Southwest District says farewell and welcome to district resource assistants

Jim Todd, superintendent for the Southwest District, bids farewell to Mary Ann Unangst, district resource assistant on her last day in the office.

Mary Ann Unangst retired last week after nearly fifteen years of faithful dedicated service as district resource assistant (DRA) for the Southwest District.  Following in her footsteps is Christiane O. McLaughlin, the new DRA. Chris and Mary Ann worked together during the last week of July in order to insure a smooth transition.  Jim Todd, District Superintendent, said, “I am sad to see Mary Ann retire after working together with her for five years.”  He added, “And I am excited to work with Chris, and I look forward to the wealth of skills she will bring to the position.”

Mary Ann began on January 1, 1997 as secretary in the district office, and has worked with three different superintendents since that time:  Larry Leister, Bob Hoffman, and Jim Todd.    While training Chris this past week, she found the notebook that the previous secretary had for her.  “The notebook had so little compared to what I gave to Chris, because technology wasn’t as popular then,” Maryann said.  “Back then half of the pastors had emails – now all have emails.  The job has evolved so much.  The big thing is technology and the way it is used.”

“I loved working with the pastors and laity here –  they’ve been really great,” said Mary Ann,  adding, ”I am going to miss working with other DRAs!  They are a great bunch of women to work with – so helpful and supportive as a group!”  Mary Ann said that she is looking forward to sleeping in a little bit and reading many mysteries and family sagas, perhaps making the Lititz town library her second home.  She enjoys sewing both by hand and by machine, and wants to try machine quilting.  She looks forward to seeing and spending time with her children and four granddaughters.

Chris is a seminary trained local pastor, having graduated from Holy Family College in Philadelphia in 1989, and Lancaster Theological Seminary in 2009.  During her seminary years and shortly thereafter, she was a staff member of Grandview UMC in Manheim Township.  In November 2009, Chris was appointed one-quarter time to the Newtown UMC in Rapho Township.  Then in July 2010, she also assumed the pastoral duties at Washington Boro UMC south of Columbia.  Washington Boro is also a part-time appointment.  Chris will take on the challenge of pastoring two churches plus the 35 hour per week DRA position.  Fortunately, she is a well organized person who will use her time effectively in her churches and in the District Office.

Chris has been married to Brian for almost 20 years.  She grew up in Northeast Philadelphia as a Roman Catholic, but has come to embrace the theology and polity of United Methodism.  Chris and Brian moved their two young sons, Brian (14) and Jimmy (almost 12), to Lancaster County in the early 2000’s and have enjoyed living in this part of Pennsylvania.  They live in Manheim Township.  In her spare time, Chris likes to play board games and card games with her sons (she reports she usually loses!).  She also enjoys reading on her porch and wandering around bookstores and antique shops with her husband.

Chris said, “Being a DRA will certainly be full of challenges,” and, “Mary Ann is a great teacher!”  She was quick to add, “I will still depend on the grace of my colleagues as I learn the ins and outs of my new job.”

Welcome, Chris, and thanks so much for everything all these years, Mary Ann!  To contact Chris, email