Parting words from
Executive Director September 2007 through May 2017
A couple of years ago, I wrote my “letter from the director” for our newsletter and referenced the poem “A Future Not Our Own,” which Father Byrd shared with me and I always shared with the summer camp staff when I was camp director. The full text is below. Meredith, who was our director of marketing and development at the time, told me it was a lovely letter but that I had referenced the exact same poem in the letter I wrote the previous year. I just can’t help it! This poem – prayer really – speaks directly to our work at Gravatt, so I will reference it yet again in my very last letter as executive director of Gravatt.
When I became executive director ten years ago, Gravatt was running in the red, there were lots of open weekends on the calendar (not to mention pretty much all the weekdays), and we had about 700 campers in the summer. The Diocese and Gravatt had just made the decision to separate so that Gravatt was its own 501(c)3 no longer financially supported by the Diocese. Despite these challenges, Gravatt remained much-loved to its loyal alumni and supporters. A friend asked me how long I’d stay. My reply was that I’d be here so long as I still had work to do.
We’ve come a long way. We’ve ended most years in the black, most weekends we serve multiple groups, weekdays are often busy too, and this summer there will be 1000 campers who sing Shalom under the stars. Gravatt’s relationship with the Diocese is better than it’s been. I’m under no pretense that everything that can be done is done. As long as there are people who need to find community in God, there will be more work to do. But I feel like I’m leaving Gravatt at a good place. More importantly, I’m leaving it in the hands of good people. Passionate people. People who love Gravatt as much as I do and who will continue the work we’ve begun together. Scott, Ellen, Thomas, Pat, Moses, Ruth, Frank, Jason… I can’t wait to see where you and our faithful Board take Gravatt next.
I am so incredibly grateful for the time I’ve had at Gravatt – so grateful for each of you with whom I’ve crossed paths over these years. It was by happy accident that I came to Gravatt as a camper; I lived in the other Diocese but Gravatt was less expensive. It was a dream come true when Jan Westmoreland called to offer me a position as a summer camp counselor back in 1989, then again to return to camp when Fletcher Spigner hired me as assistant summer camp director in 2006, and yet again when the Board hired me to be executive director in 2007. I have had many mentors and cheerleaders – Jan and Mac, Betty Jean and Clyde, Father Byrd, just to name a few. I pray I’ve made them proud. I’ve made many friends – too many to list in this letter. I’ve had the honor to work with the very best and for the very best. You’ve helped me raise my children in this amazing community and welcomed my husband to be a part of it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
When I’ve read the poem “A Future Not Our Own” and thought of Gravatt, I always imagined the future I wouldn’t see would be because campers, guests, and staff always move on to other things. But this time it’s me that’s moving on, and I’ll miss seeing first-hand many of the projects we’ve started come to fruition. Granted, I’ll stay involved through the Shalom Circle, so Gravatt and I haven’t seen the last of each other. I’m looking forward to attending Under the Tent as a guest next year!
I haven’t done everything – but I’ve done everything I can, and I know that staff who remain at Gravatt will continue to water the seeds we planted together and plant new seeds – just like we watered the seeds of those who came before us and planted new seeds. Gravatt Family, you will remain in my prayers and my dreams. Gravatt will always be a place in the woods that has a place in my heart.
A Future Not Our Own
(the prayer of Oscar Romero)
It helps now and then to step back and take a long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of
saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession
brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives include everything.
This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one
day will grow. We water the seeds already planted
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects
far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of
liberation in realizing this.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's
grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the
difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not
messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.
Written by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw
In memory of Oscar Romero (1917–1980)
PS Thank you so much for naming the tree house after me. Nothing could honor me more.