An important letter from Cedars Board of Trustees and Co-ministers

An important letter from Cedars Board of Trustees and Co-ministers

This year our beloved co-ministers Barbara and Jaco have been facing a significant life challenge as Jaco’s father entered hospice and continues to decline.  During this time we as a Board have been continually impressed with the way our community has stepped up as a support system for our ministers. We also deeply appreciate how Barbara and Jaco have stretched themselves as well, with Barbara becoming our full-time minister at home and Jaco continuing all the work he is able to do remotely. But now it is time for us to allow Barbara and Jaco the time they need to be fully present as a family. To that end, our co-ministers have officially requested one month of their allowed three months of paid Family Leave, as stipulated in the Letter of Agreement that was signed when they became our settled ministers 8 years ago. Both the board and the ministers are grateful to previous church leadership for their thoughtfulness in including this provision.  And the Board of Trustees fully supports the ministers in taking this time away.

The Board is committed to keeping you apprised of this situation as it continues to unfold. And we are so grateful to this community for your compassion and kindness during this difficult time.  Many thanks to the worship associates, the pastoral care team, our staff and other volunteers who are working so diligently to keep things running in our ministers absence from Cedars.

Please find below a letter from the ministers, giving more detail and insight into the complexity of their current situation.

Yours,

Cedars Board of Trustees: Jessica Star Rockers, Nancy Philip, Scot Hedrick, Bob Meredith, Dean Sampson and Steve Johnson

 

From Barbara and Jaco:

Dear Cedars Members and Friends,

As many of you know, Jaco’s 97-year-old father Jacob in So. California was put on hospice early in February, needing 24/7 care. He has been living alone in his own home for the past four years (with a nearby caregiver helping out). But rather than place him in an unfamiliar facility surrounded by strangers, Jaco, as the only offspring left, went down there immediately to pick up that new round-the-clock duty. (Jaco is also executor of his estate.)

The doctor who put “Big Jake” on hospice said his heart disease was very advanced. Six weeks later he is still with us, though failing more each day. His body is indeed giving out but his spirit and will are strong.

Over the course of this journey, we have tried to manage our ministerial life at Cedars along with this increasingly difficult personal situation. From SoCal, Jaco has attended meetings via phone and Skype, made pastoral phone calls, kept up with the staff and done all the orders of service, including extra ones for memorial services honoring Marvin Evans and Bob Campbell. Barbara has stayed home (with the exception of two weeks) organizing services (with enormous help from our extraordinary Worship Associates), going to meetings, visiting folks and just generally keeping things going, plus managing our house without her spouse.

We initially felt this was the best way to go, as we were led to believe Jaco’s dad would die in the near term. However, what we thought would be a sprint has turned into a marathon. We have used up all of our Annual Leave for this fiscal year (which ends June 30, 2016) and we are both rather exhausted, mentally and physically. We humbly admit that we can no longer handle both realms, church and family.

So, we have asked the Cedars Board for a portion of the three-month Family Leave option that is part of our Letter of Agreement, and they have kindly agreed. This will be a bit different than usual, though. Over the past seven and a half years during our regular Annual Leaves we have answered email, planned ahead, produced orders of service, and done other pieces of work for the church while “off.”

But a month of Family Leave (basically April) will have us disconnect more completely so we can focus on the demands of this sad process together, rather than being apart even longer with energies spread thin between work and family. The month is scheduled to begin Monday, March 28, and end on April 27.

Through Easter Sunday (March 27) we will work with church leaders to ensure that all April Sunday services are well arranged and that other programs or activities we are connected to will be well covered or postponed, as needed. Given the nature of this situation, we’re not sure when we’ll make it back to Winslow, but we are certainly eager to return to some degree of normalcy, so it won’t be any longer than necessary. The Board’s Executive Committee will know how to contact us in any emergency that might require our attention.

We know this could be hard on folks, but we also know that you are a strong, creative and dedicated congregation (with a good track record of thriving during our 2013 sabbatical absence). In a vibrant, interdependent community like Cedars, these kinds of experiences remind us again of how important it is to care for one another during challenging chapters. For the most part, we have felt loved and supported during this difficult time and we thank you for your care and concern.

All the best, Barbara & Jaco ten Hove, co-ministers