Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Ridiculously Good" Church Staff

Now that's a great-looking collection of church staff (minus Earl, parish associate)
Did I ever mention the "utilitarian" function of the preacher's husband? I'm sure I did. We've already discussed the pure joy found via freedom from stereotypical "Preacher's Wife" expectations. The church is pretty-much happy I even show up, and that's wonderful! But then, over time (and especially if you do show up on a regular basis), people will eventually find out what your particular skill set is and - Bingo! - you're busy.
Hence the designation of "utility player." I've confessed before in this space how much I enjoy photography, so I shouldn't have been surprised when I was asked to shoot the church staff for the new directory. Fortunately it was an easy assignment, as we have a naturally photogenic group who A) do not suffer from vanity, B) are cooperative and C) get along well.

Don (left) and Mark run our music ministry
So I thought I'd share the results in this week's "Clergy-Hubby" post. I'll start with the music guys. Mark is music director. He plays the pipe organ beautifully, he directs our most excellent choir, he leads a top-notch handbell ensemble, and he plays piano for the Praise Band; he is also an accomplished trombonist and puts together an occasional low-brass choir that makes truly remarkable music. Everything he touches is enhanced by his grace and quiet faith.
Don (who also plays trombone in the Florida Orchestra) is in charge of the Praise Team. Every week he crafts a multi-layered sound from a surprisingly talented band composed of guitars, brass, woodwinds, percussion and keyboard. Don brings a deep spiritual sensitivity and cutting edge musicality that is the perfect accompaniment for worship.

Steve and Debbie handle facilities
Next we have Steve and Debbie. Steve is facilities manager. Believe me, that's no small assignment in a rambling set of  buildings that have been stitched together over 50 years. This year, or course, we're in the process of updating the physical plant and pretty-much doubling our usable space. The other side of that coin is Debbie, who gets to keep it all clean and ready for whatever is going on. Between them (and with the help of God) miracles occur on a daily basis!
The next grouping is the office staff. I don't have space here to begin to do them justice. Joyce (front right) is our office manager; or, as Rebekah often says, "The Boss." How critically important is Joyce? Well, let's just say that, sometimes, I have to buy her chocolate... really expensive chocolate. Yeah, that's how it is!

Did the office staff coordinate their outfits for today's photo? Sure looks like they did....
Kathy (front left) wears two hats. She is pre-school director for probably the best program in Brandon. Then, having filled the church with love and light and enthusiastic two, three and four-year-olds all morning, she spends the afternoon bringing her positive energy to the front office. Tisa (back right) is the first warm greeting for those who walk in or call, and has revolutionized the church web page at www.fpcbrandon.org. Andy (middle) and Sue work magic with money and accounting and payroll and receipts and a thousand details I couldn't follow if they explained it to me all day. They are all awesome folk who make the work of ministry at First Presbyterian possible via their faithful service.

Kelly and Lynn, our youth are in good hands!
I didn't get to photograph our Youth Director, Kelly, other than the group picture (center back, dark hair). But I did capture this fun image last night at the staff party (we party a lot) at our house, when the mantle was officially passed from Lynn. Lynn ran the youth program for nine years, covering our young people with a quality of love and encouragement that is legend around here. This may not be the "official" portrait, but I believe it captures the spirit and the passion they both share.

Tim and Rebekah: "ridiculously good" ministers. Earl - our parish associate - makes three.
Last but not least, Rebekah and Tim. There's not enough space, but I think a quote from one of our Sunday school teachers fits best here. A week ago, Tim was teaching a discipleship ministry workshop for educators and small group leaders. He handed out some material that described several important factors in making church work. After a while, one of the teachers raised her hand.
"When I read about the qualities people look for in the ideal church setting," she said, "the first thing that came to my mind was, We have ridiculously good ministers at this church...."
Nice one, Sandy - "Ridiculously Good" it is. But then I could say the same about the rest of the staff, too.
Peace and Blessings - DEREK

Monday, August 15, 2011

Picture Perfect

Children leafing through their new treasures while one more comes forward
SOMETIME, BEING “THE PREACHER’S HUSBAND” MEANS BEING READY TO RESPOND to requests (made during the first hymn) such as, “Derek! My camera is at the bottom of my purse – I think – under the desk back in my office. Can you get some pictures of the kids getting their Bibles?”
And so it’s walk – with dignity – out of the sanctuary; run – as fast as I can – to Rebekah’s office; dig – frantically – for the camera; run – super-fast – down the hall again; ease into church – casually – trying not to pant loudly from being out of breath; take a few photos – unobtrusively; return to seat – gratefully.
"God's Word for you!" This is good stuff!
Of course I should have been prepared and with my own camera, because it was Christian Education Rally Day after all, and it’s no secret that handing out Bibles to the rising 2nd-graders is just about Rebekah’s most favorite thing in the whole church calendar. But I’ve been trying hard not to be “The Paparazzi” or, as our son Andrew says with characteristic lack of political correctness, “Dad, when are you going to stop being a Japanese tourist all the time?”
However, and I know you’re wondering, I did manage to get a few good pics. It really is a wonderful moment when a bunch of seven-year-olds come forward, one at a time, and stand mesmerized as Rebekah offers each individual child their own special word of encouragement before handing them the life-charged text.
Sam Sutherland encouraging the children to be "Imitators of Christ"
Later, Sam Sutherland did his classic Children’s-Moment story about “The Tater Family”, sharing with the kids how important it is – if we’re going to be any kind of a Tater at all, to be an “Imi-Tater” of Christ.
Sam’s other characters – and he bought in the vegetables to go along with the story – were “Dick-Tater”, “Agi-Tater”, “Common-Tater”,”Spec-Tater” and – if all else fails – “Be a Sweet-Tater.”
Good words for this Monday morning, I’d say – DEREK

Saturday, August 13, 2011

To sit at the feet of Jesus

Believe it or not, this little collection of Duplos and blocks and construction paper is a profound commentary on the Christian Education learning model...
I HAVE NOT BEEN A VERY ACTIVE PREACHER’S HUSBAND THIS SUMMER. Not, that is, other than my core value of being there 100% for Rebekah and doing everything in my power to provide her with a solid home base to operate from.
My inactivity has been as regards church in general. I’ve been showing up, but I’ve allowed other people to teach Sunday school, I’ve put The Men’s Room on ice, and I’ve limited my Sunday evening small group to just a few fellowship activities.
To be honest, I think it’s been good, both for me and the church too.
MY EXCUSE (IF I NEEDED ONE!) has been the new book I’ve been writing. Today I pretty-much competed the project – which is just as well as my deadline to get it into my publisher is Monday (Aug 15). I have some detail work to do before the final proofing and printing of a hard-copy (one chapter at a time) all day Monday.
OPEN TO LEARN: But I have been showing up for church activities, and that is very important. This morning I attended a teacher/leader training event put on by pastor Tim Black. It was a workshop designed to hone some of our skills, expose us to new information and get us geared up for the new church education year.
I have to admit, I didn’t want to go! I didn’t want to break away from my work on the book, I didn’t want to be reminded that there are other things going on in the world besides what I’ve got going on. And I didn’t want to be learning anything at all, sitting in class. And I especially didn’t want to be made to participate in any interactive group-learning scenarios…:-)
AND, OF COURSE, I HAD A GOOD MORNING. I had a good morning because I was in fellowship with some really cool people who love Jesus, and who are committed to be leaders in education at our church. And I had a good morning because it wasn’t about me, it was about what I need to learn. And I had a good morning because, when two-or-more show up to do something in the context of mutual faith, well, God shows up too.
Our guest speaker – Beth House – did make us to an interactive project, but it was excellent because it demonstrated how important it is that we pay close attention to what it going on when we’re leaders in the faith community. It’s always about who we’re not reaching as much as it is who is in class every week.
That insight alone was worth showing up for.
Bottom line – The Preacher’s Husband needs to blend in with the crowd sometimes, sit at the feet of Jesus, and be willing to be taught… and to learn… and to serve in new and creative ways.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Bottom Line

Nice form, Gerard....
I’VE BEEN THINKING ABOUT THE MOST BASIC, ESSENTIAL IMPORTANT DUTY of “The Preacher’s Husband.” The question – not so much a question as an observation – came up today when I was playing golf with my friend, Gerard (see, there he is, exhibiting unique golf skills just this morning). Gerard is on the way to becoming a “clergy-hubby” by virtue of his wife’s progress through candidacy (with the Presbyterian Church) and seminary at Asbury on Orlando (MDivon the cards for next May).
Peg is second career, they’ve been part of a variety of churches over the years before finally realizing that they were Presbyterian (!!), and Gerard already has experience as an elder. So we were talking about the whole gig, as it were, and he was saying stuff like, “I’m not sure I could keep my mouth shut,” and I was saying stuff like, “You won’t be a regular church member anymore,” and “Your entire ministry focus is going to shift.”
BECAUSE THIS PREACHER’S HUSBAND STUFF IS ALL ABOUT, IN MY MIND, JUST THE ONE THING. And the one thing is to create an environment at home that’s supporting, nurturing, loving and relaxing for “The Preacher;” to give her a place where she can experience restoration and replenishment, so she can do the preacher thing without picking up additional stress she doesn’t need.
Not that anyone needs stress, it’s just that I see my job as giving her a safe place, an anchor, a rock where she can tie up and just feel the love.
The Great Adventure
“If you can do that,” I told him, “and give her a home where she feels loved and safe and completely nurtured and supported in the strongest way possible… then you will be the best kind of clergy-hubby there is….”
That’s all – DEREK