Grants for Building Digital Community

Building Faith Community using Digital Tools

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

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

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

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

Yours in Christ,

The Rev. Canon Sunil Chandy
Canon for the Central Collaborative and Digital Communities

Katie Forsyth
Canon for Evangelism and Networking



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

Grants may fund the following areas:

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

Grants may NOT fund:

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

Successful applications will:

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


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

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

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

Modifying: Leadership Workshop Days 2024


and Philadelphia Eleven Documentary Screenings

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

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

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

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

Questions about this event? Please contact the Rev. Canon Tracie Little at or

Workshops with RSVP Links

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

Creation Care 101

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

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

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

Transitions Overview

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

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

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

Finance 101

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

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

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

Vestry 101

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

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

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

Planning Your Formation Year

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

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

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

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

Building Blocks of Church Communications

Hosted by Katie Forsyth, Canon for Evangelism & Networking

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

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



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

The screening will begin at 2pm.

Click here to RSVP for any of the three screenings.


 Locations for Movie Screenings

May 11, 2024

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


May 18, 2024

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


June 15, 2024

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

Congregational Development Initiatives Info Session

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

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

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

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

About the College for Congregational Development

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

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

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

About Thriving in Ministry

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

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

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

Questions? Contact Canon Katie Forsyth at or

Celebrate Bishop Whittemore Month in May

Friends in Christ,

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

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

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

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

We truly appreciate your prayers and consideration!

The Foundation Trustees
The Bishop Whittemore Foundation

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

Join CCD for Healthy, Vital Congregations

Dear Ones of Eastern and Western Michigan,

Eastertide joy to you and yours.

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

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

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

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

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

In Peace,

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

Click here for the original invitation to CCD 2024.


Commissioning Service for the AuSable Inclusion Center

Saturday, June 8 from 1-4pm

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

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

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

Questions about this event? Please contact ministry developer, the Rev. Beckett Leclaire, at or


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

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

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

Catherine Cameron-Heldt to Retire

Friends in Christ,

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

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

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

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

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

Easter Blessings,

The Standing Committee of Eastern Michigan:

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

Jelecia Geraghty
St. Paul’s, Flint

Neil Hargrave
St. John’s, Dryden

Barb Ilkka, President
St. John’s, Saginaw

The Ven. Linda Crane
Grace, Port Huron

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

The Standing Committee of Western Michigan:

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

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

Freya Gilbert
St. Paul’s, St. Joseph

Carole Redwine
St. Philip’s, Grand Rapids

The Rev Anne Schnaare, President
Grace, Grand Rapids

Ellen Schrader
Grace, Traverse City

Fred Skidmore
St. Andrew’s, Grand Rapids

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


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

Ecumenical Endeavors

“What difference does ecumenical work make?” was the question at a recent World Council of Churches meeting at the United Nations Church Center in New York. The question was raised by Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, the moderator of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and recent bishop of the Evangelical Church in Bavaria. The discussion which followed did not speak of doctrine, church identity, or even liturgical or polity alignment; but as they surveyed the great needs around the world —climate change, earthquake disaster, famine, and war — they proclaimed the need to work together for the healing of this world which is so beloved by our Creator, and concluding that ecumenical divisions are small, when compared to the work that can be done together; in advocacy, and service, and prayer.

The Standing Commission on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations has proposed eight ecumenical and interreligious resolutions for the 81st General Convention of The Episcopal Church. They refer to and include interreligious relations in general, but specifically too: to Episcopal / Jewish relations, Episcopal / Muslim relations, to affirm the goal of full communion between the Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church, to commend the dialogue between the Episcopal Church and the PCUSA, and a recommendation to adopt the proposal for exchangeability between ELCA and Episcopal Church Deacons.

The United Methodist Church will gather April 23 to May 2 for its General Conference. It will consider, among other things, a resolution “to affirm and implement a Full Communion Relationship between” The Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church. According to the proposal’s rationale, “This resolution is the fruit of decades of dialogue and reflects the unique history of this relationship.” The United Methodist-Episcopal Church dialogue has been at work since 2002. The dialogue committee’s proposal for full communion, entitled “A Gift to the World,” is the theological foundation for this full-communion proposal.
This General Conference will be the denomination’s first since the COVID-19 pandemic began. According to David Field, the UMC’s ecumenical staff officer for faith and order and theological dialogue, there is some concern that the General Conference will not give ecumenical resolutions priority as it tackles legislation focused on internal denominational issues.

In mid-March, the New York State Council of Churches (NYSCOC) hosted its annual Ecumenical and Interfaith Advocacy Days in Albany with faith leaders from across the state gathering to be trained and lobby for a variety of issues facing their communities. Representatives from the Episcopal Diocese of New York were present to become more connected to other faith-based advocates across the state. Key issues for the NYSCOC include a variety of bills that are facing the state legislature during budget negotiations.

In 2023, the Racial Reconciliation Working Group of the Moravian-Episcopal Coordinating Committee hosted a webinar series entitled “Past Reckoning,” which explored the racial history of the Moravian and Episcopal churches. The 90-minute webinars have been reduced to roughly 40-minute segments to be used in an adult-education context in individual Moravian and Episcopal congregations or in a joint study.

Compiled by:
the Rev. Mike Wernick
Ecumenical and Interreligious Officer
the Episcopal Dioceses of Western and Eastern Michigan

AuSable Inclusion Center Work Day – The Great Outdoors

Saturday, June 1 from 9-5pm

Calling all weekend warriors, DIY divas, and green thumbs of all stripes! Join us at the site of the soon-to-be AuSable Inclusion Center for a day of gardening, repairs, and general sprucing-up to serve our mission in the community and prepare for the launch of our New Episcopal Community later in June.

The AuSable Inclusion Center is a New Episcopal Community in the Diocese of Eastern Michigan seeking to officially launch in June 2024. It will provide programming for rural LGBTQ+ people and those marginalized by their economic status, organized around four pillars: social/emotional support, material support, spiritual support, and education/advocacy through both online and in-person programming. They also envision resourcing parishes in the dioceses seeking to deepen their own invitation to this population through education, advocacy, and potential collaborations.

There are projects for a wide range of gifts and talents, but volunteers with a gift for woodworking and gardening would be especially helpful for accomplishing our tasks.

Supplies, snacks, lunch, and a killer playlist will be provided. We’ll be working from 9-5pm, come for the whole day or as long as you can!

Questions about this event? Please contact ministry developer, the Rev. Beckett Leclaire, at or


AuSable Inclusion Center Commissioning Service, June 8th at 1pm, with light refreshments and celebration to follow!

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


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


Please RSVP by May 25th so that we can plan ahead for food and projects.

There is no cost to attend; we’re grateful for your contribution to the planting of this new ministry!


Bi-Diocesan Partnership for Gospel-based Formation Resources for Children and Teens


Our bi-diocesan Children and Youth Formation Team is excited to announce that we have partnered with StoryMakers, a non-profit creative studio that has published a formation curriculum that allows children and teens to engage with the Bible in creative and interactive ways.

The Storymakers curriculum follows the liturgical calendar, is in line with the traditions of The Episcopal Church, requires minimal prep time, and can be used in both large and small churches, as well as classroom settings.

We invite you to join members of our Formation Team and Brittany from StoryMakers for any of three informational Zoom sessions about StoryMakers and how it can work in your setting. These sessions will provide information on the curriculum for children and for teens, and will also allow time for Q&A.

Our partnership with StoryMakers offers churches a 50% discount, as well as full-service help. This means that you can be resourced by the curriculum, and you can be personally supported by members of the StoryMakers team in implementation and support for your congregation, your formation team, your volunteers and your children and teens to ensure the smoothest implementation possible.

About Storymakers

StoryMakers NYC is a nonprofit creative studio that designed and created a Sunday school curriculum for K-12th grade. Their goal is to help kids, teens, and grownups understand that God is with them, for them, and actively redeeming them. With unique whimsy and engaging social-emotional connectors, StoryMakers shares the Gospel with children who encounter our resources through their families and churches. Each adventure and resource is created to meet children and teens where they are. Join the StoryMakers team as they walk through what makes their curriculum unique and how you can get started with a year subscription for your K-12th graders, utilizing the bi-diocesan partnership code (EWMICH2023).
Questions? Contact Radha Kaminski, Youth Missioner for the Northern Collaborative at or


There is no cost to attend any of the one-hour informational Zoom sessions. Please RSVP to receive your Zoom access link. There is no registration deadline. At least one of the Zoom sessions will be recorded for later viewing.

Thursday, May 16th at 2:30 pm – Click here to RSVP

Tuesday, June 4th at 7 pm – Click here to RSVP

Thursday, August 1st at 2:30 pm – Click here to RSVP