Dear Hope Family,
During the Life Together portion of our service last week I communicated the news that Linda Merchant, our faithful bookkeeper, has decided to retire from her service at Hope. I am sharing a note below that I passed along to our staff once I was free to share Linda’s news:
It is with great sadness that I need to announce to you that Linda Merchant has decided to retire from her role as our bookkeeper. It is, indeed, sad for me and for us, yet at the same time, overwhelming gratitude mixes in with my sadness.
Linda has served tirelessly, selflessly, and with excellence. She has blessed our staff not only with top-notch work but also with a warm, thoughtful, and encouraging manner that we have all experienced in the celebration of birthdays to the countless cards to the sincere interest and genuine care.
Linda stepped into our staff team at an extremely vulnerable time for our staff and congregation, and she has brought stability, health, structure, consistency, integrity, and trust to our stewardship of finances.
I want to make absolutely clear that this transition for Linda is not because of any shadow of wrong-doing or lack of performance. Quite to the contrary, I would love for Linda to stay on as long as she can and desires to! However, increased demands at home and Linda’s firm belief that Hope needs, in her words, “someone who can come on and adapt to new methods and technologies and get the job done with much more ease than I currently have at my disposal” are driving her decision. Linda knows that I do not necessarily agree with that assessment, but we need to honor her request and pray that God will provide someone with all the integrity, consistency, warmth, trust, and ability that Linda has brought to our team.
Linda has agreed to stay on through the budget cycle as a consultant for that process, and we are hopeful to have someone in place by November 8th to take over the operational accounting tasks that Linda has overseen so faithfully over these years of being on staff at Hope.
The encouraging news is that God has answered our prayers for someone with all the gifts that Linda brought to our team! I am thrilled to announce that Susan Stewart has been trained by Linda and is taking over the bookkeeping responsibilities. Susan comes to us with over 30 years of accounting and administrative experience, and she has already blended nicely into our staff team at Hope. In her own words, Susan concludes, “My bio is delightfully dull. Jack and I’ve been married for 46 years. We have 2 kids and 2 grandkids. I enjoy reading, cooking, gardening and doing some volunteer work.” I can fill in some of the gaps for you: she is an avid Ohio State Buckeyes fan. She volunteers with Meals on Wheels on Wednesdays and her grandchildren’s schools on Tuesdays. She has a delightful sense of humor!
Please thank God for his kindness in bringing such quality folks into our community to guide some of the most delicate and pressing tasks. He is so faithful and gracious to us in these provisions and countless others besides.
Grace and peace,