...when you receive an e-mail from a congregation that will not call you to be their priest, but asks you to supply on Sunday.
Yep, that happened. The congregation I have been talking about the past week or so sent me a request to supply. Now, to their credit, the person who does the leg work to get supply priests is not on the call committee. But you would think that the call committee chair would have informed the supply person. Oh well. Yes, it was a bit (BIT??) uncomfortable to send back a message that as of last week, my supplying for this congregation would not be a good idea.
This whole thing has been odd. For those of you who do not know how the call process works in a congregation; A person sends information to the congregation. The call committee looks over the information. If the call committee feels that the person may be a fit, then they schedule an interview. Often the interview will also coincide with an "Audition" sermon where the person in question will preside and preach for the congregation. In the Episcopal church, the decision of who to call is entirely within the hands of the call committee.
I had supplied at this church before submitting my information. I also was supplying for them while they were considering my information. They had my information for at least three months before we had an interview. This makes for an uncomfortable situation within the congregation also. People had a chance to get to know me and to chat with me. I would stay for coffee hour and chat with those around.
Many people have stated that they would like me as their priest, to which I would respond, "We will have to see!"
At the risk of sounding conceited, I do feel sorry for the person who is called. If the congregation really does want me, but the committee has not chosen me, the person who comes in will have at least one obstacle to confront from the very beginning: That person will have to prove to the congregation that he/she was the better choice. The person the call committee calls may very well be a better choice, but that is not something that I would want to face upon entering a congregation.
When I applied, I asked the Bishop's office if I should continue to supply for this congregation and I was told that I should. I don't know if it was just assumed that I would become the Rector there or not. I now do see how this has become a bit of a mess.