We were not surprised by the congregations’ desire for a dedicated Outreach staff position as articulated clearly in our discernment process.
We are incredibly thankful for the faithful work of our interns — Dory, Chris, Zeb and Reena, Billi, Kayla and Tim — the recent ones, who have served since I have been at Old First. Without them — as is also the same with all of you, our other volunteers — we could not have accomplished all we have.
But Outreach internship has been mostly a year stint, and sometimes shorter. With so much turnover, the learning curves have been impossibly steep, and too many relationships have been cut short. That has meant too much time and energy — from other limited church staff and our Outreach Standing Leadership Team (the lay leaders of our church who oversee our outreach ministries) — has gone into training and mentoring. We need to be able to concentrate more on our outreach efforts and our relationships with both the people we serve and those who volunteer alongside of us.
We also hope a longer-term staff position will provide leadership for our Capital Campaign effort to take our outreach ministries to the next level and in new directions.
For too long, our limited resources always precluded creating a new staff position. Until now. In a bit of “manna from heaven” experience, we have identified the financing to create a new, half-time position for an Outreach Minister.
I am deliberately referring to this position as my colleague… as our Outreach Minister. It’s a new and different position from the previous internships. We went looking for someone to take up the job with a deep sense of calling for doing ministry.
But I also use the term informally, as I would refer to “the ministry of all believers.” Old First has not called a second pastor! And we are not requiring this staff person to hold ordained, ministerial standing. But we are looking for an on-going member of our team who will serve at the high standards — and keep us to the high standards — that ministry connotes.
New in that position, we are excited to introduce you to John Bergen.
John brings experience in organizing, logistics, volunteer coordination, and a love of engaging with people from diverse backgrounds. He has built relationships with local community members and diverse community organizations in Ohio, Texas and Illinois, as well as Iraq and Palestine. He is committed to supporting a range of volunteer and ministries, and helping us ask how transformation can come of them. We are confident he will be a great help to Old First’s outreach efforts.
In some sort of when multiplication of resources that only God’s grace can do, we also have engaged an onsite Program Assistant, who comes to us with great urban service and volunteer experience, after two years in Germantown and North Philly with the Episcopal Service Corps. John Owens provides this introduction in his own words.
(The potential confusions of two Johns, is getting worked out with the nicknames Big John = John O. and Little John = John B. You probably won’t remember until you meet them both!)
Friends, we share this good news, because your volunteer service is invaluable and we mean to support you in your service, as together we try to live out Jesus’ teaching that, “what you do unto the least of these, you do unto me.”