Picture this: In a ritual to appreciate Lea, our church administrator, we each bring forward a marble for every time Lea has been there for us to support one of our activities or projects. Imagine the marbles filling her outstretched hands as she tries to hold them all. Any one marble is easy to carry. Yet what happens when all are dropped into the same set of hands?
Lea is the bedrock of our congregation. Her expertise, her institutional knowledge, her attention to detail and grasp of the larger picture, her calm under pressure along with her caring and dedication are crucial to the foundation that makes possible the vibrant and purposeful church we are.
Lea has gone above and beyond for many years at a rate that is not sustainable. Until 2014, our ministries were supported by 53 hours per week of administrative staff time. Today, we pay Lea for 37 hours of her time with no administrative assistant or membership coordinator to lighten her load. Meanwhile, the activities that feed us and help heal the world continue unabated, our campus is full of life, and our transition to policy-based governance has resulted in additional demands on Lea’s time.
I love the passion in our church for the transformative power of music, of our covenant groups, of contemplative practices, and of listening deeply and with compassion. I am inspired by our commitment to have impact as a visible leader in the Concord community as we support the homeless, welcome refugees, and live in harmony with the earth. I am moved by the way we care for each other, embrace the formation of our children and youth, and wish to honor and engage our elders.
We need to strengthen the foundation that makes all this and our future dreams possible. (Or to be blunt: If we were to lose Lea to burn-out, we’d be in a big hole.) Instead, picture this: Over the next few weeks, as we talk about stewardship and develop our budget for next year, we reverse the ritual I described above. We start with a basket of marbles representing Lea’s unsustainable workload. Our goal is to empty the basket and we do so by committing additional funds for each marble we remove – sort of like the giving tree ornaments we use in December to collect gifts for our refugee families.
Different marbles will have different values. Take one or more and update your pledge accordingly. Or make it a one time gift which we will draw on over the next three years. Once all marbles are spoken for, the plan is to hire a person who has the skills and personality to make Lea’s load manageable and to anchor our need for someone to lead our membership efforts. Our ability to realize our dreams and to live fully into our mission depend on the strength of the foundation we are willing to build. Hence the theme for this year’s stewardship efforts: Strengthening our Foundation.