by Julianne Clayton, Former Office Administrator
When my husband and I moved to Tallahassee nearly six years ago, I remember feeling a little unsure. My husband had a very clear call as a pastor, but I didn’t yet know how I would spend my time. As I began to search for employment, a friend let me know about an opening in the office of Trinity United Methodist Church. While I loved the idea of working in a local church, I ultimately decided to apply because of these words from my friend: “You’d get to work with Wayne Wiatt. I know Wayne, and he is a phenomenal person.” After working with Wayne at Trinity for almost five years, I couldn’t agree more.
In my experience, as head-of-staff, Wayne saw beyond the job description; he saw each staff member as a person. When we inevitably struggled or had bad days, he offered support and understanding, and reminded us that we were worth caring for. When we were caught up in the stress and busyness of certain seasons, he helped foster a team mindset and created space for community and fellowship among the staff. He empowered each of us by giving us agency and trusting us in our ministries—we could be creative, try new things, and be ourselves in our work. He recognized our giftings and encouraged us to cultivate them; personally, he encouraged my love of writing and supported my decision to pursue a graduate degree in spiritual formation. It was always clear that, in Wayne’s eyes, we were more than a staff; we were a team and a family and he cared for us so well.
Wayne understood the assignment: to lead with love. Even in the midst of his own personal struggles and challenges, that is exactly what he did. While I only bore witness to a snippet of his decades-long ministry, I am grateful for the years I got to serve under his leadership. He might soon be retiring[jcc1] from Trinity, but I have no doubt Wayne will continue to serve, shepherd, and pastor those who cross his path because those things are more than just what he does; they are part of who he is.
As we move toward the future, may we always remember and recognize the season of Wayne’s leadership at Trinity as the gift that it was. Well done, Wayne!