The Vestry of All Saints’ Episcopal Church is overjoyed to announce that The Rev. E. Suzanne Wille has accepted the call to be our XIII Rector.
After over a year of extensive and prayerful work, the Search Committee finished their discernment in early June, presenting Suzanne to the Vestry as the candidate the Holy Spirit is calling to All Saints’.
The Vestry unanimously agreed. “We are thrilled to share this news and blessing with all of you,” said All Saints’ Co-Warden Scottie Caldwell. “The Vestry, my co-warden John Williams, and I were enormously impressed by Suzanne’s joyful approach to practicing our faith, her deep commitment to justice, and the depth and breadth of her experience. We are so happy to be welcoming her to lead us.”
Suzanne has served as Rector of All Saints, Indianapolis, since 2012. Under her leadership, All Saints Indianapolis has seen a 40% growth in average Sunday attendance with increased congregational diversity, and a 62% rise in pledge income. She has also deepened faith formation through a congregation-wide spiritual assessment, teaching formation classes and leading national workshops on “the basics” of faith, and encouraging a culture of small discipleship groups. There have also been two successfully completed major capital campaigns, totalling $1.2 million.
During her nine-year tenure, she has led her congregation boldly on social justice issues, including community organizing with local organization Faith in Indiana, focusing on getting out the vote, criminal justice reform, increasing public transit, and reducing gun violence; committing to being a sanctuary church for undocumented immigrants and Black Lives Matters protestors; and sponsoring a Syrian refugee family after the governor of Indiana publicly discontinued welcoming refugees from this country into the state. She shared the news of this work with the American Theological Librarian Association in 2018 when she spoke at their national conference: “Are We All Saints: How One Church has Strived for Radical Welcome and Inclusion in Their Congregation.”
Suzanne has worked extensively with the Diocese of Indianapolis and the wider Episcopal Church, serving as Deputy to General Convention, Chair of the Commission on Higher Learning, Chair of the Liturgy Committee of Diocesan Convention, Chair of the Committee on Ministry in Higher Education, Title IV Intake Officer, and as a member of the Executive Council.
Prior to her work with All Saints, Indianapolis, Suzanne served as the Associate Rector, and then Interim Pastor, of Christ Church in Warwick, New York, from 2009 to 2012. Suzanne graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, and holds a Master’s in English literature from Indiana University, Bloomington. She received her Master’s of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School in 2009. During her time there she was awarded the E. William Muehl Prize in Preaching, awarded by the faculty to the most eloquent preacher in the graduating class.
Suzanne comes to us with her spouse, Tracey Lemon. They have been together for twenty-one years and married in 2012. Tracey has a Master’s Degree in Library Science and has worked in museums and corporate settings in a variety of roles as a photo librarian, trends researcher, executive recruiter, and most recently, as a communications director for Trinity Episcopal Church, Indianapolis.
When they’re not working, Suzanne and Tracey love spending time at their vacation home in Three Oaks, Michigan. They enjoy theater and opera, entertaining, and laughing as much as possible. Suzanne is an avid reader of both contemporary fiction and classic literature (Austen and Dickens are favorites), and Tracey is a photographer who is excited to put the finishing touches on a small art studio in Three Oaks. Suzanne and Tracey are thrilled to be coming to Chicago and they’re looking forward to walks along the lakefront, getting reacquainted with the museums and theaters and exploring the city anew, and, mostly, connecting with the joy and passion of the people of All Saints’.
Prior Relationship with All Saints’ Chicago
From 1996 to 2006 Suzanne taught English at Queen of Peace High School, a Catholic high school for girls in Burbank, Illinois, on the southwest side of Chicago. During her time there, she ran an anti-racism program for the Archdiocesan school system, helping students and teachers learn how to dismantle internalized and structural racism. As the connection between justice and faith grew clearer to her, Suzanne felt called to ordained ministry, a vocation not possible for her in the Roman Catholic Church. She then turned to the Episcopal Church, and in 2002 Suzanne’s path to ordination began in our pews. Suzanne and Tracey were parishioners here for many years, and All Saints’ was Suzanne’s sponsoring church as she went through her discernment process. It was here that she began to truly understand and embrace the Great Commandment: that loving God means we’ve got to love our neighbor—no matter how difficult—and loving our neighbor helps us grow closer to God.
After Suzanne departed for seminary in 2006, All Saints’ continued to provide pastoral care to Tracey and Tracey’s mother during her mother’s long illness; her mother’s funeral was held here in 2015. Suzanne and Tracey both have a deep love for our parish and its people. They cherish their history with us, and are deeply happy to know that they will now be part of our future.
A Message from Suzanne
“I fell in love with All Saints’ nearly two decades ago when I first walked through the doors on All Saints’ Day,” said Suzanne. “I was greeted with prayer flags overhead filled with the names of the beloved departed and the sounds of a New Orleans brass band.
From that day forward, my faith deepened with each Tuesday at the food pantry, each Sunday in vibrant worship, and every conversation and act connecting faith and justice. Since leaving, I have continued to track what you all have been up to: All Saints’ is an inspiring model of how church can be—joyful and worshipful, focused on deepening faith and on working in the world for justice, and a clear sense that following Jesus means welcoming and loving all.
I never could have dreamt that one day we would return not only to the city Tracey and I love, but to the very church that we cherish and has shaped us both. I feel great joy and anticipation as I imagine all that we will do together and can hardly wait to get started. Until then, I request your prayers for me and Tracey– and promise you are in ours.”
About the Transition
Suzanne’s first Sunday with All Saints’ will be September 12, allowing her time to wrap up her work with her current parish and prepare for her move to Chicago. Summer worship and related programming will continue as usual as we prepare for our first Eucharist with Suzanne. Further updates about this transition will be provided as decisions are made.