By Cecilia Poenyunt, First Lady Emerita of the Karen Fellowship
This year, we will celebrate 9 years of the Karen Fellowship with a thanksgiving worship service and meal on September 16th at 12:30 pm in Howell Hall.
Pastor Roger Poenyunt arrived in Chicago on June 11, 2008. Before this, Po Clee and several other families had come to Chicago in 2007and started attending North Shore Baptist Church. The first week we [Roger and Cecilia] came to church, we met the Karen families who had come before us. Po Clee, who came to church first, introduced Pastor Roger to [English Language] Pastors Carol [McVetty] and Doug [Harris[, which is how we came to know each other. A few months later, Pastor Roger began work as Karen Fellowship Pastor, but then we only gathered and worshipped with the English service. On September 13th, 2009, we got room in Kraft Chapel and started the Karen Fellowship worship service. So every year in September, we celebrate our anniversary with thanksgiving in Howel Hall.
From 2008-2010, more Karen families arrived. Later, some families moved to Minnesota; Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska; Waterloo, Iowa; Utica, New York; as well as Rock Island and Rockford, Illinois. We now have only fifteen families remaining in Chicago. By the grace of God, the Karen Fellowship members work and worship together every week at 11:30 am, after fellowship time.
In December of 2017, Pastor Roger retired from work because of his declining health, resulting from cancer treatment. From December to June 2018, he returned to Myanmar. Now, by the grace of God, we have a new pastor, Rev. Eh Plo Soe, from Rockford. Rev. Eh Plo Soe’s installation service on July 29 featured guests from many places. Rev. Eh Plo Soe moved to Chicago on August 1, and some members of the Karen Fellowship helped him move into his apartment in Ravenswood.