Was that a flying pig I just saw? Must have been, because swine on the wing is pretty much on a par in my mind with the words " Dr. DeWayne Woodring is retiring from the Religious Conference Management Association." But in fact, he actually is stepping down from the RCMA executive director position he's held since RCMA was founded 40 years ago. He's handing over the reins to Rev. Harry Schmidt, who previously was the vice president of RCMA’s board.
I worked very closely with Dr. Woodring when I first joined MeetingsNet as the editor of RCMA's magazine, Religious Conference Manager. I'll never forget meeting him at my first RCMA annual conference, where I already was a little frazzled at the thought of producing the show daily newspapers, something I hadn't done before. Then I came down with something horrid and spiked a fever of 102 degrees the day before the conference was to begin. I was a wreck. But not Dr. Woodring, who calmly sent me to my hotel room to recuperate (which fortunately I did pretty quickly and was able to carry on the next day—phew!). I have so many memories of him, but that's one of my favorites. He may have been an executive director, but at heart he's a meeting planner, too, and whatever came up at the annual conferences (and of course, there's always something), he and his staff handled it with aplomb.
I'm sure many things will be said about his leadership of the organization, his strength of will, his fierce desire to provide the best education out there for his members, his sensitivity to the unique needs of an organization whose membership is ecumenical and religious simultaneously, his sense of humor, his laser-like focus on the details...it's really hard to imagine RCMA without him at the helm. But while it's sad to see him go (what I wouldn't give to go to his farewell banquet!), I'm sure he and the board have given as much attention to the succession as they did to everything else, and that Rev. Schmidt will both carry on the traditions and bring his own new ideas to the organization.
But what I really want to know is what Dr. Woodring will do with all that energy now that he won't have RCMA to pour it into. I hope his lovely wife Donna and his kids and grandkids can keep him occupied! My best wishes for a long and happy retirement, Dr. Woodring. You are truly one of a kind.