New and unexpected things…

 The church I currently serve on a part time basis is in Yellow Springs, Ohio. It has been a great experience. It has been incredibly healing, particularly as I continue to wrestle with the feelings of failure that I wrote about here. I have felt reaffirmed in my call in some very significant ways. Despite also being an aging congregation, I have felt a sense of being in a place where I fit. Of course, all of this time I have been serving on a month-to-month basis and hoping to find a full time call even while serving part time in a church that felt like a great fit. I had some great opportunities presented to me and I assumed we would have to say goodbye to the folks at First Pres. Yellow Springs by the end of the year. 

About a month ago I got a call out of nowhere from the president of Antioch College in Yellow Springs. We have some common connections from Pittsburgh, plus some members of the church had been talking to him about me. Long story short, I left his office a month ago with the beginnings of a job offer and today I turned in the paper work to make my hire official. 

So what will I be doing? I will be the director of the Coretta Scott King Center. The wife of my hero went to Antioch for a season. She and her sister were among the first African Americans to integrate an all white school. Much of what I will be trying to do is honor her legacy. To put a finer point on it, here is some of the language from my job description: 

The Director of the Coretta Scott King Center will provide the intellectual and administrative leadership required to creatively place cultural diversity and intellectual freedom at the core of Antioch College’s future.  Responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following duties:

 Responsibilities

  • Honor the legacy of Coretta Scott King by working with others at Antioch College to create a long-term vision for the CSK Center.
  • Provide overall leadership for strategic, program planning and implementation in the CSK Center.
  • Lead and contribute to campus programs and initiatives that support cultural and intellectual freedom, including lectures, presentations, concerts, plays, and other events.
  • Build bridges and create partnerships that support student and faculty involvement in experiential education indicatives in the areas of social justice and community building (i.e., embedded or field education programs nationally or abroad, co-op opportunities, etc). 
  • Work in support of diversity initiatives and faculty, staff, and student skills development in multicultural competence.
  • Support students at Antioch in their path to graduation, including the development of an interfaith chaplaincy program.
  • Promote an understanding of the supports and systems that are most effective in helping students succeed at Antioch and in higher education. 
  • Work with campus community members to create programming that supports and empowers the appreciation and celebration of human diversity on campus through collaborative efforts with high schools and community organizations, with special emphasis on communities in the Dayton/Miami Valley area

In other words, it’s a big job! And I will have a clean slate to make it what I think it should be. And I will continue to be able to serve my little church and help it to become what God wants it to be without my salary being a financial burden for them. And I won’t have to uproot my family right after the birth of my daughter 22 days from today (yikes!!!) And… maybe most important… I will be able to honor that my wife has given the last 10 years of her life to the often thankless profession of social work and has to continually interrupt her career because of mine. She won’t have to do that again for awhile. 

So that’s it… I am back to tentmaking. Not how I imagined things, but I think I will be fulfilled and challenged in a lot of great ways. Things have rarely ever turned out the way I have expected them to. Perhaps it is time for me to just sit back and be thankful for new and unexpected things…