By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
FRANKLIN — During her 21 years on staff of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, Lana Rose has worked in a number of ministry areas, but when “push comes to shove,” she admits that working with church secretaries/administrative assistants over the years has been her “first love.”
“I have a great love for those who serve as church secretaries. They are some of the most unrecognized and underappreciated people in the church,” she said. “The members in the pew don’t realize what it takes during the week to make Sunday happen. They just see the end result.”
Rose, who will retire April 30, began coordinating the meetings of the Tennessee Baptist Convention Secretaries Association (TBCSA) in the late 1990s. She is grateful for whatever part she has played in helping church secretaries grow in their ministry roles.
The TBCSA has been able to train secretaries over the years in a way that other organizations could not do, Rose said. “Professional organizations can teach you skills, but they can’t teach you how to do ministry.”
Rose is a firm believer that church secretaries are ministers in the true sense of the word. “Secretaries feel a calling to the church office and their calling is as real as the pastor and other church ministers,” she affirmed.
“They know God has placed them in the church office for this time in their life and in the life of the congregation,” she added.
Rose said the TBCSA has strived to raise standards for the church office and provide the training needed to accomplish the work. In addition, Rose has helped the church secretaries realize they are also ministers and missionaries.
Shortly after arriving in Tennessee in 1997 from the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio (where she served for 23 years), Rose learned that partnership missions is important to Tennessee Baptists.
With the belief that whatever experience you have can be used anywhere, even the missions field, Rose began to explore the possibility of church secretaries becoming involved in partnership missions.
In 2002, Rose organized the TBCSA’s first partnership trip to Alberta, Canada. Approximately 24 secretaries worked in 11 churches, the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists, and the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary. It was believed to be the first international project of its kind.
Rose said following that trip that the project helped the secretaries to “stretch themselves and step out of their comfort zones.”
She noted that for many of the secretaries, it was their first time to fly and to travel outside the United States.
The secretaries performed a myriad of tasks for the pastors and churches, most of which did not have secretaries. Rose noted their efforts did not go unnoticed. “In Canada, they still talk about those secretaries from Tennessee,” she laughed.
Trips did not end with Canada. In following years, Rose led the TBCSA members to Montana, Iowa (twice), the Northeast, and City Reach in Knoxville.
Though many church secretaries had been on missions trips with their husbands, they viewed the TBCSA projects as “their trips,” Rose said. “It was their way of serving God.”
Though she could have retired last September, Rose chose to wait until April so she could attend one last meeting of the TBCSA. The TBCSA meets every other year in coordination with the national secretaries organization. This year’s state meeting will be held April 9-11 at Victory Baptist Church, Mount Juliet.
“I just wanted to say goodbye to the friends I’ve made across the years,” said Rose, who will return to live in Ohio, just northeast of Cincinnati.
“Tennessee Baptists have been very good to me. It has been an enjoyable journey and one that I wouldn’t trade for anything.”
For more information about the TBCSA and the April meeting, including how to register, visit www.tnsecretaries.org. B&R