After a year and a half of combined church secretarial experience, Heather and Carolyn have compiled a list of Church Secretary Duties that are never mentioned in the Job Description:
Maintain dignity and composure when delicious-smelling food is paraded before you with never an offer to "have some."
Memorize the sound of everyone's voice who calls more than twice and expects you to patch them right through to the pastors.
Return packages that people order and suddenly decide they no longer need, with zero return information.
Fend off stay-at-home mothers zealously marketing their pampered chef products.
Determine within three days of hiring who the pastors are hiding from and be able to redirect those people without actually lying.
Know the location of all pastors at all times and how to get a hold of them even when they forward their cell phones to the church office.
Be able to determine the square footage of an irregular shaped polygon for the preschool to plan how many children can fit in an odd shaped room.
Field all calls for the preschool, even when the preschool coordinator and director are at their desk less than 50% of the time, and you don't have the information the caller wants.
Know every minute detail of each of the innumerable programs the church is running, along with who is in charge and their home phone number.
Assist random personnel with Angel Food menus, ordering, pick up times and locations, and deal with the people in charge arguing over whether or not to send out reminder postcards, both sides blaming you when they do or do not go out.
Discover that on a closed school day, the pastors' children can do no wrong, and your children can do no right.
Put up with sales people who give you a guilt trip for purchasing a product from a competitor.
Perform various manual labor such as painting and wallpapering.
Be prepared for people to stop you in the grocery store and tell you to add their pet project and all the details to the bulletin/newsletter.
Maintain civility with personnel in the church who automatically assume that you are their personal secretary
Be able to perform operator and supervisor level maintenance on all copiers and printers in the office, to include changing toner, staples, and drums, along with removing all misfeeds that may occur. Be capable of instructing others on all functions thereto appertaining.
Graciously smile and turn the other cheek when you get yelled at for not including someone's pet project in one specific announcement location even though it is mentioned twice in the newsletter and in a blurb in the bulletin.
Find a way to hear every conversation that occurs around you (so as to actually know what's going on in the church) without actually eavesdropping.
Learn and memorize the names of every pastor, secretary and ministry leader that have ever served in the history of the church so as to know how to properly direct the mail and phone calls that they receive.
Be able to convince the Church Clerk that you did not delete her email address from your address book, as she cannot send you any e-mails because of a network change.
Write musicals, design slide shows, hold visitors' babies, bake birthday cakes, prepare dinners for strange teen bands, and substitute teach for the preschool, etc as needed.
Locate the head custodian in 45 seconds or less in a building of 120,000 square feet.
Memorize everyone in the church who is sick, where they are located, who is coordinating childcare/food drop off, and all contact information within 15 minutes of that person falling ill.
Serve as supervisor of all school aged children who spend the afternoon at the church after school until their parents get off work, aiding with pencil sharpening, math problems, and spelling.
Feign interest in other people's problems.
Deal with people who are drunk/high, aggressive, rude, belligerent, and entitled about getting a handout from the church.
Carolyn Erickson has lived a storied life, from graduating the United States Military Academy, to living in Germany for five years, to a tour to Iraq, to now an Army spouse. She is a freelance writer and personal trainer in her free time.
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