By Rick Wolcott*
Jessica Vargo was East Ohio Conference treasurer for nearly 15 years before she was named chief financial officer for the Kent State University Foundation in December.
“At the time Jessica came into the conference we had some particular financial challenges and she provided decisive financial leadership at that point that helped us to get on solid ground,” said the Rev. David Palmer, chairperson of the conference Council on Finance and Administration.
On Sunday, March 12, friends, family, colleagues, and members of the East Ohio Conference gathered at North Canton Faith UMC to thank Vargo for her service.
“You have given your life in full service to this role. You have always risen to the occasion and have served faithfully, and served with excellence,” said Bishop Tracy S. Malone.
Since January, Vargo has worked evenings and weekends on a contract basis while the search was conducted for her replacement.
“No one works more diligently than Jessica does,” Palmer said. “She has brought real integrity and a sincere commitment to the mission of the church, and has enabled us all to work together to be as effective as we can be.”
“Jessica, you’ve left a legacy for us,” the Rev. Dr. Gary George said, “Thank you for being an advocate for the Church and for remembering that we do our best mission and ministry at that level.”
Just before Vargo addressed those in attendance, EOC Benefits Manager Betsy Stewart thanked her for her years of service and presented her with a gift.
“I will always look at March 1, 2002 as the day I relinquished control of my life to God,” Vargo said. “This tends-to-be-a-control-freak, always-has-a-plan person relinquished control, totally turned her life upside down and said ‘yes’ to the East Ohio Conference 15 years ago. I believed then, and I still do today, that I was called to be in this place at that time for a purpose. Over these 15 years, the church has frustrated me at times but I will always view it as a blessing, and one that I will always cherish. I wish the East Ohio Conference and The United Methodist Church the very best. To my successor I am leaving a very excellent staff and for that reason I know that she is going to do just fine. From the bottom of my heart, and with all sincerity, thank you. May God bless all of the local churches in East Ohio, The United Methodist Church, and all those who tirelessly work to further God’s kingdom. May you be blessed this day, and in all of the days to follow. Amen.”
The open house concluded with Bishop Malone asking those gathered to extend their hands toward Vargo as she offered these words of blessing and sending forth.
“Most loving and gracious God you are truly the giver of every good and perfect gift. For the gift of this your servant leader, Jessica Vargo, for her life, for her ministry, for her witness. We thank you O God for sending her to be among us as treasurer of the East Ohio Conference some 15 years ago. And we thank you O God that she faithfully said ‘yes’ to your call upon her life. We pray for your continued blessings upon her journey as she now answers a new call. May she always know O God that she is deeply loved and deeply appreciated by the people of the East Ohio Conference and may her journey continue to be blessed. Be with her Lord. May your Holy Spirit continue to guide her life and her footsteps every step of the way. Thank you Lord for Jessica. Thank you for her faithful service. In Jesus’ name, let the people of God say ‘Amen.’”
*Rick Wolcott is director of Communications for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.