At the end of this year, the Foundation and I will sadly see VP Chi-Chi Messick retire. I would like to spend a little time and space talking about Chi-Chi’s contributions.
Let me begin by addressing the often-asked question: How the heck could two vastly different people – personalities, life experiences, approaches to people and situations, non-work interests- work together and for so long?
It is a question we often laugh about together. Very simply, we saw in the other gifts and skills that we needed to make the venture we were both deeply committed to succeed. Put another way, we lived and experienced the Moravian motto: In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in all things love. The “love” we share is mutual admiration, respect and absolute trust.
In all the time together I think I can count on two or three fingers the instances of any harsh words between us. In most of these cases, Chi-Chi was probably right!
So, being quite compatible, Chi-Chi also brought us closer to the Church – pastors and laity - through Morning Star Campaign Services (the capital campaign and stewardship service Chi-Chi pioneered). While these services are provided under contract and paid for by the church or agency, we never make any money and certainly never covered the cost of the time and effort Chi-Chi put into each relationship. Chi-Chi is all-in all the time as changing the culture of giving in a church is not a drive- by experience. It involves getting in the trenches, “smelling the people”, getting your hands dirty, and being determined yet sensitive. It is both an art and a science, and Chi-Chi perfected it.
One indelible mark she will leave behind is her coining the phrase “Grace, Generosity and Gratitude” as an alternative to the term “stewardship”. Becauseof her love of books and music, Chi-Chi understands words and language matter – A LOT! If you say the phrase often enough, it has a lyrical feel, but more importantly it captures the intersection of our faith and giving: God gives us Grace every second of our lives and without ever asking for anything in return. And we express our gratitude because we are called to generously perform good works. More importantly, the “3Gs” touch people in amazing ways because they inspire; at this time and place in the life the Church, we can all use more inspiration.
In closing Chi-Chi has been a best buddy, wise counselor and advisor, and a partner like no other. I can say without any reservations or qualifications: Chi-Chi Messick has made the Foundation so much better than it would have been without her. I am going to miss Chi-Chi; she will always be in my thoughts and prayers.
Thank you so much, my friend and comrade.