At Foothills, our entire community does the work of ministry, not simply ministers and staff. This practice is core to who we are but can also create confusion as to the differences between paid staff and lay volunteers. Having strong boundaries that differentiate the roles of members and staff helps us manage the potential confusion and challenges that arise from shared ministry by creating transparency and accountability for each role. This is why we generally refrain from hiring church members for staff positions, and why it is rare when someone transitions from member to staff.
However, we also believe in the validity of vocational calls, calls to serve our church as not just a church member but as a staff member. To balance these tensions, we have established a new procedure that affirms the possibility of a member receiving a call that aligns with an open staff position. This procedure, found in our Employee Handbook (page 7, item J), intentionally lays out an involved process of discernment to ensure the transition aligns with the member’s calling and the health of our congregation.
Since December, Foothills member Jenn Powell has been acting as our temporary Administrative and Facilities Manager. It is with great joy, we share that Jenn has navigated the process outlined in our policy and will transition from church member to staff.
Jenn’s transition was not taken lightly. In alignment with our policy, the transition involved a thorough discernment by the ministry team, lay leaders, and Jenn. Jenn has been discerning a call to ministry of some sort for the last few years, and her time as staff in December and January clarified for her that moving into a staff role was exactly how she is called to serve. She has had extensive conversations with people both within the church and outside spiritual advisors to help ensure that she understands this transition and what it will mean, and she is authentically consenting to this shift.
Additionally, the ministry team and the Board of Trustees, along with Jenn and her husband Doug Powell, navigated what Jenn’s transition to staff means for Doug’s position on the board. Doug will step down from the board in May, allowing time to finish his current projects. We have also established clear boundaries to ensure he is not involved in anything connected to Jenn’s employment.
We are thrilled by this incredible opportunity for our congregation and for Jenn. Jenn brings many gifts that will enrich our church, and we celebrate her as she journeys this path.
In partnership and with joy,
Revs. Gretchen, Sean & Elaine