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 or


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 or


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 or

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 or


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 or 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



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

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 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 or 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.

Episcopal Youth Event 2023

July 4-8, 2023 at the University of Maryland

The Episcopal Youth Event is a triennial gathering of Episcopal youth from around the world who assemble on a college campus to learn, laugh, and worship together. According to the EYE website, “it is the single greatest and second largest event The Episcopal Church does.”

The culture of EYE is like summer camp… a really, really big summer camp! Over a thousand young people and their adult leaders and bishops will be in one place, experiencing the breadth of The Episcopal Church and all its diversity. We will spend time in creative and engaging worship, large group plenaries, small group discussions, workshops on a myriad of topics, and so much more.

Learn more about EYE in this informational video from 2017!
Learn more on the EYE 2023 website!

EYE 2023 will take place July 4-8, 2023 at the University of Maryland in College Park. After a delay due to the pandemic, this is the first EYE in five years! It is open to youth ages 15-19 (as of July 4, 2023). Bishop Singh will join our bi-diocesan delegation, representing Eastern and Western Michigan well!

Photo: In 2017, the Eastern Michigan delegation to EYE ran into Presiding Bishop Michael Curry!

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


EYE is open to high schoolers completing grades 9-12. Participants must be no younger than 15 or older than 19 by July 4, 2023.

For some teenagers, EYE will change their lives and church engagement forever. For others, it will be a great summer trip. Either way, not every teenager is ready for group travel and an event the magnitude of EYE. Knowing the stress related to travel and large-scale interactions with unfamiliar people in an unfamiliar place, we recommend prayerful discernment and thought so that all participants have the best chance for a positive experience.

Our adult chaperones will include Director for Children, Youth, and Young Adult Formation McKenzie Knill and our regional youth missioners. Bishop Singh will attend alongside our delegation!

Nothing! Really!! The Diocesan Councils of Eastern and Western Michigan have made it FREE for our youth to attend, including all registration fees and airfare.

A required $200 deposit, due by June 15th, will be returned when participants arrive back from EYE.

We are asking that church leadership (clergy, vestry, and/or formation staff) are informed and supportive of the young person’s participation in EYE. We will ask for contact information on the form so we can check in with them!

Also, youth must have the support of their parent or guardian to attend EYE. There will be sections of the registration form that require their input and attention!

The deadline to register is February 1st.

Canon Alan James to Depart Diocesan Staff

Dear Friends,

We shared at convention that my time as Interim Canon Missioner would draw to an end, but we did not know when. Now we do, as I have been called to serve as the Interim Rector for St. Edmund’s Episcopal Church, Chicago. St. Edmund’s is a historic Black congregation on the city’s South Side with a rich history, most especially in its role in revitalizing the Washington Park neighborhood. I will conclude my ministry with you on January 31st.

This transition fills me with mixed emotions – grief about leaving people and faith communities for which I have developed a deep respect and affection, and the anticipation and wonder that comes with beginning a new call. Just over four years ago, I drove north from Chicago to Petoskey for the first of my three calls in the Diocese of Western Michigan. It has been an honor and wonderful experience to serve as the Interim Rector of Emmanuel, Petoskey, and Grace, Grand Rapids, and now, as the Interim Canon Missioner for the Southern Region. Each stop along the way, I have witnessed God’s Spirit at work in new and transformative ways, and I count myself fortunate to have worked with such talented and faithful lay and clergy leaders throughout the dioceses.

The role of an Interim is to lead through a season of transition. My season on the bishop’s staff allowed me to share my gifts and experience as we moved through the choppy waters of COVID, the bishop-suspension/resignation, and the retirement of Canon Spaid. With Bishop Singh’s arrival, this time of transition has come to its end, and the diocese is moving into its next chapter. Bishop Singh has been a great pastor and bishop to me, and I am grateful for the deep listening and spirit of peace with which he leads.

This is an exciting and creative time in the life of the dioceses, and I am going to miss being a part of what unfolds for you. Thankfully, the Episcopal Church is a small place, so I look forward to those times when our paths next cross. In the meantime, I leave with a deep sense of gratitude and joy for the privilege of walking with you these four years. Thank you.

Faithfully Yours,

The Rev. Canon Alan James
Interim Canon Missioner for the Southern Region
The Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan

Friends and Colleagues,

That time that we had prepared ourselves for has arrived and we must say goodbye to our friend and colleague, the Rev. Canon Alan James, who will depart his role as Interim Canon Missioner for the Southern Region on January 31st.

Click here to read/watch the bishop’s convention address.
Click here to read our October announcement about staff departures.
Click here to watch our Canon staff discuss their time serving our dioceses.

Alan has served our diocese faithfully over the last 4 years, all the while commuting from his beloved Chicago where he lives with his wife, the Very Rev. Lisa Hackney-James, newly installed provost of St. James Cathedral. He first joined us as Interim Rector serving Emmanuel, Petoskey in 2018, later transitioning to serve again as Interim with Grace, Grand Rapids. In 2021, following the retirement of the Rev. Canon Bill Spaid, Alan stepped into the role of Interim Canon Missioner for the Southern Region of Western Michigan. Alan’s passion for collaboration and his future-oriented leadership has been instrumental on our team – thank you.

We will have the opportunity to honor our departing colleague with a celebratory evensong somewhere in Western Michigan’s Southern Region on a day and time yet to be determined. We anticipate streaming the service for those unable to join us in-person.

If you’re unable to attend but would still like to offer your thanks and congratulations, notes may be mailed to: The Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan, 1815 Hall St SE, Suite 200, Grand Rapids, MI 49506.

The search is underway for three regional canons who will join the Rev. Canon Tracie Little in a reimagined regional structure with our partnering diocese, Eastern Michigan. Click here to read a recent announcement about the positions. The deadline to apply is January 15th.

Please join me in celebrating Alan’s ministry amongst us. Let us pray for him and his family as he prepares to return home more permanently, and for the congregation he will serve so well.

Yours in Christ,

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

OUR SEASON OF PRACTICE: A Conversation with our Regional Canon Staff

As we look ahead to reimagined regions across both dioceses, Bishop Singh sat down with Western Michigan’s three departing Canon Missioners and the Rev. Canon Dr. Tracie Little, current Canon to the Ordinary for Eastern Michigan to reflect on their ministries and look ahead into our Season of Practice. This long-form video (around 30 minutes) explores aspects of working on a bishop’s staff, what gifts are sought in a regional canon, and the gifts they’ve experienced in our dioceses and in our great Mitten state.

We invite you to respond to similar questions as well, whether as individuals or in small groups from your congregation, such as:

  • What gifts are important for the diocesan Regional Canon to have in support of our congregations’ mission and ministry?
  • What opportunities might exist for your congregation to collaborate with others through the reimagined regional model?
  • What are some gifts you’ve noticed in our bi-diocesan community?
  • How have you seen our communities shifting or adapting over the last several years?

We are seeking three new Regional Canons to join our diocesan staff. Click here to read more about the new positions and share with your network.