Longest-serving Conference employee celebrates 30th anniversary
By Kara Witherow, Editor
This month we celebrate Eleanor Dickson’s 30th anniversary as part of the South Georgia Conference staff. We are grateful to Eleanor for her faithful service over the years and for the impact her ministry has had on our clergy, their families, our lay staff, and our entire Conference. While it’s impossible to encapsulate 30 years of ministry into one article, we want to celebrate Eleanor and thank her for her three decades of ministry and service.
Capable. Highly regarded. Advocate.
Eleanor Dickson, who on Oct. 15 celebrated 30 years of ministry and service with the South Georgia Conference, is the Conference’s longest-serving employee.
Dedicated, diligent, and hardworking, Dickson’s favorite part of her job is the people.
“The people I work with are really what make the job,” said Dickson, who serves as South Georgia’s assistant director for pensions and benefits and also as the conference’s part-time human resources officer. “I don’t just mean the staff in the office, it’s the whole extended family – the clergy, the treasurers, everyone.”
Administrative Services Director Dr. Derek McAleer, who has worked with Dickson for more than six years, sees firsthand her dedication to her job and those she serves.
“She’s a consistent stalwart and fighter on behalf of our retired clergy, making sure we’re taking care of them,” he said. “That’s one reason they love her – they know she’s always thinking about them.”
Dr. McAleer tells a story that captures the close relationships Dickson has built over the years.
“A retired pastor called one day to talk to her, but she was out. The receptionist put his call through to me,” Dr. McAleer recalled. “‘Can I help you?’ I asked. ‘Do you have anyone up there who loves us retired preachers like Eleanor does?’ he asked. ‘Well, no sir. We try, but she is special,’ I replied. ‘Okay. I’ll call back,’ he said, hanging up! He only wanted to talk to the person who cared about him, and that was Eleanor.”
When she began her employment with the South Georgia Conference in 1990, personal computers were just coming on the scene, the Internet was not yet widely used, and postage stamps only cost 25 cents.
While much about technology, pensions, and insurance has changed, a good deal has stayed the same, Dickson said. She’s still handling benefits and apportionments, just as she did then.
“I’m doing pretty much the same work, it’s just grown over the years,” she said.
Pension and insurance matters are complicated, and during her tenure Dickson has deftly navigated the South Georgia Conference through three pension changes. She’s one who others trust and turn to for information and advice.
“She’s one of those people I’ll turn to and bounce things off of,” Dr. McAleer said. “She has a good understanding of the conference, she’s been with our conference a long time, and she has a good understanding of people.”
Each day brings an opportunity to love and learn, said Dickson, a mother of two and grandmother – Mimi – of two.
“I always tell Derek, ‘It’s a day not wasted if I learn something new,’ so every day is just about a day not wasted,” Dickson said. “The most rewarding part of my job is that I get a chance to love people and to help them. Usually when I get a call, the person has a need, and I get a chance to love them first and to help them with their problem.”