Believe me, the title is a HUGE understatement.
Other than my family, my car and my residence, just about everything in my life is different this year. New job, new church, new music, new friends, etc., etc.. I even had the opportunity to be on both coasts.
Unwanted Change
It is with some sadness that I no longer work at Unity Church of Christianity (UCC).
After a year and a half of 60-70 hour, 7 day weeks, the Board of Trustees eliminated the position of Administrative Assistant, thereby terminating my employment on June 19th. They complimented my work, but felt that the church could no longer afford my salary. Being the bookkeeper (among many other duties) for the church, I saw the financials every week and felt the reason for my "termination" was unwarranted, which I conveyed to both the treasurer and the vice president of the board on my final working day. Four days later, they eliminated the position of Senior Minister - a highly controversial move by any board of any church. Again, the reason given was lack of funds. Needless to say, the congregation was in an uproar, and over half left the church.
I researched, at great length, this all-to-common phenomenon of ministers being removed from their churches, and found out that it is a very serious trend in many denominations. Several books and articles have been published on the subject of how church boards "take over" the church and feel they can run a spiritual institution better than a trained, ordained and experienced minister. In nearly all cases, the church suffers greatly (many times collapsing) and those who are responsible for removing the minister, are not held accountable. As a board member, if you do not first apply the principles that guide your faith, any decisions you make about your church will have very limited, and often detrimental results, regardless of the denomination.
Same Path, New Location
Which takes me to the "new church" portion of my life. Our minister at UCC made the very bold decision not to go to another church, but instead, to start her own. This decision was met with great enthusiasm and support. Her idea of ministry goes way beyond the traditional definition of "church" with very progressive ideas, starting with the name.
Inspirational Gatherings with Rev. Linda Poole Kennedy, went from concept to reality on July 2, 2007. She asked me to be the bookkeeper/administrator, a position I was very willing to accept. I am also the pianist/keyboardist for the "Gatherings" every Sunday morning at 10:30am. Many from UCC followed her to Inspirational Gatherings. We were fortunate enough to be given a space at a local non-profit with a room large enough to hold our congregation and an area for storage.
New Opportunity
As for employment, I now work at American Commerce Insurance Company (MAPFRE Insurance as of July, 2010) as an Administrative Assistant. My final paycheck from UCC was on June 29th, and I started working at ACIC on September 4th.
I was without pay for ten weeks, which seemed like an eternity to me, but after talking with others, I came to understand that only ten weeks without a paycheck is not bad at all, in the current economic climate. Lonna, my wife, was almost sad to see me go back to work, because while I was at home searching the internet for employment opportunities, e-mailing, faxing and mailing my resume to over 150 employers, I was also able to get some much needed housework done and spend more time with her. ACIC was my first-ever "real" interview process - after nearly 40 years in the music industry - for a position where I knew no one from within the organization. I was hired. So I guess my interview skills are okay. I have to thank Lonna for helping me with my résumé, which went a long way towards getting me in the door. I had other interviews after my first of three with ACIC, but none of the other companies seemed to be as a good a fit.
This position is administrative, but it has also allowed me to do many different things, including, believe it or not, video production. (See link below) Go figure! Although my "office" certainly isn't the beautiful surroundings that were provided for me at UCC, the work environment and the people I work with could not be better.
(The additional PC seen in the pictures is an extra that is used for elaborate spreadsheet calculations. It often runs a single spreadsheet for hours at a time.)
From the Senior VPs to the Managers to the Analysts, this opportunity has been a blessing from day one. As I write this, I've been working at ACIC for nearly seven months, and I have yet to meet an unpleasant person. Here's a video I produced for an annual meeting, that will show the ethnic diversity of the over 175 employees at ACIC.
And Music?
My latest "gig" is performing every Sunday morning. Using tracks that I recorded in the studio. I'm singing songs that would rival any secular tune I used to sing in my club performances. The "audiences" are far more lively and responsive. The whole experience is very uplifting. I'm using much of the same equipment I used in the clubs, only scaled down for a smaller room. I am considering recording a new CD of both vocal and instrumental music that would appeal to this element. It would not fall under the label of "Christian Music" as much as it would be part of the bigger musical movement around the country that involves spiritual applications in everyday living.
Our minister recorded her first meditation CD in the studio called "In My Solitude." Here's an excerpt.
This was completed in record time during the holiday season and was handed out to everyone who attended the Gathering just before Christmas. It is now being sold as a fundraiser for Inspirational Gatherings.
LA & NY… in 2 ½ weeks!
I visited Adam in L.A. in February and was fortunate enough to watch him create his magic for his weekly webisode for "Living Room Live" on CBS's "The Early Show." "Adam and The Egos" hosted the talent contest each week on CBS News' website. He actually wrote a part for me for the episode!
For those who have never seen Adam and the Egos in action, this is a great way to see what Adam does, and does very well. Remember: Adam is playing ALL of the characters. (Some even thought he was playing me, when we got to CBS New York.) Here's "Adam and The Egos" on the "Price Is Right Set." My role comes in the last minute of the 5 minute webisode.
And of course, there were out-takes...
It was great fun and certainly a pleasure to actually be on the CBS News set in L.A., at Television City, where shows like "The Price Is Right", "Real-Time with Bill Maher", "The Craig Ferguson Show" are taped or shown live.
As if that wasn't enough, a week or so later, Adam paid for me to go to New York to watch him interview the winner of the contest live on "The Early Show" at CBS New York!
What a thrill! I was allowed on the set for the entire show and on the show for the closing shot. (They said, "…all family members please join the hosts for the closing…" so why not?)
This was my first time in New York City.
I experienced riding subways for the first time.
On the streets of Manhattan.
The view from our hotel room was magnificent.
We went to the sight of the 9-11-01 World Trade Center Tragedy
Central Park in the winter.
Needless to say, both coasts, back-to-back, was another first for me and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute.
A Monumental Change
In a year full of change for me personally, there is change happening in this country that goes beyond anything I've ever lived through in my 50+ years of earthly existence. Let's review, shall we? I've lived through the first man walking on the moon, the assassinations of John Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the "English Invasion" of the Beatles, the assassination attempts of Gov. George Wallace of Alabama and President Ronald Reagan, Elvis Presley, the 1976 terrorist attacks at the Olympics, VHS recorders, the beginning of Medicare, the first and second terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the Civil Rights movement, the Oklahoma City Bombing, Roe v Wade, the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy, Muhammad Ali, the Vietnam War, the first IBM PC, the Bay of Pigs, the march from Selma to Montgomery, Woodstock, the Supreme Court ordering desegregation nationwide, the first Military Draft Lottery since WWII, Watergate, the Kent State shootings, the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins, the US torturing prisoners of war for the first time, the resignation of Richard Nixon, the Bicentennial, the first 24/7 news network, John Lennon assassinated, the first female on the Supreme Court, Pac-Man, the discovery of the AIDS virus, CDs, the destruction of the Berlin Wall, the fall of the Soviet Union, the Iraq War, the L.A. Riots, Hurricanes Andrew & Katrina, the discovery of the first planet outside our solar system, the Waco Tragedy, the OJ trial, DVDs, and the Clinton Impeachment.
Even with all this history, 2007 (and 2008) will mark an incredible time in our nation's history like no other - a HUGE sign of growth in this country.
In 2007, we have, for the first time ever - among nearly 20 candidates - a woman and an African American male as very viable candidates for the office of President of the United States. As irony would have it, they are both in the same party, and they appear to be equally qualified, at this point in time (December, 2007). One is a good tactician, and the other is a visionary. One is very well connected in Washington D.C., the other is well connected with the electorate. One has name recognition throughout the world, the other was introduced to the nation in 2004, but only known in one state until 10 months ago. There are very minor differences between them on the big issues.
Next year will undoubtedly prove to be very exciting for us political junkies.
Thanks for taking the time to read my 2007 page.