Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Mixed Bag of a Weekend

This past weekend, I went to Vashon Island to work with them for four days, which is the nature of my contract with them. Last August, I spoke with the board president about my need to simplify my life and cut back to serving one congregation (which will be Whidbey Island). In November, I spoke with my Committee on Ministry to tell them of my decision and ask their input about how to break the news to the Fellowship. Together they, the board president, and I decided that I would make this announcement to the board in December and to the congregation in January.

So that's what happened Sunday morning. On Friday afternoon, I had told the Program committee (aka Worship). On Saturday, I had gone to visit several members of VIUF whom I had worked with closely, to tell them of my decision in advance, so that their first inkling would not be on Sunday morning. I asked them to keep it confidential so that I could be the one to tell people. And during Joys and Concerns on Sunday morning, I made the announcement that I would be ending my work with them in June, when my annual contract ends.

It's a weird place to be: hoping people will understand my decision but also hoping they are a little saddened by it. I certainly didn't want anyone to break down in tears, and I didn't expect anyone to cheer (though I suspect one or two folks who haven't attended my services for two years are happy). All the time I have served the Vashon Fellowship, I have felt very much appreciated and loved. So I was not surprised when their response was loving and understanding and sorrowful. But I was glad; after serving them for nearly four years, I would have been hurt had they been blase.

Now my work with them will involve a long goodbye, but also an effort to cram into the next five months some of the things I've intended to offer and couldn't get to: a Building Your Own Theology course, some more history lessons, a good canvass season, and some help with a mission statement. I'm looking forward to it all.

Yesterday morning (Tuesday), I was awake at 4:45, so got up and took the earliest possible ferry off-island, to get to Port Townsend/Keystone early enough to avoid the forecast gale winds which would doubtless cancel ferry service later in the day. I was home by 9 a.m. after a bumpy but uneventful crossing. I had time to get groceries, meet with the contractor who will fix my leaky basement soon, get some work done for this Sunday's service, make some calls-------and then the power went out again!

I didn't sleep well until the power came back on in the middle of the night. It's a little tough to move in a bed laden with comforters and cats, when the air temp is going downhill fast. When the house warmed up a bit, I kicked the cats out and "slept in" till 6:30 a.m. Ahh, the luxury!


LinguistFriend said...

A minister must have formidable multitasking skills to deal with only one congregation. I can't imagine dealing with more than one congregation, although I know that some people with admirable skills and good memories are able to do so. In this sense I very much sympathize with the need to cut back and simplify one's life. On the other hand, at times I feel that you are very much aware of the limitations of your island home, and chafe at them to a minor extent. The second arrangement with Vashon enforced an occasional departure from your main domicile, which could have its good aspects even though it meant splitting of your concentration in order to serve both communities. I hope that what is gained in terms of unity of focus and other factors of which you are more aware than I can be, more than compensates for the arrangement which periodically made you focus on something oustide an island which could become claustrophobic.

ms. kitty said...

Actually, what I have chafed at is the need to pack up every four weeks and go somewhere to live out of a suitcase for four days, be "on" constantly because I'm a guest in a congregant's home, spend virtually every waking minute at work, and come home exhausted but needing to land on my feet and gear up for the coming Sunday.

The island stuff takes some getting used to, but I am a homebody at heart and would prefer to stay put, at least while I'm working.

And Whidbey is such a large island that there is no dearth of places to go and things to see, none of them remotely city-ish. I haven't experienced claustrophobia in any way, but I have had to get used to the extra time it takes to go to the city or to any place that requires a ferry ride.

I will be very relieved to be able to concentrate on one congregation, especially since Whidbey is going to break ground for their new building this spring!