After a year of change and turnover, our staff members are settling into new roles to help God write the next chapter in the story of our church through you.
Every day I thank God for the privilege of working with the office staff here at FUMC. Last week, after our weekly staff meeting, one visitor in the church office said “I want to be a part of whatever y’all are doing. Y’all are having too much fun!” Apparently, our laughter had reached through several closed doors and all the way down the hall.
Working for the Kingdom is even more fun when you get to work from the basis of your gifts. I feel as if our staff has been like a basketball team learning to receive and magnify each other’s gifts. In the last few months, a few of us have been able to play from slightly different spots on the court – and the results have been beautiful.
And so, after a lot of dreaming conversations with our staff, and a lot of prayerful conversation with our Staff-Parish Committee, I am excited to share our vision for the staff of the church.
I will start with the two staff members whose jobs are changing the most.
For the last two and a half months, Paul Hinton has done a phenomenal job of stepping into the gap left when Mark Clause moved to Texas. Paul has overseen the construction of our accessibility ramps and created the plan for our new parking area (to be installed whenever the rain stops). He has been tireless in tackling some of the lingering needs of our facility, and he has had a lot of fun doing it. What I’ve enjoyed most is watching Paul’s knack for multiplying this ministry by finding just the right person or group of people who can work alongside him on a project. Paul has a gift for unlocking the handy gifts of other people – he has a knack for finding grace in other people.
I and Paul and our Staff-Paris Committee had already begun talking about whether Paul would be interested in transitioning to a new role in the church before David and Larry from Ministry Architects came to visit our church. While they were here, they saw Paul present our Trustees with revised plans for our new ramps that knocked several thousand dollars off of the cost and looked better as well. After the meeting, Larry told me “This job that Paul is doing for the ‘interim’? He was made for this job.” That was just one more encouragement as we began developing this plan.
And so, I am delighted to announce that Paul is taking a new title as our Minister of Operations. In this role, he will have oversight of our facilities, grounds, and equipment – including our bus. He will also be the point person for our volunteer support teams: those who hammer, clean, paint, cook, drive, and run our audio/visual systems. He will be working with Devon Stoy, who has taken a part-time role as our Maintenance Tech, and Amy Sticha, who has taken on full-time hours in the cleaning and housekeeping of the church.
We expect that Paul will continue to share his gifts for music and worship with the church, but given the demands of his new position, Paul will be stepping away from his weekly duties as worship leader and band leader. We do not have a firm timetable, but we expect to hire for a new position of “Contemporary Music Leader” sometime in the next two months. This will be a part-time position, with the primary responsibility of leading our praise band in rehearsal once a week and in Sunday worship.
As of this writing, we are dropping the title of “Christian Education” from the title of Rev. Sam Lewis. She will be our “Associate Pastor,” with no modifier necessary. In this role, her primary responsibilities will be in visitation and worship design. Anyone who spends half a minute with Sam immediately realizes that she thrives in the presence of others. In her role of visitation, Sam will be making regular visits to our homebound and hospitalized (as will our Congregational Care team), but she will also be regularly checking in with new visitors (as will our Evangelism Team), guiding families and individuals through baptism preparation, and helping our bereaved plan funerals.
In her responsibility for worship design, Sam will be working with our musicians, worship coordinators, and with me to help make every worship service a rich experience, centered on God. Many in our church have come up after worship to tell me how much a particular moment or ritual meant to them – more often than not I find myself saying “that was a great idea Sam had.”
Sam will continue preaching about once a month, and teaching equally often in our Youth group and in Children’s Church.
As Sam steps into this new role, I am delighted to lead our Children’s and Youth ministry teams. Apart from preaching and teaching, my favorite work in ministry is bringing people together to dream and plan new ways of teaching the story of Jesus and the love of God. Collaborating on vision and action plans are a natural part of my work as head of our staff and our many administrative committees. I am excited to keep doing that work with our new children’s and youth teams and small group leaders.
I will continue with my preaching schedule, I will continue teaching once a month in our youth gatherings and once a month in children’s church. I will continue preparing new members with our monthly Coffee With the Pastor. I will also share in hospital and bereavement visitation with Pastor Sam. Although Pastor Sam will do most of the preparation for baptisms and funerals, I will share with her in presiding over these most holy moments.
Of course, this change in responsibilities is made possible by the immense gifts of our Pastoral Assistant, Angie Arnold. Angie will continue scheduling the calendar of the church and scheduling the volunteer rosters of our various ministries, making sure our volunteers have what they need when they need it. She will handle registrations and other tasks that make these ministries possible.
And Cathrin Owens will be right in the center of it all. She will continue to receive calls and visitors in our office with her irrepressible hospitality. She will be in charge of the print and electronic publications of the church – the newsletter, bulletin, prayer list and announcements. She will also the attendance and other records for worship and group ministries.
As of April 30, Jennifer Precht will finish her tenure as our Interim Youth Coordinator. I am incredibly grateful for all the time, passion, and skill she has brought to this ministry. Even as she is preparing for the arrival of Baby Boy Precht (due May 30, we’re a little shocked by how soon that is!), Jennifer is still laying the foundation of our youth group’s future – raising money for our July mission trip, helping to plan June mission camp, and more. Starting in May, Jennifer will be devoting her time to preparing for Captain AwesomeFace John (as our 3 year old, Evelyn, has dubbed her brother). Once he arrives and our household settles into its new normal (ha!), Jennifer looks forward to jumping right back in as a volunteer with our youth – and/or wherever God leads her!
We as a staff consider it our highest privilege to be a part of how God unleashes the gifts of this church. In these new roles, we believe each of us is positioned to help everyone in this church discover their gifts and participate in the grace of God. That is where we are headed, and I couldn’t ask for better people help us get there!
- Pastor Michael