Update following Canon James’ Departure from Staff

Friends and Colleagues,

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

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

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

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

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


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

Dismantling Racism: A Lenten Retreat for High Schoolers

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

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

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

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

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


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

RSVP for Parent Meeting

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

RSVP for Participant Meeting


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

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

Please register by February 24th.

Journey: Traveling with the Magi and Searching for our Dreams

A Retreat Day for Children and Youth Workers

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Please RSVP by January 27th.

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 mknill@eastmich.org or mknill@edwm.org 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.


Three Sessions to be Offered via Zoom

The Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan seek to safeguard all of God’s children. We commit to creating safe environments, especially for our children, youth, and vulnerable adults, from sexual, physical, and personal abuse or exploitation. All people exercising ministry in the Episcopal Church are required to participate in Safe Church training, including vestry members, children and youth staff and volunteers, Eucharistic Visitors, diocesan elected leaders, and more. The training and our diocesan policies for Safe Church are intended to provide leaders with the tools and insights to take an active role in keeping our communities safe. They give our communities a vocabulary for discussing the issues of sexual misconduct and harassment to assist in and teach all of us healthy boundaries and loving ways to interact with the children and other adults in our midst. This furthers the crucial mission of transforming all of our churches into truly safe spaces for God’s beloved family. These three two-hour training sessions are offered for those who wish to participate in the Safe Church, Safe Communities training in a community setting (on Zoom) rather than through the online, self-directed platform. This is not a “train-the-trainer” opportunity. Please see below for specific dates and times. With questions, please contact McKenzie Knill, Director of Children, Youth, and Young Adult Formation, at mknill@eastmich.org or mknill@edwm.org, or at 810-434-5982.


This training session will be offered three times. Please join us for the date and time that work best for your availability. Click the buttons to RSVP to receive your Zoom link.

Saturday, February 4th

Wednesday, February 15th

Thursday, March 16th 6:30-8:30pm

A Christmas Message from Bishop Singh

Greetings Beloved,

I am so grateful to God and to you for the privilege of celebrating my first Christmas with you.

When I started my ministry I was on my first tour as a priest and I had many villages and congregations to take care of. This was in India. One of those churches didn’t have a building. 

We met on Christmas Eve in a hut that had a large room and the adjacent space was a stable. There we were celebrating the Eucharist with the wafting smell of a stable. While we were there, I remember very clearly we heard a lamb, a cow mooing, and a donkey braying. All that was a part of the Incarnation story as we know it. It gives me pause as we come to this Christmas in 2022. 

I have a few prayers. I pray that we will listen deeply. We are living in a time when there’s so much noise and it is very easy to get carried away with whatever noise is coming at us. 

The Christmas narrative is filled with individuals and groups listening deeply. Marry listened. Joseph listened. Their shepherds listened. Their Magi listened. Even the angels listened. In the midst of the listening, there was a new birth. A birth that changed everything for us as we know it.

 In this divided world where there is so much noise. Some of it is about calling people out, calling people names, and just working on the vitriol of this season. We as people who follow Jesus have an opportunity to listen, listen deeply, listen to heal, listen to love, and listen toward joy. 

The second prayer that I have is that we will be joyful. Joy is not based on our reality. Joy is based on God’s presence in our lives. Paul says rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to God and known to all. The Lord is near. It is the nearness of God that gives us the opportunity to rejoice. I pray that we will choose joy. 

In choosing joy we will also come to the third part of my prayer; Do not be afraid. It is a refrain throughout scripture. The shepherds heard it from the angels, do not be afraid, for see, we bring you good news of great joy to all people not just to some. 

My prayer is that we will be filled with courage not because we’re not fearful, but because we have faith in a God who is with us. May you have a blessed Christmas and may God bless you. May God’s blessing be pressed down, shaken together, and overflowing. 

Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Saludos estimados,

Estoy muy agradecido a Dios y a ustedes por el privilegio de celebrar mi primera Navidad con ustedes.

Cuando inicié mi ministerio estaba en mi primera gira como sacerdote y tenía muchos pueblos y congregaciones de los que ocuparme. Esto fue en la India. Una de esas iglesias no contaba con un edificio. 

Nos reuníamos en Nochebuena en una cabaña que tenía una habitación grande y el espacio adyacente era un establo. Allí estábamos celebrando la Eucaristía con el olor de un establo. Mientras estábamos allí, recuerdo claramente que escuchamos mugir a un cordero, a una vaca y rebuznar a un burro. Todo eso formaba parte de la historia de la Encarnación tal como la conocemos. Me hace reflexionar al llegar a esta Navidad de 2022. 

Tengo algunas oraciones. Rezo para que escuchemos profundamente. Vivimos en una época en la que hay mucho ruido y es muy fácil dejarse llevar por cualquier ruido que nos llegue. 

La narración de la Navidad está llena de personas y grupos que escuchan profundamente. María escuchó. José escuchó. Sus pastores escucharon. Sus magos escucharon. Hasta los ángeles escuchaban. En medio de esta escucha, hubo un nuevo nacimiento. Un nacimiento que lo cambió todo para nosotros tal y como lo conocemos.

 En este mundo dividido donde hay tanto ruido. En parte se trata de llamar la atención, insultar a la gente y simplemente trabajar en el vitriolo de esta temporada. Nosotros, como personas que seguimos a Jesús, tenemos la oportunidad de escuchar, escuchar profundamente, escuchar para sanar, escuchar para amar y escuchar hacia la alegría. 

La segunda oración que tengo es que estemos alegres. La alegría no se basa en nuestra realidad. La alegría se basa en la presencia de Dios en nuestras vidas. Pablo dice regocijaos en el Señor siempre. De nuevo diré que se alegren. Que su mansedumbre sea conocida por Dios y conocida por todos. El Señor está cerca. Es la cercanía de Dios lo que nos da la oportunidad de alegrarnos. Rezo para que elijamos la alegría. 

Al elegir la alegría llegaremos también a la tercera parte de mi oración: No temas. Es un estribillo a lo largo de toda la Escritura. Los pastores lo escucharon de boca de los ángeles: no temáis, porque mirad, os traemos una buena noticia de gran alegría para todo el pueblo, no sólo para algunos. 

Mi oración es que nos llenemos de valor no porque no tengamos miedo, sino porque tenemos fe en un Dios que está con nosotros. Que tenga una Navidad llena de bendiciones y que Dios lo bendiga. Que la bendición de Dios se apriete, se agite y se desborde entre ustedes. 

¡Feliz Navidad y un próspero Año Nuevo!


LGBTQ+ Inclusion Training for Congregations

February 11, 2023 from Noon-4pm in Lansing

In the first century, Jesus inspired a movement – a community of people whose lives were centered on Jesus Christ and committed to living the way of God’s unconditional, unselfish, sacrificial, and redemptive love. As Episcopalians, we believe in a loving, liberating, and life-giving God: Creator, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan have legacies of inclusion, though not always perfect, aspiring to tell and exemplify God’s love for every human being. In our church, all people have access to every level of belonging and leadership, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.

We believe that God loves all – no exceptions. And, because of this, we believe we have a role in sharing that unconditional love with the world, especially in this time in which our siblings are barraged by a marked increase in harassment, discrimination, and violence.

Join our Office of Evangelism, in partnership with Great Lakes Bay Pride, for an afternoon training for congregational leaders intended to build knowledge about this large and underrepresented demographic, to learn steps to make your congregation’s culture and physical plant more safe for our LGBTQ+ siblings, and opportunities to connect in new ways for church growth and the sharing of the Good News. Participants will walk away with increased language, knowledge, and practical tools to implement in their congregation and local community.

There are LGBTQ+ identifying people in every community — this training is applicable to your congregation regardless of your size, age demographics, location, or local politics.

This training is open to all participants and may be of particular interest to clergy, vestry members, communications and evangelism staff and volunteers, welcome teams, and more.

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


In addition to leaders from our diocesan staff and congregations, we will welcome two trainers from Great Lakes Bay Pride to share their expertise in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with our congregations.

Scott Ellis (he/him)
Scott is the Executive Director of Great Lakes Bay Pride, a role he stepped into in 2019 (fun fact, the former ED is Chris Lauckner, member of St. John’s, Midland!).

Under Scott’s leadership and with the board of the organization, Great Lakes Bay Pride has become the predominant leader and resource for LGBTQ inclusion throughout Mid-Michigan, up through northeast Michigan and through the Thumb. Their work includes organization for Pride Month festivities, trans support groups, education, social gatherings, advocacy, and more.

A native of Atlanta, Michigan, Scott now lives in Bay City.

Lee Ann Keller (she/her)
Lee Ann serves as President of the Board for Great Lakes Bay Pride. She is also President and CEO of Omni Tech International, a Midland-based business that provides consulting services around several areas, including strategic planning and DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) training for nonprofits and businesses.

She and her wife, Tamara, live in Sanford.


St. David’s Episcopal Church
1519 Elmwood Road
Lansing, MI 48917



This event takes place on Saturday, February 11th from Noon-4pm. We will begin with lunch.

The cost for this training has been subsidized by the Office of Evangelism for the dioceses. We will offer this pricing structure for participants to self-select:
Individuals – $15/person
Groups of three or more from a congregation – $10/person
If this cost is prohibitive, please contact Canon Katie Forsyth at kforsyth@eastmich.org to request assistance.

The deadline to register is February 5th.