Above, from left: Overton Colton, Vice Chairman of CYMT’s Board of Directors; Katie Edwards, Jim’s lovely wife; Lesleigh Carmichael, Director of Coaching; Jim Edwards, Director of Finance.
When CYMT was founded in 2006, we hired Lesleigh Carmichael to be our administrator. We didn’t hire her because she had experience as an administrative assistant. We hired her for what she would become for our ministry in the future. Lesleigh remembers fondly trying to learn how to use Quickbooks to do our finances and working with her least favorite program in the world, Excel. So Lesleigh was thrilled when we received the Lilly Grant in 2008 that allowed her to move into the Director of Coaching position and we were able to hire someone with administrative gifts and passions.
One of the places CYMT posted the administrative job listing was in the Brentwood UMC newsletter. I was more than a little surprised when a couple of days later I got a call from Jim Edwards about the position. As I remember it, he said, “Deech, I’m interested in your position. Well, not really. I don’t want to answer phones or do that stuff, but it looks like you need someone to keep your books. I’m interested in doing that.” Jim had sold his company a few months prior and was looking for a project. “How much time could it take anyway? I’m sure I can do it in just a few hours a week.” I told him I wasn’t sure that I could afford him which was when he told me he wanted to work for us for free.
Since 2008, Jim has faithfully overseen the books, investments, income, and expenses of our ministry. As the ministry expanded from just 14 youth ministers to now more than 40 employees, he has helped us navigate payroll, taxes, and audits. He was able to take our financial efforts and reorganize them into professional ministry systems. Jim helped the board make wise decisions about investing our resources so that we are faithful to what God and investors have entrusted to us.
Jim has faithfully done all these things for the past six years. CYMT would not be where it is today without his leadership and investment of his gifts. Some weeks, CYMT only takes Jim a few hours, although with the growth of our ministry those weeks happen less and less. Other weeks—like the last few when Jim moved us to an online accounting system to better position CYMT for the future—Jim invests quite a bit of his time.
Jim does not teach youth ministry classes, but he does sign their stipend checks. He doesn’t coach them through difficult situations, but he has made it possible for those of us that do to use our gifts and energies in those areas. We are grateful for Jim’s investment in the ministry of CYMT because it has made all the difference.
CYMT wanted to simply say thank you. If you know Jim, please thank him for his continued service to CYMT. We could never repay him!
CYMT is proud to announce the expansion of our original initiative into Theology Together 2.0. CYMT aims to develop a curriculum to be used in local congregations and ministries. Taking what we have learned about engaging youth in deep theological reflection during missional experiences and embedding those processes into congregational youth ministries.
"I hope students come away from my courses with the ability to think more deeply, richly and theologically about their youth ministry practice. I think a lot of what happens in youth ministry happens unreflectively and can be deforming to young people, and my courses are intended to give students a theological framework for evaluating and reforming their youth ministry practice."
Of course, I want students to drink deeply from the academic readings, lectures and discussions, and I want them to be informed by the academics. But more than that, I want them to see that youth ministry is a calling of God, an important part of God’s mission in the world, one that should give them pride and evoke humility at the same time.