Monday, June 15, 2009

A current challenge I'm facing

Dear Readers,

Here's an email I sent out to a number of friends and family members last Friday:

Dear friends and loved ones,

This morning I received a certified letter from the bishop of Oklahoma informing me that, for financial reasons, my position with the diocese is being eliminated and that my employment will be discontinued effective December 31, 2009.

I had already begun the process of petitioning for early retirement and was hoping to qualify for medical retirement. That effort now seems to have been preempted unless there is some legal loophole I don't know about.

I'm confident that I can raise enough money to live on through my work at the Center (St. John's Center for Spiritual Formation here in Tulsa). My big concern, of course, is health care coverage. The law gives me 18 months of extended group coverage if I pay what it costs my previous employer. As of today that cost is $611 a month. After that I am essentially uninsurable privately because of my medical history. I will need to come up with some plan to provide medical coverage for myself until I'm eligible for Medicare when I'm 65. (I turn 60 next month, by the way.)

Well, that's the news, folks! Do keep me in your thoughts and prayers and if anybody has any ideas regarding my predicament, I'll be glad to hear them!

Every blessing to you all,

Of course, there's more to this story. The "official" reason the Diocese is giving has to do with budgetary concerns. However the reality is that the new bishop has disliked me from the get go -- for reasons that continue to escape me. It's all very sad.

I will probably say more about this later. For now, this will have to do.

PS: I'm so glad I have Bernice, my new dog!


  1. Cathey3:02 PM

    Oh Ellie- I am so sorry for this abrupt unnecessary end to your wonderful service to the church. I'll keep my ears posted for sources to unravel your dilemma. Sending prayers, love, and tonglen. Redundancy in spiritual effort. Cathey

  2. So sorry to hear this, Ellie.

  3. I am also very sorry. I will pray for you and for a speedy health care reform bill, which could help all those who are deprived of adequate health insurance.

  4. Anonymous3:24 PM

    Seriously, you should consider moving to Canada for 5 years until you're 65. I don't have the exact facts, but I met a US citizen and his wife who were able to receive health care benefits after 3 months of living there (she broke her ankle, and was astonished it didn't cost her a penny and she didn't have to sue anyone). There are some beautiful places in Canada to live.

    I wish you strength and peace on your new journey, albeit a difficult one.

  5. Hello, Anonymous.

    Well, I've certainly thought about it. I thought some time ago of asking Rowan Williams (Archbishop of Canterbuy) to see if some bishop in Canada would be interested in taking me on.

    One thing that's keeping me here is St. John's Center for Spiritual Formation. I'm really committed to keeping it going. And it's here in Tulsa!

    I slso understand that emigrating to Canada is quite difficult if you don't already have a job lined up. And I don't.

  6. Ellie, There have been some notable down moments in my life when you have left comments for me that have made a huge difference in my life. I wish now that I had that gift and could do the same for you.

    Why is it that some of "God's representatives on earth," who are at the head of his church and should be showing forth his unconditional love and grace are the very ones who seem to be the least able to do so?

    By the way, consult an attorney. Since you are past 50 and have health issues, you may have EEOC age complaints and ADA complaints. It's worth a shot! Just the threat might make him back off.

  7. A sincere thank you to everyone who commented. You all gladden my heart by your concern and support.

    Yes, BooCat, I do have a couple of lawyers helping me. Oklahoma employment law, however, is heavily in favor of the employer. Still we are exploring options and, right now, are just trying to get the information we need.

    This situation is, of course, very painful and very difficult. Nevertheless, I want to assure everybody that I have a deep sense that it's going to end up being for the best.

    The old Desert Father and Mothers (3rd - 6th Centuries and the first Christian monastics) used to say "Flee bishops!" There's definitely some wisdom there!

  8. Corry S.11:21 PM

    I can't believe this is what you get for all that you have done. Not fair, I say. You have been an inspiration to me and I wish there was something I could do. You are in my thoughts. I hope somethig good turns up.
    Corry S.


New policy: Anonymous posts must be signed or they will be deleted. Pick a name, any name (it could be Paperclip or Doorknob), but identify yourself in some way. Thank you.