Sheila Craig was only 17 when she started her first job as a secretary at the General Synod office in 1959. Next month, July 15, she is calling it a day, retiring as Assistant Treasurer.
“I had just graduated from a one-year special commercial course when I got the job as secretary,” she recalled in a recent interview. “I was doing secretarial work in the accounting office, and worked under John Ligertwood, the then treasurer of General Synod.” Mr. Ligertwood, who retired in 1993, became a mentor, Ms. Craig says.
In 1967, after eight years on the job, Ms. Craig left General Synod to care for adopted children. “I was away for 17 years, but kept in touch with my former colleagues at Church House,” she said.
During those 17 years, Ms. Craig worked as parish administrator and taught Sunday school in Richmond Hill, Ont. In 1984, she returned to the General Synod office and was assigned to the accounting office.
The installation of a new telephone system was the first major project Ms. Craig worked on when she came back. “It was a great transition for a number of people who were still used to the buzzer system,” she said.
General Synod has always faced challenges. “We always had money problems, but due to the commitment of our parishioners, we managed to stay on top of them,” noted Ms. Craig.
In 1987, General Synod launched a fundraising campaign called Anglicans in Mission. “This campaign made me realize how people were so committed to the church,” said Ms. Craig. “During that campaign people felt that they had made a promise to God. Even though the campaign is now over, we still receive cheques from people who feel they need to fulfill the promise they made.”
Financial problems persisted and eventually resulted in major cutbacks to staff and programs. In 1993, “we lost a number of our colleagues. It took time to get over that,” said Ms. Craig.
As she looks back at her life at Church House, Ms Craig says she has no regrets about coming back. “I really believe God brought me here and He has been with me all my life. I have been very blessed to be a part of this community,” she said.
“People here have been very supportive. They have been there for me through my marriage and when I decided to adopt children, and also through the death of my parents and husband,” said Ms. Craig. “I will miss them.”
During her retirement, Ms. Craig hopes to spend most of her time with her children and grandchildren, take up a number of craft projects such as sewing. She will also be working part-time at her parish.
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