by M. Jolaine Szymkowiak

Transition. . . Transition . . . Transition
M. Jolaine Szymkowiak, MA-EM

I, a church secretary, was hired during one transition period just to enter into another transition period, and now to enter yet another transition period. Hired by the Senior Warden and the Interim Priest for an Episcopal church, I entered a work place that had already been in the Search Process for a priest for a couple of years. Then just less than a year into my employment, the Interim Priest left having served two years, and the church went to a Supply Priest status for another eight to nine months. This meant no priest on hand on a day-to-day basis; instead a priest was called to do Sunday Services with no one priest in this standby position. The Senior Warden and the church secretary took on the responsibilities of running the church.

During the next nine months, my responsibility seemed greater than usual; it was the Senior Warden and the secretary who kept things going. Weekly programs stopped or slowed down to a degree without the presence of clergy, but bulletins, newsletters, visitor's letters, meeting notices, and routine office responsibilities still needed to be accomplished.

As secretary, usually the first person of contact for the parish, I now became the only contact during the week, with the added responsibility to keep the Senior Warden apprised of what was going on within the parish.

I found to my detriment that the danger to the secretary (at least to me) is the added problem of assuming control not only of the office but through minimal contact with a priest may assume, along with the Senior Warden, control of the church. At that point, I had to remember that I was just an employee, not of the parish, but the employee of the Senior Warden, the head of the governing body of the church. That aspect of the position was hard when the day-to-day responsibilities spoke the need for control loud and clear. The Senior Warden must take on that area of res ...

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