After a two-month stint as Sunday pastor, the Rev. Richard Higginbotham has now taken over as the interim rector at St. Thomas Episcopal Church after the retirement of the Rev. James Steele last November.
Higginbotham has been a priest since 1995, and before worked as a librarian at Northeastern Illinois University. He has held pastoral positions at St. Christopher’s in Oak Brook, Church of the Ascension and Church of the Atonement in Chicago before his retirement.
“I retired for several years and came back to start interim work; I didn’t want to be completely retired,” Higginbotham said.
He said as interim it was not his job to make drastic changes, but to respect traditions the parish has, and to encourage them to look forward to new leadership.
“I’ve been tweaking a few things. It’s not my role to make radical changes, but I do want to alert people the opportunity to reach out into the community more and grow,” Higginbotham said.
Higginbotham said, the parish has gone through a series of workshops on parish development. He said that once they get past Lent and Easter they will get out in the community more to show the wonderful things that are available at the church.
Higginbotham said he enjoys the Episcopal faith because “it’s all encompassing from all parts of Christian tradition, but also makes use of contemporary trends and new ideas while cherishing the heritage of Christian tradition.”
When asked about what he liked about being a priest, Higginbotham said he would not use the word “enjoy,” but “fulfill” when it comes to giving pastoral care to his parishioners.
“When going into a hospital room when a baby just died isn’t enjoyable, but being able to help the grieving mother with prayer and just being another person there in the time of great grief, I feel fulfilled; I’m doing God’s work,” Higginbotham said.
As to when a permanent pastor will come to the church, Higginbotham said it could take up to a year. He said there is a lengthy process that starts with The Episcopal Diocese of Chicago which will conduct a study, then a nationwide search.
Then the St. Thomas Episcopal Church parish council will meet with a search committee.
“The ball is rolling,” Higginbotham said.
St. Thomas Episcopal Church
317 Goold Park Drive
Sunday 8 and 10 a.m.
Monday 8:45 a.m.
Tuesday 10 a.m.
Wednesday 9:30 a.m.