

That anon was me.

Again: I must go and check the archives... My humblest apologies....

Justin said...

And to clarify -- I am not the Anon who told you to Shut up on your own Blog. I'm with you Bryon. I'm not sure how you have hurt that person. But either owning their comment [by naming themselves] or emailing you personally is a good idea.

That way the issue can be dealt with. Better than a side swipe, I reckon.

byron said...

Thanks Justin. Apology accepted. :-)

What's happened to your blog? Haven't seen a post in a while...

Dave Barrie said...

Is the church in the pic All Souls Leichhardt?

byron said...

'Fraid not Dave - the points are still up for grabs... :-)

Martin Kemp said...

The Sydney Church:
Given the shape of the building and texture of the material I'm going to guess and say St Thomas' Nth Syd.
Although...that rose window looks awfully Roman Catholic.

byron said...

Marty - good guess. Ten points.