No Job

August 12, 2008 by · 11 Comments
Filed under: Work 

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Picking up the pieces …

May 14, 2008 by · 8 Comments
Filed under: Religion 

It’s been a while since I posted something on my intentions regarding my congregation.

There’s a reason for that.  My employer (after we were told it wouldn’t happen) laid off a number of people last week (not me).  Then we got news that the company is being delisted from the NYSE.  It’s been a rollercoaster ride.

So here’s where I am.

This experience, and the reaction to it (some of which isn’t written here), have seriously damaged my self-confidence as it relates to this congregation.  I find myself walking on eggshells, and needing reassurance for things that aren’t even likely to be a problem.  On the other side of the coin, there have been several recent events where things went well, even VERY well, and I had a big part in pulling them off (very big for one, about average sized contribution for the others).

At the same time I’ve had bad news in other parts of my life, notably work (plus a few deaths and wake to attend for family of co-workers and such).

Please note that I didn’t say “damaged my faith”.  I’m making a distinction between my faith and my opinion of the congregation and organized religion in general.

It’s the time of year where the church asks folks to serve as an officer or on a committee.  I haven’t gotten an letter yet asking about either, so I have to assume that the church has decided not to ask me – either as a result of this incident or because I’m already busy enough.  I’m pretty sure they’re up to the C list by now, so if they haven’t asked yet they probably won’t.

I’ve also found myself censoring what I write on this blog.  That’s a big problem for me.  As I have written, some of my most important core values are honesty, openness and authenticity.  When my pastor asked me, “Is there anybody that you run your blog posts by before you post them?” it hit me hard.  Most of you agree that I may have a been a little too open and have said one thing out of frustration that you wouldn’t have said, but that it’s my blog and that I’m being careful enough by leaving out names.  I’m struggling with whether I can be myself in this congregation.  One of the things that I love most about Camp Johnsonburg is that you truly can be yourself – warts and all – and you will be accepted (and even loved).  Some folks have rougher edges than others, and it IS possible to get too far outside of the bounds of acceptable behavior for camp, but for the most part it’s a place where 90% of the folks who come there feel at home.  I expect that from the local congregation too – after all, isn’t that what we’re called to do?  I realize that this may be an unrealistic expectation, even if it is a valid expectation.

All of this is complicated by the fact that I’m co-chairing a committee whose job is to figure out how well the church is doing at welcoming people and making them feel at home.  That process is starting to identify some common strains that line up fairly well with what I’m experiencing  (or alternately, I’m identifying what look like patterns to me as I look through the lens of my experience).  In other words, the actions and events and feelings that are distancing me to some extent from the congregation are exactly what the committee is supposed to identify – and even more, to propose solutions to fix them.   It’s a little like recovering from surgery and being expected to come up with ways to prevent your illness/disease in the first place, while you’re recovering your strength.
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It would be nice to be able to pull back for a bit and let others take up the slack.  Unfortunately, events are conspiring to make that difficult.  My committee co-chair is in the middle of a medium to long-term family emergency, and is unable to take up the slack.  The pastor is the other member of the leadership of that task force, but his time is already split 50 ways and it’s not really fair to ask him to take up the slack either.  So it falls to me.  Supposedly God has a plan for everything – I hope the end result of this situation is a really good one because it’s a bit much now with two of us in the throes of issues (hers much bigger than mine).  The one area where things are winding down is youth group – we’re transitioning from school-year mode to summer and summer trip mode which is a smaller time commitment.

Last night the Youth and Young Adult Council met.  Before that meeting I had a private meeting/dinner with the Youth Director.  I actually feel much better about the church after those two meetings.

So here’s the plan for today and the near future.

A month ago or so I wrote that I want to either get more involved or less involved in the fall.  This experience and the lack of any invitation from the leadership to get more involved have decided that question with an answer of less involved.  I also need to retrench and take some time to lick my wounds.  The committee that I’m co-chairing completes its work in January.  My word and my commitments are very important to me, so there is no question about me completing the committee work.  I still LOVE working with the Youth Group, and I’m looking forward to the trip to Montreat this summer (with a little apprehension, but that’s just “I haven’t done anything like this for 20 years”).  So at this point the plan is to finish my committee work and drop back to just doing youth stuff (probably including Confirmation).  That’s where I fit the best anyway of the places where I have been invited to take part.

This is all subject to change – this plan isn’t remotely etched in stone.  This is just what the plan is today.

It’s a little sad because I know that I have more energy and skills that I could put to use for this congregation.

I also could put that energy and skill into things beyond the local congregation (witness the Moderator Candidate event) but for one thing – the PC(USA) polity doesn’t really know what to do with somebody who has an affinity for the polity but who isn’t an elder.

At this point, I have no plans to leave the congregation.  I’ll just fade back into the anonymous mass of members.

Layoffs Update

April 4, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Work 

I’m still here.

I have 12 names of people who were laid off, but one or two are uncertain.  Supposedly there are either 15 or 30 in my building (5 or 10%) and others in other buildings.

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Not a good day.  One person that I lost is my “church buddy” at work.

Layoffs in progress

April 4, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Work 

Layoffs are in progress here at my employer and location.

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