Job Opening – Assoc. Pastor for Youth and Worship – Lawrenceville, NJ

March 3, 2011 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Job Search, Religion, Work, Young Adult, Youth 

My congregation has an opening for an Associate Pastor.  The Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville, NJ is a congregation of the Presbyterian Church (USA) (PC(USA)) and is part of the Presbytery of New Brunswick.  Information on our congregation can be found at the church website and the PC(USA) statistics page for the congregation.

DISCLAIMER – my role.  I am a Deacon among my roles at the church, and I served as the Chair of the Mission Study team which completed its work prior to the creation of the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee.  I do not serve on the APNC, but have been asked by them to help advertise the position.  I will be happy to answer what questions that I can via any communications method including in person.  The APNC requests that specific questions about the position be directed to them – specifically to Thomas as listed below.

Position Description

Associate Pastor for Youth, Young Adult and Worship Ministries

The Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville, NJ

CIF ID #04928.AEO

Contact: Thomas Emerick, APNC Chair: thomas744@mac.com

Fulltime Position, intended to begin September 2011
Reports to: Pastor, Head of Staff

Responsibilities include:

Youth and Young Adult:

  • Overseeing the administration and execution of programs offered to 6th to 12th graders, College students, other “college” age youth and young adults at The Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville, aimed at spiritual and faith development.
  • Supervising the Seminary Intern for Youth Ministry (10-15 hours per week/School Year)
  • Training, equipping, coordinating and encouraging lay leaders and parents is a primary means for providing ministry to and with youth
    • Conducting regular (up to bi-monthly) leadership meetings
    • Providing staff support for Youth Ministry Council
    • Facilitating youth participation in the leadership of the program
    • Providing programs that include parents in youth ministry
    • Teaching and equipping lay teachers to provide educational experiences for youth.
    • Working closely with a Session member liaison to youth ministry
  • Planning for, and coordinating the Confirmation experience for confirmation-age youth (currently 9th grade) and Mentors.
  • In coordination with Assistant Youth Ministry Director and Seminary Intern, coordinate and provide leadership for weekend retreats, outings and events
  • In coordination with Assistant Youth Ministry Director, plan and provide opportunities for mission experiences locally, regionally, nationally and internationally for all youth, which includes Summer Mission experiences.
  • Participating in the Presbytery Youth Connection
  • Providing consistent and clear communication and publicity about all activities.
  • Developing and utilizing computer technology (e.g. website, email, etc.) in the publicity and promotion of the youth program.

Worship – Worship in a New Key:

  • Work with Head of Staff and other staff on developing and planning for all aspects of WINK, including scheduling worship leaders, preachers, planning liturgy, etc.
  • Provide primary preaching and sacramental leadership for WINK, by preaching/presiding once per month (minimum), and coordinating a rotation of other clergy to fulfill these roles.
  • Work with WINK Music Coordinator, and WINK Planning Team, on weekly planning, as well as long-term, strategic planning for WINK service.
  • Preach monthly at WINK service, and at least twice per year at traditional service.

Young Adult:

  • Maintaining significant contact with young adult members of the church who are in college, the military, in the workplace or have just graduated from college.
  • Providing programming, such as Bible Study and fellowship gatherings, for Young Adult members and non-members of the church.

General:

  • Participation in weekly staff meetings
  • At least monthly supervision with Head-of-Staff

 

2010: My personal Year in Review

December 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Candidate Process, Job Search, Life, Religion, Seminary, Work 

I haven’t done a Year in Review post for a few years because I didn’t have any good news then. The two New Years after the layoff were times that I survived rather than showing improvement. This year was different. Very up and down, but averaging to up.

I started the year still looking for a secular job and having little luck, depressed after just barely missing out on a job right before Christmas. (Irony: after I made my decision to change direction, the person that they picked left and they wanted to interview me again.) That all changed with two days close together in January. One day a good friend accompanied me to a job fair at Rutgers, which turned that day from a depressing trip to a job fair to a day with a friend and by-the-way time at a job fair. We also had lunch with the campus Protestant chaplain at Rutgers and I found myself asking her to have the local seminary contact me. Later I realized that I had no idea why I’d asked for that. A couple weeks later I had a rough Monday morning and the same friend met met for coffee. That conversation led me to make the decision that I had to do serious vocational discernment and seriously consider seminary. What followed that decision is a long story that gets told as the year follows.

February found me stretching in many ways. I started auditing a class at Princeton Seminary and meeting with folks from the seminary and my church about my sense of call. I started serving on my first presbytery committee. I started spiritual direction. And at this point in my journey I was on a dual track – religious vocational discernment and secular job search.

March found me working a part-time job for a local ecumenical group serving as the project manager for a June justice revival weekend. It also found me working full-time (to start) for the US Census counting noses at group living facilities and service-based locations (shelters, food banks). Regretfully the Census job didn’t pan out as advertised and the “full-time” work ended up being at best 15 hours a week and only lasted 3 weeks. But it did give me a technical break in unemployment that allowed me to form my own small business. That business continues to provide a small amount of income and will hopefully do so as I go forward in school. March also found me being approved by the Session of my church to apply to be an Inquirer in the PC(USA).

April found me making what was nearly the final turn to the new direction. The justice revival work got going in earnest. I started the Youth Ministry Certificate program at Princeton Seminary with a retreat before the annual Youth Forums. And I started some steps to take care of the space between my ears.

May was packed with growth for me. The work between my ears got going in earnest. My justice revival work was in high gear before the June weekend. I got to be in the audience of The Daily Show and spend a great evening with two friends. And I got to go to the Unconference (in Maryland in 2010) and make new friendships that I hope to have for years if not forever.

In June the justice revival happened and was an amazing and tiring weekend.  And I began preparations for July.  Also in June I began working on the family stresses that were created by my discernment process and change of career.

In July I got an opportunity that I’d been hoping for since I returned to the church and started working with youth – I got to go to the Presbyterian Youth Triennium.  The youth director at my church wrote the Small Group Manual, and as a result I was able to attend as Small Group Staff, Small Group Leader Trainer, and as a Small Group Leader.   My presbytery’s delegation was housed across the street from the dorm that I was in, so we got to spend a lot of time together.  I had a blast, and attending Triennium cemented my sense of call.  After that trip, the last obstacle between me and my new career path was resolved, and my new journey began.  At the end of July, Carolyn and I got to take a short vacation that we desperately needed – giving us time to reconnect and re-explore each other.

August was a quiet month of preparation work.  I spent the time getting ready for the new year at church (in my new role as President of the Deacons, and with new youth staff) and preparing to meet with CPM.  The Committee on Preparation for Ministry of my presbytery approved me as an Inquirer at the end of the month, beginning the official process towards ordination as a PC(USA) minister.  I also began my work on applications for Princeton Seminary.

September was a very busy month with the beginning of the church year and with seminary application preparation.  At the end of the month I submitted my Princeton Seminary application and kicked off the process of obtaining references.

October was a time of celebration.  Carolyn and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary.  We also one week later spent 3 days visiting Princeton Seminary in the role of prospective student and wife.  Both of us felt very comfortable with that visit and very much at home.  And the big celebration happened a week later at the end of the month, when I received my acceptance for the MDiv program at Princeton!

November brought a chance to enjoy success and reorient myself to my new direction.  I delivered my commitment letter to Princeton Seminary while attending the Emerging Adulthood seminar early in the month.  The rest of the month was spent completing some work between my ears and preparing for the holiday season.

December has been a time of waiting and preparing.  With the help of friends, I’m working on preparing for seminary.  I’m building lists of books to read before I start.  I’m trying to decide about whether to pursue Summer Language (an intensive 10 week program for Greek or Hebrew) or take one last summer trip with my church youth group.  And I’m reorienting my thinking.  One bright event of December was a chance to meet a Twitter friend from Atlanta, one of her friends and a local friend for lunch at Drew University.  I also unfortunately spent the end of November and most of December fighting a sinus infection that took a lot of my energy.

Overarching the year were a few events that do not fit the chronology well.  From late spring until today (and continuing) I’ve been doing a lot of work in my head to grow, and to process the changes that such a large career shift creates.  That large shift has also produces some stresses – in family, in friendships, and in relation to my church.  I’ve worked hard with those involved to try to navigate the emotions produced and the logistics involved.  This in turn has created further growth and improvement in me, in my relationships, and hopefully in the others impacted.  This work has been HARD, but well worth it.  And the relationships that have been involved I believe to be stronger now.  I won’t say that pain is necessary to growth, but I will say that getting through pain successfully often produces growth.  Last, a note that a few serious illnesses of family members came in the fall and that was rough too.  Those family members are on the mend.

Also not fitting the chronology well were the growth of a few new and old friendships through shared experiences.  I can only hope that I have given to them as much as they have given to me.

All in all, this year was a very up and down year.  I am thankful for my wife and friends who supported me through it, who listened to my ravings and pain, and who continue to stand by me.  While it has been rough most of the roughness has taken place in the service of growth in the right direction.  And there have been some glorious moments of celebration and happy-dances.  I’d never have believed that I’d jump up and down in my kitchen past age 40 until the day I opened my seminary acceptance letter.

I end the year with a new direction when I had no direction.  I end the year with strengthened relationships.  And I end the year with new friends that I value greatly.  And I end the year with a much, much stronger sense of the direction that God wants me to take, as well as many reminders that God is always with me.

I’ll take it.

Part-Time Youth Mission Trip Coordinator Wanted (Central NJ, contract)

December 3, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Religion, Work, Youth 

The Evangelism and Church Development Committee (ECD) of the Presbytery of New Brunswick, with the concurrence of the Educational Ministries Committee, wishes to explore the concept of supporting youth ministry programs and services for churches that are too small to afford their own youth ministry staff or to hold a mission trip on their own.  As a part of that exploration ECD would like to hold a presbytery-based mission trip for Senior High (rising 9th graders through recently graduated seniors) youth in the Summer of 2011, or to assemble such a group from small churches to join an existing trip being planned by a larger congregation.  This trip is expected to be one week long and located at a site somewhere within the US.  We are hiring a paid part-time Youth Mission Trip Coordinator to work with ECD and youth leaders in the presbytery to determine the best way to pursue such a trip and to plan, coordinate, and lead the trip and all preparatory activities.  Those interested in this position should send a resume and cover letter to Mark Smith (markrsmith@gmail.com, 609-585-1849) by December 17, 2010.  The detailed job description is attached: Presbytery of New Brunswick Youth Mission Trip Coordinator position.

Getting Ready for Montreat

July 22, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Religion, Young Adult, Youth 

As I’ve written previously, I’m going to the 2009 Montreat Youth Conference week 5 (or week V for other search strings).  I’m doing this on the insanity ticket by being both a Small Group Leader and Back-Home Leader.  Sleep?  What’s that?

Last night the adult leaders of the trip from my church had dinner at my house and did some planning.  We are so incredibly organized this year – mainly due to the increased organization of our Youth Director, but with an assist from leaders who after last year now have Montreat experience.  The number of youth going this year has increased almost 50%, and the enthusiasm of last year’s attendees has even produced a last minute addition.

I’m getting ready for my Small Group Leader role in my usual fashion – I’m probably over-preparing.  I’ve read the manual cover to cover several times and I’m going back and re-reading it now with an eye to logistics.  I’ve started packing, and will finish tomorrow.  I’ve gone to the church and borrowed a bunch of props for one activity, and I’m finishing my preparation (with a HUGE amount of help from my Youth Director) of music for journaling/meditative time and such.

Because I’m a Small Group Leader I have to be there a day early, which means that I start out alone Friday morning.  My group leaves Saturday morning and is spending Saturday night in Greensboro, NC.  We’ll all be together when they arrive at Montreat on Sunday and we’ll travel home together.

While I’m there the God Complex radio show will likely make a brief appearance as we record the thoughts of some youth on a question for use in a future program.  Four out of the six God Complex team members will be at Montreat at the same time next week, and hopefully we’ll all meet up at some point.

I’m a little nervous about the time commitment required for doing both the SGL and BHL jobs.  I’m hoping that I can work that out.  I know that my church’s trip leaders are being very helpful in allowing me to determine the degree to which I can participate with them.  I’m usually an 8-hour per night sleeper.  Last year (with help from the Spirit) I managed to pull it off with only 6 hours of sleep most nights – less one night.  The only problem was that I was wiped out for the drive home on Saturday, and was only able to take a 3 hour shift driving (on a 12 hour trip).  This year it’s a bit tougher in that we’ll add my vehicle to the group.  We’re working on a solution to that.  I do feel very comfortable that I can do the rest of the SGL job – it’s the same as leading my home group or serving as a leader at Camp Johnsonburg, albeit with a larger group.  The Small Group Manual lays things out in a manner that make it easy to see how leading the group will work.  I think I’m ready.

I hope to have at least a few pictures to post after the trip.

New Church Roles

June 18, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Religion, Young Adult, Youth 

Yesterday has to be something of a record for me being invited to take on a new church role.  Luckily all of them are manageable and most are one-time or short-time needs.

The role that is most visible and important is that I was asked to be the Vice-President of the Deacons next year.  This in turn makes me the President of the Deacons the following year.  Now, the Vice-President has no real responsibility other than perhaps leading the deacon meeting if the President can’t be there.  I have figured out two other responsibilities, though:

  1. If the President of the Deacons for another church dies, the Vice-President attends the funeral.
  2. In the event that the Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville is attacked, the Vice-President will make coffee in an undisclosed location.

The President of the Deacons does have serious responsibilities.  Those include:

  1. Working with the Associate Pastor to create the agenda for the monthly deacon meeting.
  2. Leading the monthly deacon meeting.
  3. Producing the schedule for coffee and greeting each Sunday, including tracking the changes.  This will be easy for me – I’m already sending out the reminder e-mails each week.
  4. Preaching on Deacon Sunday.  (I asked my wife if she thought I could do that, and she said “No problem.”  Then I asked if she thought I could do a full 15 minutes and she said that cutting me off would be the problem!)
  5. Serving as the deacon member of the nominating committee.

So, barring any changes, I’ll be doing the President job in the 2010-2011 year.  Of course, each position is in addition to my regular role as a deacon, the deacon ministry team that I belong to and my little job sending out the reminder e-mails.

Another job that I was asked to perform is to serve on a small team working on a particular curriculum for our Youth and Young Adult program.  That group is only expected to meet 3 times or so, so that’s not a big addition.

I was also asked to attend a meeting to talk about planning a major regional church event.  A presbytery committee is starting the process, but the group that was invited is ecumenical.  This could be interesting.  I have a little bit of awe at being invited as most of the other names on the list that I recognized are religious professionals of one form or another.

And the last one is to help with some computer issues in the Computer Lab at our church, and potentially to substitute for someone during Vacation Bible School.  I’m likely to do that if the schedule works.

As I said – except for the deacon responsibility these are all small things today, and I will likely do all of them.

Montreat Youth Conference 2009 – week 5

June 9, 2009 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Religion, Travel, Youth 

Some very bright news (and only somewhat related to what I mentioned in the last post) is the fact that I’m going to get to go back to the Montreat Youth Conference this summer.

With the support of my youth director at church, I decided to apply to become a Small Group Leader this year.  I got the letter yesterday telling me that I was accepted.  This is a small step outside of my comfort zone.  I was considering it last year after the conference, but decided not to apply at the time.  Now I’m in.  I loved my time at the conference last year, and my small group was one of the best parts.  I want to give back.

Through some rather unusual situations, our church group going to the conference has found itself short of one male leader.  So I’ll also be going as a Back-Home Leader.  Because we have another male leader and 2 female leaders, I will most likely be staying at Assembly Inn with the rest of the small group leaders, and doing some meals and evening Back-Home time with my church group.  If nothing else, it should get me more sleep.

I’m really impressed with how much impact the conference has had on our youth group.  100% of the youth from last year’s trip are scheduled to go again this year, and we’re adding more youth (mostly youth who are just now old enough to go) to increase the group by 50%.  I could see the difference that last year’s trip had in each youth’s life in the way that they interacted with each other and the church in the year since.  Some changes were bigger than others, but all were changed.

I’m really excited about the trip, and already annoying my wife with disjointed thoughts about it.  I really feel like it may be a make or break experience for one of my options for the future.

Introverts and Youth Ministry

May 13, 2009 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Religion, Youth 

Grier Booker-Richards – a friend, seminarian about to graduate (hire her now, ask me how!), and experienced youth ministry veteran – has given me another blog challenge.  “Write something about introverts and youth ministry”.

Now, I’m no expert on youth ministry.  At best I’m a somewhat gifted amateur.  So I will write about what I can clearly write about – my experiences and what that leads me to think.

Background:  I’m just over the border to the 40’s, I test clearly as an INFP (strong I, strong N), and I’ve been a camp counselor and more recently a volunteer youth advisor to a Sr. High youth group at my church.  My return to church after a long absence also marked my first journey into youth ministry as an adult.  That was about 2 years ago.  (Wow.  Only 2 years?)

I’ll divide the rest into 2 areas:  Introverts entering youth ministry, and Introvert style in youth ministry

Introverts Entering Youth Ministry

I’ll admit it – I was very nervous when I started doing youth ministry again.  The last time I had done it was when I was a youth.  I remembered it fondly, and most importantly I was invited in.  Alicia, who I knew from camp, invited me to try out the youth group for a week or two.  She told me when to arrive and how to prepare.  She was there the first evening.

I was feeling a bit worried because my youth relational skills were VERY rusty.  Carolyn and I don’t have children, and I had very little interaction with anybody under age 25 for almost 20 years.  I didn’t know if I would have anything in common with the youth.  I was feeling all of the same fears that any new member of a youth group would feel.

I overcame that, and discovered (mostly in the 2nd week, when we broke out into groups) that the youth were fantastic people.  No, I mean REALLY impressive – better than I remember being at their age.

The key for me was that I had someone who invited me in.  Without Alicia I’m not sure that I would have taken the step.  It’s really funny to think that after my experiences.  Today, as I go through my career transition, I’m told repeatedly that if possible my new career should include working with youth.  There are people saying that they believe that I have a gift for this.  And I never would have found that out without Alicia pulling me in.

If you are an introvert (or just “shy”) and are considering youth ministry, try it.  Do it on your terms – make sure that you aren’t making a permanent or long-term commitment and just try it out for a week or two.  You’ll find out very quickly that you love it or hate it or can do it but it doesn’t excite you.  See where God is calling you.  Peek out of your shell.

It’s also important to remember a few things to be more comfortable.  First, you are an adult.  You are the authority in the room (maybe not the top dog, but certainly above the youth).  You have a life outside of the group.  You can walk away if you feel that you need to.  Second – you aren’t alone.  Something like 20% of the youth AND adults in the room will be introverts, too.  Other youth workers are trained (to some degree) in working with people of different types and they’ll be able to “read” you too and help you find your place.  Third – everybody (God included) wants the best possible experience for you and the youth.  They’ve got your back.  Fourth – be yourself.  If you are considering doing this it’s likely that being yourself is good enough (or better).  Youth need different kinds of adults in their lives.  By being yourself you provide them the strong example of authenticity when interacting with others.

In short – entering any new situation is hard.  This one can be easier than most.

Introvert Style in Youth Ministry

One of the great “truths” about ministry is that its easier for those who are outgoing or extroverted.  There’s some truth to that – ministry requires you to meet many new people and understand their needs and to give your message to the world.  It’s real, but not absolute.

Youth ministry is one place where being an introvert is a double-edged sword.  On the one hand the youth minister is expected to lead a group of people in need of direction and guidance.  You can’t live completely in your shell to do that.  But on the other hand, youth ministers are expected to be able to take a deep dive into the lives of their youth – particularly those who need more guidance or help or a shoulder to cry on than the average.  This is where introverts excel.

A young person today is very much like young people of all times – a bundle of new feelings, new hormones, a need to find a direction, and a hunger for connecting with others.  Today’s youth also have something that I don’t remember when I was their age – a drive to make the world a better place and ownership of the world that they are inheriting.

Youth today need breadth and depth.  Breadth is something that the extrovert large group leader is good at – energizing, motivating, teaching and entertaining a crowd.  The extrovert leader is able to communicate with the mass of youth and mold them roughly into better disciples, while gaining energy.

Where the introvert excels is depth.  Introverts are very comfortable delving into the deep corners of the soul, and often make very good listeners.  Introverts who trust others can build relationships that are long-term, deep, and very meaningful to both parties.  The introvert in youth ministry is less a sunny day or a thunderstorm than a rock or a tree – a solid (but not unchanging) structure that a youth can choose to linger near or cling to.

Please note first that these are gross generalizations and not true in all cases.  Sara Ferguson, one of my fellow youth advisors, is an extrovert with a capital E, and a capital X, and a capital T … you get the idea.  Yet she has formed the deepest relationships with our youth and is a strong and deep presence in their lives.  I’m getting better at working the group instead of working with individuals myself.  It’s an experience thing.

Also please note that breadth and depth are not the same things as quantity and quality.  Breadth and depth in youth ministry work are different kinds of quality.  Quantity does influence style – the extrovert is somewhat better with large groups and the introvert may be better with an individual.  But quality is in my opinion more important than quantity.  Breadth and depth are both different and non-contradictory measures of quality.

I also firmly believe that anybody can love anybody else (that’s what we’re doing – loving the youth).  Some relationships are natural and a few are almost automatic.  There’s no truth to the idea that introverted leaders work best with introverted youth, or the opposite.  It’s just a matter of style.

I do have a few tips for introverts in youth ministry, particularly those new to it:

Sitting on the Couch – Grier (remember Grier – she asked for this) taught me in an e-mail message that I received on the way to my first Montreat Youth Conference a ministry style that works well for me.  It’s called “Ministry by sitting on the couch”.  The idea is to simply be there, be available, and the youth will come to you.  At Montreat that took the form of sitting on the couch at First House (often recovering strength) and being open to speaking with the youth.  At my church youth group it means being loose and approachable – being there for someone to talk to.  If a youth wants to speak with you, they will find you.  This really works!  I had a few youth approach me at Montreat and we had some really deep conversations.  The same happens back at home – particularly with the youth who arrive early for events.  A few other thoughts on this – boundaries are important.  Don’t get hounded into giving up all of your free time.  When you are there for them, you have to give them your FULL attention.  Introverts are generally good at this unless socially exhausted.  Also, a little bit of followup privately (as opposed to in the middle of the room in a crowd) is important.

You Won’t Connect With All of Them – One thing that I find periodically frustrating is an inability to connect with all of my youth.  I truly love each of them in a way unique to the individual.  Realize this – you couldn’t possibly connect with each youth even if you wanted to, unless your group is VERY small.  And there’s no reason to expect to either.  This is why having multiple volunteers is important – different people click with different youth.  Don’t be upset if you fail to make a strong connection with any given youth – it’s more important that the youth connect with SOME adult.  Just be there for the youth that you do connect with.

One related issue common to INFP’s is the typical inability to accept yourself.  INFP’s are never satisfied with themselves – there is always a way to improve.  For me this means that the way that other people see me is a blind spot – I have trouble seeing myself as others see me.  Seek a safe person to check your assumptions with – they may see your interactions with others differently (and more accurately) than you do.

Help the introverted youth – You know what it’s like to be new in a group, and what it’s like to be an introvert in a crowd.  Be on the lookout for youth going through the same things.  Sit next to the new kid and just be there.  You don’t have to make endless small talk.  Just be there.  And if a youth reaches the “people overload” point and has to leave the room for a while, be the person who follows them for safety reasons.  Find a reason to go in the same direction (cleaning up dishes often works) and just bump into them in the hall.  Give them the space that they need without needing to round them up to rejoin the group.  You’ll need to bring them back at some point, but you’ll have some idea of when their batteries are recharged enough.  This requires some trust of both the leaders and the youth, but you’ll reach the “it’s OK – Mark is handling it” point pretty quickly.

You are not just an introvert – Everybody is different.  Everybody has different talents.  You will form relationships with all types of youth – both the introverted and the extroverted.  That’s a good thing.  You may have to extend yourself a little more than you’re used to, but it’s totally worth it.  You have something to give to the group that is unique, and you need to share it with all.  For me, it’s a love of sci-fi and anime, drumming, and flying.  For you it is probably something else.  Share yourself with all.

To sum up – introverts are a bit of a special case in youth ministry, but it is not a negative.  Introverts bring unique skills and viewpoint to any group, and can balance things.  Introverts can minister to other introverts, but are most effective when providing a quiet but strong presence to all.

A quick life update

February 26, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Job Search, Life, Religion, Work 

Here’s what’s going on in my life at the moment.

Job Search – I’ve been putting most of my effort into gaining Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the PMI.  My application has been approved and I’m scheduled to take the test next Thursday.  I’ve been spending the majority of my time during the day preparing for the application, taking an online class, or studying.  As a result, my job search has been more or less temporarily stopped.  This certification will open up many job openings that I do not qualify for today – not because I can’t do the job, but because the company chooses to require this certification.

Church – As I wrote below, Project Open Door has completed its work.  We’re going to have a bit of a social celebration soon to close out.  Deacon stuff is keeping me busy – I had coffee duty last week, Shrove Tuesday dinner this week, and next Sunday I’m serving communion at the morning service and perhaps again at the Worship in a New Key service.  I may also play drums at the WINK service in some fashion, and we have youth group afterwards.  Tonight I’m going to the Pennington School with our youth director to see the production of Wizard of Oz that at least one of our youth is in.

Home – It’s been a busy week – Carolyn or I have been out each night this week with something.  Monday was the monthly ham radio emergency test, Tuesday was Shrove Tuesday, last night was her yoga and Ash Wednesday, and tonight I have the school production.  The weekend is hockey-free and will be quieter.  House is fine, wife is fine, cats are fine.

This Week

February 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Ham Radio, Religion 

This week is “in between” time.

I’m in the middle of the process for obtaining Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute.  I’ve had the skills for years, but never got the certification.  My wife already has this certification.

It’s a lot of work getting this certification.  I had to document 4,500 hours of work leading project tasks over a period including at least 36 months of time.  I also had to document 35 contact hours of training.  The process of documenting that alone took me a solid week.

Then I chose to take an exam prep training class to make up the 35 hours.  I found out later that I already had the 35 hours (my previous boss reminded me of an in-house training class that counted), so I should be able to carry some hours into the next reporting period.

I completed the training class yesterday and submitted my application.  Now I’m in the up to 5 day waiting period while they decide whether or not to approve my application.  Then I pay for the test and either immediately scheduled the test or go through the 5-day audit process.

This PMP certification will open up a lot of jobs that I am qualified for aside from not possessing the certificate.  Many large and medium-sized companies require this certification for project management jobs.

I had to put the job search on hold while doing the documentation and training.  I should be restarting it now, but I believe it would be more effective to get the certification and update my resume and then start.  So this is limbo time.

Tomorrow is busy anyway.  I need to drive to Philadelphia (in the rain and/or snow) to pick up a city ID card for my volunteer work with the Philadelphia Digital TV project.  I was recruited by the local FCC office as a ham radio operator to assist with the installation of Digital TV converters for the elderly or disabled.  I may be volunteering this Friday to do this work.  Then in the evening my church committee Project Open Door is presenting our final report to the church Session.

Thursday I’m having lunch with somebody from the church.

Friday as I mentioned above, I may be volunteering in Philly.  There is a Trenton Devils hockey game that night.

Saturday evening is a major event.  The Trenton Devils are retiring the number of Scott Bertoli – who played his entire professional career (aside from a few trips up one league) with the Trenton Titans.  I’m definitely going to that game and getting out all of my old Trenton Titans stuff.

Sunday I have coffee duty for the deacons at church, and youth group in the evening.

2008: My personal year in review

December 31, 2008 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Admin, Job Search, Life, Religion, Work, Young Adult, Youth 

Good riddance.

It’s not that the year was all bad.  Some of it was really very good.  It’s just that the bad outweighed the good.  Most of this was due to one very bad thing.

Work
This was a particularly bad year.  I’m not going to go into details, but you should assume that life at my former employer wasn’t particularly fun before August.  In August, I was laid off from a job that I’d held for 13 1/2 of the last 15 years.  It only helps slightly that this employer ultimately filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November.

And if that wasn’t enough – the economy tanked at the same time.  The cause of the company’s failure wasn’t solely the economy, but it was a big part of it.  Jobs just plain dried up from September through early December.  There are signs that things are easing now.

If it weren’t for positive things and positive people in the rest of my life, I don’t know how I would have handled this.

Church
The good:
I LOVE my youth group.  The young men and women that I work with more or less every week are all wonderful, and I learned a lot about myself, them, life and God over the last year.  Sunday afternoon/evening is the high point of my week.

The summer trip to the Montreat Youth Conference was one of the top 10 experiences of my life.  I truly feel that God spoke to me that week in some fashion.  I know that my faith deepened, and that the same happened to most if not all of the group from our church that went on the trip.  I also feel that I grew outside of the religious aspects.  (Of course, this high leaves me wondering where God is in my life now, when things are not so good.)  The biggest thing that I learned this year – while I care a lot about our youth, they care about me too.

Putting together the Moderator Meet and Greet event in April was a lot of fun as well as being a lot of work.  I met a lot of new and wonderful people.  The event was well attended, and I hear that it helped commissioners make a decision at General Assembly.

Meeting in person and working online with other church leaders has been mostly positive.  I’m amazed at how strong the online Presbyterian-and-beyond religious community is.  I’ve felt support when I needed it and given and watched it flow the other way when others needed it.

Serving as a deacon has been rewarding.  This is work that I know that I can do and do well, and that is relatively easy, and that aids the church.  That’s sort of the point, isn’t it?  I just have to be careful not to schedule myself too heavily (like the Sunday that I had coffee service AND served communion AND agreed to set up tables for a later event).

My committee studying hospitality, visitor and community issues for the church has nearly completed its work.  We have identified 19 issues and more than 19 suggestions for how to change/fix/handle those issues.  We present to the Session in February.  The team has worked hard and learned a lot.

Serving as the new webmaster for the church’s website and weekly e-mailed newsletter has been a growth experience for me.  It has forced me to learn new technical skills and also to generate a little content independently.

The bad:
The worst has to have been the controversy over my blog in March/April/May/June of this year.  I don’t know if people realize it, but the church was about 12 hours from losing me in April – the only things keeping me were the facts that Youth Sunday and the Moderator Meet and Greet were imminent responsibilities of mine.  This event only took 2nd to the loss of my job in how poorly I felt while in the middle of it.

I am also continually dismayed by the negative tones in some conversations/fights/battle-royales in the church community over the hot button issues of today.  Those of us within the church fight harder and with less love than we do with our colleagues in other denominations or religions, even though the points of disagreement are far smaller and unimportant.

Home
Home life continues to be solid.  Carolyn and I have ridden out the very rough patches of the 2nd half of the year with no negative effect on our relationship.  Most of this is due to Carolyn’s very conservative nature when it comes to money, and the strong planning ability that both of us have.  She continues to be supportive at a very difficult time in my life and it has brought us if anything closer together.

The cats are still fine.  They turn 13 tomorrow.  Isaac is still suffering from a bit of arthritis in his hips, but the daily Cosequin is helping.  Both of them still have a fair amount of kitten left and still go running around like crazy animals occasionally.  Albert has had no recurrence of his kidney issues.

The house is fine.  We have had to put off a bit of home repair work (mainly fixing the fireplace chimney that failed a while back) for economic reasons.  Nothing important is wrong, and we continue to love living here.  It’s a great neighborhood – not too noisy, not too quiet, and plenty of kids running around.
My car has had a rough year.  I was rear-ended in July and minor damage was done to my rear bumper.  It was fixed pretty quickly, but it took about 4-5 months before the insurance companies paid my deductible.  Here’s a tip – no matter how late you are, don’t pass on the right on a one-lane on-ramp.

Health

No major changes.  On the Montreat trip I lost a number of pounds due to the stairmaster-like qualities of the village of Montreat (to get anywhere you have to walk down a big hill and up a big hill).  The emotional strain of being out of work took off some more.  I’ve managed to end the year a net 10 pounds down.  Otherwise, my health remains the same.

I’m hoping that 2009 will be a combination of the continuance of good things, and an end to the bad things that are happening now.  I see new hope in the elections of both our PC(USA) Moderator and the new President of the USA.  It remains to be seen if that hope turns into a better reality for the country, church, and me.

Happy New Year!

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