A new year is starting in churchland. The preschool classes are starting up again, the fall classes and activities are getting back into gear, the Wednesday night suppers will begin in a couple of weeks, students are signing up for the music lessons. And a whole new crop of people are rotating into the stewardship committee—the church equivalent to a board of a directors.
Both the people who oversee me are being replaced. Our new finance officer is the sort who jumps in and takes charge. She’s got a copy of the financial reports from the last stewardship meeting, and she e-mailed me a long list of questions about them. I spent last week, off and on, researching answers to those questions—I only started a month or so ago myself, so I’m still learning what went on before I got here. Many of them I had to ask Cricket about.
I didn’t mind it a bit; part of my job is, after all, explaining the financial reports. And answering all her questions gave me a better understanding of how everything was set up. Before I left Friday I e-mailed her with responses to all her questions. I expected I would hear about several of them again; they involve budget overruns that are going to merit some investigation.
And I did; Monday morning I got another e-mail from her, asking if she could come by on Thursday so we could go through the bills and insurance policies together. This time she copied the office manager, the associate pastor, and the new church treasurer on the e-mail.
Well. I’ve got nothing to hide in my office (other than confidential information about staff and church members), and normally I’d just remind her that I can’t stay past 1:00 on Thursdays because I have a class at two. But as I mentioned before, the new year is starting in churchland, and this week we’re swamped in the office. All those classes and programs and events require registration and records and bookkeeping of their various fees and tuitions. The end of the month brings its own set of tasks that must be attended to, including the newsletter that typically takes us a day or two to put together.
I didn’t have to say anything, though, because the next e-mail in my box was from the church treasurer. His opinion was that they should look over the questions and my answers at the next committee meeting, and put their heads together as a group before we start digging through the old bills.
After that I just sat back and watched the e-mails go by. There were only a couple more exchanges, and nobody got shrill or testy, but she was unmistakably frustrated at being balked in this manner. The last one I saw yesterday was from the treasurer, saying we had enough to do in the office and repeating his stance that further investigation could wait until the next committee meeting.
Today the office manager and I got another e-mail, just a brief, polite note that she wanted to make sure it was still okay to come by on Thursday. I observed that she did not copy the associate pastor or the treasurer this time.
Finally I got into the discussion again. I told her this week really won’t be good for the kind of intensive research we’ll need to do (particularly if she wants to go over the insurance policies), because of the aforementioned swampitude. I pointed out that we’re going to have to consult Cricket, and Cricket will be charging for her time, so we want to make the most of it and not try to do this when we’re distracted by other issues. And I offered to scan in the bills for some of the items in question so I could e-mail them to anyone who wanted to pore over them in detail. I also reinstated the associate pastor and the treasurer to the recipient list.
About an hour later the new treasurer phoned. “That was a good response!” he exclaimed.
“Wasn’t that diplomatic?” I replied. “I put a lot of thought into that one.”
We chatted a bit, he asked if I could send him a couple of reports, and we hung up.
It will be interesting to see what’s in my inbox tomorrow. I’m just way more entertained by this whole thing than I should be; I can’t wait to meet this lady.
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