Susan Furness in May 2010.
Photo by Eric Anderson
Sept. 19: Reception for Sue Furness
In honor of Sue Furness' nearly thirty years of service to the Connecticut Conference, you are warmly invited to honor her at a reception from 4:00 - 6:00 pm on Wednesday, September 19, at United Church Center, 125 Sherman St., Hartford.
by Drew Page
HARTFORD (9/14/2012) -- Susan Furness, the Conference Registrar and Administrative Assistant for Clergy Concerns, will retire on October 1. Furness has worked for the Conference since 1983, making her the longest serving staff member in the Conference.
Furness began part-time on January 1, 1983, as an administrative assistant. In the fall of that year, the Rev. Alan Tinkham, Minister of Church Development, asked Furness to come to the annual meeting in Bridgeport to help set up a display. She was able to see part of the meeting and was intrigued by the inner works of the organization. She stayed overnight with her close friend Peggy Wright and observed the entire annual meeting the next day.
"I was fascinated by the whole thing," says Furness. "To see the process, the whole process that was created by the pilgrims as the basis of the church."
Tinkham retired later that year, but the Rev. Carroll E. Kann, then Conference Minister, asked Furness to come on full time as an administrative assistant. She started on January 1, 1984, exactly one year after she joined the conference staff part time.
"I felt a call, and it wasn't a job. It was a call," says Furness.
Furness recalls that she learned to type when she was in high school and was thrilled with it. She enjoyed it so much, that she resisted when school counselors tried to guide her toward a college path. Furness wanted to work in an office.
"God gave me the gift and the skill to be able to type on the typewriter," says Furness. Her skills have grown into computers and databases, but she believes that skill was given to her because she was meant to work for the Conference and do God's work with those gifts.
Later, Furness discovered new ways she was meant to serve. When the Rev. Matt McCaffrey asked her to drive the support van for a bike trip he organized though Silver Lake, she agreed. She started off driving the routes from Kittery, Maine to East Hartford, but later began biking part of the route as she shared the driving with her husband, Peter.
"That was a very different thing that I had never done," says Furness. "I had never done more than ride my bicycle around the block. To get to where I could come the distance, 40 miles an afternoon, that was a learning experience."
Furness spent eight years helping with the biking conferences. Eventually, the couple even joined an adult trip, biking 600 miles around maritime Canada.
Furness says she'll miss the friendships and the opportunity to help people and support the work done at the conference, but she is also looking forward to having more time to herself. She loves to cook, plan parties, sew, and do crafts, and even plans to find some task around the house that she says just can't be done when you work and raise a family. She imagines walks to the library with Peter and says the two will travel to see family more often. They both enjoy kayaking and camping and hope to travel more widely through their camping club.
"Sue’s colleagues will miss her warmth," said the Rev. Eric Anderson, Minister of Communications and Technology, "her daily dedication and commitment to 'get things right,' and the jams and jellies she gives us at Christmas. Those last, made with her own hands and given out of her great heart, give a great picture of Sue: never reluctant to make the effort, never willing to compromise on quality, and never forgetting those she cares for."
Drew Page is Media Assistant for the Connecticut Conference UCC.
Photos from Sue Furness' retirement celebration at United Church Center, September 19, 2012
Photos by Eric Anderson