By The Rev. Thomas S. Rogers, III
On May 18, the Bishop Anderson House staff had a retreat where we looked at where we are at right now with COVID-19 and all that is going on in the world. We did this by shifting our thinking from cause and effect (A + B = C) to systems thinking – taking in our wider context and thinking systems (i.e. Christmas tree lights on a Christmas tree where if one light goes out, the whole strand goes out). At the heart of the theory of living human systems is the idea that systems survive, develop, and transform from simple to complex through a developing ability to recognize differences and integrate them.
What this means for Bishop Anderson House (and most of us these last 18 months) is that we have been focused primarily on survival – each member of the staff keeping themselves and their families safe. Doing what we were able to do during the height of the pandemic such as caring for healthcare workers, doing telechaplaincy visits with family when visitor restrictions were in place, and taking our spiritual care visitor training program and board meetings from being face-to-face in person to Zoom. The good news is that as a living human system Bishop Anderson House has survived!
While the pandemic is certainly not over, Bishop Anderson House has actually been able to take the next step moving from survival to development. This has been evident from the board’s work engaging social responsibility and racial justice and dreaming up a new staff position – a chaplain fellowship focused on the near West side of Chicago closing the gap between the Illinois Medical District and its surrounding community and engaging in health equity. This was also evident through many faithful donors logging on to our virtual event which turned out to be the most successful fundraiser we have had to date!
The other sign of development for us has been the generous grant we received from the Episcopal Church Women’s National Office of the United Thank Offering allowing us to develop a Latinx version of our Spiritual Care Visitor Training Program. We engaged stakeholders in the community and got their feedback to develop a culturally appropriate program – not just taking our current program and translating it into Spanish – but starting from the ground up building a program that meets the needs of the Latinx community.
So in the midst of a global pandemic, Bishop Anderson House has not only survived, but has managed to develop. I believe in the next five years both the Latinx Spiritual Care Visitor Training Program and the community based chaplain fellowship will be the seeds for Bishop Anderson House’s transformation as we grow in new and exciting ways and stretch ourselves to reach further than we ever have before. I hope you will join us and be a part of this season of development whether that is attending a workshop like “Spiritual Care in the Age of Black Lives Matter” with Rev. Dr. Danielle J. Buhuro on Saturday, September 25 from 10a-11:30a; whether that is making a financial gift to sustain our mission and ministry; or to invite one of our staff to join your faith community and share more about our work.