Five Years Times Two

In the next couple of weeks, we have the great privilege of marking 5-year anniversaries for two of our staff members—Ellen Looper and Zach Derr.  Even though I came on board at the church after both of them, it still feels like we shouldn’t be at the 5-year mark; surely that much time has not passed already!

On Sunday, July 30, we will recognize Ellen Looper’s incredible ministry among us as our Children’s Minister.  She joined the staff in an interim role and the personnel committee quickly realized that she should be asked to remain on staff in a more permanent position because of the amazingly gifted minister that she is.  Ellen guided our children’s ministry through that time of initial transition, she cared for our children through the pandemic, she helped us find our footing again once the pandemic waned, and she has brought a stabilizing wisdom to our staff team and church as a whole.  I have been blessed by her ministry, her care, and her friendship, and I know all of us could say the same.

In addition to marking Ellen’s 5-year anniversary, we will also recognize and give thanks for her ministry as she steps out of her role as our part-time Children’s Minister.  She has overlapped with Matt, our new, full-time Minister to Children and Families for the last few weeks in order to assist with camps already in progress and to help Matt launch into the position well.  It is bittersweet transition.  I know that all of us on staff are excited about the opportunities that Matt’s full-time role will bring and, at the same time, we are sad that we will not get to work directly with our colleague and friend, Ellen, in the ways we have these past five years.  I imagine many of you feel the same way.  So we give thanks for Ellen, for her ministry, and for the gift she will continue to be to all of us as a fellow member of our church family.  I hope you will make plans to be present as we recognize Ellen with a reception following worship this Sunday, July 30.

Then, on Sunday, August 6, we will recognize Zach Derr’s wonderful ministry among us as our Director of Music, Worship, and Media.  Zach joined our staff in a part-time role while he continued his good work as a Middle School Band Director.  Similar to Ellen, the personnel committee recognized the gifts of and calling to ministry that was evident in Zach’s life and service and subsequently invited him to take on a full-time roll.  We are all better for the fact that he said yes to that invitation and has continued to say yes to his calling to ministry by diving into an online Master of Divinity program with McAfee School of Theology while continuing his full-time duties here at the church.  In addition to all the leadership you see Zach give to our choir, music, and worship at church, he also oversees our website, livestream, church app, and communication efforts and produces our Rooted and Grounded podcast.  While we all adapted during the pandemic, Zach’s role may have changed the most.  Yet, his heart of service remained steadfast through it all.  We are a better church for his ministry and presence among us.

Grace and Peace,John Carroll