Celebrating a total of 823 years of denominational service


Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) staff say goodbye and thank you to 44 colleagues

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — Nearly 200 Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) national staff and friends gathered online Wednesday for a brief worship service designed to say thank you and Godspeed to the 44 employees who have agreed to accept voluntary separation.

Five employees worked for the Administrative Services Group. Eight were employees of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, and eight others worked for the Office of the General Assembly. Twenty-three were mission co-workers.

“Thank you to all who have served this beloved church. You will be missed!” said the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. “Your service made a difference! Blessings.”

“Thank you for all that you have given to the glory of God on behalf of the PC(USA),” said the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA), adding these words during his benediction: “God of steadfastness and transition, God of strength and power, God who never forgets your children, who reminds us we are in the clutches and the hands of One who never lets us go … may we be reminded that the peace, presence and power of God that surpasses all understanding guides us every day.”

“It has been a privilege to serve alongside you all these years,” said the Rev. Dr. Ray Jones, III, director of Theology, Formation & Evangelism. “I am grateful for you and our partnership in the gospel. May you always know God’s deep abiding love for you.”

“Thank you for all your faithful service,” said Sara Lisherness, director of Compassion, Peace & Justice and the interim director of World Mission. “It has been a humble honor to serve alongside you!”

“Thank you all for using your talents to further the mission of Jesus Christ,” said Jim Rissler, president and CEO of the Presbyterian Investment & Loan Program. “Blessings with each of you as you move in new directions and into new adventures.”

Kathy Lueckert is president of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corporation.

Kathy Lueckert, president of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corporation, used Psalm 121, which speaks of God as the keeper of both our going out and our coming in, as the scriptural basis for her homily.

“We lament because of COVID we cannot mark this significant going out with a proper celebration — a thank you, a reminiscence, a hug,” Lueckert said. “This going out doesn’t feel complete or right. But we rejoice that for them this means a coming in to a new season, to focus on what is important in life and to do so on your own schedule — a coming in that doesn’t involve Zoom!”

“Most of all we are confident God will continue to keep watch on all your goings out and comings in, and on your very life,” she said. “We love you and we will miss you. Godspeed.”

In her prayer, Moffett thanked God for “these siblings who have labored in this church, for their friendship and camaraderie, for the lives they have touched and the places they have changed, for all they have done that was good and pleasing and beautiful, and for your grace that covered them and us in times of trial. Help us to re-present you to Jesus, so another generation will rise up and call you blessed.”

A list of the 44 PC(USA) employees who accepted to voluntary separation (two are not listed because they asked not to be):

Administrative Services Group — Thyriss Coleman, 20 years of service; Jeff Dorris, 29 years; Edgar Jones, 22 years; Terry Leiner, 34 years; Karen Oliver, 31 years.

Presbyterian Mission Agency — Debbie Braaksma, 16 years of service; Peggy Dahmer, 12 years; Teresa Grant, 27 years; Beth Snyder, 19 years; Brenda Stoney, 32 years; Paula Tibbs, 6 years; Anne Walker, 4 years; Valerie Way, 7 years.

Office of the General Assembly — William Brock, 20 years of service; Cora Brown, 22 years; Diane Minter, 20 years; Bobbie Montgomery, 28 years; Kim Shiley, 3 years; Terri Stephenson, 30 years; Margo Szabunia, 20 years; Norma Thieman, 5 years.

Mission co-workers — Ruth Brown, 9 years of service; Sharon Bryant, 9 years; Christine Ruth Goodman Callison, 33 years; Gregory Callison, 24 years; David Cortes-Fuentes, 5 years; Mary Catherine Day, 11 years; David Gartrell, 26 years; Dorothy Gartrell, 26 years; Jo Ella Holman, 23 years; Charles Johnson, 5 years; Lynn Kandel, 6 years; Burkhard Paetzold, 22 years; Maribel Perez De Smith, 31 years; Josefina Saez Acevedo, 5 years; Alan Smith, 19 years; Dennis Smith, 43 years; Gary Van Brocklin, 7 years; Marlene Van Brocklin, 7 years; Esther Wakeman, 33 years; Debbie Welch, 7 years, Richard Welch, 7 years.

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