A Conversation with our Standing Committee Presidents

Last fall, Bishop Singh sat down with the three most recent Standing Committee Presidents serving Eastern and Western Michigan: Barb Ilkka (current, Eastern Michigan), the Rev. Brian Chace (former, Eastern Michigan), and the Rev. Dr. Randall Warren (current, Western Michigan). Together, they consider what it means to serve in governmental leadership in our dioceses, reflect on their last few years of working together across diocesan lines, and look ahead to continuing to explore deepened relationship through our Season of Practice.

While watching this long-form video (around 25 minutes) as an individual or in a small group, we invite you to respond to similar questions:

  • What does it mean to exercise leadership in church governance?
  • What have you learned from this bi-diocesan partnership so far?
  • What assumptions did you have about the other diocese before interacting on a personal level? What was surprising?
  • What dreams do you have for our dioceses? For our church?

Check out previous videos in our ongoing Season of Practice Series:


Celebration of Ministry – Eileen Stoffan and St. Paul’s, Muskegon

The Wardens, Vestry, and People of

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Muskegon

With our Bishop,
The Rt. Rev. Prince G. Singh

request your prayers and presence
as we renew and celebrate our ministry with

The Rev. Eileen Stoffan

on the Thirtieth day of March
in the Year of our Lord Two Thousand Twenty-three,
at five thirty in the evening

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
1006 3rd Street
Muskegon, Michigan 49440

Reception to follow.
Clergy: surplice, cassock, red stole

A Lenten Message from Bishop Singh

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Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. Matthew 4:11

When the devil leaves, angels arrive and minister to Jesus. The cosmic choreography is striking.

We live amid devilish actions. Some actions are temporal and visible to us. Some are cosmic and less visual yet intuitive. One year after Putin’s war against Ukraine, and in a year when we have had fewer days than mass shootings, we must pay attention to aggression. Turkey and Syria rising from an earthquake with more than 50,000 people dead. We are all rising from the fading impact of the pandemic. We are wise to pause, fast, and pray.

We have been traveling together as people of the Way in Eastern and Western Michigan. Thank you for the privilege of accompanying you as your bishop provisional. I am honored and humbled!

As we engage in the season of Lent, I can see some convergence between Lent and our Season of Practice. Lenten practices of arms giving, fasting, and prayer give us some spiritual muscle memory to discern other methods. Methods like curiosity, discernment, and an openness to see how much we have in common. It usually provides the grace to navigate our differences. Curiosity is one of the best expressions of love.

Jiddhu Krishnamurti, an Indian Philosopher, said, “the ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.” I would go further and add that it is the highest form of respect! We are in a beautiful place of exploration of one another. Let us be curious and see each other for the mysterious gift we are to one another.

We are amid many transitions. With transition comes grief and a degree of anxiety. The most apparent change of our time is the pandemic and all the misery and losses the world has endured. You have had a transition in the episcopate with a bishop provisional who has a strange hue compared to his predecessors, a different accent, and likes spicy food!

We asked the General Convention to pay attention to the process of pastoral support during a disciplinary process involving a bishop. Western Michigan is experiencing transitions with the departure of the CFO, a Canon Missioner, and two more Canon Missioners in the next few months. We are discerning new maps for new regions as we interview and prepare to call new Regional Canons to help us become thriving, beloved communities.

Behind each of these transitions is the spiritual practice of discernment. The second spiritual practice I would hold up is discernment. We must discern how to be and what to do. There are two expressions of agency, which is the end of discernment. A significant part of discernment is figuring out prayerfully when to practice what kind of agency. The first kind is where you act from the call, “don’t just stand there, do something.” The second kind of agency is responding to the invitation, “don’t just do something; stand there.” Let us discern and practice these during our season of practice with grace and patience.

Finally, let’s practice the gift of discovering our commonalities within and across the dioceses. Let us then allow the energy from these common ground experiences to help us navigate the places where we are different. In this Season of Practice and Lent, let us invite angelic expressions of curiosity, discernment, and commonalities while recognizing demonic forces that tempt us to go after shiny objects. May our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving help us develop the mind of Christ. Have a Holy Lent!

Children and Youth Worker Online Resource Shares

Seasonal Opportunities to Connect Across Parishes

Those who work with children and youth — staff and volunteer, lay and clergy — are invited to participate in seasonal resource shares with others across our two dioceses.

This is an opportunity to meet and learn from other youth and children ministers. Come share the amazing things you’re working on and resources that you’ve found. Bring questions to collaborate on with colleagues. Please join us for this opportunity to gather useful tools and resources to utilize with your young people according to the natural rhythms of the church program season.

These online Zoom meetings take place on Thursday mornings from 10am-Noon. Please RSVP using the links below.

Questions? Contact McKenzie Knill, Director of Children, Youth, and Young Adult Ministries at mknill@eastmich.org or mknill@edwm.org.


Thursday, March 9th, 10-Noon

Click here to RSVP.

Thursday, May 11th, 10-Noon

Click here to RSVP.

Thursday, July 20th, 10-Noon

Click here to RSVP.

Thursday, September 21, 10-Noon

Click here to RSVP.


Exploring God’s Creation in Community

The communities of Eastern and Western Michigan are invited to join our local chapter of Holy Hikes Great Lakes (a bi-diocesan ministry!) for worship, fellowship, and fun in 2023.

In 2023, we’ll take on five hikes throughout the lower peninsula, from April through October 2023. Our Holy Hikes are like liturgy on the move — we will be hiking and praying along the way, hearing scripture and learning about God’s creation.

All hiking sites have been carefully selected to be rated “easy” treks to ensure access for all generations and most mobilities. We expect to spend about 90 minutes on the trail, including time both hiking and stopping for prayer and reflection. We end each hike with trailside fellowship! In the case of heavy rain, the date will be rescheduled.

Please read below for the 2023 season dates and locations, to learn how your congregation can support a nearby hike, and to learn more about the church-wide Holy Hikes network. We ask that all participants RSVP so we know how many to expect and so that we can be in touch with more specific directions to the trailhead and in case of inclement weather.

(Photo: The group pauses for a photo during last season’s Holy Hike at the Blue Water Riverwalk in Port Huron.)

Our Holy Hikes Chapter Coordinator is Beckett Leclaire (Eastern Regional Youth Missioner; St. John’s, Dryden). Questions? Contact Beckett at bleclaire@eastmich.org or bleclaire@edwm.org.


Holy Hikes is a church-wide eco-ministry network affiliated with the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. It was developed with the goal of helping individuals be renewed in their relationship with the earth, the Church, and the Creator. Holy Hikes calls us beyond the walls of comfort, to take a step (or a hike!) towards reunion with the earth and all of its life and beauty.


APRIL 22nd at 1PM

Stepping Stone Falls
5161 Branch Road
Flint, MI 48506

Visit their website for information about handicap accessibility and maps.

2.5 mile hike.
Leashed dogs are welcome.

Make a day of it — The Episcopal Church’s Concert for the Human Family will take place nearby later that evening. Learn more and buy tickets.

JUNE 17th at 1PM


Lake Huron Trail from Camp Chickagami
6952 Kauffman Road
Presque Isle, MI 49777

Less than two mile hike.
Leashed dogs are welcome.

Make a weekend of it — Camp Chickagami’s “Days at the Lake” Camp for adults and families takes place June 16-19, 2023 and participants will have the option to join us for our hike. Learn more and register.

AUGUST 26th at 1PM

Newaygo Welcome Center Loop
4684 Evergreen Dr.
Newaygo, MI 48337

Visit their website for information about handicap accessibility and maps.

2 mile hike.
Leashed dogs are welcome.


Mill Pond Park
607 S. Adams St.
Mount Pleasant, MI 48858

Visit their website for information about handicap accessibility and maps.

Less than 2 mile hike.
Leashed dogs are welcome.

OCTOBER 14th at 1PM

Woodland Park and Nature Preserve
2518 Gethings Rd.
Battle Creek, MI 49015

Visit their website for information about handicap accessibility and maps.

Less than 3 mile hike.
Leashed dogs are welcome.


How can my congregation support a nearby Holy Hike?

First, we’d love for you to share this invitation broadly with your community. We’d love to welcome as many people as possible as participants! Additionally, we could use some support manning the welcome station (helping greet latecomers, especially) and preparing the hospitality post-hike. To get in touch with Beckett, please email bleclaire@eastmich.org or bleclaire@edwm.org.

How should we pack for a Holy Hike?

For all participants to keep safe and healthy during our hikes, we ask that you pack the following items:

  • Water bottle with plenty of water
  • Bug spray (look for one that wards off ticks)
  • Sunscreen
  • (If bringing a dog) Six-foot leash and waste baggies
  • (Optional) Bag chair, for fellowship at the trailhead

Please wear close-toed shoes, comfortable for heavy walking.

Who’s invited?

Holy Hikes are open to all – you do not need to be an Episcopalian or a member of a church to join. Bring friends!

There are no age limits to participation, but we do require that any minors (kids under 18) be accompanied by a designated adult.

Can my dog come?

Friendly dogs are welcome to join us if permitted by the particular site. In all circumstances, the dog should be leashed (6 ft. max leash) and all waste picked up and removed.


There is no cost to attend any of the Holy Hikes events, but your RSVP helps us plan and communicate in case of weather.


Award Winning Concert Tour Comes to Michigan!

The Concert for the Human Family is an inspiring collaboration between musicians and church leaders who believe in the power of music and storytelling to foster Beloved Community.

Experience genre-crossing original music that bridges jazz, hip-hop, rock and bluegrass, performed by a multi-cultural, award-winning team of recording artists, led by GRAMMY-nominated pianist and composer Kory Caudill and Wordsmith, a Baltimore-based songwriter, performer and recording artist. Guided by their music and friendship, they invite concertgoers into an exploration of Beloved Community and the power of racial reconciliation through relationship.

The Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan are thrilled to host two stops on the nationwide Spring Tour: in Grand Rapids on April 21st and in Flint on April 22nd. This is a destination experience — see below for tickets!!

With questions, please contact Katie Forsyth, Canon for Evangelism and Networking, at kforsyth@eastmich.org or kforsyth@edwm.org.


Tickets are on sale now! Tickets are $18 per person with our local discount codes and additional savings are available for students and group registrations. This event is open to all, regardless of denomination or faith background — please share!

FRIDAY, APRIL 21st at 7:30pm
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Grand Rapids

Discount Code: STMARKS

SAT., APRIL 22nd at 7:30pm
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church,

Discount Code: STPAULS

Update following Canon James’ Departure from Staff

Friends and Colleagues,

Last Saturday, about fifty of us paused and gathered to say “thank you” to the Rev. Canon Alan James, former Interim Canon Missioner to Western Michigan’s Southern Region! We were honored to have his spouse, the Very Rev. Lisa Hackney-James, who joined us as we shared stories, laughter, food, and evening prayer to mark this special occasion. I write now with a quick update on the departure of and the bi-diocesan search for new regional canons to join our staff.

Before his departure last week, our staff worked with Canon James to ensure support was maintained for the congregations of Western Michigan’s current Southern Region and his other bi-diocesan responsibilities.

  • The Rev. Canons Valerie Ambrose and Tracie Little are temporarily supporting specific congregations in Western Michigan’s Southern Region and will contact their assigned congregational leaders directly to identify themselves and to check in. Val and Tracie are up-to-speed and engaged with all in-process transitions and searches. Kindly be mindful and patient with them as they strive to respond to issues.
  • The Southern Clericus will gather; the Rev. Darlene Kuhn (Mediator, Harbert) will facilitate their Sacred Ground series and the Rev. Joel Turmo (St. Timothy’s, Richland; bi-diocesan regional youth missioner – South) will coordinate Bible study.
  • Canon Katie Forsyth will offer temporary staff support to the Bi-Diocesan Creation Care Task Force.
  • Canon Forsyth will convene the team planning the 2023 Bi-Diocesan Convention.
  • Canon Forsyth will support the Plainwell Diaper Ministry as they consider and seek cooperating ministry status in the Diocese of Western Michigan.
  • The Rev. Joel Turmo will convene the task group to oversee the Resurrection Garden at the former Western Michigan Cathedral in Portage; Chief Financial Officer Sara Philo will offer staff support.

We ask for your prayers and patience as we navigate this interim period between the ministry of Canon James and the next innovative leader who will be called to join our community.

As I write, we are preparing for the first round of interviews with candidates for our bi-diocesan regional canon positions. We hope to welcome our first new canon within the next few months. Following the retirements of Canons Val Ambrose and Anne Hallmark, we will call two additional leaders to our staff. I ask your prayers for this process, our remarkable candidates, and the search committee.


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

Dismantling Racism: A Lenten Retreat for High Schoolers

March 10-12, 2023 at St. Andrew’s, Big Rapids

High school-aged youth and the adults that support them are invited to join the Children and Youth Formation team for the Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan for a Lenten Retreat focused on the work of dismantling racism.

Using youth-focused curriculum developed by the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing in the Diocese of Atlanta, participants will be invited to have candid conversations about race, advocacy, and addressing systemic racism and white supremacy in our communities. We’ll develop the practical skills and confidence to be antiracist accomplices, grounding our work in the example of Jesus, who refused to be quiet in the face of injustice.

Participants will arrive at 4pm on Friday, March 10th and will depart on Sunday, March 12th, after closing Eucharist.

With questions, please contact Director for Children, Youth, and Young Adult Formation McKenzie Knill at mknill@eastmich.org or mknill@edwm.org or by calling 810-434-5982.


Parents/guardians are invited to join on Zoom for a pre-retreat parent meeting on February 26th at 6pm.

RSVP for Parent Meeting

A post-retreat follow-up discussion for participants will be held on Zoom on March 26th at 6pm.

RSVP for Participant Meeting


High schoolers and the adults that support them are invited to participate in this retreat. Adult youth leaders must be up-to-date on Safe Church, Safe Communities training and have a background check on file.

The event is offered at no-cost by the bi-diocesan Office of Children, Youth, and Young Adult formation.

Please register by February 24th.


July 23-28, 2023 in Midland, MI

The College for Congregational Development (or 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. This year, as announced by Bishop Singh at diocesan convention, Eastern and Western Michigan join the College, engaging our challenges and opportunities with new tools for progress, whether it be in church growth, formation, decision-making, worship, and gaining clarity in identity and mission.

The two-year program gathers in one-week sessions led by trainers from across the country. Participating congregations send 3-4 member teams who, together, will complete both years, engage in practical on-the-ground projects, required reading, and complete the final certification and graduation. Teams should include any parish clergy. For congregations for whom gathering a team of that size may be difficult, the formation of regional collaborations are encouraged.

With questions, please contact the Rev. Dr. Tracie Little, Director of our bi-diocesan CCD, at tlittle@eastmich.org.



Northwood University
4000 Whiting Drive
Midland, MI 48640



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



What is “congregational development?”
Congregational development is the development of congregations of all sizes and locations into more faithful, healthy and effective communities of faith that are:

  • Focused on and faithful to their unique reason for being/primary task as congregations which are full expressions of the Body of Christ
  • Connected to and expressive of their unique ecclesial tradition, ethos and character
  • Self-renewing and responsive to the challenges and opportunities before them
  • Sustainable or working toward greater sustainability in terms of a fit between the elements of their organizational life: vision for ministry, leadership, culture, size, property, finances, etc.


What will participants learn?
The College seeks to quip people with knowledge and skills at three levels: individual, team, and system. The program includes theory, application exercises and experiential learning, and planning, doing, and evaluating at-home projects.

The program works toward the development of a learning community throughout the dioceses, sharing common experience, skills, and language for working together.

Facilitation skills are a particularly central practical element of learning throughout the program. We also make extensive use of a set of core models to help us think about our congregations as systems.

Who should we invite to join our team?
Teams should be 3-4 people with interest and capacity to learn, engage, and bring the content home to their congregation. Clergy staff should be part of their congregation’s team.

Teams are usually from a single congregation. We will also accept combined teams from congregations in collaboration with one another.


What are the components of the training that team members will be expected to complete?
In order to graduate, all team members must participate in Year 1 and Year 2 sessions, complete a required reading list, conduct and participate in two team projects in your congregation, and complete a final core models exam (which can be retaken as needed until passed).

Where will we sleep? Where will we meet?
In this inaugural session of our Eastern and Western Michigan CCD, participants in need of local accommodation will stay in on-campus housing at Northwood University in Midland. While specific assignments will be made by our CCD organizers based on mobility needs and more, most participants will be assigned to single bedrooms within air-conditioned four-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments.

Our training sessions will all take place at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Midland, a short 6-minute drive from Northwood.

What are the expectations around COVID-19 health and safety?
Specific COVID-19 expectations and policies will be set closer to the session in consideration of our status at that time. Regardless, up-to-date vaccinations and boosters are encouraged.


Through significant subsidy from the dioceses, congregational teams of up to three people are able to attend the week-long session for the flat fee of $900, including all materials, meals, accommodations, and more. Additional team members are welcome; each additional member adds $900.

If this amount is prohibitive, please contact Canon Tracie Little to inquire about additional assistance at tlittle@eastmich.org.

Due to the larger fee associated with this event, we will not be processing payments on the registration form. After you register, you will receive an invoice for your team from The Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan (they’re handling the income/expenses for CCD), which will be payable by credit card or check.

The deadline to register your team is (REVISED) June 1st.

Journey: Traveling with the Magi and Searching for our Dreams

A Retreat Day for Children and Youth Workers

During this Epiphanytide retreat day, those who minister with children and youth are invited to gather online to be nourished, pray together, and take time for holy rest before launching into Lent. Drawing on the journey of the Magi, we will make space for our heart’s wanderings and wonderings.

Children and youth ministry leaders work tirelessly to help others follow the Bethlehem star; now it’s your turn to reflect on where that star may be leading you. Join us for a refreshing time with God, yourselves, and one another.

We will gather on Thursday, February 2nd from 10-2:30pm.

The Rev. Callie Swanlund is an Episcopal priest serving in Philadelphia in addition to her work as retreat leader, spiritual companion, and coach. She supports individuals and groups as they build creative ministry as a certified Daring Way Facilitator in the work of Dr. Brené Brown. Learn more about Callie at CallieSwanlund.com and follow her Wholehearted Weekly movement through @callieswanlund on Instagram or Facebook.

With questions, please contact Director for Children, Youth, and Young Adult Formation McKenzie Knill at mknill@eastmich.org or mknill@edwm.org or by calling 810-434-5982.


All those who work with children and youth in Eastern and Western Michigan are invited to attend, volunteer or staff, clergy or laity.

This retreat is offered at no cost by the Office of Children, Youth, and Young Adult Ministry.

Please RSVP by January 27th.