TLDR: Both Mother Beth Anne Nelson and Sarah Quiroga will be leaving our staff in June and July respectively. Below you will see our plans to celebrate their ministry and send them off to their next call.
I have spent a great deal of time this last week doing an inventory of our blessings as a church these last three years. If you were not in church on Sunday, March 19, I recommend that you review our sermon, in which I listed these blessings. We have emerged from Covid stronger and more determined, and we are growing again. What I didn’t say during my sermon, and I am now just beginning to wrap my mind around, is how fundamental a few folks in my team were during the whole process. Sadly, we will lose two of them this year. I would like to dedicate this blog to them, as I prepare myself mentally to begin the recruitment of their replacements.
I have been an Episcopal clergyman for sixteen years, and I spent from the age of fifteen to twenty-six in various forms of lay ministry in the Roman Catholic Church. Yet, in all my years in both denominations, I have never had the fortune of working with a youth minister like Sarah Quiroga. It is not just her skill-level that makes Sarah great at what she does, but her overall demeanor and personality. She is a person of deep faith, who knows where she stands and who is unshakable under pressure, (and there is a great deal of pressure in any church job. In a way, we work for 700 different people, and many of them have very clear ideas as to how we should practice our craft.) She is a dedicated team member who goes above and beyond in her support of other team members, and to lessen the load of folks who might need a bit of help. No job is too small for Sarah. She has taken secretarial duties when Dede was on vacation, she answers the phone without being asked to, and she has personally assisted me in coordinating all my baptisms and weddings, going as far as preparing all certificates before these services. And she does all of this without complaining, becoming resentful, expecting additional compensation, and without anyone having to ask.
In terms of her duties as “Director of Children and Family Ministries” Sarah is incredible at selecting curricula, training folks, teaching some of these lessons, relating to children and youth easily and effortlessly, scheduling all childcare providers and volunteers, working with acolytes, and communicating with parents and care givers regularly. Additionally, and many folks don’t know this, Sarah schedules readers and eucharistic ministers for all Sundays, funerals, and special occasions. In a way, she provides administrative support for liturgy and special events like baptisms, confirmations, weddings, Bishop’s visits, and other. Many of these tasks go above and beyond duties usually assigned to Directors of Youth and Family Ministries (I know because I was one during my Curacy,) but Sarah had been doing some of these functions before I arrived, and she volunteered to continue them, even after we changed her job description to be more reflective of a Director.
Now, as we begin to look at the field to identify the next person God has in mind for us, I have began to think about responsibilities that must come out of that person’s plate, so we set them up for success from the very beginning. Needless to say, some things will be assigned to folks whose plates are actually fairly full, some things will have to be assigned to the new Director, even if in an ideal world they should not be, and some things may have to be reconsidered as we reassess our needs. One thing is for sure, the next person will have big shoes to fill. Now, I don’t want us to grieve prematurely because Sarah will be with us through early July, but I do want all of you to keep your eyes open and direct any candidates our way in the next few weeks. With permission from the Vestry, I would love to hire someone by early June, so that Sarah will have several weeks to a month to train them in their new role. This function is mission critical for us, as one of our strategic goals is to continue to grow our children and youth programs. Please help us in our recruitment efforts. We will have a celebration of Sarah’s ministry among us on July 6th, from 6:00 to 9:00pm at the Price Fellowship Hall. It is never too early, however, to express your gratitude to her.
The next person I would like to thank is Mother Beth Anne Nelson. I have supervised several curates over the years, but I can honestly say that this particular curate has been a true joy to supervise and to see grow. Mother Beth Anne has the pastoral sensitivity of an old soul, and it is great to see this in someone this young. She has become a really good preacher and has flexed her organizational muscles helping us plan Holy Smokes for two years running and the first Street of Shoppes Fun Run, this Saturday. I believe Mother Beth Anne’s future is bright and I invite you all to keep her in your prayers as she continues her search process. We will have a celebration for Mother Beth Anne on June 15th, 6:00-9:00pm at the Price Fellowship Hall.
I will be starting an Anglican Purse for Mother Beth Anne in early May. This is how this works: 1. You write a check to Saint Dunstan’s Episcopal Church with a memo line: MBA Anglican Purse. 2. Saint Dunstan’s will write a check for our curate and we will present it to her on the day of her party. 3. Please know that these funds will go to her as a sign of gratitude from us, and these funds are NOT a “Curate’s Discretionary Fund.” The church owns all discretionary funds and clergy are not allowed to take them with them when they leave (without long prison sentences!) So, mark the check clearly as “MBA Anglican Purse.” Please call me if you have any questions about this rather old and widespread practice of a parting financial gift for clergy.
Keep us in your prayers as we interview future curates and youth ministers. The next few months will be crucial for us and I crave your prayers. Blessings to you,