Greetings, everyone! I confess that this week I'm not able to think critically about how to synthesize these answers, as I have a nasty sinus infection that really wants to be bronchitis when it grows up. So I'll just put these out there and encourage you, as always, to share your stories about transitions you've dealt with in your ministry along this line:
So I have found myself in a situation which I do not think is unique, but has never happened to me. I was hoping for some wisdom.
Last Christmas, our senior pastor left for new and different things. For the last year, we have been without a senior pastor. We have muddled along pretty well this year with supply and interim priests. But our search committee has issued an invitation now for the new rector. And here is where the questions start for me. It was told to me early on that when a new senior pastor came on board, as an associate I was to offer my resignation and let him "bring in his own team." On the other hand a number of parishioners, including some on the search team, have told me that I was not supposed to do that, but stay in place and just keep doing what I have been doing the whole time. My question is, what to do? I don't really want to relocate, but I also don't want to break form, or prevent the church from moving in a new direction. What would yall do? What have you done?
Ann says, having some denomination-related insight to this:
Dioceses have different policies on this situation. Look in your Diocesan Canons and in your letter of agreement (hopefully you had one of these when you began your ministry with this church) before doing anything else. Your bishop may also have something to say about your staying.
Many places do require a resignation of all staff - especially clergy and pastoral staff. If there is no guidance elsewhere, sit down with the new person and discuss your staying or going.
No matter what is decided avoid all temptation to "poison the well" of your current church - not that I think you would do this. Some leaders are threatened by others in leadership positions who have a history before they got there. Others are delighted to have continuity.
Peripatetic Polar Bear says:
A new rector (or senior pastor in any denomination for that matter) is going to bring about lots of fabulousness and lots of stress. Especially for you. There is no one hard and fast rule about staying or going. The only hard and fast rule is that everyone thinks there is a hard and fast rule, but they can't agree on what the hard and fast rule is!
Generally, you need to look at a couple of things: local culture (what do other churches in your region do? ask your bishop), "fit" with new rector/senior pastor, and whether or not he or she expected you to be part of the package deal (question: did he or she meet you in the process? find out anything about your skills/strengths/history?)
My recommendation is an honest conversation with him or her in the first few weeks. Even if he/she wants you to move, unless you REALLY don't get along, generally the pattern is that you within the year you start submitting your documents and interviewing--not that you immediately take off. Remember, this church has just now called its rector--they don't need to be without an associate before they've gotten to know the senior! Hand-in-hand with whether or not he/she wants you to stay is whether or not you feel like the new person is a good match for your style. It may well be that after a year of "muddling," you've developed some new skills and may be ready, actually, to look at different types of calls yourself!
It's an awkward time. It's going to take a couple of months to sort out either way (getting used to a new supervisor,should you stay, takes time, too). Give yourself a few breaks in this liminal period.