By Kristin Boza
The surname Heimach-Snipes, the subject of this New Neighbor feature, likely looks familiar. Ben Heimach-Snipes is the pastor at Morgan Park Presbyterian Church, and his wife Abbi is also a Presbyterian pastor finishing up an interim position at the Presbyterian Church of LaPorte in Indiana. The family, along with two-year-old Esther, moved to Beverly/Morgan Park in September and are excited to get even more involved in the community through faith and good works.
The couple moved to Chicago about eight years ago to attend the McCormick Theological Seminary in Hyde Park, where they previously made their home.
“We knew it was a racially diverse community, which we really value,” Pastor Ben said. “I have learned so much more about the community in the three months we have lived here than in the three years I have already worked as pastor here. You meet so many more people when you can walk home down the street and take your toddler to the park!”
Both Pastors Ben and Abbi are passionate about antiracism organizing. Pastor Abbi serves on the leadership team of Chicago Regional Organizing for Antiracism that works with institutions on how to develop long-term plans for dismantling systemic racism. Pastor Ben serves on an antiracism organizing team for the Presbytery of Chicago.
“We both want to be invested here and get involved in the groups we know, like the Southwest Chicago Diversity Collaborative (SCDC) that create community around being inclusive and seeking equity and justice,” Pastor Ben said.
When they’re not serving their churches or organizing for the community, they can be found gardening, composting, riding bikes, and finding creative ways to lessen their impact on the planet, as well as chasing little Esther around the neighborhood.
One of the biggest changes for the couple is living in a home and neighborhood that is more spacious than their previous apartment and compact community of Hyde Park.
“We love the diversity, the parks, and the opportunities to connect with families working for change and hope in these challenging times,” Pastor Ben said.
Ben and Abbi volunteer at the Free Store, held each Wednesday in the parking lot of Morgan Park Presbyterian Church, and enjoy attending events at the Edna White Garden and viewing the Alt Walk installments. Esther’s favorite spots are visiting the bees at Edna White Garden and playing at the park.
“We hope to meet more people and make friends and get more involved once it’s safer to gather,” Pastor Ben said.