Fresh Start

Transition in parish leadership raises many important issues in the life of the community. The early years in this new relationship are critical and formational.

Fresh Start is a two-year program offered by the College of Bishops to clergy and congregations in transition. Part of the wellness initiative of the Diocese of Toronto, it’s a facilitated process for new incumbents and associates, as well as their parishes.

Fresh Start was created by the Episcopal Church in the late 1990s. After successful use in more than 40 dioceses in the United States, a Canadian version was developed by the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario. It is being used in the dioceses of Huron, Niagara and Toronto, and facilitators have been trained for the dioceses of Nova Scotia and Ontario. Fresh Start is available to all dioceses in the Canadian Church. See the Fresh Start Brochure.

The time of transition between clergy can be a stressful time of uncertainty. It can also be a fertile time of newness and opportunity that can bring about health and growth. An excellent resource to help you and your congregation through this unsettled period is “A Change of Pastors . . . And How It Affects Change in the Congregation,” by Loren B. Mead.


  • Helps with the transitions issues inherent in any new ministry.
  • Sharpens the skills of lay and clergy leaders for congregational development.
  • Strengthens the collegial relationships among the clergy of a diocese.
  • Deepens the trust and interconnection between and among the clergy, the lay leaders of congregations, and the bishop/bishop’s staff.

Congregational Process

Congregations are encouraged to invite their lay leaders to attend an introductory session about exit and entrance issues. The program then involves six sessions over a two-year period, covering many of the important transition issues facing congregations. Leaders are churchwardens, board members, synod members, committee chairs and search committee members. For more information, see the Fresh Start Congregational Process page. Contact Elizabeth McCaffrey for more information.

Clergy Process

Clergy in new incumbencies in the Diocese of Toronto meet monthly in their episcopal areas. These gatherings are led by trained Fresh Start facilitators and offer a collegial environment in which to examine transition issues in the new ministry. As stated in the appointment letter, it is an expectation that clergy participate in this important program. For more information, see the Clergy Fresh Start page.