We’ve been blessed this year to have Lauren Doyle on our staff, who has done a wonderful job as our Children and Youth Program Coordinator, organizing the logistics and materials (and pizza!) for our children and youth programs, and being an incredible second adult in support of the youth program, helping to build a kind and genuine community among our mostly new youth group. And, as we knew we might, she will be departing at the end of the summer to graduate school at the School of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
After we learned of Lauren’s plans, we began a conversation about what could be next with someone who is well known to this community as a parishioner: Eliza Nuxoll. She and I discussed the possibility of her coming on staff—the exciting possibilities and potential pitfalls—and we continued that conversation with the Children and Youth Commission, the Personnel Committee, and finally the vestry. In all of these conversations, we considered St. Clare’s history, our hopes, our limitations, our challenges, and in all of these conversations, it quickly became clear that, with some care and intention, everyone was universally enthusiastic about the idea of Eliza joining our church’s staff.
Eliza, of course, has been a key lay leader in this area of our congregation’s life for many years. Her gifts for connecting with children, for welcoming others and building community, for thoughtful feedback and leadership are well known to many of you. Her presence on staff will add capacity and experience as our programs continue to grow. I am incredibly excited about what we—this congregation, Eliza, and the rest of our staff—can imagine and do together, and I’m sure this announcement will bring a lot of excitement to us all.
New beginnings are a moment to take a deep breath! They carry excitement but can also carry trepidation. This is a good moment to inhale, to notice any pain or anxiety that this change may bring up, and then to exhale: in prayer for this new beginning, in processing those feelings through questions or conversation, or in expressing excitement about what the future might hold.
I mentioned care and intention before. We’ll have many chances to check in and adjust as necessary (as do the other staff I supervise): weekly check-ins, quarterly reviews of the job description and any pinch points during the first year, and the annual staff review process, into which the personnel committee also provides input. Eliza’s role in the congregation will change over this summer; she will resign from vestry in June, and begin her staff position at the end of August, following Lauren’s departure. It has seemed to everyone in this time of intentional discernment that the hope and potential of this change greatly outweigh the losses associated with these changes, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there!
There are lots of folks who have put much more thought into this decision than I can represent in a short letter—the Children and Youth Commission, the Personnel Committee, the Vestry, along with me and Eliza, of course. I invite you to ask questions of us, and to join us in praying and celebrating this new beginning!