Transformative Leadership in the Rector Search at St. John’s Church Western Run Parish

Quick Facts

Skill Areas

  • Leadership in Design Operations
  • Organizational and Leadership Role
  • Strategic Implementation
  • Adaptive Systems and Processes
  • Team Dynamics
  • Technological Innovation


In the rector search for St. John’s Church following a key retirement, a search committee was formed, facing challenges in process unfamiliarity and trust-building. As a committee member, I facilitated a strategic implementation of the selection process, introducing innovative tools and inclusive practices, culminating in the successful appointment of a new rector and the enhancement of the parish’s digital presence.


  • A set of standardized application questions and a scoring rubric for candidate evaluation.
  • A user-friendly, updated parish profile for both print and online distribution.
  • A new, strategically designed website to facilitate the rector search and parish communication.
  • A series of facilitated committee meetings with inclusive participation practices.

The Details


St. John's Church, an Episcopal parish nestled in the countryside outside Baltimore, faced a significant transition following the retirement of its long-serving rector in 2022. Tasked with identifying a successor, a search committee was formed, drawing from the parish’s tight-knit community, many of whom had little prior experience with such processes. This case study explores the strategic interventions and leadership provided during this pivotal time.



The search committee confronted several challenges early on. With limited prior experience among its members and challenges in building trust with an external consultant, the committee initially struggled to visualize a cohesive process. A subtle sense of frustration and lack of focus in some meetings threatened the success of finding a suitable rector who could fulfill the parish’s needs and aspirations.


Role and Actions

As a member of the search committee, I often assumed the role of chief facilitator, where I coached other members of the committee and led a strategy to streamline and energize the discernment process. Key actions included:

  • Leadership and Facilitation: Recognizing the need for leadership during some meetings, I guided the committee through complex decision-making processes, ensuring all voices were heard. This involved fostering an inclusive environment and building trust.
  • Strategic Implementation: I led the development of application questions and a scoring rubric to objectively evaluate candidates. This analytical approach was vital in maintaining consistency and fairness throughout the selection process. Additionally, I managed the transformation of the parish profile, creating an attractive, user-friendly, and accessible tool available both online and in print, thus enhancing its appeal to potential candidates and parish newcomers alike.
  • Technological Innovation: Upon identifying the need for a more effective online presence, I initiated and oversaw the creation of a new website. Collaborating with staff and vestry, I ensured that the new site would serve as both a tool for the rector search and a long-term resource for parish communication and engagement.

Candidate Attributes Workshop


Rubric for Scoring Candidate Responses


Key Learnings

The experience underscored the importance of trust and effective communication within a team. Building trust proved essential in leading teams, particularly highlighted by:

  • Effective Team Dynamics: Active listening and engaging with both vocal and quieter committee members facilitated a more cohesive and productive team environment.
  • Adaptive Leadership: Employing human-centered design principles, I adjusted my leadership style to meet team needs and project demands which was crucial for the success of the endeavor.



The invigorated approach to the rector search yielded significant results:

  • Successful Recruitment: The call for applications attracted 11 qualified candidates, with the committee eventually narrowing the field to four and unanimously selecting a final candidate. This process was not only efficient but also celebrated by the community, evidenced by a standing ovation when the new rector was announced.
  • Website and Community Growth: The launch of the new website marked a substantial improvement in parish communication and led to the addition of 26 new members within six months, demonstrating the site’s effectiveness in engaging the broader community.
  • Timeline Efficiency: Completing the search within a compressed nine-month timeframe highlights an ability to manage and expedite complex projects effectively.



The rector search at St. John's Church exemplifies how adaptive leadership, strategic thinking, and technological innovation can profoundly impact an organization. My role in this process has prepared me to tackle new challenges and opportunities where I can leverage my skills in design management to foster innovative solutions and drive meaningful projects.


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