Clergy Transition Guidelines

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Clergy Transition Guidelines

(Updated August 27, 2019)

Participation in Searches
The Bishop expects clergy to notify the Diocesan Transition Minister when they are involved in a search process outside the Diocese of Texas.

Search Assistance
The Canon to the Ordinary is available to assist clergy in deployment within and without the Diocese of Texas. The Office for Transition Ministry (OTM) in the national church office is another resource, www.episcopalchurch.org/page/transition-ministry.

Eligibility
The Bishop Diocesan determines eligibility for transition ministry in the Diocese of Texas. It is based upon the clergy’s qualifications. It is also dependent upon meeting the Expectations of Clergy (Clergy Manual page 2.1). No clergy is eligible to be called as rector or vicar in the church he or she currently serves or has previously served. 

Staff Clergy Searches
The Bishop Diocesan must be consulted before any member of the clergy can be asked to join a staff.

The Bishop Diocesan must be consulted before a Rector or congregation contemplates calling assistants from outside the Diocese. The Bishop will not accept Letters Dimissory if not consulted in advance.

Deacons/Curates
The Bishop of Texas makes all ministry assignments for deacons and curates.

A rector may not recruit or hire a seminarian, deacon, or a curate without the Bishop’s permission.

The Bishop must give approval for a rector to consider recruiting or hiring a curate or deacon from outside the Diocese of Texas. A curate or deacon is required to release a full canonical file. For assistance, contact the Diocesan Transition Minister, the Rev. Wm. Blake Rider.

Expectations during Transition 
The Bishop expects that once a clergyperson leaves a congregation, the clergy will bring closure to pastoral relationships with members of that congregation. The health of the congregation is dependent upon how well this transition issue is managed. Former parishioners should understand from the clergy in a positive and affirming way that it is not appropriate to continue a pastoral relationship.

The Bishop expects that the clergyperson will accept no further requests from members and former members to provide pastoral services at weddings, funerals, baptisms, or any other occasion of public worship for at least one year.

After one year, clergy may accept invitations from the Interim Rector or Rector, but may not solicit such invitations.

Documents of Call
Several documents are part of the canonical appointment of all clergy:

1.  Letter of Call/Appointment
        a.  Letter of Call to a rector/vicar from the vestry/bishop’s committee
        b.  Letter of Call to other clergy staff from the rector/vicar
        c.  Letter of Appointment from the Bishop will be issued in certain cases

 2.  Letter of Agreement
        a.  between vestry/ bishop’s committee and rector/vicar
        b.  between rector and other clergy staff

3.  Letter of Institution from the Bishop Diocesan for rector/vicar only

Please contact the Canon to the Ordinary’s office to request clergy Letter of Call and Letter of Agreement forms.

Celebrations of New Ministry
A bishop of the Diocese of Texas will officiate at Celebrations of New Ministry for rectors and vicars. The Dean of the respective convocation will officiate at Celebrations of New Ministry for bi-vocational vicars/rectors.

Canonical Residence
In order to apply for canonical residence, clergy must have a full-time, stipendiary position (40 hours per week) at a church or institution of the Diocese of Texas.

Clergy are required to present Letters Dimissory within three months of their appointment as rector/vicar. (Title III, 9.4)

The bishop will not accept Letters Dimissory until the hourly/stipendiary criteria is met, the bishop has determined that accepting Letters Dimissory is appropriate, and the Bishop has instructed the clergyperson to request them.

Letters Dimissory

Rector or Vicar
Clergy appointed as Rector or Vicar are required to present Letters Dimissory within three months of their appointment. When a call to the Diocese of Texas has been issued and accepted, request your Letters Dimissory from the Ecclesiastical Authority in the diocese of your canonical residence. Request that they are sent to The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, Episcopal Diocese of Texas, 1225 Texas Street, Houston, TX 77002.

Assistant, Associate, Curate, etc.
When a call to the Diocese of Texas has been issued and accepted, a two-year License to Officiate will be issued. Upon completion of one-year employment, your file will be reviewed and Bishop Doyle will advise if he is amenable to accepting your Letters Dimissory. If yes, Letters Dimissory may be requested. If no, an additional year of employment must be completed.

Clergy called to serve as assistants or associates must complete one year of service in the Diocese of Texas, and meet canonical requirements, before the Bishop will consider accepting Letters Dimissory.

Deacons
Unless a deacon has been licensed in the Diocese of Texas, the clergy may not serve as deacon for more than two months. A deacon may not transfer Letters Dimissory without written consent from the Bishop of Texas. (C&C, III.7.6)

Interim/Retired Clergy
The Bishop does not accept Letters Dimissory for interim clergy or retired clergy.

Compensation and Review
The Diocese offers, through the Canon to the Ordinary and the Office of the Treasurer, consultation in determining clergy compensation based on a comparative model. A vestry or a clergy may request a comparison and/or review at any time.

Health Insurance
Participation by full-time clergy in the diocesan health insurance is mandatory; premiums are paid through the assessment budget.

Pension Contributions
Participation in the Church Pension Fund by stipendiary active clergy is mandatory and is provided by the vestry through the parish budget.

Business Expenses
Office and business expenses, including auto/travel allowances, are not a part of a clergyperson’s compensation package but are budgeted in the parish budget.

Mission Clergy Compensation
The Bishop and the Diocesan Council determine compensation for mission clergy.  The Office of the Treasurer administers payroll matters.

Vacation/Leave/Sabbatical

Scheduled Time Off:  All clergy must have one day per week in which there are no scheduled duties or functions. The clergy must inform the congregation or place of employment of scheduled time off. This time must be respected. When clerical duties arise during clergy’s scheduled time off, appropriate compensatory time is given.

Spiritual Practices: Time spent in prayer, professional study, spiritual retreat, and theological reflection is not considered “time off.” Rather, such activities are essential to the exercise of the priestly vocation.

Absenteeism: When clergy are absent from their place of employment or assigned duties on account of illness, death in the family, or for other compassionate reasons, they must obtain approval from their elected leadership or supervisors. Otherwise, stipend and allowances may be withheld for the period in question, if applicable.

Clergy Supply: Clergy supply and pastoral services are funded by the place of employment during periods of clergy absence for vacation or continuing education. Clergy are expected to inform their elected leadership or supervisors at least thirty days prior to taking any vacation or continuing education time, if possible.

Continuing Education:  Canonically, all clergy must meet an annual continuing education requirement.  

Full-time stipendiary priests and transitional deacons must have provisions in their Letters of Agreement for the following:

  • Paid Vacation:  Diocesan policy designates paid vacation of at least thirty days each year, including four Sundays. No restrictions are placed on how vacation is spent.
  • Continuing Education:  Diocesan policy designates fourteen days, including two Sundays, each year for continuing education pursuits, with full pay and allowances.
  • Clergy Sabbatical:  “Sabbatical” is defined as a period of at least three months away from a priest’s primary employer for the purpose of enhancing his/her ministry by a period of study, travel, reflection, and rest. Two weeks of cumulative sabbatical time will accrue each year. Accrual begins at the time of ordination and continues each year, no matter the ministry location in the Diocese. A sabbatical can be taken after the completion of six years of ordained ministry. The sabbatical will be with full pay and allowances and may be taken in conjunction with annual vacation and continuing education time. Sabbatical grants are available. To request a sabbatical grant, please contact the Rt. Rev. Jeff W. Fisher.

 Part-time stipendiary priests must have provisions in their Letters of Agreement for the following: 

  • Paid Vacation:  Diocesan policy designates paid vacation, including 4 Sundays, with the total number of days proportionate to the number of days contracted to work per year, as compared with the full-time allotted vacation of 30 days per year.  No restrictions are placed on how vacation is spent.
  • Continuing Education:  Diocesan policy designates seven days, including two Sundays, each year for continuing education pursuits, with full pay and allowances.

 Vocational deacons and bi-vocational priests must have provisions in their Letters of Agreement for the following:

  • Vacation:  Diocesan policy designates vacation of four Sundays away from the congregation. No restrictions are placed on how vacation is spent.
  • Continuing Education:  Diocesan policy designates two Sundays each year for continuing education pursuits.

Deployment of Retired Clergy
The Church Pension Group governs the salary retired clergy may earn. The Bishop must submit an application for exemption from these guidelines.

All retired clergy active in ministry must meet the Bishop’s Expectations of Clergy (Clergy Manual 2.1).

Supply Clergy Policy
According to Canon 10.4, the Senior Warden or Bishop’s Warden is responsible for arranging for supply clergy. A list of clergy who are available to supply and the current standard rates for hiring supply clergy are available on the on the diocesan website at http://www.epicenter.org/office-of-transition-ministry/. To be added to the Supply Clergy List, please direct requests to the Rev. Canon Christine M. Faulstich, Canon to the Ordinary.

Diocese of Texas non-parochial clergy and licensed clergy are eligible to supply, provided they are in good standing with the Bishop and meet the Expectations of Clergy (Clergy Manual 2.1), including background checks and sexual abuse prevention.

Interim Deployment
Please, direct questions regarding interim ministry to the Diocesan Transition Minister, the Rev. Canon Christine M. Faulstich.

Candidates for interim positions within the Diocese of Texas are expected to meet the Bishop’s Expectations of Clergy (Clergy Manual 2.1), regardless of canonical residence or active/retired status.