Tuesday, September 24, 2013

An Administrative Miracle - Eleanor Shepherd

When I agreed to become the pastor of our congregation, I knew there were going to be challenges to face.  The lease was expiring on the place where we had been housed since we sold our building five years ago.  I am not sure I realized what a complex process I was going to encounter. 

                For a year, our real estate agent had been searching for the right place for us.  We knew it was unlikely that we would find anything that would meet all of our criteria.  We tend to dream big.  However, we finally settled on a place that we felt would meet the greatest number of our wishes as the positives about it outweighed the negatives.  So we began the negotiations to purchase this property.

                I faced the complexities of business real estate transactions and the bureaucracy of being part of a hierarchical system where all important decisions are made at the national office that operates in a different language than the regional office and the city where I live.  As a result, I felt trapped in a morass of required forms and reports of various types often provided in the vocabulary of the construction industry.  Wow!  Talk about feeling out of your depth. 
                One redeeming feature of my situation was the team that gathered around me.  Members of the property relocation committee were led by the chief elder of the congregation.  This man had a lot of experience in working through property projects from his years in administration in our denomination.   This was a valuable asset.  In addition we had a close relationship with and support from the denominational leaders at both the regional and national level.  When I did not know the answer to a question, which happened frequently, there was someone I could ask, who if they did not know the answer could point me to the person who might know.  Nevertheless, the task seemed daunting. 

                On top of all of the stress created by wading into this administrative forest was the awareness that the lease terminated in nine months.  Before then,  we had to be able to finalize the purchase of a building, hire the architects to redesign the interior, communicate to them the programs that would operate in the building, oversee the construction project, prepare for the move deciding what we would take and what we no longer need and making the move.  There was no time to waste. 

                This was the situation when the team from the congregation and the regional directors met for a teleconference with the national office to try and assess where we were in the process and how quickly we could proceed with the necessary approvals so that we could move ahead with the purchase and renovation of the new facilities.  At this meeting, it seemed like one barrier after another was uncovered.  The estimation was that it would be impossible to have clearance on this before the beginning of October.  That meant only eight months would remain before move day.  To have a construction project completed in that time frame would take a miracle. 

                Well, we got a miracle, but it was not that one.  At the end of our meeting, I prayed what is probably the most honest and least polished prayer that I have ever offered publicly.  I told the Lord that we were feeling totally frustrated by our inability to accomplish what we needed to do in order to move forward with this.  We would have to place everything in His hands, and while we would do our best to move things forward we had to depend on Him to make things happen. 

                The meeting took place early in August and during the next couple of weeks we saw amazing things happen.  The forms and requirements were completed.  The contacts were made and everything was ready for presentation to the national board for approval on August 21st.  To us this was a miracle and a sign that what we were doing was truly being divinely guided.  It was the assurance that I needed so I have the courage to move forward in these unknown waters to accomplish all that needs to be done.

                Of course, some might credit this to coincidence or chance.  However, I choose to believe that God is involved and hears and responds to honest prayers.     
Word Guild Award


Word Guild Award


1 comment:

Peter Black said...

Diligent, concerted effort and united hearts, on your part and your congregation, with steadfast trust in God . . . these won out in the end.
A wonderful story, Eleanor, revealing both The Good Shepherd's and a true under-Shepherd's heart (the pun, while unintended, is gloriously convenient!). This congregational journey required the steady hand of wise and experienced leadership, and it was there. ~~+~~

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