I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought,
and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. ~ G.K. Chesterton
I want to say thank you for the generous gift our ministry gave me two weeks ago. I was overwhelmed by the kind words and the gift I was given that Sunday afternoon and couldn’t get my thoughts out through tears, so I will write instead. I want you all to know how very much I have appreciated being part of this community which has always been a generous and nourishing environment for me. My life has been blessed by the people of Sunset.
Ten years ago I was hired by Ken Hickman to serve as the administrative assistant. I had interviewed for a different ministry though my heart was really drawn to the Worship community at Sunset. I understand Ken bartered a bottle of wine for me and then offered me a job. It came at a time in my life when I needed a fresh start and I will always be grateful to Ken for giving me this opportunity. I immediately found a home for my administrative gifting, organizing things and felt a fit providing a structure, an arbor of sorts, for our artists to flourish on. Over the next couple of years Ken, Steve Schroeder and Julie Reid continued to invite me in to more opportunities to discover my gifts and to grow. I was blessed during that time to travel with several teams to the Willow Creek Arts Conference in Chicago and began to find tools and a job description/title for a new role at Sunset that the Worship leadership team and Pastor Ron encouraged me to grow in to.
A couple of years in to ministry we were without a pastor and I was the sole staff person in the Worship ministry. I am forever indebted to the volunteer team that stepped up, surrounded me and led the ministry during that season; Jim Kimsey, Bryce Schroeder, Steve Masters and Wayne Moore, to name a few. At that same time Barbara Feil invited me to join a small group of women leaders from Sunset, who for a season met together to discuss our challenges and our successes. It was an awakening that the fire that burned in me to be involved, to resolve challenges with a bias for action was actually leadership gifting. And that to not lead, in spite of my self-doubt, would be less than what God intended for me… a switch flipped.
Soon after, Jay McKenney was hired and he and Julie led the ministry with a pastoral perspective which God is using to transform me. I am different now, as a result of their influence as genuine truth tellers who are committed to personal spiritual health and growth while maintaining a ruthless commitment to creating services where people have the space they need to respond to the Holy Spirit as we worship God together in community. That’s a mouthful and it is my life now.
When I am asked about Sunset I share that it has been a place where Pastor Ron and others have seen potential in me and challenged me to use my gifts while allowing me to learn and risk making mistakes. I often say I laugh every day here, cry many of them and make a different mistake every week. But these all happen on a team where we love well and build grace together so that we can give our best to glorify God.
I love Sunset. It is not the building or the Senior Pastor, it is the church, the people… each of you, who are generous with your time and talents and resources that make it what it is.
If you have ever wondered how I do what I do it is because of the God in me, the people who have shared this journey with me and in particular my Tuesday night dinner companions Julie Reid and Laura Padur who have sustained my sanity through many challenging seasons. Also, my beloved family, Michael, Chris, Molly and Abby who have selflessly allowed me to serve in this community. My family serves with me as a result of every evening I haven’t been home for dinner, ten December marathons, not sitting as a family in church and no Easter breakfast… among so many other things. If they hadn’t given so open handedly I could not have done the last ten years.
So, thank you so very much for serving with me the past ten years and for the generous gift. I will let you all know what I use it for.
See you in church, Janet