I think I can process a little of my transition here, now, as I can tell my own story.
My congregation has been in transition the past two years--our SP resigned then. In the scrambling of embracing the news, many people said, "Can't Karla just be our pastor?". As flattering and affirming as that was, I felt that it was important for me to support having an interim come in, as the SP had been with the congregation for 17 years. I believe in intentional transition....although, in congregational polity, the congregation COULD do whatever it wanted. Several congregations in my area have simply made the AP the SP, without the process, and the transitions have been fine. However, for me, personally, I just felt that I needed to respect the work and possibility that emerges from interim ministry. Especially the process of building a church profile.
There are myriad ways in which a search committee can choose to interview, when it is ready, an AP. In some cases, it can use the Connecticut Conference model, which interviews the AP first, without receiving profiles of other candidates. If the AP is not called, then, well, that person has already agreed to resign within six months (or before a new SP is called)--whatever is agreed upon. This makes sense to me--it wouldn't be healthy to have an AP continue in an AP position when that person had been NOT selected to be SP. Talk about possible opportunities for triangulation! undermining!--for ALL involved.
Another way to proceed is to open the search, and throw in the AP profiles in with all of the others. This is what my congregation's search committee decided to do. I wrestled a long time before I submitted my profile, because I had questions as to whether I could be a pastor and a candidate at the same time. But, at the same time, I felt a call to this congregation. So, with a bit of trepidation, I submitted my profile for consideration. That was the first of October, 2012.
I learned at the beginning of March, I was one of final three candidates. On Wednesday, in Holy Week, I learned I was not the candidate of choice, and that the candidating weekend for the chosen candidate was the last weekend of April. A month away--and yet the congregation wouldn't be notified until after Easter of the candidate. So, three weeks.
Immediately, with consult from colleagues, I crafted an exit plan, and wrote a letter of resignation. Once I was a candidate for SP did I ever think I would stay as an AP, because of what I said earlier. I wanted to make a way for the congregation to celebrate the new candidate.
So...it hasn't been easy, these past three weeks. Some folk have expressed distress at my leaving, some have been surprised that I was NOT the SP candidate of choice, some folk truly bewildered that I would resign after learning that I wasn't the SP candidate. Working out the details of leaving have been a little stressful, and disappointing. I have moving with my own grief and sadness, along with wondering what the heck is next in ministry for me.
It's been six years with this congregation. I have loved them deeply. We have done really great ministry. I think what I am going to miss the most is the Love we have shared and built. I know I won't lose love, but in a way, there is loss in leaving. So it feels like it.
And so, I am sad.
I covet your prayers for this time of leaving.