June 5, 2014
Dear Members, Supporters and Friends of ReconcilingWorks:
Grace, blessings and peace be with you! As Co-chairs of the Board of ReconcilingWorks, we write to bring you news of changes in our leadership staffing.
As you may know, our Executive Director, Emily Eastwood, has been dealing with continuing serious health issues over the last year. In late April, Emily and the executive committee concluded a medical leave of absence would be necessary for her to be able to undergo aggressive treatment in hopes of fully regaining her health. As we’ve named it, the time is needed “to get well, not just better.” Her leave will continue for about six months.
In the short run, Pr. Anita Hill, Regional Director for Region 3, is serving as Acting Executive Director.
And as you might expect, we have been in an active search for an Interim Executive Director to fill in until Emily returns. We are pleased to tell you that we have just hired Ms. Aubrey Thonvold to serve in that role. A lifelong Lutheran originally from Willmar, Minnesota, Aubrey has most recently been the faith coordinator for the successful Marriage Equality Campaign in Oregon.
She has also done faith based organizing around marriage in Hawaii and Washington. A graduate of Trinity Lutheran College and the Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry, Aubrey will relocate to St. Paul and begin her work June 17. Her wife, Heather, will join her in the fall, after she completes a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education in Portland. You can read more about Aubrey here.
We are thrilled that Aubrey has agreed to provide leadership and work with us in this time. We give thanks to God for raising up such a passionate, visionary leader with great energy and commitment. And we give thanks for ears and a heart to hear God’s call. According to Emily Eastwood, “Aubrey is an excellent choice for Interim Executive Director. She is bright, talented, genuinely caring, and full of positive energy with a proven track record. She has my full support in her new role.”
We know that at the moment, the office is missing two full-time employees – Emily and Tim Fisher, who is also on medical leave, being treated for cancer. On behalf of the entire board and staff, we thank you for your patience as we have shifted work, responsibilities and decision-making around during this time. Many of you know Emily personally and care for her. We are praying for her health and strength and invite your prayers as well. Her treatment is underway. Emily and her spouse, Jan Bailey, appreciate the ways in which the ReconcilingWorks community has continued to care for them. Cards and letters may be sent to ReconcilingWorks: Lutherans for Full Participation 1669 Arcade Street N Suite 2, Saint Paul, MN 55106.
As we mentioned, Tim Fisher, Legislative/Communications Assistant, is continuing his medical leave. He has responded well to chemotherapy treatments, which will continue through July. He is in good spirits and is leaving the house to attend church and socialize when he feels strong enough. We ask for your prayers for Tim as well.
Know that our work across the country continues. Our new resource for conversations around same-gender marriage: “Your People Shall Be My People” has just been released. Give Out Day was a wonderful success, raising more than $14,000 in 24 hours, and garnering an additional $6,000 in prize money for being the top performing organization in Minnesota. We are actively planning our summer “Conversations at the Corner” summit around issues of welcome of LGBT people of color. Our international work with the Eastern European Summer School is on tap for August. We are almost through the ELCA Synod Assembly season. Our own 2015 ReconcilingWorks Assembly will be here before we know it.
While we are mindful of our colleagues who are battling illness, we know that they want this work, “this holy work,” as Aubrey calls it, to continue. In honor of June being national PRIDE month and our ongoing work for all to be welcome, please consider making a gift of $100 or an amount meaningful to you to continue your support.
It is because of your gifts, support, and prayers we are able to move our work forward.
Cheryl Stuart Mike Crandall