The Rector's Column May 2015

by The Rev. Dr. Jason Parkin, Rector

On May 10, we will be blessed to welcome the Rt. Rev. Jeffrey D. Lee to Holy Comforter. A native of western Michigan and a graduate of the University of Michigan, Bp. Lee became the Diocesan-or senior-Bishop of the Diocese of Chicago in February of 2008, after serving parishes in Indiana, Wisconsin, and Washington State. He has broad experience in the national and international Church, and is widely respected in many circles for his wisdom, energy, and love of God's people.

Bp. Lee has not been to Holy Comforter in several years for a formal visitation, so it will be a special delight to welcome him back. On the 10th, he will preside and preach at the 8:00 and 9:00 Eucharists, and lead a brief Adult Forum in the Great Room at 10:00. At the 11:15 Eucharist, he will confirm the 32 7th-9th graders who are currently enrolled in the Confirmation class, Confirm Not Conform. Following the 11:15 liturgy, there will be a simple reception in the Great Hall for the Confirmation students and their families, and a chance for them to have more time with Bp. Jeff. (And regular attendees of the 11:15 Eucharist: please consider coming to the 8:00 or 9:00 service that morning due to the large crowd we are expecting at the Confirmation liturgy at 11:15.)

Bp. Lee is a wonderful preacher, a very engaging liturgical presence, and a warm, caring pastor. He has, among many other things, helped revitalize several congregations throughout northern Illinois, greatly enhanced some of our ethnic ministries, and been instrumental in incorporating into the Diocese of Chicago the churches from the former Diocese of Quincy-which, in large part, broke away from the Episcopal Church-that did not want to separate from the larger Church. He is also the author of Opening the Prayer Book, one of the volumes in the recent collection of books titled The Church Teaching Series, and is an accomplished musician.

When it comes to Bp. Jeff, I am, admittedly, completely biased: as I mentioned in the April Dove, he is one of my oldest and dearest friends, as we were seminary classmates over 30 years ago, and have been close ever since, enjoying a deep and rich history together. I am personally elated that he will be joining us on May 10 for his first visit since I returned to Holy Comforter, and pray that the congregation will turn out in great force to welcome our Diocesan Bishop back to the parish.

Once upon a time, a visit from the Bishop was A Big Deal in most parishes. In recent years in various parishes, I have noticed a growing trend of people actively staying away when that congregation has welcomed a pastoral leader. Let's change that pattern and make every effort to be present to enjoy the ministry, leadership, and gifts of Bp. Lee.