Kris and I were asked to attend and I got to be a Presenter when Karen Miller was ordained to the priesthood almost two weeks ago. Karen will join her husband, Kevin, as co-pastors, co-priests of Church of the Savior in Wheaton. It was a wonderful service in which we were with our Bishop, Todd Hunter, who gave a powerful message on pastoral ministry, and everything went off without a hitch (including two confirmands, including Al Hsu’s son).
Here is a recent story about the event.
When two dioceses join hands, a husband-wife team finds a parish to pastor.
Last year, The Rev. Kevin and the Rev. Karen Miller of the Diocese of the Upper Midwest felt God calling them to preach and pastor as a husband-wife team. But there were no churches in their diocese with a position available. So they continued to attend Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois, and pursue other employment.
Around the same time, their longtime friends the Rev. Bill and Linda Richardson of the Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others were preparing to retire from nearby Church of the Savior. They had quietly been thinking of replacements, but didn’t consider the Millers as they belonged to a different diocese. Moreover, Church of the Savior is only 10 minutes from Church of the Resurrection.
The ships nearly passed in the night, but the Millers’ rector and bishop, the Rt. Rev. Stewart Ruch, called a few of his fellow bishops, including Bishop Todd Hunter, to ask if their dioceses had any churches in search of a rector couple.
Bishop Hunter quickly thought of Church of the Savior. He asked the Millers, whom he had known for years, if they would be interested in candidating for the position. When the Millers asked Bishop Ruch about the possibility, he replied, “I’m supportive. We’re going to bless you if you go, and if people decide to go with you to Savior, we’ll bless them too.”
Bishop Hunter was thrilled at the resulting kingdom collaboration.
“Bill and Linda created a unique and beautiful community of faith at Church of the Savior,” he says. “Kevin and Karen have the vision and leadership to move the church forward. This transition allows The Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others and the Diocese of the Upper Midwest to partner in a way that we all hope makes future collaboration possible.”
After a national search by Savior’s vestry and discernment team, led by Alexis Olsen and Steve Mead, the church chose to hire the Millers. The couple started in January as Rector and Associate Pastor for a congregation they describe as “gentle and loving.” The transition was a peaceful one, as the Millers were able to spend several months attending Church of the Savior, assisting the Richardsons in leading worship, and getting to know the parishioners before they officially started on January 1.
On the Richardsons’ last night at Savior, the parish sang “Here I Am, Lord,” and Bill and Linda gave Kevin and Karen silver hearts to carry with them, symbolizing their call to hold the people of Savior in their hearts. Together, they rejoiced in the Lord’s provision for all of them.
“We were and are particularly pleased that [the Millers’] gift sets augment and expand the gifts we have exercised at Savior, and the gifts they bring will be very important as Savior looks to the future,” Linda Richardson says. “Having a priest-couple to replace us is very significant for Savior.”
Kevin now has the opportunity to regularly exercise his gift of preaching, and after 14 years as a transitional deacon, Karen will be ordained to the priesthood in March. The Millers previously served on staff at Church of the Resurrection and have many years of experience in executive leadership to contribute.
“I’m excited that our dream to lead as senior pastors together is coming true, and I look forward to developing staff and lay leaders at Savior,” Karen says.
The couple is also enjoying their new diocesan home.
“I loved the Diocese of the Upper Midwest’s value on church planting,” Kevin says, “so I am glad to still be under a bishop with a vision for mission, especially through church planting.”
SMcK: final comment. I was saddened and there’s no other word for it that the priests and ordained from Church of the Resurrection, where Kevin and Karen served for more than a decade, did not participate in the presentation because they oppose the ordination of women. ACNA includes folks who do and don’t believe in women’s ordination, but it is a sign of one-way-only not to participate. To be present in clerical collar and not participate strains my sense of fellowship, of unity, and of consistency.