I was called to Messiah to be the pastor in June of 2003, just weeks before Vacation Bible School was to begin. This place was frantic as Catherine, our Children’s Minister was running about getting last minute details in place. Catherine had already resigned because her husband, a newly ordained pastor, was called out of state. Her right hand “man”, Alicia Keiber, all of 24 or so, had promised to pull off VBS in her absence. That year, VBS went off without a hitch with Alicia running the show, as have the eleven other VBS’s since that first one. I don’t ever remember hiring Alicia. By the end of my first month here, no one could imagine anyone else doing it better. She has been our Children’s Minister now for over twelve years.
After this August, Alicia will be stepping down as our Children’s Minister. Under her leadership, we have made Sunday School more fun and meaningful and created celebrations and rituals around key developmental moments in our children’s faith life, such as, Entrance to Sunday School, First Bible, and First Communion. Alicia created a midweek Children’s education program around Messiah Night, aided other leaders in their launching and leading of new choirs for children, helped create Children’s Sunday and Family Christmas Eve worship services and created Breakfast with the Bunny and Santa Claus all to invite our Preschool families toMessiah, planted a servant’s heart in our children with her planning of events to help shut ins, the church and our outreach ministries, and my favorite appeared as the straight man in countless dumb skits that I wrote. Alicia’s twelve year impact on our Children’s Ministry is huge. She has been a great gift for Messiah.
More importantly Alicia has been a great gift for me personally. She is the first one to ask me how I am feeling when something has happened in my life. She has taken burdens off of my plate when it gets too full. She has welcomed my family into this church and become an Aunt to my grandkids. She has reminded me every year of staff member’s birthdays and secretary’s day when it rolls around and provided more thoughtful and generous gifts to me and to others than I can count. She has simply been a close friend.
Alicia is leaving the staff because we created a new position that merges our Preschool Director position with the Children’s Minister position. The hope is that this new combined position will allow Messiah to merge the talents and resources of these two thriving ministries and give us more opportunities to reach out to our unchurched preschool families. Alicia is qualified for this position, but chose not to apply for it. Michelle Meifert is coming on staff in August to fill this new position . Michelle I am sure will do great, but that doesn’t mean all of us won’t miss Alicia.
When I talked to Alicia about making this change in April, she was sad to leave this ministry. She loves the children she has led and seen grow. She loves the parents she helps. She loves the staff around her. However, what she loves even more is our church, which she has been a part of since she was a little girl. She wants what is best for Messiah and she thinks, like I do, that this could be a really good thing for us.
Sunday, August 23 will be Alicia’s last day as our Children’s Minister. She will remain our sister in Christ and an active member at Messiah. She is not going anywhere. I am hoping to get her to use some of her great musical gifts again in our choirs. However, I want to say goodbye to her in big fashion. Please, come to the 9:30 service on August 23 or the party in Fritz Hall immediately after, as we celebrate her service and love of Christ and Christ’s church. Peace, Pastor Karl