Dear First Church,
I am writing this shortly after Ingathering Sunday heartbroken. The theme was Welcome and in the last five years I have seen (and felt!) your welcome to me – and so many others, so it is particularly difficult to tell you that I have made the decision to leave my position as Membership Development Coordinator in this community.
It is even harder as I sense the energy coming into this year, note the influx of new people courageously walking in our doors seeking the kind of spiritual home you all have created. I love First Church, and it is also true that it has been increasingly difficult for me to feel able to do my job well. I’ve been struggling emotionally, and it has affected how I accomplish my role, which in turn is affecting how I feel.
I’m sure there are many contributing factors including the distance from my support systems back East, Covid and… I’ll confess, not having a regular grounding spiritual practice we recommend to new members every class. I can’t tell you how much I wish I could’ve been a little more resilient. It is so easy for me to imagine what First Church will be in two years, five, ten… because I can feel our leadership and membership unfurling to welcome families, young adults and members of all ages, identities, and beliefs in new ways and in new spaces.
But, wishing to reset one’s emotional balance without commitment, practice and (I have come to believe for me) space, is not helpful. I have made the difficult decision to leave First Church mid-November to spend some time with my sisters’ family and Dad in Vermont, take the space to figure out how I might hold my struggles better, and find what is next. I will be taking you all with me, always.
Lynne Jacoby, Membership Development Coordinator
Dear First Church,
We are very sad that after five years of loving full-time service, Lynne Jacoby is choosing to leave her position as Membership Development Coordinator to take care of her well-being. While this is a loss to our community, we honor Lynne’s choice to care for herself.
Lynne will be with us through the middle of November, and we will get a chance to celebrate her and say goodbye in service and coffee hour on Sunday, October 22, 2023. Until then, Lynne will be the staff lead for her membership and pledge teams, October’s Journey to Membership, and Feast for Funds.
For the remainder of the 23-24 church year, portions of Lynn’s Membership portfolio will be led by Associate Minister Dena McPhetres, with staff support from our Ministerial Intern Steve Sieck and long-time staff member Deb Solis, and leadership from our stellar membership team. The pledge drive will be led by Senior Minister Jennifer Nordstrom and Director of Administration Jean Johnson, and our seasoned pledge team, chaired by Kathy Donius.
Although it was a hard decision and the timing of it was a surprise, we will not hire a replacement for the Membership Development Coordinator because we do not have the financial resources to do so. Our endowment campaign was wildly successful, but protecting the principle and using only the profits from the endowment covers about half of our current annual operating deficit.
As is true for many congregations right now, and as many of you know from your own lives and work, the reality of reducing HR expenses to reduce budget deficits means fewer things will be done by staff because fewer staff are available. We are moving elements of the MDC’s work essential to the church’s functioning into other staff members’ portfolios, and so we will be reducing their other responsibilities. We will communicate with you about which elements of our current ministry will be reduced or eliminated, and which will be spearheaded by lay leaders, as we live into the new staffing configuration. Please be gracious as all staff, leaders, and congregation members adjust to this new reality.
Lynne has been a vital member of the First Church community for five years and has taught us so much about being a welcoming community. I hope we can embody her wisdom that membership, welcome, development, and sustainability are everyone’s responsibility. Let’s wrap our love around her in her final weeks with us, and send it with her on her journey.
Rev. Jennifer Nordstrom, Senior Minister