I've been meditating this past week over the staff team we've built here at Oglethorpe, and I'm ecstatic. When I arrived, the staff were strong. They had to be to navigate the uncertain waters of pastoral transition. Among those, only two are left - Neil, our second-to-none organist; and Francisco, our irreplaceable sexton. They've each been here more than a decade, remain as talented as ever, and have rolled exceedingly well with the new initiatives. In the last year, we have done three job searches. And in each case, we have done better than we ever could have imagined. First came Jerry, our new Music Director. I have never seen a music program run as professionally on a shoestring budget, and it is a blast. The creativity he brings and the energy he encourages has helped to make our worship service an incredible mix of the traditional and post-modern in healthy ways.
Then came Tiffany, our half-time DCE. She has been finishing up her M.Div. at Candler while working with the United Methodist Church on her ordination process. In the short time that she's been here, she has been at the center of miraculous regeneration. A youth group that was all but gone now has 100% involvement from our kids on a regular basis. This is in addition to helping resource committees, choose and recommend curriculum, and designing a Confirmation process from scratch in a month's time. Her organizational abilities and passion for the church and its people are most welcome here.
Most recently, Nancy arrived as our Office Manager. Her first week was Holy Week (bulletins and newsletters and learning curves galore); her second week, I was out sick; her third week, I was on vacation. When I returned, she had already begun cleaning out files and organizing piles of papers. There were post-it notes everywhere, giving a sense of the organizational abilities we could now appreciate in her presence.
The reason I write about this all now is that last Sunday, Session took a bold new step. Tiffany graduates from Candler in May. In June, she will move to full-time with us as a "Pastoral Assistant for Care and Discipleship." She will continue her support for Educational (Discipleship) ministries, but she will also add pieces related to care and outreach, all moving in a more pastoral (rather than directorial) role. I am thrilled. One reason for my excitement is that we had talked about a move to a second full-time staff person, with a rough five-year plan in mind. We have now made the move in less than a year from then. The Spirit is surely moving; we're just trying to keep up!
One interesting piece is what this means for the future. Speaking economically, we have increased expenses without increasing revenue. But there is a strong feeling among our leadership that these investments are for our future growth. I can just feel the energy as we stand on the cusp of this new day, leaning into God's future. I have my wariness, but my joy is far stronger!
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!