I have wanted to post so many times in the past couple of weeks, but have been prevented by traveling, a visit from family and, mostly, fatigue. Also, I am just overwhelmed (mostly in a good way) by all that has happened and all that is ahead of me and my family.
But, I did promise....
That Tuesday afternoon, October 14, I was to preparing myself to meet the committee for dinner and some conversation. It was the second "date" and I had an inkling that an offer was forthcoming because certain people had dropped some pretty big hints. In thinking about it all, my heart began to beat fast and my breathing became shallow. I guess this may be what a panic attack feels like? I don't know...
Anyway, old "tapes" began to play in my head. I particularly heard the voice of my Head of Staff in my first call who had said things like, "Iris, you present well, but you don't wear well," and "I really wanted a colleague, but Iris needed a boss." I hadn't thought of these comments in quite some time, but there they were. Right when I was on the cusp of perhaps being offered the call I had been hoping and praying for, I was racked by self-doubt. Thank God for my pastor girlfriend here in my area and my beloved former colleague (with whom I worked after I left my first call who told me I wore very well, thank you very much.) They each gave me the needed pep talk, prayed with me and I was able to calm down enough to prepare my mind and heart and my hair, make-up and clothing for the interview.
The site for the interview was changed at the last minute because the committee member whose home we were going to be was ill. So, it ended up being held at another church in town, which was fine with me, as it was only 5 minutes from my house. We ate pasta and the best cookies I have ever eaten in my life. Seriously.
Then, we got to business. They had some prepared questions, which I noticed were very nuts and bolts, nitty-gritty kinds of questions, such as "What would your office hours be?" and "What day would you like to have as your day off?" This part didn't really last very long at all, maybe 15 minutes, when the committee chair turned to me and said, "Would you mind leaving us for a few minutes?" I had to pee really bad, so I didn't mind. Although, I was a quite curious as to what was happening. Well, they didn't have much to talk about apparently because the chair was waiting for me in the hallway outside of the bathroom with a big smile on her face. She whispered to me, "I am so happy!" (This is the same woman who over a year ago asked me, "You're going to apply, right?")
We walked back into the room and the whole committee was all grins as the chair said, "It is unanimous, we would like to extend the call to you to be our pastor." I told them that I was happy to accept and they all cheered! Comments started flying: "Wow, this is quite a process," and "This is such a good match, I can feel it," and (from one of the youth members), "You were my favorite from the beginning." It was exhilarating and humbling, all at the same time. They went on to say that I had had a "higher hill to climb" than the other candidates they considered because they wanted to make very sure that this was truly God's call and that they weren't just taking the easy route by calling the hometown girl. I would say that they and I both had cast rather wide nets in the last year in considering God's call, and I feel very good about that.
After the gushing was over, another of the committee members handed me a piece of paper with their offer for terms of call, otherwise known as the salary package. Friends, it exceeded my expectations. Wow, just wow.
This is not a done deal yet. I preach for the congregation on November 9 and then they get the opportunity to vote on whether or not I will, indeed, be their pastor. I am struggling with what I will preach. The lectionary passages are full of the "end times" that week and I need more of a "new beginnings" kind of message, I think! Any suggestions?
Thanks all, for your kind words of encouragement through all of this. I'll try not to let 2 weeks pass between postings again!