February 13, 2013
Dear Members of the Congregation and Staff, and the Partners and Friends of Trinity,
In April of 2004 the Reverend Dr. James Cooper bound himself to Trinity as its 17th Rector. This evening, the Vestry accepted two-year notice of Jim’s intention to retire in February 2015. By that time, he will have fulfilled the ten-year commitment he made when he was called to serve as our Rector. A copy of the Rector’s letter to the Vestry is attached.
After we assumed our duties as Wardens last April, Jim told us that his retirement would, unless the Vestry desired something different, likely occur sometime shortly after he fulfilled his ten year commitment. As a result, we, as Church Wardens, began to think about the process of transition. The Vestry and Jim discussed possible scenarios at its informal annual summer dinner this past July; and at the October meeting, the Vestry authorized us to discuss, informally, with Bishop Sisk and then-Bishop Co-Adjutor Dietsche, our collective thoughts on a transition process. From these Vestry discussions the concept emerged of a period of co-leadership of Trinity Church as a means of ensuring a smooth transition of Rectors in our complex and multi-faceted Parish.
We met with the Bishops in November and they very warmly recognized the importance of Trinity Church not just to New York City and the Diocese but to the entire Anglican Communion. They advised us that a search sufficiently open to full discernment and the power of the Holy Spirit would likely take 18 months. They also understood the wisdom for a period of co-leadership and were supportive of that mechanism for smooth transition.
We reported on our conversations with the Bishops at the Vestry’s December 2012 meeting. At the January meeting the Vestry endorsed plans for an 18-month search process and a 6-month period of overlapping leadership between the Rector and his successor. Jim, who wishes to retire early in 2015, graciously agreed to the Vestry’s request for the two years’ notice required by this transition plan even though he is contractually obligated to only a one-year notice period.
The Vestry, on our recommendation, will form a Call Committee to be comprised of the four officers of the Vestry (two Wardens, the Clerk and the Chancellor) together with the two officers of the Congregational Council (President and Vice-President). The individuals holding these offices effective for the Vestry Term beginning April 2, 2013 will populate the Call Committee and serve until the search is completed. Between now and April we will be seeking advice from Bishop Dietsche and determining the best staffing structure to support the search effort.
We expect that the Call Committee will seek broad input into the goals of the search process. We also expect to include several additional Vestry and Congregational representatives when we enter the visitation stage of the process. All who participate in the search process, whether as members of the Call Committee or visitation delegations, will be bound by strict confidentiality for the benefit both of the candidates and of candid discussion among the search process participants.
The Vestry unanimously supports Jim and is enormously thankful to Jim for all he has accomplished to date. We are equally excited about the things we expect to be accomplished during the remaining two years of his ministry at Trinity as we continue to spread the Gospel and promote the betterment of human life, according to God’s vision in our parish community, within the Anglican Communion and throughout the world.
This is an exciting time in the life of the Parish. May God bless our work and guide us in the call of the 18th Rector of Trinity Church.
The Peace of the Lord to you all,
Evan A. Davis