On the Emmaus Road

A Guide to Transitions in Ordained Leadership

Mary Brennan Thorpe

Nov/2020, 160 Pages, PAPERBACK, 6 x 9

ISBN-13: 9781640653016



How can a church best respond when their priest tells them “I’m retiring,” or “I’ve been called to another parish?”

This book outlines to receiving a new ordained leader, recognizing that every parish is different. Discerning exactly what your parish needs can be both a challenge and a joy, and On the Emmaus Road affirms that you can listen to God’s voice while attending to other day-to-day tasks. Based upon several years of doctoral research into the work of search committees in the Diocese of Virginia, this book has been refined through the experience of using its new methodologies in over seventy-five calls.

With both traditional and creative new approaches to the clergy search process, Thorpe gives a wealth of resources for your parish to not only survive the days to come, but thrive in the midst of them.

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THE REV. DR. MARY BRENNAN THORPE serves as Canon to the Ordinary in the Diocese of Virginia. She has facilitated over a hundred transitions in all sorts of congregations. Her own circuitous Emmaus Road includes careers in technology design, public policy, and advocacy before ordination. She is a graduate of Jersey City State College, Hartt College of Music, Virginia Theological Seminary, and Columbia Presbyterian Seminary. One of her original icons adorns this book, and she is a musician, wife, mother, and grandmother.


“Navigating church transitions can be difficult. Based upon her years of experience as a transitions officer and Canon to the Ordinary, Mary Brennan Thorpe has provided an excellent road map for the various constituencies in the process.”
— Phoebe A. Roaf, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee

“Your congregation’s transition to its next priest can feel daunting, especially in these times of challenge and change. Mary Brennan Thorpe will wisely guide your journey with abundant research, stories, and tools for vestries and discernment committees alike. Lace up your walking shoes and follow her lead in utter trust that God will work powerfully through it all.”
— Susan E. Goff, Ecclesiastical Authority, Episcopal Diocese of Virginia

“What a gift to have this all in one volume: the clergy transition process as it really works today, from start to finish, step by step, with insights for vestries and search committees whatever the parish’s size and resources. As a bonus, the book includes the experience, wisdom, and humor of one of the Church’s great transitions officers, Mary Brennan Thorpe.”
— Judy Stark, clergy transitions consultant

On the Emmaus Road offers excellent practical and spiritual guidance and resources for transitions. I commend it to all congregations, clergy, and dioceses as they embark on collaborative journeys of discernment.”
— Meghan F. Froehlich, director, Office for Transition Ministry, The Episcopal Church

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  • Discernment
  • calls
  • vestry
  • congregations
  • search committees

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