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Episcopal Dioceses Hold Initial Trialogue

Leaders from the Episcopal dioceses of Milwaukee, Fond du Lac and Eau Claire have unanimously agreed to pursue reunion. This idea has been talked about since the 1970s. It was agreed that now is the time to explore the option. A reunion would incorporate the three dioceses back to the one from which they were formed. Other paths could be followed, but pursuing reunion first provides clarity of purpose. It is understood doing so now is following opportunity rather than responding to necessity.

This agreement was made during the initial trialogue meeting on September 29, 2021. The trialogue explores how the three Wisconsin dioceses might work together to serve the mission of the Episcopal Church. Conversation focused on congregations, specifically how the diocese might better equip them to share the Gospel and serve Christ in their communities. There was enthusiastic discussion seeking new ideas and dreams of what could be developed for the 21st century and beyond. One participant noted, “whether we want change or not, change is upon us.”

Pursuing reunion will involve a variety of voices to develop a common understanding. The focus is first on describing the ministry, then imagining how to form it in the shape of one diocese. The initial leadership group, selected by each diocesan Executive Council, is planning a second meeting with an outside advisor. Together they will seek the best way to engage lay and ordained members of each diocese in conversation.

The initial trialogue participants are the Rev. Canon Kathleen Charles, Tim Donahue, the Rt. Rev. Matthew Gunter, the Rev. Canon Aaron Zook (Diocese of Eau Claire), the Rt. Rev. Matthew Gunter, Matthew Payne, Pat Pfeifer, the Rev. Canon Wilson Roane (Diocese of Fond du Lac), The Rev. Canon Scott Leannah, the Rt. Rev. Jeffrey Lee, the Rev. Jana Troutman-Miller, John Vogel (Diocese of Milwaukee).

The prayers of the Church and its members are asked to support this process.

Media Contact: Matthew P. Payne, , (920) 830-8866.

New Chaplain at St. Francis House Announced

Just as the students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison students are beginning classes, we are excited to announce the next chaplain for the St. Francis House Episcopal Student Center (SFH). Working together with Ministry Architects and with the consultation of Bishop Jeff Lee, the St. Francis House board has hired the Rev. Roberta A. (Bobbi) Kraft to serve as Chaplain and Missioner for Young Adults. Mother Bobbi will begin her ministry in mid-October.

Fr. Scott Leannah, Canon for Ministries for the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee, explained about the search process noting, “The St. Francis House Board has engaged in a thoughtful, prayerful process, utilizing the skills and gifts of a church consulting organization, Ministry Architects. They have laid the groundwork for a vision of campus ministry rooted at UW–Madison. Their search for a new leader to help inspire, guide and shepherd this ministry led them to the Rev. Bobbi Kraft. 

About Mother Bobbi
The Rev. Roberta A. (Bobbi) Kraft is a native of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and is a 2018 graduate of Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS). Mother Bobbi is currently the vicar of Saint Barnabas the Encourager Episcopal Church in Suamico, Wisconsin, having previously served at Holy Spirit Episcopal Church in Waco, Texas. While in Waco, Mother Bobbi (aka, Rev B, Mama Kraft) assisted the Episcopal Student Center for Baylor University having previously served as chaplain to undergraduate students at Georgetown University during her time at seminary. Mother Bobbi holds additional training in spiritual direction, marriage preparation and counseling, and active bystander training.

Prior to answering the call to ministry, Mother Bobbi worked in the financial industry where she was grants officer for two foundations and an assistant vice president for two banks, including one in Madison, Wisconsin. During the thirteen years she lived in Madison with her family previously, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Upper Iowa University. In addition to her master’s in divinity from VTS, she obtained a Master of Science in Management and Organizational Behavior degree from Silver Lake College of the Holy Family in Manitowoc.

Mother Bobbi is the proud mother of two adult daughters and is pleased to have instilled in them the value of pilgrimage during extensive travels throughout the US and Europe. On her own, she has traveled to the Mediterranean and Middle East, including Jerusalem, several times and in 2017 served as a missionary to Kurdish and Syrian refugees in Northern Iraq. In her leisure time, Mother Bobbi enjoys art museums, puzzles, geocaching, and is an avid knitter. 

Mother Bobbi is passionate about empowering others, especially young adults, to engage in faith conversations and is always ready to consider where God is leading! She looks forward to returning to and living in Madison this fall. She noted, “It’s important to me to provide safe spaces for collegiate, non-collegiate, and post-collegiate young adults to explore and grow in their relationship with God in order to become faithful leaders in their families, their workplaces, the Church, and our world.”

St. Francis House board member Fr. Andy Jones stated, “The Rev. Bobbi Kraft brings a lifetime of related experience and a clear passion for Campus Ministry to her role as the full-time Chaplain and Missioner for Young Adults at St. Francis House, the Episcopal Student Ministry at the UW–Madison. The SFH Board is delighted that she has accepted the call to serve, and is incredibly excited at the possibilities and potential as we continue to build this ministry together!”

“I am so excited to begin serving the Church as St. Francis House Chaplain and Young Adult Missioner for the Diocese of Milwaukee,” Kraft expressed. “Since the earliest days of ministry discernment, the Holy Spirit has ‘haunted’ me related to ministry with young adults. It’s amazing to see the many ways in which the Spirit has continued to prepare me through the years in order to return to Madison, a city I already know and love, to do just that.”

Fr. Leannah concluded by expressing, “We are grateful for her presence among us, we look forward to getting to know her, and we pray for many blessings on this new beginning.”

Episcopal Dioceses in Wisconsin Begin Trialogue

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Three Episcopal dioceses share a heritage of nearly 200 years after the Oneida brought the Episcopal Church to Wisconsin. Ministry and congregations were developed under the leadership of Bishop Jackson Kemper as missionary and diocesan bishop. More recently, the three dioceses worked cooperatively by co-hosting conferences, clergy gatherings and several other events.

The Milwaukee, Fond du Lac and Eau Claire dioceses have announced they are beginning to explore ways to deepen cooperation and coordination with each bishop and governing body providing their support. Each diocese is experiencing challenges of being the church in the 21st century while adapting to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

An initial leadership meeting will take place in September to discuss how congregations across Wisconsin might work more closely to best serve the witness and mission of the Episcopal Church. The focus will be how to be the body of Christ in this place and time. The meeting will consider how to best engage lay and ordained members of each diocese in future conversations.

The prayers of the Church and its members are asked to support this process.

Media Contact: Matthew P. Payne, , (920) 830-8866.

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