Local Episcopal church ends year-long search for a rector
Members of Aspen’s Christ Episcopal Church will put an end to a year-long search for a rector this week.
An installation ceremony at 7 p.m. Tuesday will mark the Rev. Jeffrey Fouts’ official entry to the church, said Jim DeFrancia, chairman of the search committee that brought Fouts to Aspen.
“It’s important from the standpoint that it marks a clear transition from the prior rector to the new rector,” DeFrancia said.
This transition time began for the church, located at 536 W. North St., in 1999 with the departure of the Rev. Robert Babb, a vicar and rector who served the congregation for almost 20 years. The church welcomed the Rev. Eugene Todd as its interim rector, but a committee led by DeFrancia formed in order to find more permanent leadership for the congregation.
The first step in the rector search was a survey that could gauge the needs and preferences of the church, resulting in a specific parish profile. This profile yielded lists of candidates that required weekly meetings of the church’s search committee.
Weeks of phone calls and meetings pared the candidate list to four last year. The final four opened their homes to members of the search committee for personal interviews.
“We had representatives of the search committee visit them to get a sense of how they interacted with their parishes,” he said.
Fouts, formerly the associate rector of the Episcopal Church in Midland, Texas, did especially well during these visits, DeFrancia said.
“When we visited him in Texas, we were very impressed with how he related to his parishioners,” he said.
Of the four candidates contacted, three were invited to visit Aspen to lead a sermon at the local Episcopal church. When the congregation was polled on their opinions of each possible rector, DeFrancia said he and the search committee were able to offer the position to their first choice: Rev. Fouts. The new rector moved to Aspen in September along with his wife, Bonnie, and two daughters. Tuesday’s ceremony will begin when Fouts is presented to the retired Rev. Jerry Winterrowd, the Episcopal bishop of Colorado, by four members of the church’s congregation. The bishop will then read the letter of institution, followed by an evening of readings, presentations and music provided by Aspen’s Ray Vincent Adams. The Rev. Peter James Lee, the Episcopal bishop of Virginia and rector of Fouts’ childhood church, will also speak at the ceremony.
“There will also be a time when I kneel in the midst of the congregation and pray and express my sincere hope that I answer God’s call,” Fouts said.
As the newest rector of Christ Episcopal Church, Fouts will receive gifts that represent certain aspects of his new parish.
“There will be a handful of individuals – 10, roughly – who will present me with symbols of my ministry,” Fouts said.
Fouts’ ministry has brought new life to the church, DeFrancia said.
“He’s brought the enthusiasm that comes with a young cleric,” DeFrancia said. “I think he’s brought kind of a bright, fresh approach to our view of the Aspen community.”
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