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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.

St. Matthew's, Kenosha Service Award Winners

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Paul calls us to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). What is your church doing to give thanks to its members?

St. Matthew’s, Kenosha has a tradition of showing gratitude for those who serve in their church by awarding three services awards yearly at their Annual Meeting. Before the annual meeting, Fr. Matthew Buterbaugh typically confers with the senior and junior warden about who the recipients should be.

“Gratitude is not just a private feeling but is also inherently social, connecting us as individuals with others,” according to author Diana Butler Bass. By acknowledging the award winners, St. Matthew’s is able to celebrate the work that people have done, and publicly thank them for their service. Generally, the award recipients are surprised with their awards at the Annual Meeting. This year’s meeting was held on January 20.

Jazmin Mendoza-AndersonJazmin Mendoza-Anderson, Acolyte Award winner

The Acolyte Award is based on best attendance in the past year. The acolytes give themselves a check every time they come into the sacristy, and whoever gets the most checks by the end of the year gets the award. This year’s winner was Jazmin Mendoza-Anderson. Fellow member Linda Bogdala noted about Jazmin, “She had been the most faithful in attendance and everyone appreciates her dedicated service to St. Matthew’s.”

Jennifer MeyerJennifer Meyer, Women's Service Cross winner

Jennifer Meyer was awarded the Women’s Service Cross. Jen has shared her musical talents as a member of the choir and as cantor at many services. She has worked diligently on many service and outreach projects. Jen also stepped up to assist in the office, coming in after her full-time job and weekends, after the parish was without an office administrator for several months.

Geoffrey GreeleyGeoffrey Greeley, Men's Service Cross winner

This year St. Matthew’s awarded the Men’s Service Cross award to Geoffrey Greeley, senior warden. Though usually the award it is a surprise, Fr. Buterbaugh said, “I had to tell him I’d made the decision without him.” In addition to his duties as senior warden, Geoff chaired the Stewardship drive last year. Linda Bogdala said, “Geoff is a licensed lay preacher, sharing his knowledge and love of God’s word with the congregation.” He also shares his musical talents as a member of the choir.

“Gratitude happens when some kindness exceeds expectations,” according to David Brooks in an article written in the New York Times. Thank you to Jazmin, Jen, and Geoff for exceeding expectations at St. Matthew’s.

What are other parishes doing to show gratitude?