St. Paul Farewell

News | February 23, 2023

After 26 years of combined service, two long-time St. Paul staff members plan for retirement next week.

Paula Durham, business office manager
Paula started her career in Information Technology as a systems/project manager designing computer systems. She eventually found her way into the income tax and accounting world where her knowledge in human resources, payroll, and administration would marry the IT skills needed for her business manager role at St. Paul.

“I mean it sincerely when I say that I think St. Paul is, for me, the best place to work and this has been the best job ever. It draws on my varied skills in an environment where people truly care about each other. I really felt called to work here.”

When Paula thinks back on her time at St. Paul, she thinks about the people she was fortunate to meet and create close friendships with.

“The relationships and friendships I’ve developed at St. Paul are important to me. When I’m at an event or ushering at the Adler Theater and I see people that I know from St. Paul, it makes me happy. It brings me joy. I have been able to develop some friendships with people on staff and with members that I hope can continue.”

Paula’s family has grown during her tenure at St. Paul and she plans to spend more time with her six grandkids and focus on her passions.

“I’ll be spending more time with my grandchildren. I do want to learn to play the piano and I hope to have time to travel. In March, my partner and I are starting off my retirement with a trip to Austria and Croatia with plans to visit Germany and Slovenia.”

Paula has been an active member at First Presbyterian Church in Muscatine for more than 30 years. She plans to dive into more volunteerism.

“First Presbyterian Church has a social justice committee and our current project is a house in conjunction with Muscatine Center for Social Action (MCSA). The church partners with them in their affordable housing initiative. I’ll have time to do some hands-on work.”

Karen Holden, book corner manager
The timing of Karen’s start at St. Paul couldn’t have worked out more serendipitously. She had just completed her English and Theology degrees at St. Ambrose University, and with her husband Mark, was looking for a new church home. St. Paul happened to be looking for a business office assistant.

“Mark and I were sitting in worship at St. Paul, looking for a new church, and I saw the business office was looking for a part-time business assistant. I felt called here, so I applied.”

When Jan Aplin announced her retirement as the Book Corner manager in 2013, Karen had been working at St. Paul for three and a half years and knew the position was perfect for her.

“When Jan announced she was retiring, I knew this was why I had come to St. Paul. My degrees, my sense of justice, my faith, it all ties together. I felt very blessed to get this job here. And, really, it’s not a job, it’s truly an answer to a call. I learned a lot about the value of justice efforts during my time working with the Master of Social Work program at St. Ambrose. It helped to form me, and it carried over to my work as Book Corner Manager.”

“I’ve loved being on staff at St. Paul and managing the Book Corner. It has been the honor and privilege of my working life. It’s been home to me and it’s the best fit there’s ever been with any work related to me. I am grateful for every volunteer who keeps our sweet store humming. The volunteers are the heart of this place. That includes the Book Corner team, book selection team, annual inventory helpers, and all of the Sunday volunteers. We couldn’t do it without the St. Paul people shopping in our sweet store as well as our St. Paul pastors and staff, present and past. I’m so grateful to all of them.”

Karen noted that as she and her husband age, they want to see what the next phase of life looks like for them. They plan to travel more, with a special focus on visiting national parks, while spending time with their kids and their families.

“These are things we are ready for now. I’ll miss everything about this place.”

An ingathering of cards with well-wishes and gratitude are invited. Drop your greeting card (to their attention) in a basket at the receptionist’s desk inside the office area, or mail your greeting to church (in their name).

One comment on “St. Paul Farewell”

  • Audrey Keeney

    February 24, 2023 at 6:26 pm

    Thank you to both of you for the passion you had for your responsibility at St Paul. You gave your all to your commitment. Enjoy your new adventures in this new stage of life.

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