Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church has hired the Rev. Michael Sullivan as its seventh rector after an intensive search process.

The vestry at Holy Innocents’ announced the selection of Sullivan among three finalists June 7.

“We are excited to call Michael Sullivan as rector and believe he will lead Holy Innocents’ to even greater heights,” said Michael Ernst, the senior warden at the Sandy Springs church. “We conducted a nationwide search with over 44 candidates, and the Vestry feels we have chosen the best fit for our parish.”

Bishop J. Neil Alexander of Atlanta approved the unanimous vote for Sullivan by the vestry, the parish board. The church (www.holyinnocents.org) has more than 2,500 communicants in some 900 families.

Holy Innocents’ has lacked a rector since February 2007, when the sixth rector in the church’s 137-year history, the Rev. David Galloway, was removed after five years over financial questions. A diocesan audit found that the priest had misused more than $100,000 in his discretionary fund.

The Rev. John Porter then led the parish as priest in charge until his retirement May 31.

A rector nominating committee began working in the fall to seek parishioner input and consider applicants for the job. The committee nominated the three finalists to the vestry, and the Diocese of Atlanta conducted intensive background checks.

Sullivan, 42, is the rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Lynchburg, Va., which has more than 1700 parishioners. He and his wife of 18 years, Page, have a daughter, Mattie, 13, and a son, Jack, 10, both of whom will attend Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School (HIES) in the fall. The family will move to Sandy Springs in August.

“I am deeply honored to accept the call of God through your bishop and vestry and look forward to many years of shared ministry together,” Sullivan wrote in a letter to the parish June 7.

He said the passion of the congregation attracted him.

“I discovered your passion for one another and God when I heard so many stories of your care and love,” Sullivan wrote. “And then I was lucky to see it in pictures from Haiti, feel it in the hallways of ESL (English for Successful Living), and hear it in a recording of your singing. And, of course, it was palpable in my visit to HIES. I cannot wait to share in all these ministries, discover many more, sing and celebrate with you on Sundays, and discover all that life brings to us.”