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Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Changes Come...

...turn my world around.

Below is the text of the email I sent my employees on Wednesday of last week, announcing my departure from my "home" of the last six years. I figured I'd post it here as well.

I'm excited, and a little nervous. I guess both come with the territory.

My Trustee friends and family,

Starting December 13, I will be assuming the role of Business Manager for St. Joan of Arc Church in Kokomo Indiana. It is a church of 1500 families, and over 80 current, active ministries. The parish moved last year from a church building they had outgrown in Kokomo into the former headquarters building of Conseco Insurance (I know it sounds odd, but actually I was very impressed with how they have made it “feel” like church).

The administrative office space, middle-school, banquet/reception space, lots of ministry space, and sanctuary are all currently housed in this huge building (I'm estimating at least 30,000 sq feet) sitting on 20 acres of land or so. They are planning two more phases of the move-in, including building a family-life center and a new church sanctuary in the upcoming years.

My initial duties will include preparing, overseeing, administering, and reporting on all budget/record keeping/banking/financial matters, personnel and payroll functions, oversight of grounds and facilities maintenance/safety/security, meetings-upon-meetings, recruiting and training of paid and non-paid personnel, and more! There are between 15 and 20 full- and part- time employees that I will oversee, in at least three "departments". As time goes on, I will have more pastoral/ministerial duties added into my job description.

The position includes a decent raise to start, and is on a track to become a pastoral associate which will almost double my current salary (while expanding my responsibility!. On top of that, I will have resources available for continuing education so that I will hopefully add a Bachelor's in Theology and a Masters in either Theology or Business Administration (maybe both?) to my resume in the coming years. One of my "goals" for the first six months is to attend a conference or two on Parish Business administration in Florida...gee....I don't know if I'll like going to Florida in the middle of winter...

So, to start, I will be commuting to the South end of Kokomo from Muncie(between 55 and 70 minutes each way), with the hope of putting our house on the market in January. Cami will still be teaching at St. Mary in Muncie, and we have commitments at our current church that will keep us "in both worlds" through the Easter season. After we have a buyer for our house (anyone?) we'll probably move somewhere between Kokomo and Muncie, cutting the commute down to 30 minutes or less each way so that Cami has several employment options: she can teach in Muncie still, teach at Ivy Tech in Muncie, Anderson, or Kokomo, teach at the new Catholic High School in Noblesville, teach at Indiana Wesleyan in Marion, etc. etc.

It is a bit bittersweet...I'm excited to have additional opportunities and experiences, nervous about working with a new group of people, sad to leave a parish and house and neighborhood that we really enjoy, etc. I've been blessed with a great job, that maybe doesn't pay great and is constantly a source of headaches (irate clients, commissioner appeals, news media, government budgets), but has given me invaluable experience. I’m sad to leave a group of employees who have grown and improved over the last 6 years, sometimes at my prodding, sometimes in spite of my own inabilities. I’m so incredibly proud of the staff of this office. I’m honored to have been a part of the dramatic changes over the last 6 years, and I know that our community is better served today than when I walked through the door into this experience.

Dick has been such a good boss; always encouraging me, listening to me, and helping me grow. I’ve been blessed to work with a fine management staff, including Kristen, Christina, and now Amy who have all worked tirelessly to make me look good. And, to top it off, I have - at my disposal – the finest front-line caseworkers of any social service agency in the state of Indiana and perhaps the entire country. ”If everything is so rosy, why leave?”

It wasn’t an easy decision.

As I prayed in the Church Sunday night, I was very unsure about my decision. I had made a pros and cons list, and that list was 2-to-1 cons, but most of the cons were "comfort-level" related (the status quo is a stubborn hurdle to jump), and the pros were "big picture pros" as Cami called them. I had experienced building anxiety throughout the weekend, and as I knelt to pray in silence for an hour, my mind was racing, my heart pounding, my anxiety growing. And I felt the Spirit say: "Be still and know that I AM God". Right then, the anxiety melted away, and I was able to kneel in silence before the Lord and just be still. When I was still, and had stilled my mind, the question surfaced: "In which of these two jobs will you have the opportunity to grow the most?"

My answer then became obvious: I could stay where I'm at and accomplish things – good things even - but not really grow much beyond what I have grown, or I could step out in faith into new opportunities, experiences, and ministries. As I have said to you all many times, the status quo isn’t good enough; not for me, or any of us. It was time I practiced what I preach.

Cami left my side and went to sing in the choir as I was praying, and after Evening Prayers and Benediction she practiced a song with the choir director. When we were finally in the car, on the way home, she said to me: "Obviously, you got your answer." I asked her how she knew that. "Because, you were sitting there nodding your head like someone was talking to you."

Indeed, He was.

Thank you all for sharing these last few years with me. I have learned so much, through both the good times and the not-so-good things we’ve encountered together. I feel incredibly blessed.


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