Behind Bishop Singh’s Vestments

Excerpted from a message from Colleen Hintz, designer and creator of Bishop Singh’s new vestments. The vestments were a gift from the Episcopal Bishops of African Descent, replacing vestments lost in a house fire last year and marking Bishop Singh’s new start with our dioceses. 

Sign’s new vestment marks his start with the dioceses.

I wanted to share at least part of what was going on in my head as I created your set.

The beauty of the Phoenix rising is, for me, so connected to your reality and all you have been through both personally and professionally. I do believe the Presiding Bishop chose wisely in asking you to take on this unique episcopacy in Michigan. I see you empowering so many with the presence of the Phoenix. I love how the tears of the Phoenix are both yours and theirs to experience. I love how the jewels become sparks lighting the way along the water’s journey. I love how the waters intertwine, interconnect, come close together and move far apart while all at the same time being part of the greater whole.  I see you helping them to experience that reality to the fullest.

The rising phoenix in Sign’s vestments.

I will admit that when it was all finished, I realized there is an error within. Each strand goes over then under then over then under, and on and on throughout the entire chasuble. That is until at one point, there are two overs…

While it was possible to fix, I chose to leave it because of a childhood experience that stays with me to this day.

The blue strand goes over then under the head dress matching the chasuble.

As a young student, I was driven. I wanted only A’s and 100’s. Nothing else was good enough. I can still hear my high school chemistry teacher telling me “girls don’t deserve A’s in chemistry” which only drove me harder. That all was to change when my Girl Scout troop went to NYC the summer of my 15th year on this planet. I can still remember touring the UN. A new Persian rug had just been gifted to the UN and had been hung in a stairwell. It was very large and very beautiful. The guide shared the story that it had taken 3 artisans some 2+ years to create and commented that there were 3 errors within. I immediately tried to find them. She chuckled at me and said I would never find them but each artisan had left their first error in recognition of the reality that only God is perfect… I can still feel that hitting me square in the gut. I didn’t have to be perfect. Only God was!  Even to this day, I prefer to leave my first mistake to honor that reality.

May you wear the set with great joy,

Learn more about Colleen Hintz on her website,

Report and Policy Changes Around the Eucharist

Dear Friends,
In mid-February this year, we invited and appointed a task force to help us engage two things concerning the Eucharist.

To enhance our organic wisdom by offering theological reflections on the eucharist.

To recommend guidelines for engaging the wine/common cup during and after this exhausting season.

In response to our rather unrealistic invitation to deliver a result by March 23rd, this group of lay and clergy leaders worked diligently. They have delivered by collectively offering a gift to the church, the means of grace, and hope of glory, which we pray will have eternal and temporal value.

As bishops of our three dioceses, we endorse their recommendation and commend it to you without any significant changes. We ask you now to consider using these theological reflections and do your congregational deep dive into what it means for you to be a eucharistic community where you are.

We ask you to follow their recommendation to engage the wine thoughtfully using these articulated criteria: that the practice be reasonable, recognizable, and reverent.

Since we cannot predict COVID-19’s ability to morph, we ask that we respectfully stay vigilant, realizing that our practices may change again.

We also ask you to consider training a host of eucharistic visitors to help with home visits for those parishioners who choose to join you online. And finally, we invite you to consider starting these practices on Maundy Thursday, celebrating the deep joy and hope of Eastertide!

Phase 3 of our directives, the Plan for Re-Entry for Great Lakes Episcopalians has been updated to allow for the use of wine according to the considerations set out in this resource document.

Additionally, we invite you to two tri-diocesan teach-in gatherings via Zoom. The first will be on May 25th at 7pm, unpacking this resource created by our Fabulous Nine and providing a template to replicate in our congregations. The second will be on June 1st at 7pm, focusing on training eucharistic visitors and sharing resources.

We ask you to direct your gratitude to Almighty God for the gifts among us made manifest by these nine saints:

The Rev. Thomas Downs, St. Paul’s, Gladwin (Eastern Michigan)
The Ven. Beth Drew, RN, CCRC, Trinity, Three Rivers (Western Michigan)
The Rev. Dr. Jay Emerson Johnson, All Saints, Saugatuck (Western Michigan)
Mrs. Jelecia Geraghty, St. Paul’s, Flint (Eastern Michigan)
Dr. Timothy Gombis, Grace, Grand Rapids (Western Michigan)
The Rev. Dr. Andy Guffey, St. Mary’s in the Hills, Lake Orion (Michigan)
The Rev. Dr. W. Richard Hamlin, Retired (Michigan)
Ms. Amy Simons, St. John’s, Saginaw (Eastern Michigan)
The Rev. Dr. JoAnn Kennedy Slater, St. Luke’s, Ypsilanti (Michigan)
May this Holy Lenten season draw us closer to God, who calls us to make all things new even out of this season of sorrow and pain.

In the servant Christ, our hope of glory!

Faithfully yours,

The Rt. Rev. Prince G. Singh
Bishop Provisional
The Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern & Western Michigan

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Bonnie Perry
The Episcopal Diocese of Michigan

Statement from Bishop Singh Concerning Roe v. Wade

Dear Saints,

Earlier this week, our nation received news about a likely decision forthcoming from the United States Supreme Court. This impending decision to overturn Roe v. Wade after nearly 50 years will have painful repercussions across our country – for the people forced to carry unplanned and dangerous pregnancies against their will, for those of us whose religious liberties are not as protected as others, for those whose protections of privacy now stands poised for contestation – same-sex marriages, access to birth control, and so much more.

As Episcopalians, we commit every day to respect the dignity of every human being – one’s dignity requires the existence of choice over control, freedom over force, and abundant love over fear.

The Episcopal Church is consistent in our support for access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion access, which is the agency of a woman and her loved ones. I commend to you this resource released yesterday by the Episcopal Public Policy Network, including a resolution passed by the General Convention in 1967.

I am aware that while we may see mixed reactions to this potential decision, many are now afraid for their safety and that of their loved ones. I pray for our church, our world, and the communities we serve. As we give thanks for our mothers, may we wisely achieve God’s dream for a world in which no child is afraid or hungry, no person is enslaved, and where our love for one another flows fearlessly.

Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Prince G. Singh
Bishop Provisional
The Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan


LARC is now ECM

On Sunday, June 18, 2000 (one week after Pentecost), four bishops in Michigan signed a covenant.

The Rt. Rev. Edward L. Lee, Jr. (of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan); The Rt. Rev. Edwin Leidel (of the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan); The Rt. Rev. Gary Hansen (of the N/W Lower Michigan Synod); and The Most Rev. Patrick R. Cooney (of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gaylord) affirmed and attested to the understanding and belief that:

“It is the will of our Lord Jesus that all his disciples be one. Encouraged by the international, national and regional dialogues among Lutherans, Anglicans, and Roman Catholics, we celebrate the faithful initiative of our church leaders, past and present, in fostering church unity. Recognizing the desire for the eventual union of Lutheran, Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches, we the Bishops and the people of the above named Synod and Dioceses make this joint affirmation and solemn covenant.”


Thus, the annual LARC (Lutherans, Anglicans, and Roman Catholics) Retreat was born.

With the exception of 2020 due to COVID, over the years, LARC has provided an annual in-person educational and restful forty-eight hour retreat (over three days and at the Augustine Center in Conway), with the three denominations taking yearly turns “hosting” (securing the speaker) and sharing the leading of daily worship, i.e. an Episcopal day of worship, a Lutheran day of worship, and a Roman Catholic day of worship (the longer middle day of worship corresponding to the “hosting” denomination).

And over the years many of our various bishops have attended and supported our efforts. And since the warp and woof of liturgical worship was familiar to all three denominations –– and was one of the primary considerations which brought the three denominations together in the first place –– we were able to share theological reflection, fellowship, meals, and worship together; though some of the fuller expressions of the unity we’ve hoped to achieve (as expressed in the covenant’s introductory paragraph above) have remained somewhat elusive since, for example, we are unable to share in Roman Catholic Eucharist; and they in ours. We have, however, lived through that tension and remained faithful to the covenant’s stated intent, knowing that the Spirit sometimes moves more slowly than we would like.

But as ecumenical and interreligious efforts (like the Kaufman Interfaith Institute in Grand Rapids) have gained traction both in Michigan and around the world, the LARC Planning Committee has sought to broaden its ecumenical outreach to other Christian denominations. And at its 2021 retreat, the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church USA, the United Church of Christ, and the Dominican Sisters were represented as well. And so riding on this wave of expanded representation and increased attendance, LARC’s leadership heard the call of the Holy Spirit to similarly change and expand the retreat’s name from LARC to ECM –– the Ecumenical Community of Michigan.

Our 2022 Retreat will offer not only an expanded invitation to other denominations, but will provide an additional day of contemplation, reflection, education, fellowship, and new patterns of worship as well. Its title is Beholding God in Creation, and will be led by Pastor Steve Thomas (M. Div.), who has rich experience in spiritually and ecologically based retreats, and serves as the national coordinator for the Mennonite Men organization. More details will be forthcoming; but for now, please mark your calendars for ECM: October 10 at 4:PM through Oct 13 at 1:PM.

The Rev. Mike Wernick
Ecumenical and Interreligious Officer
The Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan

Bishop Singh’s 2022 Easter Message

Greetings beloved friends, 

We are gathering for Easter in the midst of so much loss. Two years of this pandemic has drained so much of our energy, individually and collectively. Globally, we have lost more than six million people. We are living in the midst of many wars including the war in Ukraine, where violence is seeming to have the last and sometimes the only word. 

In the midst of so much that is broken in our human community we are reminded of this incredible story of resurrection where women, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary, and other women, went to a tomb to care for a body. A dead body. Jesus’ body. They ended up awakening to a new world view that was not familiar to them. It is not familiar to us.

That is the real story of Easter, where God breaks through and gives us a new way to be. Providence is what we associate with the gift of God. When God invites us to a new way of being, that is providence. Jesus died and was raised from the dead: providence. 

Second thing I noticed in the story is also the deep courage of women who went to a tomb when there was so much controversy, so much fear, so much to be depressed about. But they moved, even in and through their grief to claim a deep resilience and courage that we are given as a gift. 

Finally, I think there is this deep sense of amazement that everyone is awakened to in the story of resurrection. Where people who were totally afraid were overcome with an unencumbered joy. The joy of knowing God is with us in a very real way. Not as a baby that is vulnerable anymore, but as the risen Christ giving us the strength to face our fears, our challenges, and overcome everything that stymies us, and release us to this grace of joy.

So, my beloved friends, as you gather for your celebration of Easter this year, I pray that you will be filled with the reassurance of providence, a deep assurance of the courage that we have as followers of Jesus, and live into your joy abundantly

Blessings as you celebrate Easter. And may you be filled with that deep intertwining peace of the risen Christ who has risen on a new year. Alleluia. Christ has risen indeed. Amen.


Saludos queridos amigos,

Nos reunimos para la Pascua en medio de tantas pérdidas. Dos años de esta pandemia han drenado mucha de nuestra energía, individual y colectiva. A nivel mundial, hemos perdido más de seis millones de personas. Vivimos en medio de muchas guerras, incluida la de Ucrania, donde la violencia parece tener la última y a veces la única palabra.

En medio de tantas cosas rotas en nuestra comunidad humana, recordamos esta increíble historia de resurrección en la que las mujeres, María Magdalena, Juana, María y otras mujeres, fueron a una tumba para cuidar un cuerpo. Un cadáver. El cuerpo de Jesús. Acabaron despertando a una nueva visión del mundo que no les era familiar. No nos resulta familiar.

Esa es la verdadera historia de la Pascua, en la que Dios irrumpe y nos da una nueva manera de ser. La providencia es lo que asociamos al don de Dios. Cuando Dios nos invita a una nueva manera de ser, eso es la providencia. Jesús murió y resucitó de entre los muertos: [eso] es la providencia.

La segunda cosa que noté en la historia es también el profundo coraje de las mujeres que fueron a una tumba cuando había tanta controversia, tanto miedo, tanto para deprimirse. Pero se movieron, incluso en y a través de su dolor, para reclamar una profunda resistencia y valor que se nos da como un regalo.

Por último, creo que existe ese profundo sentimiento de asombro que a todos nos despierta la historia de la resurrección. Donde la gente que estaba totalmente asustada se vio invadida por una alegría desbordante. La alegría de saber que Dios está con nosotros de una forma muy real. No como un bebé que ya es vulnerable, sino como Cristo resucitado que nos da la fuerza para enfrentarnos a nuestros miedos, a nuestros retos, y superar todo lo que nos estorba, y liberarnos a esta gracia de la alegría.

Así que mis queridos amigos, al reunirse para la celebración de la Pascua de este año, rezo para que se llenen de la seguridad de la providencia, una profunda seguridad del valor que tenemos como seguidores de Jesús, y vivan en su alegría en abundancia.

Bendiciones en la celebración de la Pascua. Y que se llenen de esa profunda paz entrelazada de Cristo resucitado que ha resucitado en un nuevo año. Sin duda, cristo ha resucitado. Amén.


April 13, 2022 in Lansing (and virtually)

Following the shooting at Oxford High School last November, community organizers and faith leaders came together and launched End Gun Violence Michigan, an advocacy and exploratory committee aimed at enacting common-sense gun reform in our state, whether through advocacy with our legislators or through a ballot initiative in the future.

From big cities to small towns, gun violence is impacting all of our communities. A new state task force has been appointed to consider legislative proposals — a small first step. On April 13th, End Gun Violence Michigan will host a Lobby Day in Lansing to meet with legislators and discuss with them our perspectives as a people of faith and as Michiganders including the urgent need for safe storage laws, universal background checks, and limits on guns at government buildings. Please join Bishop Singh, Michigan Bishop Bonnie Perry, Northern MIchigan Bishop Rayford Ray, ELCA Bishop Craig Satterlee, ELCA Bishop Donald Kreiss, and dozens of other lay and clergy faith leaders to advocate for change.

All participants will be assigned small groups for their meetings, which are likely to take place in the morning or early afternoon.

Training will take place via Zoom on the evening of April 7th for all who register for Lobby Day including how to effectively communicate with legislators and their staffers on this issue. More information for the training will be shared by organizers following your registration.

While the preferred way to participate is in-person in Lansing, virtual meetings are being arranged as well. Those who would like to support on-the-ground but prefer not to participate in a meeting might consider volunteering to join a Lobby Day support team including those focused on prayer, hospitality, protest, social media, and at-home prayer. Click here to learn more about support teams.


Where should I meet with the group? St. Paul’s, Lansing is our Episcopal HQ for Lobby Day. You can find the Hospitality Team there and they’ll direct you where to go.
Is there parking?
St. Paul’s only has a few parking spaces. We recommend parking in one of the parking structures near the Capitol building.
Closest Parking Garage to St. Paul’s (0.2 miles, 5-minute walk), $6 a day:
City of Lansing, North Capitol Ramp, 316 N Capitol Avenue, Downtown, Lansing, MI 48933
Closest Parking Garage to Capitol Building (400 ft, 2-minute walk), $5 a day
: Townsend Ramp, 221 Townsend Street, Downtown, Lansing, MI 48933
What should I bring?
If you’re planning to be outside with a support team, bring a foldable lawn chair, blanket to sit on (or if it’s cold), umbrella, and dress according to the weather. You will be able to go into the St. Paul’s building to shelter from the cold, rain, or snow if needed. What should I wear? Folks meeting with lawmakers should dress professionally. Those serving on a support team should dress comfortably for the weather and are encouraged to wear the color orange which is the color of gun violence awareness.
Should I pack a lunch?
If you would like to pack your own lunch, please do. However, a light lunch, snacks, and water will be provided at St. Paul’s.
How will people know we are there to support End Gun Violence Michigan?
Our support teams will be handing out End Gun Violence Michigan pins, lawn signs, and signs you can carry in support of the cause.

Our First 40 Days: A Reflection from Bishop Singh

Dear saints,

I call you saints as the Apostle Paul did because we all aspire toward holiness in Christ Jesus. I greet you from the spring House of Bishops in Houston, TX. Thank you for your support and prayer for the people of Ukraine and Russia.

I ask your prayers for all who are ill, especially the Rev. Canon Bill Spaid, retired Canon Missioner of Western Michigan, who has decided to move to hospice care. We give heartfelt thanks to God for Bill’s 35th anniversary of his ordination on March 21. If you wish to write a note to him and his spouse, Greg Fitzgerald, their address is 2008 Hudson, Kalamazoo, MI 49008.

Thank you for the warm welcome I have received from both of our dioceses. Your cards and welcome baskets with locally made goodies have filled me with joy and belonging. I am more than pleased with the way my relocation has gone. As some of you know, I bought a house in Stanwood, a village in Canadian Lakes near Big Rapids. It’s tranquil and roughly in the state’s middle, an hour north of Grand Rapids and a little over an hour west of Saginaw. I bought most of my furniture locally. The house fire helped me downsize quite radically, which meant that two trips in my Prius Prime and one for my smoke-restored books and a few other sundries did it. The Rev. Diane Stier of St. John’s, Mount Pleasant graciously received my stuff in my absence on January’s frozen winter’s day when I cried out for help.

After over a month of beginning this journey, let me share a few brief observations and seek your prayer for a few things.

Your deep devotion to Christ and the church moves me. Your many new practices to connect with formation and creation inspire me. I suspect that this devotion translates into a hope-filled resilience that you practice seemingly effortlessly. Despite the pandemic and other challenges, you and the Holy Spirit have raised, discerned, and formed many leaders for Holy Orders. God willing and the people consenting, we will joyfully ordain five transitional deacons in April and three vocational deacons in June.

Thanks for the gentle flurry of generosity across the board, in and outside the church. It all began with meeting your search committee on Zoom last summer, followed by your Joint Standing Committee leaders. Once your Joint Convention called me in October, I visited with your fantastic staff in November. I find that we have an excellent staff team, Standing Committee, Council, and Commission on Ministry leaders serving Christ in our dioceses. I have met some vestry members who demonstrate a deep love and loyalty to Christ and Christ’s church. Your welcoming liturgy that the Rev. Pam Lenartowicz of St. Andrew’s, Gaylord, Canon Missioner Anne Hallmark, and Canon Katie Forsyth put together at St. John’s Midland and live-streamed was beautiful. Your leaders entrusted me with the croziers of the dioceses along with a tippet bearing both diocesan seals. The gift of chasuble stole and mitre from my siblings of African Descent from the House of Bishops is a stunning work of worship art created by my friend, Colleen Hintz.

A neighbor visited and give me a list of the neighbors and their contact information. I guess that is Pure Michigan hospitality! I have also encountered much grace outside church circles through the kindness of a relocation specialist, Mary Smith-Uitvlugt, who took me on tour and introduced me to my realtors, Lisa Sabo and her brother Patrick Clark of Greenridge Realty.

Let me give you a sense of my first set of visitations and a few encounters.


  • Visitation with St. Christopher’s, Grand Blanc, where I met with and installed their new rector, the Rev. Jerry Lasley. We also blessed former Eastern Michigan Canon to the Ordinary, the Rev. Canon Michael Spencer, on his last Sunday before transitioning to his new call in the Diocese of Southern Ohio.
  • I went sledding with youth leaders from Western Michigan’s Southern Region at St. Timothy’s, Richland and broke my pinky. No, I was not training for the Olympics!
  • Visitation with St. John’s, Ionia where we also celebrated the retirement of their priest, the Rev. John Kirkman.
  • Visitation and vestry meeting with Trinity, Lexington. 
  • Visitation and meetings with leadership with Grace, Port Huron. They grieve the loss of their former rector, the Rev. Dr. Lydia Agnew Speller, who died last year.
  • Had dinner with our bi-diocesan chancellor, Bill Fleener, Jr. of St. David’s, Lansing.


  • Spent a Friday and Saturday engaging in a training led by Communities Organizing for Racial Equity (CORE), organized by our Dismantling Racism team.
  • Visitation with St. Mark’s, Grand Rapids, including meetings with their rector, the Rev. Dr. Christian Brocato, as well as their vestry and other leaders.
  • Spent the weekend with the Academy for Vocational Leadership, engaged with and met with Dr. Val Fargo, the Academic Dean, as well as the other instructors and our students in formation.
  • Visitation with Trinity, Bay City and meetings with their rector, the Rev. Sue Rich, vestry, and other leaders considering strategic steps forward as a congregation.

Bishop Singh smiles for a selfie with the faculty and students of the Academy for Vocational Leadership, a bi-diocesan program of formation for ordination.

For now, I have a rhythm of spending my Tuesdays at the Grand Rapids office and Wednesdays at the Saginaw office for staff and other increasingly face-to-face meetings. We attend to staff and other pastoral care issues as we come by them. I have met with the Rev. Canon Tracie Little for onboarding as she prepares to begin as Canon to the Ordinary serving Eastern Michigan on March 22. She is participating in the Episcopal Church Transition Officers conference this week to get oriented even before she officially starts her new ministry.

We have competent staff in both dioceses and I am listening and observing to help us be more responsive as necessary. We have one monthly joint staff meeting right now, apart from separate staff meetings. I am impressed with how you have identified and worked on common issues while exploring further cooperation and collaboration. Congregational development is a common issue and both dioceses are asking similar and different questions. Some common and some separate conversations would be helpful. Strategically, a common language shared by lay and clergy leaders across the two dioceses would be fantastic. It would help to have a task force explore some orientation and engagement in leadership formation to help with congregational development.

Kindly uphold these intentional engagements in your prayers: a joint staff retreat, April 4-5; a Building Bridges Steering Committee retreat, May 14; a clergy retreat and chrism mass, coming up on May 10-12. And for the Task Force on the Eucharist, who are working hard to bring some recommendations to Bishop Perry and me within the next week or so.

I give thanks for serving our great, big, wonderful God with you. We give thanks for the life and witness of St. Patrick. Have a holy Lent!

With affection,


The Rt. Rev. Prince G. Singh, Ph.D. is bishop provisional serving the Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan. He was elected in October 2021 and officially began in this role on February 1st, 2022. 

A Word on the Violence in Ukraine

Dear Saints,

History teaches us that violent takeovers and coercion are not gospel values — though Christians have been complicit with such expressions. Our prayers and intentional thoughts surround the people and all creation in Ukraine as this manifest plague of coercion debilitates the life and safety of many.

Let us pray:

Oh gracious, God of peace and agency.

We cry with the people and all creation in Ukraine to bring this violent war to a quick end.

We pray for global leaders to intervene and nip this culture of bullying in the bud. Please help us to disallow such tendencies when we witness their manifestations near or far from us. May we never be bystanders of indifference and hate!

You are the source of all that is good and holy, and we ask for your deep and abiding presence to hold these, our dear siblings, close to yourself.

Please help us be peacemakers where we are and help us put away tactics of devaluing the God-given dignity of others and their spaces.

In your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

Yours faithfully,

The Rt. Rev. Prince G. Singh
Bishop Provisional
The Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern & Western Michigan


Delegates at convention engage in intentional conversations with their table groups. In the last section of this update from the Building Bridges Steering Committee, a summary of the submitted responses is provided for all to review.


At its roots, the Building Bridges process is about our two dioceses exploring ways to collaborate. Collaboration is relational, it involves knowing one another. So the Building Bridges Steering Committee is inviting you to participate in a conversation with other people from across our two dioceses who are involved in a similar ministry or church context.

What we heard from many of our delegates in the Building Bridges conversation at convention and in recent Clericus discussions is the importance of one’s local culture and wondering how a potential junction between our dioceses might change that culture. Therefore, in this round of intentional conversations we want to discuss, share, and learn about our own culture and that of our partnering diocese. The questions we will discuss at each of these affinity group sessions are:

  1. What are the core values that inform my ministry?
  2. What are the most important traditions within my ministry, church, and diocese?
  3. What, if any, similarities and/or differences have I heard between the two dioceses tonight?

Each conversation will be from 7:00-8:30pm. Please read below for the specific dates and ministry/affinity groupings. We ask that you register for one meeting, even if you may share ministries with several groups. Two of the sessions are open to all in case your particular ministry is not listed or you have a personal conflict on the night(s) you would sign up for otherwise.

Monday, March 7th – Youth/Children’s Formation Leaders

Tuesday, March 8th – Adult Formation and Spirituality Leaders

Wednesday, March 9th – Current and Recent Vestry Wardens

Thursday, March 10th – Deacons

Monday, March 14th – Music Directors, Musicians, Choir Members

Tuesday, March 15th – Outreach Ministry Leaders and Committee Members

Wednesday, March 16th – Church Administrators, Treasurers, Finance Leaders

Thursday, March 17th – Open Session
(Open to all unable to participate in another session)

Monday, March 21st – Clergy and members in urban/suburban communities

Tuesday, March 22nd – Clergy and members in small-town/rural communities

Wednesday, March 23rd – Clergy and members of majority Black, Hispanic/Latino Parishes
(Spanish translation is available in-person at St. John’s, Grand Haven)

Thursday, March 24th – Clergy and members of congregations in resort communities

Monday, March 28th – Open Session
(Open to all unable to participate in another session)


As part of our recent joint diocesan convention held in Lansing in October, the Internal Conversations subcommittee of the Building Bridges Steering Committee facilitated small group conversations amongst the gathered delegates, clergy, and visitors. With specific prompts, the participants discussed the questions amongst their assigned, mixed tables and were asked to respond to a form (available both written and online) to document their reflections back to the Steering Committee and to the wider dioceses.

Click here to view a summary of their responses.


When one reads the scriptural record of this woman of faith, the negative ascriptions given to her over the centuries are quite astonishing, even puzzling.  One wonders if there is not some kind of latent sexism at play here.

First, there is the common misconception that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute.  Nothing in the Bible indicates that this was so.  The city of Magdala was an important shipbuilding and trade center in its day and history indicates it had an unsavory reputation.  Guilt by association does not necessarily apply, however.

Then there is the word “maudlin,” which is an alteration of the word “Magdalene,” from the practice of depicting her as a weeping, penitent sinner.  Well yes, John’s Gospel does indicate that she wept at Jesus’ tomb when his body was found to be missing, a perfectly appropriate grief reaction to my mind.  She also was healed by Jesus of some kind of spiritual and/or physical illness.  But the definition of maudlin as “weakly and effusively sentimental” is a completely unfair characterization when it comes to Mary.  Her story would indicate quite the opposite.

Mary Magdalene travelled with Jesus and supported the mission financially.  She went with others to Jesus’ tomb to anoint his body and in John’s account, was the first witness to the resurrection.  The Eastern Church regards her as the equal of an apostle.  Even more stunningly, it was Mary Magdalene who was present at the crucifixion after all of the other disciples had abandoned Jesus to save their own hide.   I understand why the disciples ran.  My point is that Mary of Magdala did not run, but chose to stay at the risk of her life.  Her devotion to Jesus is unquestionable.  After the resurrection the disciples went back home, but Mary “…wept and remained standing outside the tomb.”

What are we afraid of here—intimacy?  Is it that the man Jesus seems to have had a close, loving relationship with an empowered woman as a disciple and it makes us nervous?  Whatever the source of anxiety may be in the historical record surrounding her, it is important that we see in Mary Magdalene a person of strength who never stops her seeking of the Christ in his life or in his death.  Gregory the Great said that, “She longed for him whom she thought had been taken away.  And so it happened that the woman who stayed behind to seek Christ was the only one to see him.”

We tend to find what we are looking for, positively and negatively.  Mary was looking for Jesus and in her seeking, heard her name called by the Savior of the world.  Who was seeking whom?  It is in our seeking that we are found.


Bishop Skip


Cuando uno lee el registro bíblico de esta mujer de fe, las ascripciones negativas que se le han dado a lo largo de los siglos son bastante asombrosas, incluso desconcertantes.  De hecho, uno se pregunta si no hay algún tipo de sexismo latente en juego.

En primer lugar, existe la idea errónea de que María Magdalena era una prostituta.  Nada de la Biblia indica que esto fuera así.  La ciudad de Magdala era un importante centro comercial y de construcción naval en su época y la historia indica que tenía una reputación desagradable.  Sin embargo, la culpa por asociación no se aplica necesariamente.

Luego está la palabra “sensiblera”, que es una alteración de la palabra “Magdalena”, por la práctica de representarla como una pecadora llorona y penitente.  Pues sí, el Evangelio de Juan indica que lloró ante la tumba de Jesús cuando se descubrió que su cuerpo había desaparecido, una reacción de dolor perfectamente apropiada a mi entender.  También fue sanada por Jesús de algún tipo de enfermedad espiritual y/o física.  Pero la definición de sensiblero como “débil y efusivamente sentimental” es una caracterización completamente injusta cuando se trata de María.  Su historia indicaría todo lo contrario.

María Magdalena viajó con Jesús y apoyó la misión financieramente.  Ella fue con otros a la tumba de Jesús para ungir su cuerpo y, en el relato de Juan, fue el primer testigo de la resurrección.  La Iglesia Oriental la considera igual de apóstol.  Aún más sorprendente, fue María Magdalena quien estuvo presente en la crucifixión después de que todos los demás discípulos abandonaron a Jesús para salvar su propio pellejo.   Entiendo por qué huyeron los discípulos.  Lo que quiero decir es que María de Magdala no huyó, sino que eligió quedarse a riesgo de su vida.  Su devoción a Jesús es incuestionable.  Después de la resurrección los discípulos volvieron a casa, pero María “…lloró y se quedó de pie fuera del sepulcro”.

¿De qué tenemos miedo aquí, de la intimidad?  ¿Acaso es que el hombre Jesús parece haber tenido una relación estrecha y amorosa con una mujer empoderada como discípula y eso nos pone nerviosos?  Cualquiera que sea la fuente de ansiedad en el registro histórico que la rodea, es importante que veamos en María Magdalena a una persona de fuerza que nunca deja de buscar a Cristo en su vida o en su muerte.  Gregorio Magno dijo que: “Ella anhelaba a quien creía arrebatado.  Y así sucedió que la mujer que se quedó buscando a Cristo fue la única que lo vio”.

Tendemos a encontrar lo que buscamos, positiva y negativamente.  María estaba buscando a Jesús y, en su búsqueda, escuchó su nombre llamado por el Salvador del mundo.  ¿Quién buscaba a quién?  Nos encontramos en nuestra búsqueda.


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