Carol Spendlove
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Tucked away as we are in isolation, unable to meet and greet each other in person, the Knox website is a reminder that the work of Knox goes on, and will continue to do so after this pandemic is over. In the meantime, here is an opportunity to find out something about the people who do that work.  How much do we know about who does what at Knox?  This week: Joan Coulter, Roll Clerk and Sunday School Coordinator.  

It’s a pity Joan Coulter doesn’t go in much for hats, because the attached photo might show her wearing several, and that would be something to see.  Up until recently, Joan Coulter was…an Elder, a member of the choir, and the Coordinator of the Sunday School. Then, about three weeks ago, she added the hat of Roll Clerk.   

So, what is the Roll, and what does the Roll Clerk do?  In a nutshell, the Roll is the list of people who have a connection to Knox, and the Roll Clerk is the member of Session whose job it is to make sure that list is kept up to date, and that all of the people on it have an Elder to represent them.  When Joan took it over, the list hadn’t been kept up to date for quite some time, and over the last three weeks she’s been doing something about it.   

“Having an Elder is important,” said Joan.  “It gives each person a one-on-one contact they can call if they have any questions or concerns or if they need support.”  

It’s also necessary to have an accurate list of members and adherents for historical purposes, and for reporting congregational statistics to the denominational offices.  No personal information goes anywhere without permission, and that includes the national church.  

Joan tackled the job of updating the Roll with her usual energy and enthusiasm.  She looked at all the lists that she could find: current Elders’ lists, lists of people who had signed up for church emails, lists of people who contribute financially, and the current directory.  She then talked to the Minister, the Clerk of Session, the Elders, the Envelope Secretary, and the Church Administrator.  The end result is a database as one repository of all this information.  

And that was what she used to update the Elders’ list.  As a result, people who have never had an Elder assigned to them are suddenly finding out that now they have one.  “I’m still working on that,” said Joan.  “There are still 18 households with connections to Knox who do not yet have  an Elder.”  

For Joan,it’s important to keep people connected with Knox, even if they’re not able to be physically with us - because of health or mobility issues, or because of the pandemic.” That’s the job she’s taken on as the Roll Clerk of Knox Presbyterian Church.  

As if that isn’t enough, she also maintains her other job of overseeing what’s happening with the younger elements of the congregation, which covers a lot of territory.  She’s the coordinator of the Sunday School, volunteer leader of the Junior Choir, and overall Coordinator of Children, Youth and Young Adults.  

This is not to suggest she does everything by herself.  She has a team of teachers for the Sunday School that continue to be active even with the church in pandemic lockdown.  Sunday School lessons are there every week on the website, and through video calls.   

“We see each other, we talk to each other, we keep in touch,” she said.  “We are very blessed right now to have university students who are very enthusiastic and great role models for our kids.  Even though they’re not in Ottawa right now, they’re still contributing.”  

In normal times, Joan is keen to get the kids involved with the adults in the church as well.  That’s why you’ll see the Sunday School serving a chili lunch, reading occasionally in the church service, helping with the church picnic, or taking their turn at Coffee Hour. “It’s important that they feel that they can be of service and have something to contribute.”  

For Joan working with children at church has been a role since she was in high school.  “I love spending time with kids,” she said.  I just love watching them learn and grow in their space as part of the church community.”