End of an era?

I have served three separate four-year terms on the Mountain T.O.P. board, with one-year breaks in between: 1994-97, 1999-2002, and 2003-07. I’ve been secretary of the board much of that time. Tonight was the last board meeting of my current term.

It’s time for a break, and I wanted one. This has been an unusually difficult and stressful term; several years ago, the board was forced to make some gut-wrenching decisions that upended the ministry. During this term, the ministry relocated its offices from Nashville to Altamont, went through a near-complete changeover in staff, and reinvented itself in ways that have both taken it into the future and restored it to its roots.

Under the leadership of our new executive director, the Rev. Ed Simmons (and, boy, am I proud to have served on that search committee), the ministry has stabilized and is on the upswing. We are ending the year in the best financial shape I’ve ever seen as a board member.

As we discussed during tonight’s meeting, the very fact that our programming has been simplified and stabilized, coupled with the need to keep the ministry financially healthy, means that we need a board which is less active in programming and more active in fund-raising. And since fund-raising is my great weakness as a board member, maybe this is a good time for me to step aside, at least for now.

But I’m still a little melancholy about rotating off. I don’t plan to disappear; I am sure that the staff will still call on me for things like press releases, and I certainly plan to encourage them to do so. Because of my foreign mission trips, I’ve only been to Mountain T.O.P. as a camper once in the past three years, and I need to change that.

I’ll hopefully be going to the year-end party on Jan. 5, and they’ll probably say something about the departing board members at that time.

Our board meeting tonight was unusually festive — board member Sally Chambers invited us to have a dinner meeting at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Franklin, where she is youth minister. It was a great meal and a great way to celebrate the ending of a successful year.

And maybe, for me, the end of an era.