Big News

We made a big decision this fall, and now that it’s public to my congregation, I’ll post it here.

Short version: I’m leaving my current call in about nine months. We’ll be relocating so that we are much closer to Erik’s job in city sometime over the summer.

Erik and I decided that there had to be a time-limit on how long we could sustain the combination of his commute and both of our job schedules and responsibilities. It wasn’t so much about adding a second kid, or having two of us working, just the unfortunate confluence of schedules, distance, and lack of sanity.

If you want the long version, the letter to the congregation follows:

Dear Congregation:

After discussion and prayer, Erik and I have decided that I will be resigning as one of your associate pastors effective August 31, 2011.

It was a difficult decision to come to. Professionally, I don’t feel it’s the ideal time to leave. But it is a decision we have to make for the sake of our family.

Earlier this fall, when we started discussing how we would handle a second child, we realized that the biggest challenge to our family functioning well was not so much an additional child, but the growing strain of the demands of Erik’s job coupled with his commute. In the excitement about our pregnancy, we had not really paused to notice that in the same time frame, his responsibilities at work were ramping up, making it more and more difficult for him to adjust his work schedule to suit the needs of my work schedule and for our family to spend any quality time together on a regular basis.

After running through a number of alternate childcare scenarios, work schedule changes, and possible changes in where we live, we realized that what was right for us at this time was for me to resign and for us to relocate closer to Erik’s job.

We plan to move this summer when our lease is up, and I will commute back until the end of August.

I settled on the end of August date as a way to honor commitments to the church (finishing out a program year and beginning planning for the next; concluding the Worship Renewal Grant; assisting the congregation while other pastors are on sabbaticals; seeing through summer ministries such as Go n Serve, VBS, and Montreat), but also to balance the needs of family (in particular that Zora will start kindergarden in 2011, so we need to be settled in time for her to begin at her new school).

I did not come to this decision easily. Fox Valley Presbyterian Church has been a wonderful place to do ministry and we will all think well of our five years here with all of you. We will miss you and miss living and worshipping and doing ministry with you. As I said earlier, it does not feel like the right time in terms of call, career, or profession. But the way to be most faithful to God’s calling is to put my marriage and family first.

The session has been notified at its meeting this week, and an additional letter should arrive about the same time as this one addressed to middle school and high school youth. (If there is a middle or high schooler in your house, I would ask that you make sure to point them toward that letter.)

We are choosing to announce this decision so far in advance so that I can be helpful in every way possible in setting children’s and youth ministries up for a successful transition, and so that we can begin planning for our move without feeling like there is a great secret looming.

In Christ’s Peace,

Erica Schemper

2 Responses to “Big News”

  1. Martha Says:

    As much as we will miss you all, I completely understand the desire for some amount of sanity in life and cannot imagine how families function when everyone is constantly running in different directions! We just hope you guys stay in touch!

  2. Thomas Says:

    Erica -

    While I don’t attend church where you worship or serve so this doesn’t really affect me. However, I want to say thanks for making this statement: “the way to be most faithful to God’s calling is to put my marriage and family first.” I can not tell you how much of a struggle that is for me personally as well. I have seen too many families fail because one or the other parent decides they need to “follow God” off into some area or some thing but the result is a break-down of the family. You have certainly hit the nail on the head – the best way to be faithful to God’s calling is to recognize what our first calling is, and that is to our spouse and children. While not always easy, it is always right. Thank you for sharing and modeling this for those you serve every day at your current church, as well as those of us who know you from outside your church. I will continue to pray God’s blessing and leading as you finish your time at the church as well as exactly where he will lead you next.