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.

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

The time of transition between clergy can be a stressful time of uncertainty. It can also be a fertile time of newness and opportunity which 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.

To help you get the most from this time of transition, the College of Bishops have offered you the Fresh Start program. Fresh Start is a diocesan-led program for clergy and their congregations during the first two years of the appointment of the incumbent. It seeks to strengthen the relationships among clergy, congregational lay leaders, the bishops and diocesan staff during critical periods of transition in clergy leadership in the congregation. Fresh Start was created by the The Episcopal Church in the late 1990s. After successful use in over 40 dioceses in the United States, a Canadian version was developed by the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario. Fresh Start is a program in the dioceses of Huron, Niagara and Toronto. Facilitators have been trained for the dioceses of Nova Scotia and Ontario. The program is available to all dioceses in the Canadian Church. See the Fresh Start Brochure.


  • Assists 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 which cover 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. 

Clergy Process

Clergy in new incumbencies in the Diocese of Toronto meet monthly in their episcopal area.  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.