[Bishop Kemper School for Ministry press release] The Bishop Kemper School for Ministry (BKSM) is pleased to announce the addition of two new staff members. Deacon Karen Wichael joins BKSM as its volunteer registrar while Casey Rohleder has been hired in the newly created position of Communications and Outreach Specialist. They join the Very Rev. Dr. Don Compier, BKSM dean, and Deacon Bob Hirst, volunteer hospitality coordinator.
Compier said, “These appointments represent a great step forward in terms of institutional development. Casey’s experience and outstanding expertise in communications, marketing and financial management match precisely the needs of our growing programs. Karen’s experience in educational administration has equipped her so well to be registrar. Both are passionate and articulate about the vision that guides all our efforts. I am most grateful for their exemplary dedication and look forward to working collegially with them.”
Larry Bingham, BKSM Board of Directors chairperson said, “The Board of Directors is delighted that we are able to add two part-time staff members to support the growth and expansion of the School. Due to our limited budget, the Board had to ask Dean Compier to perform many of the school’s administrative functions in addition to his primary responsibilities as dean. The addition of Casey and Karen not only relieves Don of those administrative tasks, it allows the School to expand its all-important mission to students, member dioceses, alumni and donors.”
Rohleder is currently a second-year student at BKSM on the priest track. With a diverse professional background in higher education and non-profit organizations, she stepped out of the workforce in 2012 to care for her newborn daughter. “The Bishop Kemper School has become an incredibly important part of my life these past two years” Rohleder said. “I am thrilled to use my gifts and talents to help make BKSM an even better option for formation for ministry, and I am lucky to work from home as I do so.” Rohleder lives in Hays, Kan., and is a member of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Western Kansas.
Wichael is a 1999 graduate of BKSM’s predecessor school, the Kansas School for Ministry, where she was closely associated with Deacon Jim Upton, a great pioneer of efforts to provide local formation for lay and ordained leadership. With memories from her two years of formation “to fill a lifetime,” she is overjoyed to join the staff as volunteer registrar. Wichael said, “I am pleased to be able to continue to be an active part of BKSM and work with students as they enter into this journey that will be filled with all that God has for us to do.” Wichael lives in Prairie Village, Kan., and serves as liturgical deacon and clergy support for hospital visitation at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Mission, Kan., in the Diocese of Kansas.
Rohleder’s position is made possible by a 2015 grant award from the Roanridge Trust, which supports transformative work in the Episcopal Church, especially in ministry to small towns and rural areas. This is the second year in a row that the school has received the largest Roanridge Trust grant awarded. The first grant, awarded in early 2014 enabled the BKSM Board of Directors to enhance the position of the dean from half-time to full-time status beginning July 1, 2014.
The school, which holds classes in Topeka once a month for 10 months a year, not only is more affordable than a traditional residential seminary, but students do not have to give up their jobs or uproot their families while they study. The current cost to attend is less than $2,000 a year. Priests normally enroll for three years and deacons for two. Additionally, BKSM offers courses to support a variety of licensed lay ministries.