By Ed Thompson

I don’t remember being trained – or even told – to do this in seminary, but most of my sermons have three points. I don’t end with a poem, so I suppose I’m not exactly following the classical style of sermon construction; nevertheless, that’s what happens. Since it seems to be the way I think, I also want to make three points in this newsletter article, even though it’s not a sermon.

If you were paying attention to the reports at the November presbytery meeting, you would have discovered that Rocky Poole, our Financial Administrator/Treasurer, will be retiring at the end of February. (That’s next month!) There’s no need to feel ashamed or embarrassed if you didn’t catch that. We didn’t make a big deal about it at the time, perhaps because February still seemed like a long way off in November. Maybe we should have. Rocky certainly deserves it. He’s done and is doing a great job. He will be missed. I will certainly miss him. One of the downsides of selling the office building is that I don’t get to see Rocky, Maureen, and Amy every day.

I write not so much to celebrate Rocky – we will do that at the February presbytery meeting – but to bring his retirement to your attention. If you have questions or need some help figuring out the best way to track expenses or document income, you will need to contact Rocky over the next few weeks before he starts his retirement.

The plan is to hire a new Financial Administrator/Treasurer. A five-member search committee composed of members of the Administration Committee, Leadership Team, and Stewardship Committee is at work interviewing candidates for the position. We want and hope to be able to hire someone to start sometime in February so that they can work with Rocky and he can help orient them to the responsibilities, as well as the nuances, of the job. Since this position requires a vote of presbytery, we might elect someone at the February presbytery meeting, or we might need to have a called presbytery meeting to do that. Stay tuned.

I often use my first newsletter article of the year to talk about my goals. Certainly one of them is to help the new Financial Administrator/Treasurer be a part of the staff and understand who we are as a presbytery. In the business world, this is often referred to as “onboarding.” Fortunately, I don’t have to do this very often. It would certainly be easier if we still had the office, but I will do the best I can.

Another goal will be to worship with the 13 churches in the presbytery that I have not been able to get to yet. On January 1, I preached at Edgewood and Salem, so now I only have 11 churches to go. (This doesn’t include the Whittico Memorial or DuPont City churches, which haven’t been worshipping for some time but have not yet officially been closed.)

Another, more personal goal (one that I didn’t submit to the Administration Committee) is to read through John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion this year. The idea was sparked when I found a year-long guide to reading through the Institutes when I was going through my files when we were getting ready to sell the presbytery office. I think I had originally printed that out several years ago – maybe even as far back as 2009, which would have been the 450th anniversary of the publication of the last edition of the Institutes before Calvin’s death. While I may still have that copy somewhere, I couldn’t find it when I needed it, so I went online to find another reading guide file. It was published by the Chapel Library in Pensacola, Florida. It has you read 6-10 pages five days a week, which so far has been very doable. It almost makes me wish I had saved my notes from seminary, which was the last time (OK, the only time) I read the Institutes. I encourage you to join me in this challenge. We’re not that far along in the year, so it should be fairly easy to catch up.

My last point is that Rocky’s not the only staff member who will be retiring this year. I will turn 70 years old this summer, so I plan to retire at the end of July. It’s been a great ride. I have had fun. Or at least I have had some fun most days. But I think it’s also time to give someone else a chance. I suspect that the Leadership Team will call for the election of an Interim or Transitional General Presbyter search committee at the February presbytery meeting. My plan was to make an official announcement at that meeting, but making that announcement and then electing a search committee just seemed like too much of a surprise to deal with at the same time. You need more warning than that in order to have time to think things through.

The Leadership Team is working on finding a consultant to work with the presbytery to discern what we want to accomplish and what we want to focus on during the next few years. So stay tuned for more information about that as well.

I still have several months to go before I get off the bus, so if I can be helpful to you in any way until then, just let me know.