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August 3, 2020

7/24/2020 11:21:00 AM
Church secretary role can be integrated in both spiritual, physical health worlds

Members of First United Methodist Church in Lindstrom-- never fear, your secrets are safe with Carol Schmidt.  Retirement looms right around the corner for the church secretary, the church is interviewing possible successors this week.  Still, in doing an interview for this newspaper she was all about discretion.  

The 25-year church hub wouldn’t give-up any stories about unique parishoner requests from years past, even when prodded.
She will talk about how embraced and loved she felt through the years by her second church family.

When she started July 26, 1995,  she had all of one whole day of training under her belt, she recalls. But things went just fine.
An interesting aspect in the way some churches work, Schmidt shared, is that it’s not ideal to be a member of the congregation where you are employed.  

Schmidt likes that when she goes to church, she can be “at church” and so she worships at Maranatha,  on old Highway 61. There will be times when work and worship become blurred, it can’t be helped she explained. It may that you are asked to jot down a community room reservation, or print off a copy of something-- on a Sunday-- when you are seeking to connect with God and your religious self and want to leave your job behind.  

At Lindstrom Methodist the secretary reports to Pastor Dale Stiles and the Staff Parish Relations Committee, Carol explains. But, the job is much more than being an employee, it is a “calling” in fact.

You need to have compassion and people skills and be flexible.  Every day is a sort of ministry in its own right. Schmidt would find herself aiding strangers doing research into their family trees, where church records are full of information.  She schedules church use for funerals, kitchen space for suppers, the library for Bible Study, and helps communicate through the written bulletins and newsletters.

The position has also included tasks as treasurer, but when Schmidt transitions to retirement,  a separate treasurer she has been training will takeover.

Whoever steps into Carol’s shoes will find themselves on a truly fulfilling experience.  

She enjoys having had the opportunity most of her working life to serve the Lord, and help people;  but just as she was called to apply for this job, now she feels it is time to try something different at this phase of life.

“I never had any thoughts of being here 25 years,” she mused, while showing the newspaper person around the church.
One part of her day, that has been very gratifying, is the HELP medical equipment lending program.

A room on the south end of the ground floor holds dozens of walkers, crutches, canes, wheelchairs and assorted medical aids the church accepts as donations and loans out.  The Health Equipment Lending Program (HELP) has attracted hundreds from the public and the church over the 10 years since it was begun.  

Schmidt has grown in heart and soul seeing and hearing about people’s situations and watching them regain their health.  She credits Gary Gerke, Harris Sonnenberg and Leroy Mitchell with realizing there was a need for a program like this, partnering with Trinity Lutheran Church and inviting her to do monitoring of donations, cleaning and sanitizing items and oversight of lending.

People with questions for both donating equipment or being lent something, can call 651-257-4306.

Like many who reach a turning point like retirement, Schmidt has a bittersweet outlook.  She hikes, so that’s on the to-do list for sure.  She enjoys shooting sports and now she will have time to read. And, there’s always the family cabin.

And, come wintertime it will be nice to not have to go out.  

 She has the good fortune to be able to state honestly that her life has been blessed by this job and the friends she has found.
Plus, there’s going to be the time now for volunteering. Amazing things can happen when you put yourself out there;  after-all she was volunteering at Forest Lake’s Methodist church when she saw the Lindstrom secretary opening posted to begin with.

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