By Bradley Will
Ann Hackett, in reminding me to write this column, encouraged me by saying, “Once you complete this, you are all done with your work on Vestry!” So, instead of the usual ‘thought for the month,’ which is usually shared by my Vestry colleagues, maybe I’ll share my thought for the past three years.
For those of you who do not know me, I served as an ordained parish minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America for about 17 years. When I left parish ministry to become a clinical therapist, I made a vow to myself that there are three things I would never do again: 1) Work with a youth group; 2) Attend an annual parish meeting; and 3) serve on a governing board of a congregation. Those of you who do know me, know that I have now done all three here at Grace. The phrase, “Never say never” comes to mind. I now vow to never say “never” again. I have served in these ways, not just because I love irony, but with joy and gratitude for the ways that I have been blessed by this congregation, and one of the greatest blessings for me is to see this congregation be such a blessing to the community.
My service on the Vestry has been challenging for me. Sometimes the meetings are long. We have to make difficult decisions. We have had many long discussions about finances, which is not my favorite topic, nor my greatest gift.
However, serving on the Vestry has been a tremendous gift. I have become much better acquainted with people I honor and admire. The Senior and Junior Wardens during my tenure on Vestry: Bob Foote, Barb Klugh, Kerry Nelson, and Greg Hagan are a good sample of the type of high quality people who serve on vestry. The four newly elected members (Jeff Tibbits, Eddie Grimm, Sue Kelly, and Michael Mittelstaedt) and returning member (Nancy Flowers) are also good examples, and I regret I won’t get to serve with them in the coming year! The Vestry takes very seriously the charge to pray for the parish, and every gathering of the Vestry exudes love and dedication to the congregation. And I am most pleased to serve on the Vestry when an issue of outreach ministry, especially the Jubilee Ministries, is discussed. We have spent very little time on the question of if we should support the ministry, and instead spend significant time on how we should support our outreach ministry efforts.
So, please know that your Vestry truly loves you and prays for you. No one on the Vestry asks for thanks, but please offer it anyway. Be confident that, even if you disagree with a Vestry decision, it was made prayerfully, with love and care. And know too that I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to serve on the Vestry, and to continue to be a part of the community known as “Grace.”