This Sunday, I hope you will be in church. I hope you are in church every Sunday, but the reality is we are all extremely busy people with busy lives and being in church every Sunday just isn’t going to happen. Who am I kidding, I am not even in church every Sunday and I work for the church. It’s the realities of ministry and life in 2015.
But I really do hope you will be in church THIS Sunday, because this Sunday will be special. This Sunday we will be recognizing and lifting up and affirming the work and ministry of one individual who is so greatly deserving of all of this recognition and clamoring.
For the past 25 years Valerie Tanzilli has been a rock for Avon Lake United Church of Christ. For the past 25 years she has faithfully worked and served and cared for our church and our God in so many ways, I couldn’t begin to list them. Val is hanging it up at the end of June after a quarter of a century as our secretary and our financial secretary. It is hard to capture or to put into words just exactly the scope of her impact or the depth of her reach into the lives of so many of us over the years.
One of the most admirable qualities of Val is her humility. She is quiet and reserved and goes about allllllllllllllll of her work with never a gripe or a complaint or a whisper of discontent. While Rev. Kelly or myself or so many others are in front of you all the time talking and leading and ministering, Val is the steady presence behind the scenes that keeps the ship afloat and keeps the ship moving forward. You’ll never hear about the countless pieces of literature she proof reads for me or the hundreds or checks she processes and receipts she tallies. Nobody knows about all the phone calls she handles or the copies she runs and the mailings she sends out. She’s been to the Avon Lake post office mailing all of us our Drummer enough times she could drive it blindfolded. I mean…it is a straight shot down Electric. She’s sewn Confirmation stoles and unlocked my office 2 million times when I forget my keys. She is the gate keeper and the first impression for our church. She has many of your phone numbers memorized and is constantly asking about the well being of so many young people….because she cares more about them and more about our church than anyone else I know.
I don’t want to think about life in the office after June 30th because since my first day here way back in 2007, Val was the first person I met that morning and has provided me with so much for so many years, I just can’t fathom her not being there everyday. In the lyrics of the great Golden Girls….” Thank you for being a friend. Travel down the road and back again.Your heart is true, you’re a pal and a confidant.” I have traveled down many roads personally in the eight years I have known Val and along every single one of them, she was always a steady presence who was quick to offer a big hug, a word of care, a smile and generosity that knows no end. It won’t be easy not seeing her there at her desk everyday, but I know she’s not far away and will continue to be an active and caring part of this community of faith.
But life is about seasons and one thing that is certain is change. Our church will change after June 30th, but the changes will be so reflective of one humble, caring person’s 25 year legacy as the face of this congregation.
I hope you will be in church THIS Sunday. I hope you will be there to help us recognize this saint, this angel among us, our good friend and our confidant….Valerie Tanzilli.
Love you Val! See you on Sunday!