Interview with Fr. John Heschle of St. Paul’s Church by the Lake

On Thursday, May 14 at 11:30 AM, Niagara is excited to welcome Fr. John Heschle into our office for a roundtable discussion regarding his work with refugee ministry at St. Paul’s Church by the Lake in Rogers Park.

Fr. Heschle has been an Anglican priest for 36 years, and has been at St. Paul’s since 1993. In an interview with Niagara, Fr. Heschle described Rogers Park’s changing demographic when he arrived, explaining that a primarily Jewish population was quickly being replaced by gangs, immigrants and refugees. As Rogers Park’s immigrant and refugee population steadily grew, Fr. Heschle decided that his church needed to capitalize on the increasingly international elements of the community, and began a marketing campaign to attract international Anglicans to St. Paul’s Church by the Lake.

And the campaign proved successful. Soon, the church boasted a diverse congregation, representing ten African nations and a variety of south-east Asian, South American and Caribbean congregates.

Besides an incredibly international community, St. Paul’s is attracting young Anglicans. Because the church is not trying to downplay their denominational ties, remaining firmly and proudly Anglican, young Anglican immigrants find a strong sense of community. Fr. Heschle emphasized this point, noting that “the parish has a real heart for young people in their twenties, because they realize that that is their future.”

So how does Fr. Heschle best serve such a diverse population? He answered simply: “with love.” Of course, there are challenges in serving such a diverse body of people. Regardless, he notes, “if we have Christ in common, thats the most important thing. Everything else is just extra…together, we’re something. Split apart, we’re nothing.”

Today, Fr. Heschle continues to serve St. Paul’s Church by the Lake and the people of Rogers Park by celebrating the diverse differences of his community. The church’s refugee ministry was recently honored with a champion leadership award for refugee from Exodus World Service, a Chicagoland area-based organization dedicated to mobilizing the Christian community to welcome and assist refugees.

Again, we are excited to host Fr. Heschle and learn more about his refugee ministry. Register here!

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