Bill talks with Marion Hanold about congregational care in the time of pandemic and shifting leadership.

Marion Hanold, Congregational Care Chair

Bill: Hi friends, my name is Bill Evertsberg and I’m one of the ministers at Kenilworth Union Church. This is Doogie, my assistant minister, and I have this wonderful guest, Marion Hanold.

I will tell you in a minute why I’m specifically talking to Marion today but Marion, you and David and your kids, I can’t think of anybody in the church who’d do more for this congregation than you do. How did you get involved at Kenilworth Union and what are your passions right now? Tell us about your family. Broad question.

Marion: Well thanks, Bill. I’m happy to be with everyone this morning as well. My husband David and I moved out to the suburbs shortly before our oldest daughter who is now 20 was born, and thereby it became time to find a church. Since we moved to my backyard, I grew up in Winnetka, I said to David “Great. You get to pick our church.”

We shopped around to various, more congregational, more open-ended kind of churches, that was his history, and there was no question after shopping that Kenilworth Union was the place for us. We had our younger family at that time, we got very involved sort of gradually, as I think a lot families do here, first with the preschool, Sunday school, and then from there David, who sung in the choir ever since we joined the church, and I have just gotten very involved.

Dave’s now in addition to choir, or when he can return to choir, he’s very involved with the Day by Day calendars. I do Outreach but more as a liaison. And then my passion, which I think will be most of our conversation today is really Congregational Care.

Bill: Yeah. Tell the folks why I invited specifically you to talk to me right now at this time in the life of our church. What are you doing?

Marion: Technically I serve as the chair of the Congregational Care Committee, which is a group of about eight or nine of us, some on the Board of Trustees but many folks not, who are in charge of each corner of the congregational care services that we provide. These are all volunteers of course, doing everything from leading one-on-one relationships in the Stephen Ministry environment, which is I think many of you know when you might have a particular crisis in your life, the church helps match you with someone who can walk with you as you’re struggling with whatever you’re dealing with.

We do that very intensive one-on-one care, but then we do a lot of what you think of as more traditional congregational care: writing folks a note if they have a new baby, bringing people food if they’re struggling or that would be appreciated, and we also have a group as well who just reaches out to folks who can no longer be a part of the active church involvement.

Maybe—you know back in the days when we were able to come to church, you can no longer physically be here—but even those who really aren’t in a good position to enjoy us virtually, we have an outward connecting group called the Care Connections group that reaches out to folks basically once a quarter to remind them that we’re thinking of them, we’re praying for them, and I just have to tell you, it’s enriched my experience. I’ve done many different things at the church, but I think at our core, especially in time of pandemic, congregational care is what church is all about. So it’s really a treat to be a part of that.

Bill: You’ve had to step up recently since Jo Forrest, our Senior Associate for Pastoral Care, took this wonderful new call in Pittsburgh. You’ve stepped up beautifully. I’ve so appreciated—

Marion: As have you!

Bill: Well, yes. Tell us how pastoral care has changed in the light of Jo’s absence now and how people can get in touch with you as the Trustee responsible for pastoral care and for Katie and Christine and me.

Marion: I’d like to think of it as while Jo is departed, I believe that we are trying all of us to live into that very fine tradition that she helped really cement for us in her Congregational Care leadership. As in all things, one person leaves, and that hole needs to be filled, and I have to say that we are so blessed to have Katie step into that role. I know she will grow into it in a very, very meaningful way, and she’s already been very quick to get her arms wrapped around it.

But given the fact that she’s pursuing her sabbatical right now, we’ve had continued amazing connection and assistance both from Bill, Christine Hides who I know many of you know or are getting to know better, and then we continue to be supported by really the rock of congregational care, who is Kathy McCabe.

And many of you know Kathy if you’ve planned a wedding or had to deal with a funeral or really just about any administrative task in our church. But Kathy’s really become the focus of calls as they may come in, and she makes sure then that the ministers know if someone needs a call or some other kind of connection.

We engage Care Guild if food is needed. There are all kinds of things. We’ve basically I think done a pretty good job adapting and really doing, making sure, and I encourage anyone who is listening to this message that we’re also trying to deputize the congregation a lot more, to really be forthcoming and let us know if you know of somebody who’s struggling.

It’s probably, if I were to say anything that’s distinctive about Kenilworth Union’s congregational care, is that we actively try and encourage people to come forward to seek care or to offer care. With both those who want to give care and those who are comfortable enough to say “I could really use some help right at this minute.” Or, “I’d like a call from church because I think it would make me feel closer to God or to my community” or what have you. It’s a two-prong thing.

Bill: During January and February, this will probably change on March 1 when Katie returns, but during January and February, if people have a need or discover a need for someone else, they should call Kathy McCabe during business hours, let’s say 8:30-4. That number should be [in your directory].

Marion: Website, church directory, and Kathy again is our main traffic cop, but obviously if an emergency were to occur, don’t hesitate to reach out to you or to myself. We will make sure those requests are directed where they should be.

Bill: Right. After hours and on the weekends, I think my cell phone is available [in your directory]. We’ll make sure that’s the case. Don’t hesitate to call me. Marion, thank you.

Marion: My great pleasure, Bill.

Bill: Sunday morning right after virtual worship Marion joined me at the church, thank you for all you’re doing for us.

Marion: And for you.

Bill: And the Lord bless you and keep you. Amen.

Marion: Amen.