Bill talks with John Sharp, director of business operations, about what originally drew him to Kenilworth Union, and what it’s like to work at the church.

John Sharp, Director of Business Operations

Bill: Hi friends, my name is Bill Evertsberg and I’m one of the ministers at Kenilworth Union Church, and this is Doogie, my assistant minister. I’m so pleased John, John Sharp is with us, business manager at Kenilworth Union Church.

You know, John, when we started talking about this possibility in 2019, I suspected you would be a high achiever and a splendid employee because of your wonderful education. Tell us about that, to begin.

John: Well, interestingly enough, I, like your wife, went to University of Michigan, and we actually overlapped by a year or two in Ann Arbor.

Bill: You’re also a member at Kenilworth Union Church, you’re not just an employee, and so tell us when did you come to Kenilworth Union, and why, and what was your involvement at the church before you became an employee.

John: Well, about six years ago we moved to Kenilworth. My wife Cher and I and we were looking for a new church, and I was looking for a church with a good choir because I wanted to be in a choir, so we had an opportunity to come here a few times and we liked the preaching, we liked the music, we liked everything about it and it was a natural fit for us. So we took the classes and joined about six years ago.

Bill: Where are you from, John?

John: My wife and I are both from Ohio.

Bill: Whereabouts in Ohio?

John: I’m from southern Ohio and she’s from northern Ohio.

Bill: So when you and I talked about doing this little chat, we decided where we wanted to film this. Tell the congregation why we’re filming this in front of the Methodist window in the sanctuary.

John: Well, it’s one of the beauties of a non-denominational church is that we have people from all different walks of life and all different faiths, and I grew up in the United Methodist Church in Ohio, and this is near and dear to my heart, the Wesleys, and that’s why we chose this window.

Bill: A noble window. So, tell us about your career. What did you do before you came to work for Kenilworth Union in September of 2019, right?

John: That’s right. I spent a lot of time, most of my career, being a CFO or a VP of finance or a controller at two publicly traded companies and two private companies over the past too many years. It’s got to be 30 years now. And had a series of different jobs in finance and accounting. Got my CPA, started out in public accounting with a Big 4 accounting firm, and took that and utilized it to be able to get onto some private companies.

Bill: So you’re a CPA which is a noble credential, and I’m not underselling the beauty of working at Kenilworth Union Church, but we’re a tiny little institution. Tell us about that shift from working with these billion-dollar corporations to a $2 million operation like Kenilworth Union. What has that been like for you and why did you decide to do that, and how has it been?

John: Well, it was the right thing to do at that time in my career. I’m at a point where I had an opportunity and ability to choose the kind of job that I would really want, and I felt like this was a perfect opportunity for me. I had been on the business committee for five years and knew some of the players in there. I knew Bev; thanks to her, and some of the folks on the business committee, I was able to put my hat in the ring and it was just the right time for Cher and me. I was spending a lot of time in the air and in different cities and actually when I was here in Chicago, I was driving to Naperville every day for ten years. So it was just a long, kind of tedious thing, and this was an opportunity for me to get a job where–and it’s not just a job–but get an opportunity to give a little bit, something, back.

Bill: Great. So you felt a vocation? This is a calling for you, right?

John: That’s right.

Bill: A calling from the Lord, to work in a holy institution, so to speak. Tell us about your day-to-day responsibilities. What are the biggest chunks of your day like?

John: Well the majority of what my staff and I do is keep the books and records for the church. Monies coming in, monies going out. That is right down my alley. I would have done that–for the last 30 years I’ve been doing the exact same thing, you know–reconciling accounts, making sure that the financial statements are true to form. That’s the easier part of the job.

The more difficult part of the job for me is being basically a landlord. I’ve never had to do this kind of thing before. And today is a perfect example. You asked me about my day-to-day, today’s a perfect example. We have HVAC contractors here today because we’re opening up the sanctuary and the rest of the church to fresher air for COVID reasons; we’re spending some money to upgrade the HVAC systems. We also had a fire panel alarm today, so we had the fire contractors here today, and we also are making some modifications here in the sanctuary, audio and visual. So we’ve had a number of different contractors here today.

Bill: What’s so wonderful for Katie and Christine and I is that we don’t have to think about any of that stuff. You take care of that.

John, I’ll be honest with you, when Bev Lang retired, I was terrified. I didn’t know how we would replace Bev. But we found you, and you feel like a gift from God, right? I’m not really exaggerating. The thing I love best about you is that you have the mind of a leader, but the heart of a servant. You never say no. You might say “not now,” or “we’ll do it this way instead,” but you don’t say no. You try to serve the whole staff: Lisa, Christine, Katie, and I, and so that’s why we love you and we’re so grateful to have you here on the staff at Kenilworth Union. Thanks, and also thanks for loving my dog. John and Doogie are best buddies, so thanks for talking to me.

God bless you, and folks, the Lord bless you and keep you as well. See you next time.