Gifted Banker with a Big Heart
I’d like to introduce you to a man who has been involved with Bethesda for many, many years. You may have seen at one of our events like the Annual Banquet or Golf Tournament. Jim Tatnall has served on Bethesda’s Board of Directors for over 30 years. His faithful, effective and steady leadership has been invaluable in helping to guide the direction of this Mission.
Jim’s wife, Tina, was a volunteer at the Women’s Shelter when Jim first became involved with the Board. Bethesda’s former Executive Director, Sherb Hill, invited Jim to a sit in on a Board meeting. At that meeting they asked Jim to step out for a few minutes and when he came back, he was welcomed onto the Board.
The overarching focus of our Board of Directors is centered on these three priorities:
- People– ensure that the Board, staff, and volunteers reflect the example of Christ to all guests whom God directs our way
- Vision– develop and reinforce the overall vision and strategies to create enthusiasm and direction to realize ongoing support and the effective implementation of programs serving men, women and children
- Protection– fiduciary responsibility to make sure that the stewardship of facilities, finances and personnel are carried out in compliance with all requirements affecting nonprofit organizations
Jim’s everyday world is the banking industry. He serves as Senior VP of Commercial Banking at Fulton Bank. Fulton encourages its employees to be involved in the community—one of the reasons Jim has enjoyed his job and stayed over 30 years.
Part of the Board’s involvement is to share about Bethesda with their spheres of influence. When you walk into Jim’s office at Fulton, his support of Bethesda is obvious with the display of the logo on various items. He says it’s a conversation piece, so he gets to share about his involvement. He invites those in his sphere to sponsor or participate in Bethesda events.
Motivation for service
“The working relationship between the Board and staff here is something that I’ve never experienced anywhere else,” Jim said. He believes a nonprofit board should not “sit in an ivory tower,” but rather be on the ground with the staff.
I recall at his mother’s memorial service a few years ago, that she was very influential in instilling in him the value of service. Jim’s commitment for so many years is testimony to her encouragement and his heart for what we do.
Power of prayer
Things have not always been easy, but Jim has remained faithful by leading the Mission’s Board during his many terms as Chair. He has prayed with staff leadership at each of the ministries. One of his favorite times is our annual staff prayer breakfast.
A poignant example was Jim’s leadership during 2008 financial crisis when the Mission was experiencing significant challenges. The emotional strain was intense, so through Jim’s leading, the Mission devoted special times of strategic prayer in which once again God demonstrated his faithfulness in sustaining the life of Bethesda.
Jim’s investment is all in. He has had some very personal interactions with guests, helping in various ways to encourage and support their growth. In the 90s, he and a few other male board members spent the night at the Men’s Shelter. One of his most impactful experiences was going out as a volunteer with the Mobile Mission, and he describes being out at 1 a.m. praying with a group of people at the bus station. “I thought, ‘this is what this is all about,’” Jim said.
Jim and his wife have invested a significant amount financially. Their reason for continuing to do so – the results are obvious. “Going to a Men’s Shelter graduation ceremony, one can see the life change that our guests experience,” Jim said. “It’s not just the men; we’re impacting the women and the kids as well.”
Verses especially important in Jim’s life have been shared with others in their times of trial. Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God” was shared with me during my heart bypass surgery in 2017, and it was so encouraging.
Jim is a wonderful example of giving of his time, talents, and resources. He lives out Matthew 6:33, “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you.”
As we hear Jim’s inspiring story, may each of us be encouraged to share with others the vision of the beautiful story of God’s House of Mercy called Bethesda!
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