All are to be welcomed as Christ
Welcoming strangers into our communities has been an important part
of our faith and is reflected in the law of Moses and in many stories
in both the Old and New Testaments. Our baptismal covenant also emphasizes
the importance of welcoming newcomers into our congregations.
Newcomers bring new gifts, new challenges, new
perspectives and new opportunities. But welcoming new people into
a congregation isn’t
always easy - we don’t know them and they almost always
bring changes with them.
Welcoming a new priest is just as important as
welcoming anyone else into our church community - and all the
more challenging as they bring their new gifts and opportunities
to a leadership position.
Transitions in leadership raise many important issues
in the life of a community: Everyone wants the relationship to get
off to a good
start and they want to express their hopes for new ministries.
The early years in a new relationship are critical, formational opportunities.
The more intentional you and your new priest are in strengthening this
new relationship the more effectively the congregation can focus on
its common mission.
The bishop is offering FRESH START because it has proven to be a highly
effective way to help both clergy and congregations adjust to each
other and deepen their relationship as they move forward into a new
We encourage you to lead others in the congregation into making the
most of this transition by making it a FRESH START.
Fresh Start has been used in more than 50 dioceses and has proven
to be one of the most effective ways to build the bonds of trust and
affection that can help a worshipping community broaden its ministry
and mission. Here are some of the ways FRESH START can benefit your
- Deepens trusting relationships that enable
bishops, diocesan staff, clergy and congregational leaders address
critical issues before
they become problems.
- Strengthens bonds between clergy and congregations
so that their ministry together is a FRESH START.
- Creates learning
opportunities where issues of transition can be talked about.
to honour the ministry of all, lay and ordained, in the life of
- Provides an opportunity for congregational leaders
to experience each other’s openness to God and to deepen their
capacity to be ministers of Jesus Christ.
the scope of your bishop’s
teaching ministry within your congregation.
What people are saying about Fresh Start
After completing our work on the selection committee we were anxious
that our relationship with our new priest get off to a good start.
Fresh Start gave us helpful information about transition and made room
for the intentional conversation necessary for making this transition
Mary Anne Chrisjohn
St. Jame’s the Apostle, Diocese of Niagara
"The opportunity of spending a day a month with colleagues in a learning
and supportive environment is invaluable. And to think that everything
learned is transferable to the parish! I wish FRESH START had been
there when I made other moves."
The Rev. Canon Cheryl Palmer
Incumbent, St. Clement’s, Eglinton
"We have been amazed and delighted at the effect the Fresh Start forum
is having in facilitating strong, collaborative relationships amongst
our clergy while providing opportunity for continuing education and
The Rev. Canon Janet Griffith Johnson Director, Human Resources, Diocese of
I am very pleased with the way FRESH START is working in the Diocese.
It is helping clergy and parishes bond together and communicate effectively.
It is helping our diocese in the creation of healthy and responsible
The Most Rev. Terence Finlay
Retired Metropolitan of the Province of Ontario
How does it work in Niagara?
In the Diocese of Niagara, we believe that transition is happening even before a new priest is welcomed into your parish. With that in mind, FRESH START sees itself as a resource to parishes, parochial committees and clergy once news of a move is announced.
Frequently, members of the FRESH START team will visit a parish even before the new incumbent arrives, to introduce the program and to conduct an Entrance and Exit module. This helps to prepare the community for a new beginning.
After the new incumbent arrives, clergy will receive an invitation to join a clergy FRESH START group, which meets on a monthly basis for two years. In Niagara , commitment to this program is a condition of employment. The clergy group offers a place for questioning and affirmation, through what can sometimes be a difficult time. Remember, for many clergy this is a personal as well as a professional transition.
Throughout that two year period, lay leaders from your congregation will be expected to participate in dedicated lay leadership days and joint lay/clergy days. There are usually six days of programming throughout the two year period. These events are designed for both learning and intentional conversation around issues of transition.
The Rev'd. Canon Marni Nancekivell
Director of Transitional Ministry
905-527-1316 Extension 390
Niagara Fresh Start Team:
Ruth Anne Martin