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Diocesan and Parish Leaders Gather to Learn about Systemic Racism

Last Saturday about 55 parish lay leaders and clergy gathered at Zion, Oconomowoc for our spring Leadership Day. We participated in an Introduction to Systemic Racism training put on by Crossroads Anti-Racism Organizing and Training, an organization based in Illinois.

The purpose of this training was to provide an introductory process to deepen our understanding of institutional/systemic racism and to begin to find ways to more effectively dismantle and eliminate racism within our institutions. It was an important and heavy topic, to be sure, but we all were able to have some good discussions about racism. One participant noted, “This was daunting, in a good way.”

Thank you to Zion for providing the room for us. Thanks also to Dawn Anderson for making sure we had plenty of coffee, lunch, and treats. We’re also grateful for the leadership from the Commission on Mission and Development for arranging this training. And, lastly, thank you to our trainers for the day, Kelly and Noah, who were excellent facilitators.

Sara Bitner
Communications Officer

Becoming a Foster Parent

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Bishop Miller would like you to consider learning about becoming a foster parent. The Rev. Scott Leannah and his wife, Gina Kuemmel, felt the call to be foster parents several years ago. Read a bit about their journey.

My wife Gina and I became foster parents because it intrigued us, we were invited to consider it, and we met someone, Daniel, who had grown up in "the system" from the time he was two. We met him at age 17.  When we got licensed and he came to live with us, it was not easy!  However, today at age 25, we still hear from him and he comes over for dinner on a regular basis, and, when he does, he usually brings his laundry! After Daniel left our home, we felt another divine nudge, inviting us again to open our hearts and lives to another foster kid. The social worker threw a curve ball at us, however, and said, "If this little girl comes to stay with you, she isn't leaving; she needs a forever home." And so it happened. Mia, age 5, arrived for a visit, came for another one, and then shortly after that, she moved in. Six months later we adopted her. Today she's 13, in seventh grade and doing well.

Gina and I know that being a foster parent or adoptive parent isn't for everyone. It's challenging, rewarding, and, for us, something we feel we've been called to do. We don't advise parents to engage in fostering or adoption of a traumatized kiddo to fill an empty place in their own lives.

Meeting one's needs to be a parent is wonderful, but, in our experience, the love, dedication and work of fostering or adopting a traumatized young person requires one to be fairly whole, balanced and realistic at the "get-go." I do not mean to be negative — it's an amazing, life-giving journey of love, growth and discovery. It is essential to respect and reverence the story of children who, through no fault of their own, are caught up in a system that, try as individuals within it may, is not perfect or even ideal.

What is ideal? Every child should be loved, cared for, fed, and offered a place to belong. If you feel open to doing that, it may be the most impactful thing you ever do in the life of another person. The need is great. There are folks who say to Gina and me, "Oh, I admire what you're doing so much — I could never do that!" Actually, you can.  Please, pray about it, consider it, and learn more.

 ~The Rev. Scott Leannah and Ms. Gina Kuemmel

The need for foster parents in Milwaukee County is significant. If you or your congregation members are interested in learning more about fostering, please consider inviting one of the Recruitment Specialists from Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Community Services to host an informational meeting at your church, present to your congregation, or consider posting flyers within your organization to promote the need for loving foster parents in our community. 

Please contact Sarah Sergeant via phone (414-231-4867) or , if you believe you may be able to help in one of these ways, or if you have any additional ideas of how we can continue to find safe and loving foster families for our children in foster care!

You can also learn more about becoming a foster parent or ways to support foster parents by reading some current foster parents’ stories about their experiences at the Kid Hero Blog.


Checklists for Vestries

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Checklists from the Commission on Mission and Development
The Commission on Mission and Development has developed some tools for you to use together with your vestries that we're excited to share with you. They are all available on our website

Here are all the checklists and tools as pdfs for you to view. All the files are available as Word docs on our website so you can fill them out and adapt them to your settings.

1. Checklist for Congregations
2. Calendar of Worship and Events
3. Review of Goals
4. Review of Ministries
We encourage you to start using these tools with your vestries. If you have questions or need help in any of the above areas, please contact Canon Peggy Bean. We have wonderful people resources across the diocese who can help encourage and guide you.