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It is Monday and I Should Be At the Beach

It is Monday and I Should Be At the Beach

by The Reverend Dr. Roman D. Roldan on February 28, 2024

TLDR: The truth is that many people do not know what church staff do. I conducted a staff straw poll about what they are doing on a Monday like this. Please read below for the results.

I just finished talking to my brother who called me to wish me a “Happy Birthday.” Casually he said, “I always wanted to ask you something. What is it like to just work a few hours on Sundays? Don’t you ever get bored?” My immediate instinct was to laugh because I knew there was no ill intent in his question. The truth is that many people do not know what we do. It is for this reason that I decided to do a straw poll about what my staff is doing on a day like this. The purpose of this blog is not one of those, “Oh, poor me! See how hard I work. Love me! Care for me!” I intend to do a bit of education, which has a deeper purpose. We have received a number of requests from folks during the last few weeks that are somewhat inappropriate: a. “I saw a good blog from Fr. Roldan on the website, could you print ten copies for me to send to relatives?” b. “I need copies of the following documents as soon as possible. I will come pick them up by four today.” c. “Could you give the following message to Fr. Roman when you see him?” (As staff member is getting ready for communion during Sunday church. By the way, this staff member doesn’t work on Sundays.) d. “I want you to look into the archives of the church and send me all amendments to the bylaws that have to do with the duties of the Rector.” Etc., Etc.

Today is Monday, February 26th, my birthday. I find myself at the office answering 18 emails and several requests that have come over text these last three days. I have already performed three duties I always care for on Monday mornings: Read the Lectionary readings for the upcoming Sunday, read a couple of commentaries in preparation for an upcoming sermon (I prepare on Mondays, write on Thursdays after hours, and rehearse on Saturdays), and held a calendaring meeting with Dede about upcoming events this week. At 11:00am I had a meeting with a staff member who was dealing with a request from a Vestry member. She had done some investigation into the request and learned that to accomplish the task we would need to increase the budget for that particular department considerably. We spoke about workarounds because, as you all know, we have a tight budget this year. I then continued answering emails. I am on the search committee for a new Dean and President for the Seminary of the Southwest, and some of their emails required immediate action. I joined the staff for the last 20 minutes for their lunch, and then started planning for a funeral service this coming Thursday at 1:00pm for long term parishioner, Margaret McClure, who died suddenly over the weekend. Both children, Heather and Shannon, were coming with James (Margaret’s husband) to plan a funeral service for this week. That meeting lasted from 1:45 to 2:50pm, after which Dede, Kyra and I met to plan the actual bulletin. Just for context, a sudden funeral can throw a busy week into an extremely busy week. At 3:30 pm I started writing this blog. It is now 4:10 and I expect to be at the office until 6:00pm, finishing it. I will then go home, have a quick meal and jump on a Zoom call at 7:00pm with Nacer de Nuevo (They have agreed to form a Holy Smokes team with me as their cook and we need to plan the event and talk about various areas of responsibility.)

In the meantime, in another part of the house, Laurie is answering 67 emails and processing payroll, which will be distributed on the 29th. Although we use a company for payroll, Laurie has to tabulate all hours for part-time, hourly, and contract employees, as well as things like vacations, sick leave, mileage reimbursement, etc. Additionally, she pays certain bills on Mondays on a 30-day pay cycle, so that we have four distributions from our bank accounts. This is necessary to ensure sufficient cashflow during the month. Some vendors get paid on the first Monday, others on the second, and so forth. In between these responsibilities, the entire staff assists with the answering of phone calls, which on weeks when we have a funeral can be quite numerous. Laurie does a fair share of this.

While this is taking place, Dede is managing the calendar for three clergy and numerous community events she oversees. Today she is managing all the Amazon deliveries for the reception she is planning for Fr. Pinzon’s family on March 7th. She has also been responding to various requests for documents from Vestry and several messages from parishioners about a variety of topics. She is the coordinator for all funerals and special services (Parish Picnic, Thomas Sunday, Newcomers programs, parish clean-up days [with Junior Warden], safeguarding God’s Children training [She is our coordinator with the Diocese,] etc.) Today she was with me during the funeral preparation meeting and will coordinate with the family for missing information (Hymns, readings, Organist, Cantor…,) so that Kyra can build a bulletin by Thursday. This morning around 10:00 she received notice that Geraldine Nash has died over the weekend and she has scheduled another funeral planning meeting for the family this coming week or the next. Then, around 4:00pm, she received notice that Artin Bakerjan, whose family were parishioners when Fr. John Bently was the rector, died this morning. We are the church of record and the family has requested a funeral planning meeting tomorrow at 3:00pm. His funeral service will be next Saturday. Sadly, this has become the norm and we spend more Saturdays at church than at home. So, as of this moment, she is dealing with three different families who have lost family members over the last three days and whose funerals will be within the next seven to ten days.

The update of our website requires a full-timer, yet Kyra has the added responsibilities of managing blogs and podcasts for three clergy, building a Bits and Bytes email during the week (which gets emailed every Friday), uploading sermons for the week, and creating four different Sunday bulletins for church. Additionally, she is responsible for all special bulletins, including ordinations, funerals, confirmations, etc. She often finishes projects at home, and sometimes hides herself in her office on Sundays to advance work for the following week. Some of our parishioners use Kyra as our church’s 411, perhaps not knowing exactly what she does during the day. Kyra has an 8 to 10 hour per day schedule without many breaks. I could document everything she does in detail, but it would be cumbersome and repetitive.

Then, we have Fr. Pinzon, Mtr. Leesa, and German. Trust me, you don’t want to know the specifics of what they do every day of the week. Suffice it to say that they are employees with just as busy a plate as mine. In terms of part-timers, we have Sandy who does forty hours of work in twenty hours a week, planning and directing a busy youth program. Angela oversees all children’s chapels, all Sunday schools for children, VBS, all special services for children, and does all scheduling, recruiting and training of volunteers for the kids programs. She has always worked long hours, although she is paid for a 20-hour schedule. David oversees all choirs, supervises instrumentalists, performs on Sundays and all special services, supervises the organist and guest organists, etc. Trish has become an invaluable employee, filling in as needed and assisting with the answering of phones, the production of bulletins, and other special projects assigned to her.

Why am I writing this blog post? Primarily for educational purposes, but also as a plea. When you make a request to my staff, please be courteous and give them sufficient time to accomplish the task. It could just be that the day you are calling is the day we are planning three funerals. My staff are servant leaders who love Saint Dunstan’s and believe in our mission. Some of the emails they have received, however, show demanding and entitled language that assumes they will be able to drop whatever they are doing to respond to them. We will drop what we are doing for emergencies, but some of these emails can wait. Please be curious and ask open ended questions, such as, “When would you be able to provide me this information? Is this something you do, or should I contact someone else?” In addition, please abide by the following requests:

  1. If you suspect a request needs funding not included in our budget, send me an email or talk to me before you email the staff.
  2. If you have 10 requests, please do not send 10 emails or texts, please send one email with ten items in it.
  3. Please lower your expectations to accommodate our ever evolving, busy, schedule. Please be patient, unless the request is an urgent matter.
  4. Please, treat the staff with kindness and protect their Sunday as a worship day.
  5. I love you all, but please do not feel insulted if I cannot accept all invitations to lunch, coffee, or even a beer. Send the invitations anyway, as I love to accept when I can, but please also accept my rainchecks with kindness.

Blessings to all, Fr. Roman

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