Looking Back

I recently had reason to dig out the original contract that I signed with the Denbigh church in 1980 when I first started my work here. I was shocked that I could find it; I was also a little surprised by what was in it. My starting salary in 1980 was $200 a week and the contract stipulated that it was to be given to me "on each Lord’s Day." What was not stipulated in the contract was how often Jack Dulaney, our treasurer, would give me the check on Sunday and then ask me not to cash it for 2-3 days until he made sure that there was any money in the account! Additionally, they gave me $350 a month housing allowance (which was enough to pay rent and utilities for our apartment… our Section 8 government housing apartment!). They also kicked in $140 a month for insurance, but for some reason the $5 a week book allowance that was typed in the original contract was struck through (in pencil) as if disallowed at the time the contract was signed. (Boy, if I had that $5 a week now, I could buy a new book every other month or so!).

The contract gave me one day a week off, two weeks of vacation per year (not to include more than two Sundays), and one week per year to work at Idlewild Christian Camp (not sure whether that was a benefit or a hazardous duty assignment). With those exceptions, the contract stipulated that “the preacher shall be available in his work with this congregation twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week.” The only other contract I remember signing with the church was when Roger was hired (he had one, so I had one). The new one gave me all national holidays off, which I had never had before. (Lynn and I couldn’t decide whether to go to Colonial Williamsburg or to the pool yesterday for Memorial Day, so we stayed home and rearranged furniture). Our elders at that time of this second contract (which I can’t find) worked for the government, so it made sense that they would give me national holidays. (Of course, they frowned on me taking the whole long weekend off like everybody else!)

Section 5 of my contract stipulates my work responsibilities—all pulpit duties, teaching two classes, conducting Ladies Bible class (which was every awkward back when I was 23 and the class was made up of mostly older church ladies), edit the bulletin (which meant type it on a stencil and run it off on a mimeograph machine). Curiously, no mention was made of PowerPoint slides, maintaining the church website, or writing a blog… but then again, they are now paying more than $200 a week!

What is the point of all this? I’m not sure there is one. Well, except maybe this—I have no clue how I got from May 1980 to May of 2011.  How can 31 years seem to be such a short period of time? What a blessing these years have been for Lynn and me. I hope there are a few people who have been blessed in return.