Reflection: Staffing Update
Last week we included a couple of small staff-related announcements, and I wanted to expand on them today.
The first is the next step in Twila’s decision to move to part-time in 2020, and to focus on the bookkeeping function that has grown so large with the increase in property-related income for the Presbytery. Twila had initially thought she would go part-time in June of this year, but is staying full-time through December, as she can get better benefits on an upcoming knee surgery through the Board of Pensions (another example of how our Board of Pensions provides superior care for their members, and a reward to us for keeping Twila in Board of Pensions even after their new structure made it more costly to do so).
But Twila is determined to go part-time starting January 1, 2020, and she is already getting her paperwork current in anticipation for training her successor. The hope would be for us to find a new Administrator/Associate Stated Clerk in time for that person to go through the preparation and work for the November presbytery meeting, so we hope to review applications and interview folks soon. If you know of someone who is interested (or if you are), please read the position description (please click HERE to download a copy of the position description) and send a resume to me at firstname.lastname@example.org by September 14th, which happens to be our next Presbytery meeting.
When we developed the position description, the Personnel Committee and I discussed the critical attributes of the job. The contribution to the work of the Presbytery that I am most grateful for is Twila’s combination of efficiency/detail orientation with her supportive attitude towards everyone she works with. We are all aware that this person is the initial and regular contact for the Presbytery, so how they act and respond is a direct reflection on the Presbytery as a whole—so responsiveness, clear communication, grace, and knowledge are important. I am also aware that with the staff working in multiple places, this position is the anchor that everyone can rely on, so dependability is key as well.
It sounds like an impossible job, and surely we do not expect to find someone with all of Twila’s gifts and knowledge easily. The Personnel Committee reminds us that it is unlikely to find someone coming in with all of Twila’s knowledge coming into the job, but over time the person will learn. So don’t be intimidated! We will look for someone who has the inherent qualities needed, and we will commit to providing support and training for someone motivated to learn and grow. For instance, the person does not have to even be Presbyterian—in which case we would likely drop the “Associate Stated Clerk” from the title unless the person becomes a ruling elder (though the compensation and duties would stay the same).
Last week I also briefly announced the resignation of Rev. Jake Kim from his position as quarter-time Associate for Ministry Development. Jake has been pursuing a pastoral call since he left Northminster at the end of last year. He has accepted a call as Senior Pastor for Church of the Valley in Apple Valley. This is a large church that had been a member of Riverside Presbytery, but has since moved to ECO, so COM will be recommending to the September presbytery meeting that Jake be released from his ministry responsibilities with the PC(USA). This may not be a “forever” thing; there have already been pastors who have moved back and forth between PC(USA) and ECO; in fact the interim at Church of the Valley was Jan Armstrong, the former executive presbyter for Santa Barbara Presbytery. And Jake is not rejecting the PC(USA) on principle but because the call happens to be in ECO. While some people may have hard feelings about ECO, this is where the call is for Jake, and I believe that God works through all people and churches in good faith. So I pray for blessings on Jake’s work with them, and I am sure that people will be inspired by Jake’s infectious love for Jesus Christ.
Of course, given the distance to Apple Valley, he will be moving over that way, and cannot maintain this quarter-time position with the presbytery. As it happens, the presbytery leadership has already begun to evaluate our current structure, and I am meeting with members of the two committees Jake staffed (Vision and Strategy, and Education), so this is also an opportunity to look at the most effective committee and staffing for the presbytery’s needs today. More on that as things develop.
As for our newest staff member, Kristi Van Nostran, you have been very welcoming to her as she works to support our asylum-seeking neighbors. She has already met with several of our churches, and one family will be hosting two people temporarily as they are released from detention and prepare to move out-of-state to await their court dates. Just yesterday I preached at First Presbyterian Altadena, and some leaders expressed interest in helping with Kristi’s work. They, and I, see a direct correlation between the detention of Japanese-Americans in World War II and the detention of those lawfully seeking asylum now. Veronica Ota, a young adult leader at the church, has done ethical reflection on her family’s incarceration during World War II and has researched literature of the hibakusha, the survivors of the atomic bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. You are invited to celebrate with the church’s annual Fall Festival on September 21, 3-8 pm, with a presentation at 4:30 pm that Veronica will be leading.
So there are many opportunities to consider in the coming weeks:
- September 14: Get ready for Presbytery at Puente de Esperanza in La Puente. And if you are interested in the Presbytery Administrator/Associate Stated Clerk position, please apply by then
- September 19: Come to Westminster Gardens to learn about “Grateful Stewardship” as you build financial resources for your church’s ministry, 10 am—2 pm; lunch provided. Please RSVP by September 9 to email@example.com
- September 21: Come to First Altadena’s Fall Festival 3-8 pm, especially the 4:30 presentation on Japanese-American incarceration during World War II and those affected by the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
- Anytime, maybe now: Contact Kristi Van Nostran at firstname.lastname@example.org to invite her to meet with your church and consider ways you can care for our neighbors seeking a safe place to live for themselves and their families.
Lately I’ve shared with everyone I meet the great work of our presbytery. As we look ahead to the fall, with a new school year and new church initiatives starting, I am so grateful to be able to work with you all, and in this time of great potential and opportunity for new ways to serve God’s realm, I am excited to see how we all can join together in God’s great harvest. Thanks for being such faithful leaders in the ministry to your communities, and to this Presbytery.
Your fellow laborer,