Update on the Transition to the Episcopal Diocese of the Great Lakes

Dear People of the Future Episcopal Diocese of the Great Lakes,

On March 16th, gathered in a special convention of the Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan, our lay and clergy delegates voted to affirm the creation of one, new diocese: the Episcopal Diocese of the Great Lakes. Our diocesan leaders have been hard at work over the last couple of months, preparing a process and structure for how our dioceses will engage this transition.

This memo outlines several important areas of our impending work:

  • Timeline for the process toward the new diocese and aligning our systems
  • Working groups that will take up the process of transition with short-term and long-term commitments
  • An invitation to express interest in joining those working groups

A “Transition Leadership Team” has been brought together to facilitate communication between the working groups and reporting structures, and to ensure appropriate timelines are met. That team is composed of the Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the Standing Committees, the Chairs of the Diocesan Councils, the former chairs of the Building Bridges Steering Committee (BBSC), and support from diocesan communications, the chancellor, and consultant Katie Ong, who supported the BBSC.

This plan was approved by the Joint Standing Committees and presented to a combined meeting of our elected Standing Committees and Diocesan Councils before it was finalized. The list of working groups was shared by the Standing Committee Presidents on zoom calls with clergy and with senior wardens.

Please read below for the details of our Transition Plan, especially our invitation to submit a form expressing interest in joining our working groups and adding your voice and expertise to our process.

Yours in Christ,

The Transition Leadership Team

The Rev. Jennifer Adams
Former Co-Chair, Building Bridges
Grace, Holland

The Rev. Molly Bosscher
VP, WM Standing Committee
St. Andrew’s, Grand Rapids

Janet Huff-Worvie
Former Co-Chair, Building Bridges
St. John’s-by-the-Lake, Otter Lake

Barbara Ilkka
President, EM Standing Committee
St. John’s, Saginaw

The Rev. Jerry Lasley
Chair, EM Diocesan Council
VP, EM Standing Committee
St. Christopher’s, Grand Blanc

The Rev. Anne Schnaare
President, WM Standing Committee
Grace, Grand Rapids

The Rev. Derek Quinn
Chair, WM Diocesan Council
St. Paul’s, Elk Rapids & Grace, Traverse City


Timeline Towards the Episcopal Diocese of the Great Lakes

We are approaching this time of transition as having three overlapping phases.

Phase I Includes work that needs to be completed before this October’s Primary Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of the Great Lakes. These working groups will focus on projects like planning for the convention, further preparing the draft constitution and canons for presentation to convention, and design of the mission regions for the new diocese.

Phase IIIncludes work that will begin soon, but will not be completed until after October’s Primary Convention. These working groups will focus on projects such as finalizing the 2025 diocesan budget for presentation to convention while also further aligning and integrating our financial structures as we officially become the new diocese. Phase II also includes the area of staffing, including adapting structures and policies. This work has begun but will continue to evolve.

Phase IIIIncludes work that will begin after this October’s Primary Convention. Work taking place in Phase III is dependent on work that will precede it. More specific timeframes for Phase III working groups will be determined by our leadership bodies as the process of transition continues. For example, while Phase II will include laying groundwork for the calling of a bishop diocesan, such as conversations and learning opportunities around the the ministry of bishops, exploring our histories and hopes around it, the actual search and election process will take place in Phase III, sometime after this October’s Primary Convention and to be determined by the Standing Committee.

The Working Groups

The following “working groups” will be constituted (or are already underway) as we prepare for and begin to live into the new diocese. Other groups may be added as necessary. Unless otherwise stated, each group will be led by co-chairs, one from each of the legacy dioceses. All groups will have lay and clergy membership.

All in the dioceses are asked to prayerfully consider expressing interest in joining any of the working groups. The co-chairs of the groups will be given the list of interested folks and may also do additional recruitment to gather the expertise, skills, experience, and perspectives needed to complete their charges. A response form is included below this list for individuals to communicate their interest in serving as well as a brief description of the gifts they bring to the work. Please discern your own interest and please share this invitation with others in your local faith community.

Groups are listed roughly in order of timeline and urgency.

Working Group: Primary Convention Planning*

Timeline: Phase I
Accountable Body: Joint Standing Committee, Diocesan Councils
Time Commitment: Heavy, meeting schedule varies and increases closer to convention

Co-Chairs: Canon Katie Forsyth (Diocesan Staff) and Jelecia Geraghty (SC, St. Paul’s, Flint)
Current Membership: DC Rep(s) to-be-confirmed, the Rev. Pamela Lenartowicz (St. Mark’s, Atlanta and St. Andrew’s, Gaylord; Liturgy Team), the Rev. Sr. Diane Stier (St. John’s, Mount Pleasant; local host), the Rev. Randall Warren, D. Min. (St. Luke’s, Kalamazoo; Liturgy Team) – Staff support/members: the Rev. Nurya Love Parish, Angela Krueger, Sara Philo

Charge: To plan for and coordinate the Primary Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of the Great Lakes, including theme, speakers, business, workshops, worship, agendas, and more. This group will communicate with the various committees that support our convention, including Nominations, Liturgy, Resolutions, etc.

*This group has already begun its work and is not actively seeking additional members at this time. Interest may still be expressed in case of vacancy or increased need.

Working Group: Branding for the New Diocese*

Timeline: Phase I
Time Commitment: Meeting schedule determined by group
Accountable Body: Diocesan Communications Office

Chair: Canon Katie Forsyth (Diocesan Staff)
Current Membership: Erynn Ford (St. Paul’s, Flint), The Rev. Joe Kennedy (St. David’s, Lansing), Heather Rauwenhurst (Emmanuel, Petoskey), Michelle Ruiz (Diocesan Staff), Amy Simons (St. John’s, Saginaw), Consultant – Graphic Designer, Consultant – Episcopal Heraldry

Charge: Working with a professional designer and Episcopal heraldry consultant, to research, gather input, and develop a new brand identity for the Episcopal Diocese of the Great Lakes, including new diocesan seal, organizational logo, and visual identity.

*This group has already begun its work and is not actively seeking additional members at this time. Interest may still be expressed in case of vacancy or increased need.

Working Group: Constitution and Canons

Timeline: Phase I
Accountable Body: Diocesan Convention
Time Commitment: Moderate, meeting schedule to be determined by group
Co-Chairs: The Rev. Jen Adams (Grace, Holland) and the Rev. Don Davidson (CR, Eastern MI)

Charge: To create further opportunities for feedback on the draft constitution and canons drafted by the Building Bridges Steering Committee. The group will consider this input and other input already collected in BBSC feedback sessions to finalize the draft Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Diocese of the Great Lakes to be presented for adoption at the Primary Convention. This group will also recommend the process by which the draft canons will be considered for adoption on the floor of convention.

Working Group: Regional Design

Timeline: Phase I
Accountable Body: Joint Standing Committee
Time Commitment: Moderate, meeting schedule to be determined by group
Co-Chairs: To be confirmed

Charge: To propose a mapping of the Mission Regions for the Episcopal Diocese of the Great Lakes. The draft canons call for “at least four” regions to provide a vehicle for faith communities in proximity to one another to offer mutual support, share best practices, and collaborate on programs, projects, and activities as part of the mission and vision of the diocese. This group will build upon research and work done by the BBSC, further exploring, seeking input, and making a final recommendation to the Joint Standing Committee.

Working Group: Joint Finance Committee

Timeline: Phase I, II, III
Accountable Body: Diocesan Councils
Time Commitment: Typically monthly meetings or fewer, more frequency likely to be required in the initial phases
Co-Chairs: Diocesan Treasurers – The Rev. Brian Chace (Retired, Frederic) and the Rev. Jared Cramer (St. John’s, Grand Haven)

Charge: To assist with the financial dimensions of becoming the new dioceses, including but not limited to: further develop the 2025 Diocesan Budget for submission to the Primary Convention, recommend members and processes for the proposed Endowment Board, develop an annual financial review/audit policy in accordance with churchwide and diocesan best practices.

Working Group: Joint Personnel Committee*

Timeline: Phase I, II
Accountable Body: Joint Standing Committee, Diocesan Councils
Time Commitment: Meeting schedule determined by group

Co-Chairs: Ellen Schrader (Grace, Traverse City) and the Rev. Tom Manney (St. Paul’s, Flint)
Current Membership: The Rev. Valerie Ambrose (Ret., Grand Rapids), Jay Gantz (St. Andrew’s, Flint), David Hawley-Lowry (Grace, Holland), Janet Huff-Worvie (St. John’s, Otter Lake), Elizabeth Jordan (St. Paul’s, Flint), Ellen McVey (St. John’s, Midland), and Martha Porter (Grace, Grand Rapids). Staff support/member: Sara Philo

Charge: To design a staffing structure in support of the mission and vision of the new diocese, including evaluating existing job descriptions and staffing structures. This group will also be charged with aligning and developing a new Policy and Procedure Manual for the new diocese.

*This group has already begun its work and is not actively seeking additional members at this time. Interest may still be expressed in case of vacancy or increased need.

Working Group: Legal Process of Becoming the New Diocese*

Timeline: Phase I, II
Accountable Body: Diocesan Councils
Time Commitment: Meeting schedule determined by group

Chair: Chancellor Bill Fleener, Jr. (St. David’s, Lansing)
Current membership: Steve Waterbury (Plainsong Farm)

Charge: To ensure a thorough and timely legal transition into the newly created Episcopal Diocese of the Great Lakes by January 1, 2025, including but not limited to Church Insurance issues, retitling endowments, follow up with affiliated foundations and trusts, establishing a process to review and update church property deeds/titles, and more.

*This group has already begun its work and is not actively seeking additional members at this time. Interest may still be expressed in case of vacancy or increased need.

Working Group: Ministry of the Episcopate

Timeline: Phase II
Accountable Body: Joint Standing Committee
Time Commitment: Heavy, meeting schedule determined by group
Co-Chairs: To-be-confirmed

Charge: This group will create and facilitate public conversations for learning, conversation, healing, and shared hopes around the ministry of bishops. This group will also be charged with finalizing the draft Mission and Vision statement for the new diocese. These two areas of conversation will help inform the to-be-appointed Bishop Search Committee, as they draft a diocesan profile and begin the search for our first bishop diocesan.

Working Group: Discerning Faith Communities

Timeline: Phase II
Accountable Body: Diocesan Councils
Time Commitment: Meeting schedule determined by group
Co-Chairs: To-be-confirmed

Charge: As the Canons Working Group finalizes the canons defining the different forms of faith communities (traditional congregation, emergent community, companion ministry, programmatic organization, seasonal chapel) and potential covenant relationships between existing communities of faith (clusters and cooperatives), the Discerning Faith Communities Working Group will develop the processes by which a new community of faith would engage discernment and enter into agreement with the diocese. They will also develop processes by which one or more communities of faith would enter into covenant with one another. This group will consider questions of discernment, funding determinations, alignment with diocesan mission, staff/governance accountability, etc.

Working Group: Search and Election of a Bishop Diocesan

Timeline: Phase II, III
Accountable Body: Joint Standing Committee
Time Commitment: Moderate to heavy, meeting schedule determined by group
Co-Chairs: To-be-confirmed

Charge: To follow the charge from the Standing Committee and canonical process for episcopal searches: creating and publishing a diocesan profile and engaging in the search and election process for the first bishop diocesan of the Episcopal Diocese of the Great Lakes.

Working Group: Camp Ministry

Timeline: Phase III
Accountable Body: Diocesan Councils
Time Commitment: Meeting schedule determined by group
Co-Chairs: To-be-confirmed

Charge: To build on a consultant-led discernment process that took place in the last two years, considering the models of summer camp currently engaged by the dioceses and to develop a common vision and resourcing structure for camp ministries in the new dioceses.

Concurrent Process: Commission on Ministry*

Accountable Body: Joint Standing Committee (Ecclesiastical Authority)

Co-Chairs: Ellen McVey (St. John’s, Midland), The Rev. Lily Marx (St. Gregory’s, Muskegon), and the Rev. Jim Perra (Grace, Traverse City)

Charge: Beyond their regular responsibilities, the COM will gather in joint meetings facilitated by a non-member of the COM in order to develop a transition plan that unifies our two bodies into one and includes a more detailed structure and teams to do the breadth of work that falls under the COM. They will be encouraged to consult with other Episcopal dioceses for models of ordination processes which include a range of formation paths and learnings regarding best practices.

*This group is listed for the sake of awareness. This is not considered a “working group” of the transition process but rather a regularly appointed commission that holds significant responsibility and tasks related to the transition.

Express Interest in Serving!

To express your willingness to serve on any of these bodies, please click the button below to complete our interest form. You will be asked to provide information about the skills, expertise, experience, perspective, and/or specific trainings/certifications you feel equip you for this work.

The survey will be open indefinitely in recognition that some groups may be constituted now, some groups won’t be appointed until after the Primary Convention, and some may not begin their work for a while.

If invited to serve on a working group, the co-chair of that group will contact you with more details about the charge and expected workload and to offer you the opportunity to further discern whether you can confirm your participation. If you are unable to commit to this level of engagement, please know that you will still be invited to participate as almost all of the working groups will have some element of collecting input and feedback from the wider diocese.


Two-part program prepares participants for licensure

We have heard consistent interest in training for licensed lay preachers, especially with so many of our congregations in transition and so many exercising vibrant ministry without a full-time parish priest. To that end, we will again offer our formation program for licensed lay preachers in 2024-25. The courses take place alongside the classes for the Academy for Vocational Leadership, sometimes online via Zoom and sometimes in-person at the St. Francis Center in Dewitt.

If you feel a call to be a preacher, please speak to your priest or senior warden and, with their approval, complete the application and submit it before July 30, 2024.

To complete the training and receive a preaching license, participants must complete two courses: one year of Bible instruction and one year of Homiletics formation. These can be completed simultaneously or by taking Bible first, and Homiletics second.

Questions? Please contact the Rev. Canon Tracie Little, Canon for the Southern Collaborative and Coach for Formation, at 810-300-9177 or tlittle@eastmich.org or tlittle@edwm.org.


Our preaching courses take place on Saturdays.
The schedule each time will follow: Morning Prayer at 9:15am, Bible Class from 10-4:45pm, and Homiletics from 7-9 pm.

September 7
St. Francis Retreat Center

October 12

November 2
St. Francis Retreat Center

December 7
St. Francis Retreat Center

January 11

February 15

March 22
St. Francis Retreat Center

April 26

May 17
St. Francis Retreat Center

June 21
St. Francis Retreat Center



St. Francis Retreat Center
703 E. Main Street
Dewitt, MI 48820


The course fees are as follows and includes in-person session meals:

  • $1,000 for both classes
  • $720 for Bible Class only
  • $280 for only Homelitics (must have successfully completed the Bible class)

The application deadline is July 30th.


Academy for Vocational Leadership

Applications Open for Academic Year 2024-25

Postulants ready to begin formation for Holy Orders and lay people seeking intensive theological learning may now apply to join the Academy for Vocational Leadership for the 2024-2025 academic year.

The Academy for Vocational Leadership is our three-year, bi-diocesan program of preparation for Holy Orders. Originally founded in its current iteration in 2015, the Academy is one of over 34 diocesan schools in The Episcopal Church forming leaders as part of the Iona Collaborative of the Seminary of the Southwest (SSW) in Austin, TX. All academic classes are developed and taught remotely by SSW professors with support from local faculty. Additional practical classes are taught by local practitioners and experts.

Please complete the application paperwork below and return it by July 15, 2024. Once we receive and review your application, you will receive the “Summer Reading” homework along with instructions for completion.

Please note that participation in this program will require a comfortability with technology. Upon admission to the Academy, you will receive a log-in ID for the Iona Collaborative so you can complete your homework prior to each Academy weekend. You will be required to submit papers throughout the year and the ability to use a word processor will be essential. Additionally, several weekends will gather over Zoom.

Questions? Please contact the Rev. Canon Tracie Little, Canon for the Southern Collaborative and Adult Formation, at 810-300-9177 or tlittle@eastmich.org or tlittle@edwm.org.


All in-person weekends begin with dinner on Friday evening at 5:30pm and conclude by 3pm on Sunday afternoon.

August 9-13
Opening Retreat, St. Francis Center

September 6-8
St. Francis Retreat Center

October 11-13

November 1-3
St. Francis Retreat Center

December 6-8
St. Francis Retreat Center

January 10-12

February 14-16

March 21-23
St. Francis Retreat Center

April 25-27

May 16-18
St. Francis Retreat Center

June 20-22
St. Francis Retreat Center


St. Francis Retreat Center

703 E. Main Street
Dewitt, MI 48820


Tuition for the Academy is $4,300 per year, with one half due by November 1st and the remaining due by April 1, 2025. Tuition includes class materials as well as housing and meals at the retreat center. Text books will be an extra expense.

For inquiries about diocesan scholarship funds, please contact Canon Tracie Little at either tlittle@eastmich.org or tlittle@edwm.org.

The application deadline is July 15, 2024.

Grants for Building Digital Community

Building Faith Community using Digital Tools

Since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, our faith communities across the dioceses have rapidly grown their capacities and skills for invitation and community through digital tools. We know that this development and investment is not a COVID-era phenomenon: to remain relevant and accessible for generations to come, our congregations and organizations must intentionally engage online platforms for their ministries of invitation, gathering, and worship.

Thanks to congregational development funding from the Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan and a generous gift from the Bishop Whittemore Foundation, we invite communities across the dioceses to apply for a Digital Community Grant, a one-time grant of up to $1,000, intended to make your online presence and offerings more engaging, more accessible, more sustainable, and, ultimately, a tool for community growth, digital or otherwise.

This initiative is a partnership between the Offices of Evangelism and Digital Communities, working alongside a task group to review applications and make funding recommendations to the Diocesan Councils. The deadline to apply is July 22nd and grant decisions are expected to be communicated in late August. Please read below for more details, including guidelines and application instructions.

We can’t wait to see your ideas and plans for creative, innovative, and invitational digital ministry! Please reach out to us with any questions or to be in conversation as you write your application.

Yours in Christ,

The Rev. Canon Sunil Chandy
Canon for the Central Collaborative and Digital Communities
schandy@eastmich.org schandy@edwm.org

Katie Forsyth
Canon for Evangelism and Networking
kforsyth@eastmich.org kforsyth@edwm.org



Digital Ministry Grants are one-time grants with a maximum award of $1,000 per faith community. Communities that received Digital Ministry Grants in 2020 or 2021 are eligible to apply for new projects.

Grants may fund the following areas:

  • Hardware investment (cameras, audio system upgrades, computers, satellite or wired internet, etc.)
  • Software investment (programs, applications, website development, etc.)
  • Professional development (training, professional networks, etc.)
  • Temporary contract support

Grants may NOT fund:

  • Gifts to individuals or families.
  • General office equipment without a clear community objective.
  • Reimbursement for purchases already made.

Successful applications will:

  • Show a clear strategy for how the investment will enable better engagement of digital community for worship, fellowship, formation, or other ministry area.
  • Demonstrate buy-in through appropriate investment (financial, time, other) from the applying faith community.
  • Articulate how the project will continue or progress after diocesan grant funds have been exhausted.
  • Provide accurate, researched estimates of expenses and income (diocesan grant, any investment from faith community).
  • Demonstrate they have developed appropriate metrics by which the project will be evaluated.


  • July 22, 2024 – Deadline to apply for a Digital Community Grant.
  • Late August 2024 – Grant decisions are expected to be communicated to all applicants, pending approval by the Diocesan Councils.
  • September-January – Projects are implemented, identified metrics are tracked for at least a three-month window.
  • January 31, 2025 – Grant Reports due from all recipients, reporting back on the project’s implementation, impact, and metrics.

Please click the button below to access our online grant application form. Please be prepared with thorough responses to the questions and a thought-out program budget.

Additionally, all communicators (clergy and lay, paid and volunteer) are invited to connect with others throughout our two dioceses in our resource group – the Episcopal Communicators Network of Eastern & Western Michigan.

Modifying: Leadership Workshop Days 2024


and Philadelphia Eleven Documentary Screenings

Due to low registrations for our in-person events, the 2024 Leadership Days and Philadelphia Eleven screenings will adapt to a new schedule of online workshops and in-person documentary screenings, all at no cost.

Please read below for information about each of our workshops, including their revised date and time. Each workshop will be offered once and recorded for later viewing. Please RSVP for each session you plan to attend.

All registrants for the original event will receive an additional email with information about refunds.

In addition to our online workshop offerings, the three regional screenings of The Philadelphia Eleven will take place as planned. The new documentary celebrates the 50th anniversary of women’s ordination in The Episcopal Church, telling the story of the audacious first eleven women to be ordained as priests in our church. The original fee has been removed in recognition of the reduced travel and hospitality costs for each of the regional events.

Questions about this event? Please contact the Rev. Canon Tracie Little at tlittle@eastmich.org or tlittle@edwm.org.

Workshops with RSVP Links

Please use the links below each workshop to RSVP to attend that session. If you plan to participate in multiple sessions, you must RSVP for each one. There is no cost to participate in an online workshop.

Creation Care 101

Hosted by the Rev. Canon Nurya Love Parish, Canon for the Northern Collaborative and Beloved Community, Creation Care

Christian practice of care for Creation is rooted in our understanding of who we are, whose we are, and to whom this earth truly belongs. In this workshop we’ll study Scripture including sections of Genesis 2 and Psalm 24 and create prayers of thanksgiving and intercession for particular places on earth that we hope to tend well to give life and health to future generations and glory to God.

New date and time: Wednesday, June 12th at 7pm
Click here to RSVP.

Transitions Overview

Hosted by the Rev. Canon Tracie Little, Canon for the Southern Collaborative and Adult Formation

All of our congregations at some point will experience a time of transition. During these times, as the regular pattern of clergy presence is disrupted, anxiety within the congregation can result. One of the easiest ways to calm some of this anxiety, is for leadership to be transparent about the process of working through times of transition. This workshop is designed to give a simple overview of the transition’s process to help congregations and leadership understand how they and the diocesan transitions officer work together.

New date and time: Saturday, June 1st at 10am
Click here to RSVP.

Finance 101

Hosted by Sara Philo, CFO & Benefits Administrator
with Julia Quillan, Bookkeeper for the Diocese of Western Michigan

Join our finance staff for an overview of parish financial leadership, including basics of accounting, reporting, audits, available loans and grants, and available resources. This workshop may be especially beneficial for those newly elected as parish treasurers, parish administrators, and all those involved in the oversight of parish finances and administration.

New date and time: Monday, June 3rd at 7pm
Click here to RSVP.

Vestry 101

Hosted by the Rev. Canon Sunil Chandy, Canon for the Central Collaborative and Digital Communities

Are you new to vestry and looking to learn how to be an effective member of your church’s governance? Come and join Canon Sunil as we discuss the canonical responsibilities of the vestry, including the roles and responsibilities of clergy, the executive team, as well as the role of the vestry in God’s mission in the world. Throughout the workshop, we will review real-life case studies that will help us better understand and engage in the concepts we have learned.

New date and time: June 13th at 7pm
Click here to RSVP.

Planning Your Formation Year

Hosted by members of our bi-diocesan children/youth formation team

Christian formation is the lifelong process of growing in relationship with God, self, others, and all creation. In this process, we are transformed into the people God wants us to be. Join members of your bi-diocesan Children/Youth formation team to walk through and share ideas for planning your formation year to support the continued growth in relationship with God, self, others, and creation for our younger generations.

Plan to walk away with a template for planning and resources for formation and come prepared to share what has worked (or not worked!) for you in your spaces and places.

New date and time: Wednesday, May 29th at 7pm
Click here to RSVP.

Building Blocks of Church Communications

Hosted by Katie Forsyth, Canon for Evangelism & Networking

Join our diocesan communicator for a workshop on the basics of parish communications, including an overview of websites, social media, newsletters, and more. How do we define our audiences? How do we articulate our messages? What tools are necessary (and not necessary) to meet our communications and community engagement goals? This workshop open to all and may be especially helpful to those exercising staff and volunteer communications functions, both lay and ordained.

New date and time: Tuesday, June 11th at 6pm
Click here to RSVP.



At 2:00 pm on each of our three original dates, join Episcopalians and others from your area for a screening of The Philadelphia Eleven, a new documetary telling the story of the eleven women ordained in 1974 as an act of civil disobedience. In 2024, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of breaking the glass ceiling of ordination in The Episcopal Church! Click here to watch the trailer for The Philadephia Eleven.

The screening will begin at 2pm.

Click here to RSVP for any of the three screenings.


 Locations for Movie Screenings

May 11, 2024

Trinity Episcopal Church
101 E. Mansion St.
Marshall, MI 49068



May 18, 2024

St. John’s Episcopal Church
405 N. Saginaw St.
Midland, MI 48640



June 15, 2024

Emmanuel Episcopal Church
1020 E. Mitchell St
Petoskey, MI 49770


Congregational Development Initiatives Info Session

Learn more about the College for Congregational Development and Thriving in Ministry

The Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan have invested in two major congregational development initiatives, intended to empower leaders and build skills for healthy, sustainable, and thriving faith communities: the College for Congregational Development and Thriving in Ministry.

Join the programs’ leaders for an info session, outlining the programs objectives and processes, giving examples of this work in-action, and encouraging individuals and communities to accept the invitation to invest time and resources into the development of their congregations. We’ll spend the first 30 minutes of our time in presentation and panel discussion, facilitated by Katie Forsyth, Canon for Evangelism and Networking. The final 30 minutes of our time together will be Q&A with attendees.

Our online info session will take place on Thursday, May 16th at 5:30pm on Zoom. It will be recorded and posted for later viewing on the CCD and TIM info pages of the diocesan websites. Please RSVP.

About the College for Congregational Development

The College for Congregational Development (CCD) is a comprehensive training program, rooted in the tradition, ethos, and character of the Episcopal Church, that seeks to nurture and develop congregational development practitioners from within the local community. Originally begun in the Diocese of Olympia, CCD has grown and expanded, now supporting congregational development in over a dozen dioceses. In July of 2023, thirty-five lay and ordained leaders from thirteen congregations/covenant groups helped launch CCD in Eastern and Western Michigan; the 2024 program will take place July 21-26, 2024 in Midland.

Our director of the Eastern and Western Michigan CCD is the Rev. BJ Heyboer, rector of St. Mark’s, Newaygo.

Click here to read the invitation from January or learn more on our websites – East or West.

About Thriving in Ministry

Last June, a small group of Eastern and Western Michiganders traveled to Virginia Theological Seminary for a one week training to serve as our initial team of mentor/coaches for this two-year, cohort-based program. Together with participants in peer learning groups, we’ll engage and build capacity around connection and bridge building, engaging the local community, collaboration and lay leadership, setting and meeting learning goals, contextualizing the Gospel, new pathways for spiritual practices, assertiveness and conflict adeptness, and bridging the gaps between churchwide patterns and ethnic realities.

Our coordinator of the Eastern and Western Michigan TiM team is Dr. Nancy Foster, member of St. Mary’s, Cadillac.

Click here to read the invitation from April or learn more on our websites – East or West.

Questions? Contact Canon Katie Forsyth at kforsyth@eastmich.org or kforsyth@edwm.org.

Celebrate Bishop Whittemore Month in May

Friends in Christ,

During the month of May, Whittemore month, help us make a difference in the West Michigan community with a financial gift to the Bishop Whittemore Foundation. Your gift empowers our efforts to provide grants supporting support communities in the Diocese of Western Michigan with their new ministries, building and accessibility projects, and more.

The Rt. Rev. Lewis Bliss Whittemore was the third bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan serving 1937-1953. Bishop Whittemore was a talented administrator and gifted pastor, bringing the diocese out of a period of financial instability and laying the foundation for growth and advancement over the next several decades. This foundation was created in his name to continue his mission to actively support and encourage growth and advancement of the diocese, its parishes, and its parishioners.

Since its inception in the 1950s, the foundation has made a grant to every single congregation in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan, incorporated as an independent organization. Our most recent grants benefitted the St. Thomas, Battle Creek Laundry of Love program; a ramp replacement and front step repair at Holy Trinity, Manistee; and the Breakfast Café at St. Mark’s, Grand Rapids.

You can find more information about the Bishop Whittemore foundation, our work throughout the Diocese of Western Michigan, information about our grant process, contact information, and ways to donate at whittemorefoundation.org.

We truly appreciate your prayers and consideration!

The Foundation Trustees
The Bishop Whittemore Foundation

The Rev. Valerie Ambrose – St. Mark’s, Grand Rapids
Robert Brower – St. Mark’s, Grand Rapids
Sarah Cross – St. Andrew’s, Grand Rapids
Bobbie Jo Gaunt – All Saints, Saugatuck
John R. Gork – St. John’s, Grand Haven
Anthony Henry – St. Philips, Grand Rapids
Reid Hudgins, III – St. Luke’s, Kalamazoo
Kyle Smith Irwin – St. Mark’s, Grand Rapids
William Malpass – Emeritus
Daniel Monyror – Sudanese Grace Episcopal, Grand Rapids
Walter Moore – St. Philips, Grand Rapids
Kevin Murphy – Holy Trinity, Wyoming
Martha Porter – Grace, Grand Rapids
Michael Redman – St. Mark’s, Grand Rapids
Joan Smith – Grace Episcopal, Holland
Robert D. Stanton – St. Andrew’s, Big Rapids
Wendy Stock – St. Mark’s, Grand Rapids
Thelma Temple – St. Paul’s, Muskegon
Randy Wegener – St. John’s, Grand Haven
Roger York – St, Mark’s, Grand Rapids

Join CCD for Healthy, Vital Congregations

Dear Ones of Eastern and Western Michigan,

Eastertide joy to you and yours.

As our registration deadline (June 1) approaches, I am taking this opportunity to again invite you and a team from your parish to participate in our second College for Congregational Development (CCD).

We are looking forward to building on the success of our 2023 diocesan CCD launch as we gather to take next steps in becoming more healthy, more faithful, and more effective congregations.

CCD is for parish teams of leaders—lay and ordained—who have a keen interest and capacity to learn, grow, and engage with others—and then to bring the content home to their local congregation. Together we will explore our current realities in ministry, discern where God is leading us next, and work on goals, strategies, and actions for how to get there.

However small or large your parish is, and whatever the joys and challenges you are currently facing, CCD offers opportunities to grow and connect with others in mutually supportive and encouraging ways.

Visit the CCD page of our website for more details on our 2024 week together. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

In Peace,

The Rev. BJ Heyboer
CCD Coordinator for Eastern and Western Michigan

Click here for the original invitation to CCD 2024.


Commissioning Service for the AuSable Inclusion Center

Saturday, June 8 from 1-4pm

On Saturday, June 8th, all are invited from across the dioceses to come together to celebrate the planting and official launch of our New Episcopal Community, the AuSable Inclusion Center!

The Rev. Canon Nurya Love Parish, Canon for the Northern Collaborative, Beloved Community, and Creation Care, will preside over the Service of Commissioning and Holy Eucharist. After our liturgy, stick around for light refreshments and opportunities to learn more about our work and upcoming events. There is no cost to attend and no RSVP required!

The AuSable Inclusion Center is a New Episcopal Community in the future Episcopal Diocese of the Great Lakes, preparing to provide programming for rural LGBTQ+ people and those marginalized by their economic status, organized around four pillars: social/emotional support, material support, spiritual support, and education/advocacy. They will also support and resource parishes in the dioceses seeking to deepen their own invitation to this population through education, advocacy, and potential collaborations.

Questions about this event? Please contact ministry developer, the Rev. Beckett Leclaire, at bleclaire@eastmich.org or bleclaire@edwm.org.


The AuSable Inclusion Center
789 Ryno Rd.
Mio, MI 48647


JOIN US TO PREP! An outdoor work day will take place the Saturday before our commissioning service. Click here to learn more and RSVP.

Unable to join the celebration but would like to support the new AuSable Ministry Center in other ways? Please check out our building wishlist and library wishlist. Financial donations are welcome also! Please click here to give online or write checks out to “The Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan,” marked for “The AuSable Inclusion Center” and mail to the Diocese of Eastern Michigan, 124 N. Fayette St., Saginaw, MI 48602.

Catherine Cameron-Heldt to Retire

Friends in Christ,

With mixed emotions, we share that Catherine Cameron-Heldt, Western Michigan’s Diocesan Office Administrator, will enter her well-deserved retirement on May 31, 2024.

Catherine came on board our diocesan staff in September 2020, in the midst of a pandemic and without a bishop in place. Over the last three and a half years, she has strengthened our office processes and organization, provided crucial stability through various transitions, and has been the first point of relationship for anyone entering or calling our Grand Rapids office. We will truly miss her presence, humor, and contributions to our staff team, including in no small part her encyclopedic knowledge of the West Michigan dining scene! We send her off into retirement with our sincere gratitude and appreciation for the impact she’s made on both of our dioceses.

Invited to offer some words to the dioceses, Catherine writes, “I am so thankful to have served with and alongside the staff and the people of both dioceses. I could not have asked for a better opportunity. I appreciate you all. Thank you, from the bottom of my grateful heart.”

With the goal of filling the position with enough time for Catherine to assist with on-boarding, the Joint Standing Committees are working with the bi-diocesan personnel committee to review the current job description, publish the opening, and begin recruitment as soon as possible. We expect that the position will continue to be full-time and based in the Grand Rapids office, and acknowledge that some specific responsibilities and logistics may shift as we progress into our diocesan alignment over the next several months.

Please join us in offering our sincere gratitude for Catherine’s service amongst us and our celebration for her retirement. Catherine’s email address is ccameron@edwm.org, or notes can be addressed to her at the Western Michigan office at 1815 Hall St SE, Suite 200 Grand Rapids, MI 49506.

Easter Blessings,

The Standing Committee of Eastern Michigan:

The Rev. Donald Davidson
St. Paul’s, Flint

Jelecia Geraghty
St. Paul’s, Flint

Neil Hargrave
St. John’s, Dryden

Barb Ilkka, President
St. John’s, Saginaw

The Ven. Linda Crane
Grace, Port Huron

The Rev. Jerry Lasley
St. Christopher’s, Grand Blanc

The Standing Committee of Western Michigan:

The Rev. Valerie Ambrose
St. Mark’s, Grand Rapids

The Rev. Molly Bosscher
St. Andrew’s, Grand Rapids

Freya Gilbert
St. Paul’s, St. Joseph

Carole Redwine
St. Philip’s, Grand Rapids

The Rev Anne Schnaare, President
Grace, Grand Rapids

Ellen Schrader
Grace, Traverse City

Fred Skidmore
St. Andrew’s, Grand Rapids

The Rev. Eileen Stoffan
St. Paul’s, Muskegon


Photo: Angela Krueger (Assistant to the Bishop, Eastern Michigan), Catherine Cameron-Heldt, and Sara Philo (bi-diocesan Chief Financial Officer) smile for a photo at a joint diocesan convention.