News from Fr Rob Lewis
The call of God on our lives is the call of love. To resist it is to reject love – and life itself.
Throughout my life, I have often tried to resist the call of God’s love, with predictably unhappy results, which in turn have taught me to respond positively!
The past two decades of my life have been marked by such moments.
When I left Wheaton decades ago I determined never to return.
Love brought me back.
When I met my wife, Tammy, in 2004, she lived in Wheaton. When I married her in 2007, she agreed to join me in Connecticut. Within three years we were living in Wheaton.
I had loved my Episcopal church in Connecticut and was not eager to join a church in Wheaton. One Sunday, in the spring of 2011, we visited All Souls. Tammy liked it immediately, but it took me longer. Inertia kept me at All Souls until affection began to creep in. Love followed. I began to serve the All Souls community in small ways, brewing coffee for catechesis and fellowship, and taking communion out to folks who couldn’t be at church.
Becoming a deacon in October 2018, seemed to be a natural part of the progression of loving service. It was unmistakably a call of love.
When our church traversed some extremely challenging events in 2020 and 2021, I continued to follow that call, which culminated in becoming a priest in May of 2022.
When Fr James was chosen rector of our parish in June of 2022 he graciously invited me to minister in whatever way I wanted at All Souls. He also identified youth ministry as our most urgent need and invited me to consider working with our teens. The prospect alarmed me. But I was also intrigued and excited. The desire was there, but not the aptitude. Or so I thought.
But I said yes to the call. And have discovered love yet again: for our youth, and their love for me. And God’s love for all of us together. It has been an honor and a privilege to minister to our teens.
And now I am sensing God’s call to the work of chaplaincy, not as a departure from our church but as a sending out. This too is a call of love in keeping with our philosophy for Souls on Mission to equip those who feel God calling them to minister to those outside our community. And that, I believe, is all of us!
At the end of the 2023/2024 academic year, I will relinquish my role as coordinator of youth ministry to allow someone else called and equipped to take up the tremendous opportunity to work with our children and youth.
And I will continue to be your priest alongside Fr James and Deacon Mary. I look forward to serving the All Souls community as ministry leader of Souls on Mission and continuing to provide pastoral care.
I am deeply grateful for our church community, for you, the Souls, who have so readily and warmly opened your hearts to me and Tammy.
News from Jennifer Merck
For many years, I’ve had two roles at All Souls: Parish Life Facilitator and Pastor for Children. Next summer, I will have been leading All Souls Children’s Ministries for 20 years! Three of those children have been mine. In fact, ten years ago, our youngest—Aidan—left All Souls’ Children’s Ministries and headed into Youth Group.
It has been my great privilege to lead the team that began and has maintained the programs we offer for children. I’ve been thinking for several years that it may be time to hand those reins over to someone new. In fact, we built this goal into our Strategic Plan. There is much to be gained by All Souls having someone new step into the role after 20 years. There is also much to be gained for me and for All Souls by me being able to focus on my role as Parish Life Facilitator. I love the Souls . . . and the work of a Parish Life Facilitator is serving the Souls—serving you!
As I’ve thought about this for a few years, my highest priority has been not leaving All Souls without leadership in the critical area of Children’s Ministries. The work we do in Children’s Ministries is Great Commission work: we must place a high priority on it.
The timing seems right to consider the entirety of our programming from birth to 12th grade. I’m eagerly looking forward to being part of a team that looks to the future of shepherding all of the children at All Souls. I am also looking forward to focusing on what it looks like to only be the Parish Life Facilitator at All Souls.