Staff Appreciation

During this month of high summer, I want to give thanks for our Emerson staff who do so much to keep the church flowing smoothly. Our “chief of staff”, interim minister the Reverend Michelle LaGrave (pictured here with her trusty service dog Bella and past president Martin Estill) is entering her third and final year with us. Through her sermons, board involvement, and small group meetings, she has been preparing us to search for and find our next settled minister, while also attending to the wellbeing of the staff and members and overseeing the overall operation of the church. Mark Sept. 18th on your calendars for the next workshop in our journey together in finding a settled minister.

The ministry of the church is a shared one, with our Director of Religious Education, Katy Carpman, offering her talents in so many ways. Certified and qualified, she brings to bear her expertise in our common faith in creative ways for young and old alike. And her institutional knowledge of all things Emerson is unparalleled. Katy has been in this role since 2011 and in recent years I have worked side by side on campus green-up days, been introduced to wonderfully thoughtful sermons and stories for all ages, been enabled to have fun while teaching our young people, and during COVID, learned from her all kinds of tech stuff I know is not in her job description. Reach out to Katy if you want to help with educating future Emersonians.

Emerson would not be able to open its doors were it not for our Business Administrator, Karen Van Horn. Since 2005, she has taken on all the day-to-day tasks that we can so easily take for granted: making sure the campus is operational (think elevator, plumbing, lighting, HVAC, grounds maintenance, etc.); addressing the needs of our tenant, Tanglewood Academy; doing all the bookkeeping, including payroll, pledges, and bills; managing our independent contractors; and like Katy, her breadth of knowledge about Emerson is vast. I know she is very appreciative of the dedicated volunteers that help with a myriad of tasks. If you have time, there is always room for more volunteers!

Nothing in life is constant except change. On August 5 we will be losing our wonderful Office Administrator for Communications, Alejandra Gonzalez. She has a great, career-changing opportunity. We are excited for her – but she will be missed. Over the last six years, not only has she been the welcoming smile greeting me when I enter the offices, she has creatively touched all parts of our communication to our members and the community beyond Emerson. Whether it be the E-blast, the newly built out website, social media, the lively announcement reel and the slides each Sunday, or the marketing around the successful Kilgore Lecture – Ale’s creative and talented touch is felt. Your patience is appreciated as the Board and staff deliberate on how best to fill her shoes.

A couple years back, when we were undergoing the discernment process, one of the strong wishes was for a membership coordinator. We are grateful that wish has been fulfilled with the hiring this past year of Audrey Gale Hall. Her good spirit and empathy are tangible as she embodies our mission of welcoming all into our beloved community.

We have successfully made transitions before, as evidenced in our talented music director, Julia Morsher, who has now been with us a year. In this part-time position, she lends us her beautiful voice and her good direction to the choir and the newly instituted “pit band”. Together with our amazing and talented pianist Hui Shan Chin, they bring joy and beauty to our Sunday services. New voices and instruments are aways welcome!

Our post-pandemic multi-platform services would not be complete and accessible to all without our AV team, now overseen by our new Sunday Worship Tech coordinator, Angel Rose Schroder. Their gentle guidance and collaborative spirit make it easy to learn and participate in the technical side of worshiping at Emerson.

We are blessed indeed by and so grateful for our amazing staff.