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Clergy and Congregational Transitions

Clergy Transitions

Clergy transitions are some of the most important events in the life of a congregation and can have a profound effect on a congregation’s future. We focus on developing and strengthening congregations and helping priests and congregations discern calls. Development tasks of the transition period (before search process) are:

Understanding the shifting context congregations face today

Discovering a new and continuing identity (“Who is God calling us to be now?”)

Strengthening lay leadership

Dealing with conflicts

Creating a sustainable financial plan

We intentionally shape our clergy transition processes to help identify appropriate leaders (including priest-developers) and several of our congregations which cannot afford full time clergy have chosen to invest in full- or part-time priests for three years to help work on growth.

Search Process

For the Diocesan transition manual, please download Reaching Out for What Lies Ahead. Please contact Jim Gettel ( as early as possible about beginning any clergy transition.

The Diocese of Michigan is dealing with the significant challenges of clergy transitions in The Episcopal Church today. More than half of all calls in The Episcopal Church are part-time. Many of our congregations do not have full time clergy. Several of our congregations are working on revitalization and growing into being able to support a part-time or full-time priest. Some smaller congregations have chosen to invest in part-time priests for three years to help them work on growth.

The Diocese of Michigan covers needs for part-time clergy in a variety of ways:
  • Three pairs of congregations share clergy.
  • Eight congregations have full- or part-time curates (newly-ordained priests often with previous work experience) as priests-in-charge with up to half of their compensation paid for up to three years through an endowment for training new priests.
  • Six congregations have part-time, bi-vocational priests. If they are half-time, they serve only half the Sundays and we encourage these congregations to use trained worship leaders for Morning Prayer the other Sundays.
  • Six congregations have ministry teams formed through our Total Ministry program (lay people trained as priests, deacons, in pastoral care, preaching, and other ministries).
  • Five congregations maintain full- or part-time clergy by being federated interdenominational Episcopal-ELCA congregations.
  • We have a few congregations who have long-term supply priests (under covenants to work 8 to 20 hours per week that are extended year to year). Most of these priests are bi-vocational or retired.
  • Many of our small rural and urban congregations use supply priests from our supply list. We can be short of supply priests during summer vacations and sabbatical times. We are able to offer supply priests from neighboring Michigan dioceses and some ELCA supply pastors.
  • We check with each congregation that does not have assigned full-time clergy to be sure that they have coverage for Christmas, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. We draw on all resources to cover this, including the Bishop, Diocesan staff, supply priests, and occasionally associates or retired priests attending other congregations.


You can find our supply clergy list here.