Rev. Dr. Stephen Chapin GarnerDear Church Family,

As we edge toward the middle of fall, I wanted to update you on a couple of significant developments in our church. First, the primary focus of our staff, leadership, and our ministry teams has been on efforts to regather our community as the pandemic begins to ease. We have had some wonderful successes, particularly in recent fellowship and youth events, and there is a growing sense that week by week, we are gaining a bit of momentum. We have a long way to go; of course, many folks have still not fully reengaged church in person, and our pledge receipts are still running a bit behind where we would be at this time of year. But we are definitely experiencing a hopeful rebound from our pandemic experience.

Amid these efforts, we have a number of staffing transitions in progress, of which I want you to be aware. Most notably is the impending retirement of Marianne Perry, our Director of Operations. While Marianne’s tenure has not been particularly long in duration, the work she has accomplished has been extensive. Marianne has skillfully and successfully helped us navigate through the pandemic. There has not been a single aspect of pandemic planning and safety implementation that Marianne was not involved in. Much of our success during this pandemic is the result of Marianne’s faithful service to our church. Now it is time for her to take a break, rest, and enjoy retirement.

Thankfully, we currently have a member of staff we all deeply respect and trust who has amazing administrative gifts. As we advance, Caroline Leather will be assisting me with the day-to-day operations of the church. Caroline will not initially be administering all aspects of our church life, but we believe, in time, she will be able to play a central role in our church’s administration. Shean-Mei Sheu, our new and remarkably gifted Director of Finance, will play an essential role in helping Caroline learn our church’s fiscal workings. Additionally, Lonnie deMarco, a very talented Human Resources executive, is contracting with us to help manage all the personnel functions for our church administration until Caroline is ready to take on those processes.

As many of you know, Caroline has led our Church School program for the past five years. Blessedly, Church School has been Kibbie’s specialty throughout her ministry. With the help of EmmaRae Carroll, as our Church School Coordinator, we will continue to rebuild our Church School program, which was one of the programs most significantly impacted by the pandemic.

We have also added to our children’s ministry with the hiring of Sydney Anderson as our Director of Children’s Music & Drama. Sydney has wonderful energy and experience and is already working hard to regather our Children’s Choirs.

Finally, as a cost-saving measure during the pandemic, and because our program needs were not as intense, we cut back on some of our administrative support. We are now adding administrative staffing back to our youth programming and to our church’s pastoral and adult ministries. Tracy Goldman will be assisting with much of the program support for our adult ministries, and Sam Garner will be working to support our youth programs.

While there is a fair bit of transition in church staffing, we are blessed with really talented and committed individuals who feel called to the work they are engaged in. Our focus will continue to be the regathering of our church family, and I trust, by the grace and guidance of God, we will emerge from this pandemic well, with an even deeper commitment to share the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout our community and beyond!

Yours in Christ,