There is a perceptible buzz emanating from The Church of the Holy Spirit these days—some may even call it harmony—as they welcome their 12th rector Luke Back to Lake Forest.
“We had an inside joke on our Rector Search Committee that we just wanted to find Jesus with a family,” explains Leslie McMurray with a smile, who was one of a 14-member team responsible for securing Back’s hiring. “When you meet Luke, you’re immediately struck by what a warm, kind, and loving individual he is. We knew almost instantly that he was the man for our church.”
The Church of the Holy Spirit is an Episcopal parish in Lake Forest that was founded in 1902. The Church underwent a search for a new rector for the better part of the last year, officially welcoming Back and his family to their church in mid-March.
Highly recommended by heads of theological seminaries, bishops, and rectors throughout the country, Back is known to be a deeply spiritual priest and strong leader who connects with people of all ages. He served the last seven years as rector at The Church of the Heavenly Rest in Abilene, Texas and as president of the Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes, having been elected to this role twice by his peers. His work with the consortium, which consists of the 300 largest endowed Episcopal churches and affiliate institutions in the country, will help The Church of the Holy Spirit connect more broadly with the national Episcopal Church.
“I wasn’t looking for a job when the committee first contacted me,” Back says, “but the more I spoke with them and learned about this church, the more I felt called to be here. This is such a special place—I’m not sure everyone realizes what an amazing church community this already is.”
Back, his wife Meredith, and three children are settling into a new normal on the North Shore. “It snowed like crazy our first day here,” Back says. “It was the perfect welcome.”
This year’s Spring Dinner on May 19—hosted by McMurray, Caroline Masterson, and Adrienne Eckert Petersen—is leveraging the parish’s excitement for their new rector with a theme “Welcome Back to the Table.”
“We’ve increased our guest list to about a thousand people,” says Masterson of the benefit that will be held on the church’s campus to raise important funds for their Mission and Outreach efforts. “We hope that everyone will come, especially those who have been away from the church for a while. This is such an exciting time for us.”
The Spring Dinner will begin with mass, then be followed by cocktails, dinner, and a live and silent auction. The hosts have curated a collection of memorable experiences as auction items—including dinner with the Bishop, an evening hosted by Back and his wife, and several sporting and city-theme excursions.
Back says he has truly been humbled by the welcome he as received from his new church. “I think you can tell so much about how things are going to unfold by how they begin,” he says. “We’re off to an amazing start.”
Tickets to the Spring Dinner are $45 each and can be purchased at bit.ly/2Gm213d. To learn more about The Church of the Holy Spirit, visit chslf.org.