‘Miss Debbi’ says ‘good-bye’

On Jan. 4, 2015, Debbi Rodahaffer retired after 18 years as our Director of Christian Education.

Debbi Rodahaffer writes,

DebbiRHow do I begin to thank the People of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church for the honor and privilege of serving as your Christian Education Director for the past eighteen years?

First, I would like to thank God, who must have “whispered into the hearts” of the group who thought I might be good at this, and the Rev. Richard H. Humke who hired me. I would like to thank my predecessor, Linda Broecker, who remains my mentor to this day. I could not, nor would I have wanted to accept this ministry without her careful, loving and patient guidance. I would like to thank the devoted staff and clergy members with whom I have had the great pleasure of sharing ministry. I want to thank the Cooks & Bottlewashers and all who create incredible hospitality at St. Matthew’s. It is the best! Thank you to our receptionists. My weekdays began better because I was greeted by you.

I am grateful for the Adult Education team. You allowed me to administer amazing education for adults! St. Matthew’s has a long history of great education and the leaders of each class give 110% and were gracious when I moved or cancelled classes (Oh, what happens behind the scenes). I want to thank our librarians who have worked so closely with me to create wonder through books and storytelling for children. I want to thank the chaplains and musicians who lead our two exceptional instructed chapels for children. They take ministry with and for children seriously by making it relevant for children. My thanks and gratitude for the caregiver staff. They arrive early on Sundays to care for children in our nursery and activity rooms. They have loving hearts and are the constant, smiling faces who first greet many of our new families. They are hidden treasures.

'Debbi's Favorite Authors'  Painting by Lauren Becker CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE ABOUT THIS PAINTING

‘Debbi’s Favorite Stories’
Painting by Lauren Becker

Many thanks to the members of the Children’s Program Committee who have brought such energy and out of the box thinking to create an amazing community of faith-full and faith-filled families. Parents In Conversation, Pancakes in Pajamas, 4th & 5th Grade lock-ins, The Bridge worship, Women In Conversation, Family Fun Days all began with this group. When chair, Elea Fox, vice-chair, Marie Griffin, Anne Farra, Sunday Morning Children’s Program Coordinator, or any of the committee members ask for your ministry, I hope you will say “Yes!”. You will be happy you did!

I am beyond grateful to the Jessie Barker McKellar Foundation, because it provided the funding for much of what happened for the Children’s Program at St. Matthew’s over the past eighteen years.

I am thankful for the Very Rev. Lucinda R. Laird, with whom I worked and worked for over the majority of my ministry at St. Matthew’s. I learned so much from her and, I think, she learned a little from me. I am thankful for the Vestry and Search Committee who brought us the Rev. Kelly Kirby.

I have worked with and for Kelly long enough to know that she is the “real deal”. She is pastoral and spiritual. She loves children in worship and outside of worship. Kelly will always have the best interest of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church at heart. I tell everyone that I am so happy to be retiring from parish ministry now because I look forward to Kelly being my priest rather than my boss. She is wise! Thanks are not enough for the teachers who have taught and teach our children.

Their gifts are ENORMOUS. They know how to engage children and over the years, as have I, realize that we learn so much more from children and youth in how to live and love as God, than we could ever teach them. I would like to thank so many in our diocese, Province IV, and the wider Episcopal Church, who have helped me grow in ways I would have never dreamed possible eighteen years ago. My own family, Richard, Nina, Chris, Lyndi and my extended family … … thank you from the bottom of my heart for being so excited for me when I first talked with you about taking this position at church and for loving me … when because of it, our holidays worked around those of my church family and your events sometimes took a back seat to my work. I love you more than words could convey!

And, finally and especially, to the children and youth of St. Matthew’s … as my own children, each of you has brought my life joy because by your very being as children of God, you bring joy to the world. Love and respect the next director of education as you have loved and respected me and all people and the new DCE in turn will love and respect each of you as I do!

Thank you, St. Matthew’s people, for this beautiful gift of ministry. On January 4th, I will lock the door that will soon be someone else’s office, turn in my key and be away for one year. I love you, St. Matthew’s, and I will see you in the pews in 2016!

May you always know joy,

Debbi Rodahaffer

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