Dear Friends in Christ,
I am writing with a mix of emotions to offer news that is important to our community. I have accepted an invitation to join the list of final candidates for Bishop in Charge of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe. Please allow me to explain what this means for our beloved All Saints’ Church.
In the Episcopal Church, bishops are elected by the clergy and people of a diocese after a lengthy period of mutual discernment. The Council of Advice of the Convocation will soon announce the “slate” of candidates that will stand for election at the Convocation’s annual convention in October. Between now and then, there will be a petition process for further candidates and extensive vetting of us all. All candidates—including me—will attend a series of “walkabouts” in Europe in late September to get to know members of the Convocation and help them in their discernment.
This timeline means that you and I are entering an in-between time, a season of holy uncertainty. While there is no way to know until October whom God will call to be bishop in Europe, I have full faith that the Holy Spirit is working through this process and will guide, comfort, and strengthen us all. Because there are multiple candidates, the most likely outcome of this process is that I will remain the rector of All Saints’ Church and continue to enjoy the blessings of this office. In the less likely case that I am called to be bishop, the wardens, vestry, and I will work together to ensure a smooth of a transition into the parish’s next phase of leadership.
I would like to offer a word about my own discernment. When I learned of this position, I was intrigued by the unique opportunities for ministry it presented and decided to offer myself as a vocational exercise. The Convocation is a fascinating body that joins Episcopalians in six countries in Europe. You can learn more about the Convocation here and their bishop search process here. The Convocation’s parishes have taken a leading role in responding to Europe’s migrant crisis with compassion and direct action. As a child of a European refugee family and someone whose fate has straddled that continent and our own, I felt an urge to offer myself to God in this way.
I did not, however, expect that God would respond by making me a finalist in this process. Being the rector of All Saints’ Church is one of the great joys of my life, and even the possibility of being called away fills my heart with grief. Because we share so much of our lives together, it has been exceedingly difficult to maintain the necessary standards of confidentiality as I have been discerning this call. At the same time, I have been aware that every step of this process has been an affirmation of All Saints’ Church and the remarkable work that God is doing in our midst.
The staff and leadership of All Saints’ are currently busy planning for an exciting 2018-19 program year, our 151st as a parish. We will continue about this task at the same time that we make preparations for the possibility of a change in leadership. Nothing about this news changes my pastoral responsibility for you or diminishes my deep and abiding love for this parish.
I ask your help in the following ways. First, continue to pray for All Saints’ Church and join us in corporate worship on Sundays. The more we are together, the more clearly we will see God’s hand at work in our midst. Second, pray for the people of the Convocation as they go about the challenging work of discerning whom God is calling to be their bishop. Third, please pray for me and Jesse; your prayers mean more to us than you can know.
Finally, I ask that you do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions you may have. Please join us tomorrow for a special parish forum following our Sunday 10am Eucharist, when I will explain this process in more depth and answer questions. You may also call the parish office at 718-768-1156 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, I ask that we refrain from sharing this information widely (i.e., social media, forwarding this email) until the Convocation makes its official announcement on Sunday at noon. I look forward to connecting with you.
May God bless you, and may God bless All Saints’ Church.
In Christ’s love,
The Rev. Steven D. Paulikas