April 29, 2016
Joint Letter from Bishop Todd Hunter (Church of the Savior) and Bishop Stewart Ruch III (Church of the Resurrection):
To the beloved congregations of Savior and Resurrection,
We are writing to you as brother bishops to share about an opportunity that Church of the Savior is exploring with Father Kevin and Deacon Karen Miller.
As some of you may know, the Reverends Bill and Linda Richardson, who lead Church of the Savior in Wheaton, have recently announced their intention to retire. As a preliminary step in their process of transition, they and Bishop Todd have talked with Father Kevin about the possibility of candidating for the rector position at Savior.
We wanted to let both congregations know about this opportunity as soon as possible so that you can pray for the Millers as they consider this possible next step in their ministry, and for Church of the Savior's vestry as they enter a discernment process about their next rector.
Bishop Stewart Ruch:
When Kevin and Karen began discerning their next steps as church leaders 18 months ago, I reached out to Bishop Todd to investigate whether there could be a parish for Kevin and Karen to lead. For those at Resurrection who may not know, Bishop Todd leads a diocese that includes Church of the Savior.
Since I learned of this new leadership opportunity for the Millers, my conversations with Bishop Todd, Kevin, and Karen have been exciting. If Savior decides to select Father Kevin as their new rector, I am ready to bless this next step for my dear friends. The Millers and the Ruchs have been ministry partners for 15 years, and our partnership can only continue and grow through this next possible step for the Millers.
Bishop Todd Hunter:
As bishop over Church of the Savior, I'm excited about the prospect of Kevin and Karen candidating to lead one of our diocese's churches. They both are exceptional leaders who have a remarkable track record as pastors within the Anglican work here in greater Chicago and beyond.
Church of the Savior will begin the discernment process in considering the Millers in the next few weeks. The Millers will remain at Resurrection throughout the summer, while they are candidating at Savior. If Savior does decide to invite them as leaders, the transition would occur sometime this fall.
We will continue to keep you updated on this process as it develops. We are so glad to be partnering with all of you in ministry. Join us in praying for Father Kevin and Deacon Karen, for Church of the Savior, and for the continued strengthening and mutual encouragement of our Anglican community here in the Midwest.
Bishop Stewart Ruch III, Diocese of the Upper Midwest
Bishop Todd Hunter, Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others
If you have questions for Father Kevin or Deacon Karen, please reach out to them directly at either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Due to Bishop Stewart's pending departure for sabbatical, any other questions should be directed to Executive Pastor Steve Williamson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 19, 2016
A year ago when I heard that Resurrection was forming a Good Neighbor Team to serve a local refugee family, I decided I really ought to join. I had in mind the dozens of Scripture verses that talk about welcoming the stranger and sojourner. I also thought that I really should take a step out of the comfortable cocoon of my social network, which was full of people who shared my cultural, ethnic, and economic background. I dutifully attended team trainings and prepared to visit the family with my teammate Tim for an ESL lesson.
But when I stepped inside the family's apartment in West Chicago for the first time and met William and Thian-Kung and their three teenage children Daisy, Flora, and Junior, something began to change inside of me. As Tim and I kept returning for ESL lessons from week to week, I realized that I wasn't thinking about serving this family as a moral duty anymore; my friendship with them had become a source of joy. I wanted to go back and hear Thian-Kung's infectious laugh and see William's reserved smile. I wanted to listen as Daisy, Flora, and Junior told stories about playing soccer, getting to know their neighbors, and mastering geometry and geography at school.
William and Thian-Kung's own peace in the midst of their international transition also moved me. As devout Baptists, they fled persecution in Burma and spent several years in a refugee settlement in Malaysia before coming to the United States. Despite these challenges, they stayed connected to Jesus and his church throughout their journey. Daisy and Flora were baptized while they were in Malaysia, and they quickly became youth leaders at the Burmese congregation in Wheaton that their family is now attending. Through it all, the family has not lost their joy. Tim and I often reflect that Thian-Kung seems to face the challenges of life in the United States, from taxes to transportation to time management, with less anxiety than we do! Seeing her joy has given me the freedom to release some of my own anxiety to the Lord.
The same experience of finding joy through refugee ministry has proved true for other team members. Joy O'Reagan shares:
"On the evening before the Thang family arrived from Maylaysia last August, our team set up their new apartment–we cleaned the kitchen, assembled furniture and bedding, and arranged flowers so the apartment would feel as welcoming as possible. I was so glad to play a small part in welcoming their family into a new home and a new land.
"Over the past year, I have loved visiting the Thangs' Falam church in Wheaton, helping the girls with homework, and introducing them to the area. One of my most memorable Good Neighbor Team experiences was the morning that Tim Gulsvig and I drove the family to the West Chicago Library on the day of the first heavy winter snow. It was the first time they had seen snow! They thought it was beautiful but extremely cold!"
Jack and Angie Herklotz write:
"We started our relationship with the Thang family by picking them up at the airport when they arrived from Malaysia. Over the next few months, we made many visits to their apartment in West Chicago to help with many details of getting established here. One day, we learned that William and Thian-Kung had both failed their written driver's test. We had fun trying to explain the correct answers with minimal words and hand gestures. They both passed the next time they took the test and we rejoiced with them.
"We took them to Cantigny one beautiful day. They were so excited to see so much beauty and the diversity of flowers. When we got to the rose garden, Daisy and Flora were jumping up and down with joy exclaiming 'rose garden, rose garden'! We were blessed as we watched them enjoying the park.
"The children now refer to us as 'Uncle Jack' and 'Aunt Angie,' which makes us feel accepted. We look forward to continuing to build our friendship with them."
Like my teammates, this year of refugee ministry has been full of unexpected moments of delight. Far from being a chore, I've found that the opportunity to be in friendship with this family is nothing less than opportunity to meet Jesus himself. I went looking for a way to fulfill a moral obligation, and instead was surprised by the joyful presence of God.