February 19, 2015
Our New Communications Strategist: Wherein God Has a Sense of Humor and A(nother) Surprising Plan
We are adding to the team! Here is the story of our newest Communications Strategist, Beth Bates.
While studying creative writing at Butler University I fell head over heels for the panoply of essay forms—among them mosaic, vignette, consolation, book review, epistolary, and narrative list. The List sort of became my signature form, and given the preponderance of epistolary messaging in Scripture and Fishhook being a faith-based agency, for my introductory blog post assignment, how about I offer an epistolary-list combo? It’s a letter to the fine folks at Fishhook who decided to give me a chance, written after I had the pleasure of spending time with the team.
Thanks so much for lunch and the chat yesterday. As I lay in bed last night basking in the glow of all you told me about work life at Fishhook and the high calling of helping churches pursue excellence in their communications, memories awakened.
I started remembering all the uncanny ways in which it seems God has been preparing me since I was a tot for this opportunity. I know that sounds sort of dramatic, but stay with me here. As I replayed our conversations in my mind it was like a divinely designed SlideShare played, listing and illustrating my experiences that might uniquely equip me to collaborate with your clientele, to help them identify big picture needs and goals, and shepherd them through the process.
Of all the graduate counseling programs at my disposal in Colorado, I landed at the newly accredited M.A. program offered by Denver Seminary. Though technically Den-Sem is CBA, for two-plus years I sat in many of the same classes, slogging away at the library, shoulder to shoulder with MDiv, DMin, Youth Ministry, and Spiritual Formation students from denominations as far flung as EPC, Nazarene, Methodist, non-denomination, and even Eastern Orthodox.
I survived Hermeneutics! Dr. Kermit Ecklebarger, a favorite of all students, was the professor. We called the class Kermeneutics.
Church History (taught by then-grad-student Scott Wenig, an absolutely brilliant communicator who is now Haddon W. Robinson Chair of Biblical Preaching) was my favorite class. The centuries-long evolution of at-times imperceptible shifts and variations in doctrine and polity leading to the scads of iterations of Church fascinates me. I've read "Church History in Plain Language,” by Bruce Shelley, 3 times. Three! I can’t help myself. I mean, who can resist “The Rise and Fall of the Anabaptists”?
I grew up in a home that was hyperaware of denominational differences, to a pathological degree. Doctrine was a common topic of conversation—on car rides, by the pool, at the dinner table. From the earliest I can remember, the first litmus test question my mother (a Wheaton Academy alum) would ask any new friend of mine: "And where do you go to church?" After the friend left she'd explain the theological nuances of that denomination, instilling a habit of ecclesiastical analysis I’ve only recently broken.
For one year, while completing my counseling internship, I was (wait for it) a church secretary, at Fort Collins Evangelical Covenant Church (since then rebranded as Council Tree Covenant). While awaiting the arrival of my first born, I worked as that front office person way back in the print-heavy, print-only days, responsible for “typing up” and proofing bulletins, newsletters, and mailers and navigating the balance of delicate member dynamics.
In terms of communications, from my earliest job out of college, I have worked through the transition of print to digital and enjoy shepherding the resistant or intimidated through related technological updates. (I remember WordStar and IBC binding machines. But please don’t tell anyone.)
I survived Systematic Theology 1, 2 and 3. Barely.
So what I’m trying to say is, God in his wisdom, mercy and nutty sense of humor, has been preparing me along the way to engage with churches. I am deeply humbled and excited to join such a dynamic, forward- thinking group of innovators who have a heart for using their gifts to help further the mission of God’s heart as revealed in Micah 6:8.
The loves of my life are Mr. Dan Bates and two precious, creative children, Jack and Grace Coleman. Sweet Grace, a sophomore at Carmel High School fills our home with music and laughter; with bittersweet joy and trepidation we are in the process of preparing to launch our clever boy, Jack, a CHS senior, into the college era of his life and beyond. Oh, and there’s Gary. Twenty-three-pound Gary.