March 12, 2020
RE: Congregational Coaches
I am pleased to heartily recommend the contribution of congregational coaches to the process of helping individual parishes discern their current situation and future.
Most recently we were privileged at St. George's, London, to work with two coaches, Paul Townshend and Helen Cole, in a congregational meeting called to provide input into the preparation of the Parish Profile to be submitted to the Diocese of Huron. The Parish Profile provides a detailed accounting of our strengths, weaknesses, and needs moving forward as we choose a new Incumbent. The opportunity for the parish as a whole to provide input was particularly important in addition to the work of the Selection Committee. We held our meeting on a Saturday morning for full three hours.
The contribution of congregational coaches Paul and Helen couldn't have been more helpful. Based on their experience and dedication, demonstrated to the approximately 55 parishioners as the meeting progressed, we were able, as members of the Selection Committee, to stand back and know that the process and questions being asked to engage parishioners, thanks to the congregational coaches, would have a positive and meaningful outcome. As indeed was the case. Members of the committee were able to participate in the process instead of being focussed on running it, and the coaches were able to demonstrate credibility as third party facilitators. Through a combination of asking questions relating to a variety of topics they prepared, to encouraging communication and recording of input, Paul and Helen were invariably helpful, engaging and encouraging in the process, which won them the respect and trust of the audience. Furthermore, they were able to steer conversation in directions which were helpful in producing the kind of solid input and feedback we were hoping for.
Thanks to Paul and Helen for their exceptional contribution, and I'd heartily recommend them and the congregational coach process as a whole in helping individual parishes review their own needs - whether in the process of choosing a new Incumbent or any other parish need that requires open and productive dialogue and communication in a constructive and meaningful way.
Chair, Selection Committee, St. George's Anglican Church, London