Building Bridges Listening Sessions

Dear Siblings in Christ,

We are grateful for the Joint Diocesan Convention, where we prayed, discussed, and reminded ourselves that God is making all things new! In this next phase of the Building Bridges conversation, our Steering Committee is reaching out to people across our two dioceses to hear what is important to you as we explore this new season of practice and dream about what we might do together.

To that purpose, the Building Bridges team is hosting both in person and virtual Listening Sessions from December 2022 through February 2023.

I will attend the in-person gatherings, which will each start at 2:00pm and last about 90 minutes. The dates scheduled for these sessions are:

  • Sunday, December 4, 2022 – St. John’s, Dryden
  • Sunday, December 18, 2022 – Church of the Resurrection, Battle Creek
  • Sunday, January 15, 2023 – St. Mark’s, Newago
  • Sunday, January 22, 2023 – Holy Family, Midland
  • Sunday, January 29, 2023 – Grace Church, Traverse City
  • Sunday, February 5, 2023 – St. Andrew’s Gaylord

In addition, we are offering five virtual sessions that will take place on Zoom in the evenings, starting at 7:00 p.m. I will be present at those conversations, as well, and members of the Building Bridges team will guide us in the discussion. These sessions are scheduled for:

  • Tuesday, January 10, 2023
  • Wednesday, January 18, 2023
  • Thursday, January 19, 2023
  • Monday, February 6, 2023
  • Thursday, February 9, 2023

I invite every one of you to participate in one of these opportunities so we can hear from everyone in this significant time of listening. We request that you register in advance so that the facilitation teams know who is coming and can prepare accordingly. Please register for the session that works best for your schedule.

These conversations will be a critical part of our discernment to how we move forward together, and I ask you to encourage the members of your congregation or community to attend one of the sessions. You may use this PDF as a bulletin insert or as content for newsletters and social media to announce the sessions to your congregation or faith community.

If your congregation prefers to hold its own Listening Session, please contact our consultant, Katie Ong, at katieongconsulting@gmail.com. Although I will not be able to join such a session, a team from the Building Bridges Steering Committee will facilitate.

I am grateful for your participation as we continue to explore how God is calling us forward together, and I look forward to seeing you at one of our upcoming listening sessions.

Faithfully,


The Rt. Rev. Prince Singh

Bishop Provisional
The Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan

Convention Address 2022

We are goin’ heaven knows where we are goin,’ but we know we will get there. We will get there, heaven knows how we will get there, but we know how will get there.  It will be hard, we know that the road will be muddy and rough, but we will get there. Heaven knows how we will get there, but we know we will.  – Osibisa, a Ghanaian Rock band from the 70s. 
It has been a challenging, messy, and rough road, but here we are with each other in person and online for our third Bi-Diocesan Convention! I am honored to join you on this adventure and enjoy visiting and connecting with you in this stunningly beautiful state! As we move, God is constantly making all things new among us, and we are grateful to notice them amid our personal and communal challenges. I am glad you could witness these new ways in your congregations at your tables. Something new emerges from our wounds. Each of us has been to these places, perhaps some of us more than others, but we all resonate with the hard road we have traveled together. “Through many dangers, toils, and snares, we have already come; Tis grace that brought us safe thus far, and will lead us home!” This amazing grace actuates our healing as individuals and as people! Painful experiences can make us bitter or awaken us to be more humble, compassionate, and less full of ourselves. Grace helps us become more empathetic toward our neighbors and those who disagree with us. I have heard many stories about reaching out in friendship, inviting dialogue, and sharing meals and laughter in this politically divisive time. I see evidence of grace almost everywhere I turn. Thank you for giving me the privilege of trust after experiencing hurt and betrayal of trust! I am deeply humbled by what I see. Let me name three ways I see you manifesting and practicing your faith in God and each other:
  1. Your deep and abiding faith in God shows up in your resilience. You keep on keeping on. You are put one foot in front of the other in faith!
  2. A dead-end becomes a place to figure out how to go where no one else has gone. Your deep and abiding hope in God shows up in your capacity for innovation. You are willing to go there with hope!
  3. Through a pandemic and a bishop’s suspension and resignation, you stepped up as leaders, sought each other out, and decided to protect each other and stay together. You stepped out in love! Your deep and abiding love for God and each other shows in your ability to build bridges and seek common ground.
These gifts of resilience, innovation, and bridge-building make you the beautifully contextual Michigander Episcopalians you are! You are also radiant because you constantly disallow your wounds to define you. This daily act of faith and bravery is a sign of an Easter people. Like the risen Christ, you still carry the scars but don’t allow them to represent you. Instead, you remember yourself constantly as the body of Christ. We are all hurt, people. To be wounded healers, however, we must move beyond our wounds. We take our cue from our sibling Jesus and move by learning to forgive ourselves, forgive others, self-differentiate, be emotionally grounded, trust and collaborate with others, be willing to change, listen deeply, reflect regularly, and laugh joyfully. We saw God doing a new thing in each other. Look at how everyone pulled together, took care of things, and went out of their way to help each other through these last few years! We are grateful to the Standing Committees, Diocesan Councils, Commissions on Ministry, diocesan staff, Building Bridges Committee, Vestries, and other local leaders who rose to the challenge. We are also grateful to Bishops Bonnie, Doug, and Skip for stepping into gaps so we could keep moving as the body of Christ. It has been a significant team effort to the glory of God! One of our staff said, “I always knew that I worked with good people. It proved how awesome everyone is and how each went the extra mile to get our combined business done.” We also know God is doing something new when we see evidence that something is counter-cultural. That is a sign of love instead of indifference in action. Some people in our culture are stoking ancient hatred through cultural and religious nationalism. These tensions take hold of our everyday life in the United States and worldwide. Political leaders of various parties are manipulating to turn us against each other through hateful expressions. Ideologies are masquerading as theologies of triumphalism, favoring a graded and controlling hierarchy. These challenge women’s rights, rights of people of color, migrant rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and human rights in general! Let me break some of these down so we can be wise as serpents and innocent as doves—a graded hierarchy comes from ancient notions of Christian cultural supremacy that is normalized. Seemingly Christian power bases rule the airwaves and manipulate vulnerable groups like the poor, regardless of color. When women and other minorities are treated with dignity they do live into their full potential and we are all better for it. Bridging the gaps between the divides and building awareness are spiritual acts of reconciliation. They are acts of resistance in this culture of division. God calls us to bless the world in this way at this time. God is doing a new thing and building bridges is that new thing. Absorbing things uncritically leads us to accept narratives that often drug our consciousness. I believe we have become lathargic in the church by embracing what I would like to call anthropomorphic fatalism as the ordinary course of life. For instance, we have normalized the decline in our numbers by associating “hospice” status with churches before they close. I think this is theologically incompatible because the church of God is eternal. It will not die. When we uncritically attach our human cycles of life and death to that of the church, we have consented to anthropomorphic fatalism. Even when we naturally move to this place of expecting decline and death, we need to remember that we are Easter people and watch how God is doing a new thing in our midst. Sorry for that academic riff. It is one of my soapboxes. We are grateful and see a spirit of openness to engage in collaborative conversations between congregations. This open spirit is a healthy sign. We are exploring vulnerability to try new ways of being Church amid our challenges. Look at some of our practices. We have organic collaborations in the Thumb area, with the already-collaborative existence of Holy Family Blue Water and new opportunities with Lexington and Port Huron; these are a mark of hope. Other new and emerging ministries such as Holy Hikes, Plainsong Farm, and the Order of Naucratius are teaching us new ways of being church and are portals of entry to the Episcopal Church. St Stephen’s Episcopal Diaper Ministry in the former St. Stephen’s church, which we closed last year, is a sign of a new thing. St. James, Albion, and Trinity, Marshall are collaborating to call a priest to lead them both. Albion and Marshall have deep racial, socio-economic, and historical divides. How might healing and bridge building look? The Up North Summit is taking agency for an ongoing gathering of lay and clergy leaders from mostly small churches. They will support and pray with each other, learn together, and catch the Spirit of God, who is doing a new thing. You are so dedicated to your Episcopal faith, to your parish, and your communities. It is infectious, in a good way! We are overcoming isolation and moving beyond the notion of one church, one priest, not as a deficiency but as an opportunity to build baptismal ministry and leadership. Small is not less. Smallness can be agile, potent, and full of transforming possibilities when grounded spiritually. Jesus’s parabolic images of faith and the kingdom of God were all about small things: light, salt, leaven, needle, mustard seed, etc. These and other signs show that we can heal as we travel together. You have seen that God believes in you! You are funny and quirky saints with a deep and abiding joy! You are good people! Yes, the numbers show you as a declining church, and I am here to remind you who you are and how we might lean into what’s good about you! One of the main things we need is a sense of direction. Clarity of purpose is helpful because if we need to know where we’re going, anywhere is okay. That is why we are investing in a facilitator to help us develop a common purpose, vision, and mission as east and west Michigan dioceses. Katie Ong–we’re very grateful for our amazing Katies–is capable and approachable and will accompany us over the coming months to help us pray, dig deep, and answer some questions about where we are going. We invite every person in your parish to engage in this listening and discernment process. The only way this will be successful is if you, as leaders, ensure that every person in your church participates. Why is this important? When we have clarity of purpose, we can decide how to get there. Then we can exercise our muscles of faith, hope, and love to move together and build the necessary sidewalk to get there. If you wish to help us do this listening and visioning work at the congregational level, please talk with Canon Katie Forsyth or Canon Alan James.  
SIGNIFICANT INITIATIVES BEFORE US:
Let me tell you about investing in a college for congregational development, regional canons, a strategic plan on camping, and raising financial resources.
  1. WHY COLLEGE FOR CONGREGATIONAL DEVELOPMENT: During my visits across the two dioceses, I have had several opportunities to sit with your vestry and other leaders. One such interaction was with the warden of a small church community selling their building and moving to a Lutheran Church. He looked me in the eye and said, “I wish the diocese had helped us develop a plan for a sustainable future sometime back.” I hear several versions of the same refrain. We have offered opportunities in the past, like DCDI and other tools and methodologies. We increasingly know that congregations need leaders who can work as teams of clergy and lay leaders to discern the best way to be the church in a rapidly changing world. Can we invest in developing leaders who can tackle the challenges we face as the church in the 21st Century? In my experience with apostolic leadership, I have seen firsthand the benefit of such an investment. The college for congregational development is not a quick fix but a long-term investment in the most critical endowment among us: our young and seasoned lay and clergy leaders. Over this past summer, I invited seven of our leaders to go on a scouting trip to explore the college. They are BJ Heyboer, Nancy Mayhew, Nancy Foster, Tracie Little, Radha Kaminski, Barbara Ilkka, and Katie Forsyth. These leaders, our own “magnificent seven,” spent a week at College for Congregational Development in Rochester, NY, and participated in the first of the two-year learning community. They came back energized and giddy with excitement. They will engage us tomorrow and give us a taste of what’s possible. As a follower of Jesus, I believe that decline is not a gospel value. The College offers methods and tools for leaders to get unstuck and congregations to thrive. I commend this resource for its theological grounding, audacious hope, gentle persuasion, and practical application. Skilled practitioners facilitate it.
  1. WHY REGIONAL CANONS? As we lean into each other, we have an opportunity to move to the next iteration of organizing ourselves. I have started exploring the next steps in consultation with the Joint Standing Committees and our current Canon staff. Why are we doing this at this time? When I started in early February, two Canon Missioners of Western Michigan indicated that their commitment to the former bishop was to serve until the end of May 2023 and then retire. Canons Ambrose and Hallmark will keep their promise with diligence and deserve the retirement they sought. Canon James has told me that he wishes to draw this season of commuting from Chicago to Michigan to a close. His wife, the new Provost of the Cathedral, and most of his family are in Chicago. So after nearly four years of serving in this diocese, he would like to seek a call closer to home. All three situations are life-giving. While it is sad to see them go, I am grateful that their departure is not imminent. They will continue to serve us as they have until now and help us move into the next iteration of organizing ourselves over the next several months. We will have the opportunity sometime next year to celebrate them and express our gratitude! We are grateful for their loyalty and service through some of the most challenging times of the past few years! Over the next few months, we will advertise, discern, and call three new staff members. They will join Canon Tracie Little to make a team of four Regional Canons. During this practice season, we will seek your input and determine how to carve out four horizontal regions across both dioceses. These will be full-time positions, and our regional canons will bring additional expertise in four priority areas for our Episcopal witness in God’s future. These areas are Discernment, Formation, Digital Community, and Campus Ministry. Discernment is to help bring leaders to the sacred ground of lay and clergy discernment of call because we are all called to baptismal ministry. Formation is to help lay, and clergy leaders grow spiritually and in missional leadership through our Academy for Vocational Leadership and College for Congregational Development–Canon Tracie Little will continue to develop this area. Digital Communities is to help nurture and sustain vibrant online communities of worship, formation, mission, and fellowship. And finally, Campus Ministries to help initiate and nurture connections between our congregations and college campuses.
  2. We are blessed to have our children and youth engaged in different ways throughout our church. Our Director of Children, Youth, and Young Adult Formation and her four regional youth missioners are a resource you can tap into to help initiate or join in the Christian formation of our youth. Our camps have kept bringing children and youth together despite the pandemic. We are blessed to have the Episcopal Youth Camp in Western Michigan and the potential to grow in developing young leaders through Plainsong Farm, a place where God, people, and food converge. We also have a long tradition of camping at Camp Chickagami, where we have formed disciples and leaders for nearly 100 years. All three leaders, Bill, Nurya, and McKenzie, are currently in a strategic visioning process to see how they can help develop a shared vision. Our children are present and future, and we need their witness and leadership!
  1. Finally, I believe in the need to build our financial resources to actualize our shared vision and mission. We invest in development over the next few years to invite all, especially people of means, to support our shared vision financially. We are grateful on All Saints Day for past generations who have left resources for us to steward. Following their example, we must invest in building the next generation of disciples and leaders for the Episcopal Church. Can you imagine the day when any child can attend a Christian Camp, knowing the church will almost entirely pay their fees? I can see it coming in the air!
CAUTIONARY:
  1. Let us watch out wisely for a culture of suspicion and triangulation. Wounded systems often do these through self-destructive practices of negativity. We need wisdom, but the devil does not need advocates among us. Remember, we’re on the same team, and not everything is a crisis requiring a rabbit-hole approach where we’re constantly meandering, rearranging the deck chairs, and losing our way from growth and vitality. Let us steward ourselves and invest in daily prayer and self-correct practices with the mirror of scripture, wise leaders, humility, reflection, and reason.
  1. Some of us are practical and may feel clear that we need just to become one diocese and then move together. We have chosen to do something other than that because we want to see how we walk together before we build the sidewalk. Let’s make room to be curious and humble to see where we walk before we conclude the structure.
GROWING EDGES: 
  • We need a group of committed catalysts who care about realizing Beloved Community to study and experiment on Multicultural ministry with a Latino emphasis across our body. We need action plans.
  • I understand that we have twelve federally recognized reservations in Michigan. Seven of them are in the Lower Peninsula. How can we build bridges with the native communities and individuals among us? A group of Episcopalians from all four Michigan dioceses leads us into this work. In this vein, I wish to shout out to the Dismantling Racism Leaders, especially for your engaged commitment to the “Sacred Ground” curriculum and the truth-telling community of learners around the circle.
  •  Math scores fell in nearly every state, and reading dipped on national exams. How can the church help? We are about formation. Can we learn from and further develop the excellent work with reading programs that occurred in the past? Could we collaborate in our communities to create mentoring opportunities and access to high-speed internet for those without in rural, suburban, and urban settings and provide these with Safe-Church trained leaders? The new ChurchLands map offered by the Building Bridges group helps give us information on possibilities here.
  • We have been rallying to bring our witness to end gun violence across our state through our engagement with End Gun Violence Michigan. And we have just created a bi-diocesan creation care working group. Please bring new and seasoned leaders to both of these priorities.
  • The Academy for Vocational Leadership and the Coppage Gordon School for Ministry are gifts among us. We need the formation of different kinds. While we need seminary-trained leaders, we also need competent leaders trained at the Academy. Neither is superior, and both are required. We are Anglicans. We can do both and do them well. We are grateful for the fifteen new discerners in this year’s class who have stepped out in faith. God is doing a new thing. On a practical note, please give generously to the Bishop’s Discretionary Fund since I have made many promises in good faith.
I appreciate your kindness in the “benefit-of-the-doubt” category. People give each other the benefit of the doubt. I have seen you often lead not with judgment but with compassion. We are an imperfect yet emerging branch of the Jesus Movement with proven faithfulness expressed in our resilience, a refreshing hopefulness in our innovative spirit, and a deep love for God through simple acts of kindness. You do this regularly by praying for and visiting the sick and lonely, caring for a community garden, sharing food with the hungry, and supporting refugees from South Sudan, Ukraine, Afghanistan, and more. You have been through a lot together. A pandemic is still here, though much reduced in its impact, a vulnerability in episcopal leadership, and our existential disappointments. Through it all, you have kept your faith in God, the church, and each other. God is doing a new thing! You are healing and inviting other people and systems to heal and reconcile. Finally, “above all, do not forget your duty to love yourself.” –Soren Kierkegaard. To love yourself is the best stewardship of healing you can bring to this “season of practice.” Let us move together following Jesus, our North Star! We will get there, heaven knows how we will get there, but we know we will. While we don’t have a map yet, we will trust in the one who has brought us thus far and embody what it means to pray. Because in Christ, there is no east or west, in him no south or north, but one great fellowship of love throughout the whole wide earth. May God bless you and all the invisible saints among us!  
TABLE CONVERSATION
What excites you about this “season of practice?” What is one vulnerability in your congregational life that needs help from the larger church? What bridges is your congregation building with your local or global neighborhood? What new bridges do you hope to build?

PREACHING FOR SPIRITUAL FORMATION

February 4th, 10-3pm at St. John’s, Midland

During her preparation for her D.Min. in Preaching, the Rev. Canon Dr. Tracie Little, Canon to the Ordinary serving Eastern Michigan, developed the Barrier-Pivot-Passage model for preaching for spiritual formation within a congregation that had identified a restlessness and readiness to deepen their spirituality. The preaching project that unfolded at St. Jude’s, Fenton during that time revealed that this model can help listeners connect the pattern of Barrier-Pivot-Passage in scripture to their own spiritual lives, having an impact on their participation with God’s ongoing work in the world.

This workshop will help participants craft sermons that move congregations focused on cognitive learning from a head experience into an engagement with the heart, leading to a growing awareness of their own response to God.

This event, which will take place on Saturday, February 4th from 10-3pm, is offered for all clergy and licensed lay preachers serving in Eastern and Western Michigan.

**This event was rescheduled from its original date in September. Those that had registered and paid for the September event will automatically be transferred to this new date. If you are unable to attend, please contact kforsyth@eastmich.org and we will issue a refund. Thank you! **

Please contact the Rev. Canon Dr. Tracie Little with any questions – tlittle@eastmich.org.

LOCATION

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

sjec-midland.org

REGISTRATION

This event is open to all clergy and licensed lay preachers in Eastern and Western Michigan. The cost to participate has been subsidized to $10 per person, which includes lunch.

Please register by the end of the day, January 29th.

 

Convention Ordinations – Fall 2022

By the Grace of God and with the consent of the People, The Right Reverend Prince Grenville Singh Bishop Provisional will ordain the following people at the Fall 2022 Joint Convention.

Joseph Kennedy

To the Sacred Order of Deacons in Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church

The Rev. Alicia Hager, The Rev.  Derek Quinn

To the Sacred Order of Priests
in Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church

and will receive a priest,

The Rev. Shadrack Owuor

in accordance with Title III, Canon 10 of The Episcopal Church,
from the Diocese of Butere, Anglican Church of Kenya
to The Episcopal Church

Being our closing Eucharist of the Third Joint Diocesan Convention, your prayers and presence are requested.

Anyone may attend the Ordination Service and Convention Closing Eucharist, regardless of whether they are registered for convention. However, those wishing to join us for lunch or any other part of the convention programming must register as a visitor by October 12th.

The service will also be livetreamed on the Eastern and Western Michigan Facebook Pages.

Clergy will process in alb with red stoles.
Congregational banners will process in celebration.

DATE

1:30pm

Saturday, October 29th, 2022.

LOCATION

The Lansing Center
Exhibit Hall A
333 E Michigan Avenue
Lansing, Michigan 48933

VIRTUAL YOUTH GROUP RETURNS!

First Wednesdays from 6:30-8:30, Starts Nov. 2nd

All Eastern and Western Michigan young people and their mentors are invited to gather on the first Wednesdays of each month for our bi-diocesan virtual youth group!

We began this experiment during the early days of the pandemic and have continued with regularity ever since! After a break for the summer, our online youth group returns on Wednesday, November 2nd.

Who’s invited? Any and all young people in our dioceses, middle school and high school-aged. Their adult mentors (congregational formation staff and volunteers, clergy, etc.) are invited also!

What will we do? Our activities vary month to month, but each time we gather, we’ll have some time to check-in with one another, engage in some Christian formation, play some games, and finish our evening praying Compline together.

Questions about this offering?
Please contact either McKenzie Knill, Director of Children, Youth, and Young Adult Formation at mknill@eastmich.org or mknill@edwm.org, or Jeff Brown, Regional Youth Missioner serving the Central Youth Region, at jbrown@eastmich.org or jbrown@edwm.org.

JOIN THE ZOOM

There’s no need to RSVP to join us at Virtual Youth Group — just join the Zoom meeting!

We meet every first Wednesday of the month from 6:30-8:30pm, beginning November 2nd and continuing through May 2023.

Here’s the link to join us (you may want to save this for later!):
https://zoom.us/j/969320032

COVID – Directives Exit

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

With great joy, we announce that the lower peninsula dioceses in Michigan (Eastern Michigan, Michigan, and Western Michigan) will exit our joint pandemic directives, The Plan for Re-Entry for Great Lakes Episcopalians, effective today, October 10th.

Recognizing that COVID is still present in our communities, we believe we are at a place in our “new normal” where congregational leadership has the experience, the tools, and the authority to determine what policies are appropriate for their local context and the community that they serve. This “phase-less” iteration of our pandemic response will move forward indefinitely unless an unexpected and significant surge were to take place, calling us back into heightened safety precautions.

Please continue to monitor your local situation and make changes accordingly to best protect your members. Continue to encourage common sense ways to care for one another, such as staying home when feeling under the weather, wearing masks whenever that feels appropriate, testing for COVID when exposed or experiencing symptoms, and getting recommended vaccinations and boosters when they are available.

Questions about this change or our previous directives should be routed to either Canon Katie Forsyth, kforsyth@eastmich.org (Eastern and Western Michigan), or to Canon Jo Ann Hardy, jhardy@edomi.org (Michigan).

Yours in Christ,

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

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

WORSHIP LEADER TRAINING

November 5th, 10-2 pm at St. John’s, Saginaw

Worship is a powerful place – a place that transforms and empowers. What we do when we gather is so much more than reciting words set down in an approved collection of liturgies. This is the place where we may find ourselves awakened by God and stretched to reach new depths of faith, new ways of connecting what is going on in the world with how we might faithfully respond. This is the place where we encounter God as we meet our own lives. This is the place where we are challenged to do more than simply sit through a “surface meeting with God”. It is in worship that “we should be lashed to the pews because God just might awake and draw us out to new depths.”

(“Worship as Theology: Foretaste of Glory Divine” by Don Saliers, page 22).

Have you felt the tiny nudging of God to be a part of putting together and officiating at Morning Prayer liturgies which are powerful and transformative?

Have you heard that tiny whispering to learn more about leading worship?

Have you been invited by your church to become a Licensed Lay Worship Leader?

Lay worship leaders are essential to the spiritual life of a congregation. Whether you’ve been licensed before or you’re just jumping in, Worship Leader Training prepares participants for the ministry of leading congregational worship and is required for licensure as a worship leader in Eastern and Western Michigan.

Worship Leader Training I offers a basic introduction to leading worship in your congregation. In order to be eligible for licensure, participants must complete a course exam.

Bring a copy of the Book of Common Prayer that you can write into the session. Before arriving for the course, please flip through the entire book to get a sense of the depth and breadth of what the Book of Common Prayer contains.

Click here to read a recent communication from the bishop concerning the future of lay licensing in Eastern and Western Michigan.

Questions about this event? Please contact our training facilitator, the Rev. Curt Norman, at curt@stjohns-saginaw.org.

LOCATION

St. John’s Episcopal Church
123 N. Michigan Ave
Saginaw, MI 48602

stjohns-saginaw.org

REGISTER

The cost to participate in Worship Leader Training is $25. Please register for November 5th’s Worship Leader Training I by October 31st.

The registration form is also open for other upcoming trainings, Worship Leader Training II in January and an online Worship Leader Training I in June. Specific invitations for those opportunities will be sent as those dates approach.

Our Season of Practice

An Introduction from Bishop Singh

Greetings Beloved,

I am Prince Signh, and I have the honor of serving as your Bishop Provisional in Eastern and Western Michigan. It’s been eight months since I started on this adventure with you, and you have been at this for a while. I will tell you that I am so grateful to God for this privilege of walking with you.

I live in a village called Stanwood, which is around the Canadian Lakes area. It is somewhere there (*points to hand), kind of in the middle of the state. I chose to live there after consulting with some of the leaders because it seemed like it was kind of in the middle.

I am having a blast visiting many of you in both the dioceses and getting a sense of who you are. I thought I would take a minute to just reflect a little bit about what I see.

What I see is people of faith with a deep and abiding love for God, and a facility with which you speak about your faith that continues to strike me as significant. That part of my journey with you has been and continues to awaken in me a deep curiosity about a community of faithful people, regardless of guises, who have a dynamic walk with God, and who are constantly exploring ways to live into it; whether it is taking on a challenge in terms of a vision, or dealing with the crises that are around people. I think that’s a significant part of who you are. I see that as almost a consistent refrain throughout my encounters with people.

The other thing that I noticed is that you are very innovative. I see expressions of innovations in local congregations whether it is responding to human need or to the spiritual needs of formation in the community, whether it is starting community gardens that are collaborative, sometimes ecumenical– certainly reaching out to the community.

There is something in the water in Eastern and Western Michigan that causes you to think outside of the box in a very challenging kind of way, and without really waiting for all of the ducks to be in a row, to jump in. I just find that to be inspiring. I am thinking about the Order of Naucratius, I am thinking about Plainsong Farm, and I am thinking about the Academy, and the Coppage Gordon School, and that drive to see how we can form one another in very innovative ways. And then we have some new ones like the Diaper Bank at St. Stephen’s, Plainwell and initiators that are about figuring out ways to answer the question, “How can we be the body of Christ?” whether there is a congregation there or not.

I see innovation, I see deep rooted faithfulness, and I feel it is time for us in our journey to heal in meaningful ways.

The way I look at healing is that we acknowledge our woundedness and we start moving collectively towards a north star. Jesus calls us for that kind of journey, that while we are moving towards something, we find our own healing and our own transformation, and find meaningful ways to live out our faith so that others may also find ways to heal while they are also journeying towards the future.

Holding hope in front of us is very important. With that in mind, I’ve been in conversation with several of the leaders and leadership groups and we have collectively come to a conclusion that we are going to move into a “Season of Practice.”

It is not new. We are not starting from scratch. You have been doing it already but we can be a little more intentional. Here is what we are planning to do: we are planning to ask all the standing committees of the dioceses (ie. the Standing Committees, Diocesan Councils of both the dioceses, Commissions on Ministry from both the dioceses) and we are going to figure out how we may lean into each other over the course of this next year.

We are going to be in prayer. We are going to think about ways in which we take collectively  a sense of where we are, what we have learned, and how we may move towards the future leaning into each other in the season of practice.

The purpose behind this is a very Anglican way, in my opinion. It is the way of saying “How can we practice, before we structure ourselves?” It’s like the analogy of when someone wants to build a sidewalk. The best way to build a sidewalk is to watch where people are walking. It is the practice of the people that gives us a sense of where to put the stuff, or what that structure should look like.

I feel confident that because of the innovative spirit, because of the deep faithfulness in God, that we as two dioceses can live into the season of practice with humility, with curiosity, and with a desire to see how best our efforts can clarify our path going forward. In the process, this beautiful group of people that you’ve invited to be the Building Bridges Committee, is going to take on the responsibility of walking with us as a diocese and as dioceses so that we may also get to clarify a common vision. Getting clarity about vision is so important, as you know, Proverbs clearly says “without a vision people perish,” and by the grace of God we are not perishing!

I want to say carefully and clearly that we are not in a survival mode. I think both of these dioceses, Eastern and Western, are pretty stable, pretty solid, both in terms of the people capacities, as well as financial and other capacities. There is no panic. There is no sense of survival that is driving us to this.

I think what is driving us is a deep desire to see how we can do the work of ministry in the best possible way, to optimize our capacities. If we are able to do this collectively, in this part of Michigan with the resources that we have of the two dioceses, then that would glorify God. It is a very simple way to say “How can we practice this and see if we can learn from this experience?”, then we can put together a sense of how this might look. Are we going to continue in this path and move even deeper? Or should we learn from our experience, and then say there are ways in which we should go back or make some adjustments, etc.

All of that is in the back of the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit is here to strengthen us. I believe we can lean in with confidence and with boldness and humility, so that we may actually become an even better body of Christ, a more relevant body of Christ, a more visionary body of Christ, that is looking not only at what we have right now, but looking ahead into generations that are yet to come, so that what we leave behind as a legacy will be worthwhile for future generations to live and thrive as people in this beautiful state and as a church – The Episcopal Church, or the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement.

As our Presiding Bishop beautifully says, “So come, come with open hearts, come with willingness to learn, because we are going to learn from one another, and then let’s see how the future emerges, but let’s come with curiosity”.

I am confident that we will find clarity as we walk together. Let us walk together!

Saludos mi estimado,

Soy el Príncipe Signh y tengo el honor de servir como su Obispo Provisional en el este y el oeste de Michigan. Han transcurrido ocho meses desde que empecé esta aventura con usted, y seguramente ya lleva un tiempo en ello. Le diré que estoy muy agradecido a Dios por este privilegio de caminar con usted.

Vivo en un pueblo llamado Stanwood, que está alrededor de la zona de los lagos canadienses. Está en algún lugar ahí (*apunta con la mano), en el centro del estado. Elegí vivir allí después de consultar con algunos de los líderes porque parecía que estaba en el centro.

Me lo estoy pasando genial visitando a muchos de ustedes en ambas diócesis y teniendo una idea de quién son. Pensé en tomarme un minuto para reflexionar un poco sobre lo que veo.

Lo que observo son personas de fe con un amor profundo y permanente por Dios, y una facilidad con la que habla de su fe que me sigue resultando significativo. Esa parte de mi viaje con ustedes ha despertado y sigue despertando en mí una profunda curiosidad por una comunidad de personas fieles, independientemente de quiénes sean, que tienen un caminar dinámico con Dios y que están constantemente explorando maneras de vivir en él, ya sea asumiendo un desafío en términos de visión o lidiando con las crisis que rodean a las personas. Creo que es una parte importante de lo que usted es. Lo veo casi como un estribillo constante a lo largo de mis encuentros con la gente.

La otra cosa que noté es que usted es muy innovador. Veo expresiones de innovaciones en las congregaciones locales, ya sea que respondan a las necesidades humanas o a las necesidades espirituales de formación en la comunidad, ya sea que se trate de crear huertos comunitarios que sean colaborativos, a veces ecuménicos, sin duda, que lleguen a la comunidad.

Hay algo en el agua en el este y el oeste de Michigan que hace que uno piense de forma innovadora de una manera muy desafiante, y sin tener que esperar a que todos los patos estén en fila, para saltar. Eso me parece muy inspirador. Estoy pensando en la Orden de Naucratius, en la Granja Canción Plainsong y en la Academia y en la Escuela Coppage Gordon, y en ese deseo de ver cómo podemos formarnos unos a otros de formas muy innovadoras. Y luego tenemos otros nuevos, como el Banco de pañales en St. Stephen’s, Plainwell, y algunos iniciadores que buscan encontrar formas de responder a la pregunta: ¿Cómo podemos ser el cuerpo de Cristo? si hay una congregación allí o no.

Veo la innovación, veo una fidelidad profundamente arraigada y siento que es momento de que en nuestro viaje nos sanemos de forma significativa.

La forma en que veo la curación es que reconocemos nuestras heridas y empezamos a avanzar colectivamente hacia una estrella polar. Jesús nos llama a ese tipo de viaje, para que, mientras avanzamos hacia algo, encontremos nuestra propia curación y transformación, y encontremos formas significativas de vivir nuestra fe para que otros también puedan encontrar formas de sanar mientras viajan hacia el futuro.

Mantener la esperanza frente a nosotros es muy importante. Con eso en mente, he mantenido conversaciones con varios de los líderes y grupos de liderazgo y, colectivamente, hemos llegado a la conclusión de que pasaremos a una temporada de práctica.

No es nueva. No empezaremos de cero. Ya lo ha estado haciendo, pero podemos ser un poco más intencionales. Esto es lo que planeamos hacer: estamos planeando preguntar a todos los comités permanentes de las diócesis (es decir, los Comités Permanentes, los Consejos Diocesanos de ambas diócesis, las Comisiones de Ministerio de ambas diócesis) y averiguaremos cómo podemos apoyarnos unos en otros en el transcurso del próximo año.

Estaremos rezando. Pensaremos en las formas en que tomamos colectivamente una idea de dónde estamos, lo que hemos aprendido y cómo podemos avanzar hacia el futuro apoyándonos unos en otros en la temporada de práctica.

En mi opinión el propósito detrás de esto es muy anglicano. Es la forma de decir, ¿Cómo podemos practicar antes de estructurarnos? Es como la analogía de cuando alguien desea construir una acera. La mejor forma de construir una acera es observar por dónde camina la gente. Es la práctica de las personas la que nos da una idea de dónde colocar las cosas o cómo debería ser esa estructura.

Confío en que, gracias al espíritu innovador, a la profunda fidelidad en Dios, como dos diócesis, podemos vivir la temporada de práctica con humildad, curiosidad y con el deseo de ver cómo nuestros esfuerzos pueden aclarar mejor nuestro camino en el futuro. En el proceso, este hermoso grupo de personas que usted ha invitado a formar parte del Comité Construyendo Puentes asumirá la responsabilidad de caminar con nosotros como diócesis y como diócesis para que también podamos aclarar una visión común. Obtener claridad sobre la visión es muy importante, como ya sabrá, los Proverbios dicen claramente que “sin una visión las personas perecen” , ¡y por la gracia de Dios no perecemos!

Quiero decir con cuidado y claridad que no estamos en modo de supervivencia. Creo que ambas diócesis, oriental y occidental, son bastante estables, bastante sólidas, tanto en términos de las capacidades de las personas como de las capacidades financieras y de otro tipo. No hay pánico. No hay ninguna sensación de supervivencia que nos lleve a esto.

Creo que lo que nos impulsa es un profundo deseo de ver cómo podemos hacer el trabajo del ministerio de la mejor forma posible, para optimizar nuestras capacidades. Si podemos hacer esto colectivamente, en esta parte de Michigan con los recursos que tenemos de las dos diócesis, entonces eso glorificaría a Dios. Es una manera muy sencilla de decir “¿Cómo podemos practicar esto y ver si podemos aprender de esta experiencia?”, entonces podemos hacernos una idea de cómo podría verse esto. ¿Continuaremos por este camino y avanzar aún más? O debemos aprender de nuestra experiencia y luego decir que existen maneras en las que debemos volver atrás o hacer algunos ajustes, etc.

Todo eso está en la espalda del Espíritu Santo, porque el Espíritu Santo está aquí para fortalecernos. Creo que podemos apoyarnos con confianza, audacia y humildad, para que podamos convertirnos en un cuerpo de Cristo aún mejor, un cuerpo de Cristo más relevante, un cuerpo de Cristo más visionario, que observe no solo lo que tenemos ahora, sino que mire hacia las generaciones que están por venir, así que lo que dejemos como legado valdrá la pena para que las generaciones futuras vivan y prosperen como personas en este hermoso estado y como iglesia: la Iglesia Episcopal o la Rama Episcopal del Movimiento de Jesús.

Como dice maravillosamente nuestro Obispo Presidente: “Así que vengan, vengan con el corazón abierto, vengan con ganas de aprender, porque aprenderemos los unos de los otros, y luego veamos cómo surge el futuro, pero vengamos con curiosidad”.

Estoy seguro de que encontraremos claridad mientras caminamos juntos. ¡Caminemos juntos!

DAUGHTERS OF THE KING ASSEMBLY 2022

September 24th at Holy Spirit, Belmont

All DOK members of Eastern and Western Michigan are invited to join us for the first gathering of the Daughters of the King

in two years! It is a time to gather, pray and give thanks for God’s goodness as we explore our 2022 theme, Partners in Ministry.

Plan to attend to help establish new goals, form relationships across dioceses, and to spend time with our new Bishop Provisional, The Rt.Rev. Prince Singh.

Bishop Singh will offer the main address for the Assembly.

Questions about the event?
Please contact Western Michigan DOK President, Jeanine Totzke, at jtotzke@berriencounty.org or at 269-921-1127.

Questions about your registration?
Please contact Lois Weed at lweed11@comcast.net or 269-535-0050.

REGISTRATION

The cost to attend is $10, which includes lunch. Please register before September 21st.

We have sent this invitation to all DOK members in Eastern and Western Michigan for whom we have email addresses listed. Please pass this invitation along to your fellow members to ensure all who ought to receive this, does. This message was also sent to parish leadership, including clergy, senior wardens, and listed parish admins.