Dear UPC Congregation, Side-by-Side, Session and Staff,
It is with deep sadness that I accept the resignation of Reverend Tiji Murphy-Santiago from her position as Director of Side-by-Side Ministries.
As you may recall, Tiji joined us this past February to take the helm of Side-by-Side with much hope, courage, and a vision for how this important ministry would continue to serve families with a seriously ill child. She brought a unique enthusiasm for how to further broaden the impact of Side-by-Side in the way she envisioned how to reach people in our neighborhoods in need of service and a loving Christ-centered community that could offer support through medical and mental health support, and other services.
The pandemic has created immense challenges for our entire world, our community. There were especially difficult challenges for Side-by-Side due to the needs of the children they serve, requiring Side-by-Side to be extremely careful and cautious as the ministry requires contact with highly immune-compromised children and their families. Tiji brought tenacious and creative leadership to the ministry, striking a balance between delivering what was known and counted upon for Side-by-Side (e.g., meal deliveries, a camp experience, and developing relationships with the Side-by-Side volunteer community) and forging new relationships with other interested partners and potential volunteers.
We all knew going in that this position would have its challenges. But we prayed and when Tiji responded to the call of the Holy Spirit, we were so delighted to hear “YES.” While the amount of time under Tiji’s leadership was brief, it has been productive, eye-opening, and in many ways, humbling for us.
Through Tiji’s integrity, courage, strength, and faith in Christ, God has opened our eyes to some challenges we must face and overcome as a church community in how we welcome, engage with, and support new faces to UPC whether on staff or in the pews.
Looking ahead, I am in discussions with Tiji about a consultative role to work with Ministry Team leaders, George, Atsuko, and me in creating a vision and strategy for a Service & Support Ministry that can meet the needs of our community and will create new opportunities for us to reach our neighborhoods more broadly. In the meantime, the current work to provide meals and family care for Side-by-Side will continue.
Please join me in thanking Tiji for taking this professional risk and faithful leap to lead Side-by-Side at a time when this important work needed fresh vision and leadership. We will keep you updated with the next steps in our search for a new leader for this important mission.
Executive Director of Ministries