Dear friends and members,
We are excited to share that we have a few updates to our staff team in light of Amy Gage’s recent resignation.
To start, we are thrilled to announce that Lauren Farley will be stepping up as our half-time Engagement Coordinator to fill the portions of Amy’s job that supports newcomers, BaseCamp, membership, and engagement.
Lauren has been our half-time Family Ministry coordinator for the last two and a half years, where she has been an incredible support for families, children, and youth, as well as to our Director of Family Ministry, Eleanor VanDeusen. Through Eleanor’s mentorship and with ongoing professional development opportunities, Lauren has been intentionally growing into her role as a professional religious educator for Unitarian Universalism.
Lauren will now be serving as a full-time member of our staff team as she will fill both of these roles. We are especially grateful that Lauren’s experience and perspective in working with families with children will shape the way we think about engagement across our congregation, and will more fully integrate families and children into our offerings.
Lauren’s creativity, sense of humor, insight, compassion, and commitment to Unitarian Universalism, have made her an invaluable member of our staff team, and we are thrilled that this opportunity will mean more people will get a chance to work with her. Lauren has already begun training with Amy, and working with Sean this week, and will continue to take over the engagement and membership roles over the next few weeks.
The other major portion of Amy’s work is in the area of administrative and facility coordination, as well as volunteer recruitment for Sunday services. Because this is a highly impactful role, and we are in the middle of the holiday season, we realized that we could not accommodate any gap in these tasks being performed. We decided that we needed someone who already knew our systems and who could jump right in on an interim basis until we can make a more permanent hire, which we estimate will take until the end of January.
We are grateful that Jenn Powell has agreed to step up and take on this role on a half-time basis until this position is filled with the permanent staff. She will coordinate events – including physical and zoom room reservations, and support group leaders. She will recruit and support Sunday volunteers, and support registrations and check-ins for all programs. She will be responding to the main Foothills phone line and email, and provide other general administrative support for our team over the many year-end tasks. As a member, Jenn has worked extensively in our database and has been highly involved in many of our ministries across the congregation. This means that she can pick up all of the tasks without too much training, and be responsive to the many sorts of needs that arise during this time of year.
Jenn began her work in her role this week and has already begun training with Amy for a seamless transition.
I want to note that this is an interim hire, not a permanent one. We decided it was necessary because of the combination of circumstances requiring a particular sort of specialized skills and capacity. By Board policy, however, we do not hire members for staff positions, nor compensate members for work performed, except under exceptional circumstances.
This policy clarifies the boundaries between staff members and church members. Congregants are here to experience the church as their church. Staff members are here to help make that possible. As staff, we do not put our needs above the needs of the church, and we recognize that when we speak with others, we do so as staff, not as members.
People do make this transition, but when they do, they come to realize that it means they lose their church. Your minister or ministers are now your boss. The employment relationship is ultimately transactional rather than only covenantal. Pastoral care is not available to you from our ministers, and when you show up to anything, people talk to you as a staff person, not a fellow member.
Of course, there are many ways that being on staff is rewarding. But it is a change and one that we are very cautious about encouraging for all of these reasons.
We are grateful to Jenn for stepping up over these two months and setting aside her membership for this time. We are grateful for the ways it will mean that we can be responsive to our community and our leaders through this challenging time. And we are grateful that at the end of this time she will transition back to being the amazing church member and leader that she has been for Foothills since she first started attending.
Finally, I want to make sure that you have seen our job postings for the remaining vacancies. You can find the full notice at foothillsuu.org/jobs. Please forward to anyone in your network that you think might be a good fit!
Please let me know if you have any questions, and thank you all for your continued partnership.