Dear Old South Church,
As you know, our good friend and companion, our sister in faith, our steadfast Administrator Extraordinaire Helen McCrady will be stepping into her richly-deserved retirement at the end of next month after 23 years of service to Old South that has been nothing short of transformative. Though we might have hoped the days between now and May 31 would creep by, the time has now come to marshal our communal energies for this poignant leave-taking.
Sunday, May 21 has been designated as Helen Celebration Day - and we hope very much that you'll plan to be with us at church (in person if you can) to join in the tributes and accolades, the prayers and blessings, the laughter and tears and gratitude with which we'll mark this milestone in Helen's life, and in the story of Old South. There will be commissionings in both First (9 a.m.) and Festival Worship (11 a.m.), and a festive celebration at the Fellowship Hour following the Festival service (beginning at about Noon). A group led by Candace Kosturko has been hatching plans that will include music, photographs, tributes, and blessings. Don't miss it!
In addition to saving the date of May 21, two pieces of our Helen Celebration bear your attention now.
First: in keeping with Old South tradition, as our gift to honor Helen's service we are gathering a purse to enable her and John to celebrate retirement in style (and at their discretion!). I need hardly add that, in this case, keeping this tradition is a tad more complicated than usual because for two decades it's been Helen herself who has marshaled such collections! This time, she's agreed to let a few of us step in to "screen" incoming contributions so that we can keep donations to the purse anonymous. If you prefer electronic donation, go to oldsouth.org/donate and make your gift for Helen. Or you can simply write a good old-fashioned check with "Helen's retirement" on the memo line (made out to Old South) and mail it to the church (attention: Alex Pickering) or drop it in the offering plate on Sunday. Alex, our Administrative Assistant, will be screening the mail so that checks for the purse are carefully put aside before Helen digs into the mail. Gifts can be made any time between now and May 21 - but it may take a little extra time to process them since it won't be done by The Pro! (Gifts will be accounted so as to ensure tax deductibility for contributors.)
Second: Candace and company, Christine del Favero, Karen Hand, Kathy Wade, Ralph Watson and Stephanie LaShoto-Westfield, have created a special vessel for tributes, remembrances, well-wishes on a very user-friendly website called KUDOBOARD. You can add photos (and video!), tributes and memories at will, any time between now and Helen Celebration Day. Though Helen is aware of this in-gathering of well-wishes and kudos, she won't be monitoring this site - so whatever you post won't be unveiled for her until May 21. The plan is to make all the kudos into a book and a slide show, so the more the better! Use this QR Code if you prefer:
I did the math: Helen's extraordinary service spans a swath of the storied history of this church that amounts to more than 6% of its total history! That's longer than 11 of our 20 Senior Ministers! I think if you could take a picture of Old South's history from outer space, it would be visible! Let's all mobilize our gratitude and mark this passage, in her life and ours, with prayerful and rowdy joy!