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CELEBRATE EDUCATE CREATE
RECORD 2020 YEAR IN REVIEW
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
The Record is an official publication of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan. Our mission is to celebrate, educate, and create community within our diocese. EDITOR: Anna Stania PUBLISHER: The Rt. Rev. Dr. Bonnie A. Perry The Record is published by the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan, 4800 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48201. Address changes may be emailed to TheRecord@edomi.org. Image permissions and copyright: Inside cover: St. Michael & All Angels, Lincoln Park, p. 1: Brianne Turczynski, St. Peterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, Detroit, The Rev. Dr. Marcia Ledford, Esq, p. 2: smileus, AhoyHello Photography, p. 3: Hans Christiansson, Michael Gecan, p. 8-9: kzlobastov, Darryl Brooks, The Rev. Dr. Marcia Ledford, Esq., AhoyHello Photography, p. 10 - 15: The Rev. Dr. Marcia Ledford, Esq., p. 16 - 19: AhoyHello Photography, Cynthia L. Black, p. 20 - 25: Mr. Nutnuchit phutsawagung, p. 30: Matthew Waring, p. 32 - 33: Michael Kobylik, p. 34: ismagilov, p. 36: St. Andrew's, Ann Arbor
CONTENTS THE RECORD 2020
04 Christ on The Staircase
Brianne Turczynski, St. Peter’s, Detroit
08 The Church and State
An Interview with The Rev. Dr. Marcia Ledford, Civil Rights Attorney
1 6 The Consecration of Bishop Perry Mechelle Sieglitz Castelli & Cynthia L. Black
5 Things That Have Worked Perspectives from around the diocese
26 The Bishop’s Convention Address
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Bonnie A. Perry, 11th Bishop of the Diocese of Michigan
30 Loss, Grief, and Movement
The Rev. Chris Johnson, All Saints, Pontiac
34 Galilee in Cyberspace
The Rev. Clare Hickman, St. Lukes Ferndale, & Tech Task Force
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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Dear Reader, Thank you so much for picking up this issue of The Record. This issue explores the challenges, triumphs, grief, and joy that we have all experienced in the past year. The articles and stories in this magazine are a testament to our tenacity, our ingenuity, and the depth of our faith. It is my hope that you find comfort, inspiration, helpful information, and soul within these pages. We have stuck together through tough times, and we will continue to do so. Again, thank you for reading The Record. Please share it with your friends and loved ones. Sincerely,
Anna Stania Anna Stania Director of Communications Episcopal Diocese of Michigan
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Community Organizing Training February 12-13, 2021
10:00am – 2:00pm | via Zoom
Bishop Perry is pleased to invite you to attend an upcoming two-day workshop “An Introduction to Community Organizing”. The facilitator for the event, is Michael Gecan, a veteran organizer, and co-executive director of the Industrial Areas Foundation. He has worked in b o t h C h i c a go a n d N ew Yo r k C i t y a n d i s t h e author of Going Public: An Organizer's Guide to Citizen Action as well as Effective Organizing for Congregational Renewal.
Space is limited | Partial scholarships available
Register at www.edomi.org/communityorganizing
Christ On The Stairwell Brianne Turczynski, St. Philipâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, Rochester
The Manna Community Meal operates out of the basement of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in the historic Corktown neighborhood of Detroit. Denise Griebler, the pastor in charge at St. Peter’s, thought it would be helpful as I – with a team of three others – had just begun to film a documentary featuring St. Peter’s and its journey in a changing neighborhood. The film is centered around the ministries of the church and the concerning effects of gentrification in Corktown – which in the case of St. Peter’s, means the possible annihilation of the church and its ministries because of the pushback received from some of Corktown’s new residents and investors, who would rather not see homeless folks hanging around the area. The Manna Meal has operated out of St. Peter’s since 1976 and is run by folks associated with Day House through the Catholic Worker Movement. The church itself harbors about five different nonprofit organizations, which all have their roots in social justice. When we began filming, the documentary was going to be about the Poletown neighborhood demolished for the General Motors plant in 1981. But through several interviews with Denise Griebler, Bill Wylie-Kellerman, and Bishop Tom Gumbleton (a retired Roman Catholic bishop who also lives in Corktown), we learned about the anxiety they all have experienced lately as a result of the changes in neighborhood. Rents are rising, realtors are calling, and new neighbors are changing both the view and the atmosphere without any consideration for the seasoned residents. After this, the film began to morph. We saw St. Peter’s as an inspiring place for social justice, and we (the makers) felt its journey and stance in the throes of change was and is an inspiring story that will carry over through generations. The project has been a thing of unraveling mindsets for me. For one, I didn’t know Christians fought for social justice because of the gospels; that connection didn’t occur to me at all. I didn’t know politics could be intertwined with theology, or that it should be. Otherwise, we walk and talk in constant contradiction. I had no reason to ever think this way. I was cozy in my “God is good, God is love, now go to church and be a good girl” mindset. In our first conversation, Bill recommended I read the works of William Stringfellow, which he had compiled
and edited himself for Orbis Publishing Company. But I was afraid. I was fearful my vanilla theology would be thrown asunder by incorporating politics and theology byway of Stringfellow, and my whole existence would be lost. At the time, I was in the middle of getting through the Bible (which took me a year), and it had already started to twist my thinking in a good way. But I didn’t want to introduce myself to too much too soon. So, I let Stringfellow collect dust on my bookshelf while I armored myself, then finally cracked the pages. This was the beginning of my baptism. God has always been a strong force in my life, but I never learned how to apply him to life, here in the world, except in prayers for sick family members or safe flights. But as soon as I began to question and apply my own force for good in the world while gazing upon the face of Christ, so to speak, things started to happen. This might sound silly to those of you groomed in social justice since birth. But when you grow up with a conservative family, the term “social justice” is practically a curse word. Just be a good girl and say your prayers. Back to the actual physical work of my own hands. I had worked with the homeless before through S.O.S., but I had no idea the ways I would be changed when I entered St. Peter’s that morning as a Manna Meal worker. The sun had not yet fully revealed itself when I pulled off the highway onto Trumbull Street. It shone through large cumulous clouds bright and clear and made beautiful rays, which prophesied a sunny day to come. When I arrived, I opened the side door to a crowd of men standing, leaning, and sleeping in the stairwell. They said good morning to me as I moved past them. It hit me as I descended the stairs into the basement that they were waiting for food: the stuff I put in my mouth every day, relentlessly sometimes, without even thinking about it. But they were waiting because they couldn’t buy it, they couldn’t cook it, and in most cases, they couldn’t even store it. There before me were the faces and the voices of the perpetual hunger pang of the world. It got to me, somewhere deep inside. Later when I reflected on that scene, Christ had planted Himself in the memory. He pointed to all the men, but he pointed downward especially toward the soup
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kitchen headquarters in the basement. He seemed to say, “These people have been here the whole time.” He didn’t guilt me, but rather looked relieved. “I’m glad you’re here,” he seemed to say, “We’ve been waiting, so glad you’ve found us.” I heard, with ears not of my body, Christ say us, not me, because he was united with the people there, bonded with them in suffering. Every time I picture this scene, this strange vision of mine, I can’t help but weep.
them—loved them like a mother loves a child, wanted to cradle them in my arms and give them every sort of comfort I could. This is the way God loves. It certainly wasn’t the first time I’ve felt unconditional love for strangers, but it was the first time I loved people who, according to common societal standards of beauty and virtue, I wasn’t supposed to love. But I couldn’t help the love that grew in me, and my soul was right in it. All was balanced in this love, and all was truth.
I believe since then that Jesus is truly with all the suffering people of the world. He is truly with them, so when we help the sufferers or people in need, we are indeed helping Him. We have heard this said. Christ says it himself in Matthew 25:40, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” But I saw it with my own eyes—the eyes of my soul, and my soul was synchronized with Christ’s truth in a split moment.
Years ago, I worked S.O.S. and was assigned the task of signing guests in for the night. A man walked down the stairs, so naturally, I asked for his name readying my clipboard. “You don’t think I’m homeless, do you?” he asked me. He was another volunteer. My cheeks colored, aware of the sharp dagger he just threw around the room. But a man behind him waiting to sign in answered, “Hey man, it could happen to anyone.” They both sort of laughed it off, but that exchange surfaced in my memory as I watched the guests of Manna Meal. It could happen to anyone. Who says we’ll be born into a loving, nurturing family? That lottery is not up to us. In this truth alone, I was able to give those people, despite their current state, my love and my mercy.
Denise assigned me to hand out coffee that morning. I was glad, because I wanted to be closer to the Manna Meal guests and get to know them a little. They were all friendly and liked my shirt, which had an image of Frida Kahlo stitched onto it. The coffee station was the perfect job for me as a first timer. It gave me time to be in the moment with each person and allowed me a little silence in between to reflect on all I saw. What I found the most touching about this experience was that each person said thank you to me. There were only a few that did not because of the severity of their mental illness. Also, the guests were profoundly aware of the need around them. They got their coffee and moved out of the way to make room for the next person in line. When they talked to me, they checked behind them to make sure they didn’t keep someone waiting. People don’t even do this for me at the supermarket. I acted out the gospel in a big way, perhaps for the first time in my life. I truly felt God’s presence in that place, more than I ever have in church. I loved (immediately) all who walked through the door that day. Whether they were sex workers, addicts, or people just struggling to make ends meet, I loved
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Add to this the lies I cut through and vaporized with this vision. Lies I had been told my whole life that the homeless are just lazy, that they don’t want to work, that they are abusing the system. These are the lies power entities of the world feed us to keep us from empathizing, to keep us from loving, to keep us from seeing Christ’s truth. Death of the human spirit is promoted when the lie is believed. Father Tom Lumpkin, who is one of the managers of the soup kitchen, says that about 30 percent of the Manna Meal guests are mentally ill, maybe more. Some of the others have certain addictions or have committed crimes, because, as Father Tom explained, they don’t think they have anything to live for, and the jobs they could do would never pay enough for them to afford a place all their own. For most, their hope of getting off the streets is nonexistent. He also explained that the soup kitchen not only nourishes their bellies but also their spirit, because on the streets they are ignored by most people. Manna
Meal provides a place of acceptance for them. It is possibly the first time that day someone looked them in the eye and treated them like a normal human being – smiled at them, waited on them, listened to them.
Yes, we hear this preached to us, that Christ lives within, but these are merely words that never penetrated my soul before that morning.
Sadly, I have ignored the homeless in the past – always afraid they would ask me for something I couldn’t supply, like time or money. I would turn my eyes away, because I didn’t want to feel guilty that I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) help.
The experience scraped away the last bit of callousness from my heart, and I am forever changed. I am tenderhearted now. I can feel my heart has absolutely no barrier now. And though I may weep freely, I know I must be better for it.
I wept the whole way home after my meager shift that day. Real people are suffering. They have faces and voices. I could feel the dispersal of my own austerity, and in this realization of truth, I was born anew and fully immersed in baptismal waters. The ways I had been cold in the past, the ways I had never looked down the road of poverty to really help anyone before became clear. Sure, I give food to the church, and donate money, but these are material things. Did I ever give my heart, my tears, or a single thought to the dread these people face every day or the real chill the world gives them Did I ever give my hands to them or look them in the eyes and smile? Did I ever speak a word of mercy with my lips? No, not until that morning when Manna Meal gave me the opportunity to reach inside myself and find Christ within. I didn’t know He existed in me the whole time, the proof in my tears! Oh good, you’ve found us.
Brianne Turczynski attends St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Rochester and is a freelance writer and historical researcher. In addition to being the author of the historical fiction novel, Proper Mourning, her fiction, and poetry has appeared in various publications including Halcyone Magazine, The 3288 Review, Michigan Out of Doors Magazine and Planet Detroit News. Her book Detroit's Lost Poletown: The Little Neighborhood that Touched a Nation will be released with the History Press on February 8th, 2021. The documentary, Not For Sale, is nearly halfway finished. Please call or email Brianne Turczynski with inquires as to lending a hand or questions at 248-420-2926 or Briannefaye@gmail.com
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The Church An interview with The Rev. Dr. Marcia Ledford, Esq.
THE REV. DR. MARCIA LEDFORD, ESQ. Civil Rights Attorney, Founder & President of Political Theology Matters INTERVIEWED BY:
ANNA STANIA Director of Communications Episcopal Diocese of Michigan
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After a tumultuous election year, the need for our voices as public theologians has never been more critical. So says the Rev. Dr. Marcia Ledford, founder of Political Theology Matters, LLC (PTM). Marcia’s mission is to provide writing, teaching, preaching, and public advocacy in support of greater equality through social justice. I spoke with Marcia about this mission that she describes as “building the plane as we fly across.”
Anna: Let’s start at the beginning. How do you define public theology? Marcia: Well, we can think of it as a two-pronged approach. Incidentally, attorneys love “prongs” in their formulas. So, this one is handy. Prong one is speaking faithfully in public about issues that are important to us. Prong two is addressing as broad or as large an audience as possible to get our message across.
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This is a working definition. I find for explaining the concept of political theology, this works well. We speak our faith publicly to as many people as we can reach at one time.
the countless contributions that immigrants make in the U.S. every day, as doctors, lawyers, politicians, and engineers, as well as agricultural and blue-collar workers.
How did you become interested in public theology?
Immigrants are not criminals, but our laws demonize them and treat them like they are criminals. Immigrants often pay taxes whether through an ITIN [individual taxpayer identification number] or not, yet the first stimulus package excluded them. In my view, this is a kind of quasi-racketeering. As poor people of color, they represent a sector of the American population suffering most profoundly due to COVID, without having a safety net, though undocumented workers contribute $10 billion into the annual American economy.
Well, it was a natural segue from being a civil rights attorney. The U.S . Constitution has always been one of my great loves, especially the First Amendment, the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth, or Equal Protection Amendment. The gospel and the constitution drive my quest for justice and equality. I have been a criminal defense and LGBT civil rights attorney throughout my legal career. When engaged in the Detroit Latinx ministry, I became appalled at what I saw our government doing to Latinx families, especially little children who are U.S. citizens. The government is our agent; we the people are ultimately responsible for the actions and policies it applies or fails to apply. Although toughened by having represented people accused of despicable crimes, nothing prepared me for the immense spiritual and emotional drain, and I knew that I had to do something about it. I could not look away from what I witnessed. Where’s the line between criminal defense work and theological and political work when it comes to immigration reform? Generally, in my experience, people accused of crimes are often adults who have made wrong, even egregious, decisions that hurt or kill people. And, to be clear, I do not include the overarching problem of the prison industrial complex for purposes of this discussion. That’s a separate issue of institutional racism and an expression of modern-day Jim Crow laws. However, undocumented immigrants do not hurt anybody. They just want to have a chance to support their families in a free society. Usually, they do jobs that Americans don’t like, so I don’t buy into the argument that they are stealing jobs from Americans. And this mindset fails to acknowledge 10 | The Record 2020
It seems like we all need to consider where and how our ancestors “immigrated” here. Exactly. This idea also got me thinking about my American heritage. My father is an amateur genealogist and determined that our earliest ancestor, Matthew Ledford, came here as an indentured servant from the U.K. in 1690. Was Matthew documented? I doubt it. His “acceptable credential” was being Anglo-European, or as we now say, “white.” And he arrived on Native American soil. Europeans immigrating here caused massive displacement and genocide of First Nation peoples. So your ministry has evolved from serving as a civil rights attorney and an Episcopal priest in a Latinx context? Correct. I think I was born to be an advocate. Working to achieve LGBT marriage equality served as my first long-term primary goal. Linda and I celebrated 38 years together in 2020, having legally married in 2014. We had a ceremony in 1992 at Old Christ Episcopal Church Detroit when Stew Wood was bishop. Many readers may remember the upheaval over that when the Associated Press ran the story. Opponents made threats of violence and we privately considered moving or canceling our “Ceremony of Life Covenant.” We were not allowed to call it a marriage at that time and couldn’t have the traditional marital blessing in the name of the Trinity at the end.
Ledford at the TCF Center on Nov. 4th, 2020 as Detroit ballots were counted. We ended up having the ceremony – that’s another story. And, we were and are blessed anyway. After the Obergefell SCOTUS decision granted marriage equality in 2013, and we married in 2014, I felt I needed to give back somehow. As I served through Latinx ministry, I realized quickly how important that my 30+ years of civil rights advocacy was going to be for my new ministry.
the IRS rules limiting my advocacy work and PTM do not apply as they do to 501(c)(3) charities. That allows me to advocate in various ways through teaching, speaking, and public calls for justice. However, when guest preaching, I do not advocate for or against political candidates, or issues in an election cycle, because the host church is a nonprofit entity. What’s most challenging about your mission?
Is that how you decided to engage in political theology?
Four challenges to motivate progressive Christians frame my political theology mission.
Yes. I decided to study the role of political or public theology in-depth and wrote a doctoral dissertation about the gospel’s application to immigration reform. I believe the Holy Spirit has called me. That call allows me to combine my theological and constitutional training to encourage us as progressive Christians to bring about greater social justice regarding various issues through public advocacy.
First, the phrase “separation of church and state” is NOT written in the U.S. Constitution, although people think it is. So, how did we come to think it is?
This work required a “container,” if you will, for the ministry, so I formed PTM. However, it is a Michigan for-profit company. This is an important point because
Second, Episcopalians and other mainstream denominational members are what I call “too nice.” We don’t like telling people what to do. But, we don’t have to do that. Evangelism takes many forms including advocating for justice in public. Third, the “I’m only one person and the issues are so complex, so how can little ol’ me make a difference?” The Record 2020 | 11
problem. It’s true that systemic change takes a long time because of its complexity. But the local, so-called “small” acts must accompany the big acts. Individuals and small groups can make a big difference. Example: Jesus and the 12 and the women changed the world! And, they didn’t have the internet.
misunderstand the application of “separation of church and state,” their aversion to making a scene seems even more of a stumbling block. Unfortunately, Americans have confused what Congress cannot do with what we can do. Consequently, we’ve entrenched this idea in our minds that our public life must be completely separate from our faith life.
Fourth, the anxiety over the “I don’t know where to start” syndrome vexes many of us. Several organizations can help people find their proper place and mission. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
By misunderstanding the limitation on Congress, our societal psyche began to self-censure our beliefs. From speaking with people about this, their responses reveal a belief that they must “check their faith at the door.”
Why do you assert that the “separation of church and state” is not possible?
We are an overwhelmingly Protestant nation since before the Declaration of Independence. The Second Great Awakening caused a shift from public to private expressions of piety in Protestantism, and this form of Christianity in American focuses on personal salvation. It has an individualistic ethos. Episcopal theology reflects our Roman Catholic roots in the whole Body of Christ.
In considering the separation of church and state, we have to look back to James Madison, an architect of the First Amendment. Madison did something extraordinary. Those scant 45 words allowed citizens to openly criticize their government publicly and formally. Nothing like it ever existed as expressly as when it appeared on the world scene in 1791.
Can you give us an example of why separation of church and state is impossible?
The First Amendment’s uniqueness caused Madison to refer to this as the “Great American Experiment.” Through the guaranteed rights of free exercise of religion, free speech, press, assembly, and petitioning the government, we as Americans entered into uncharted waters buoyed by the never-before guaranteed rights of civic freedom. They are our “constitutional life preservers,” if you will.
Yes. So here are two essential questions for us all to ponder.
The only prohibition in the First Amendment pertains to the U.S. Congress. It specifically cannot establish a superior religion. Our founders sought to escape the state-sanctioned religion in England and the turmoil of the interregnum.
Or vice versa; we read of a court ruling or a legislative enactment. It may cause us to recall our faith teaching to see if the action passes the “gospel litmus test.” In other words, does the event uphold or detract from our faith-based moral code?
Do you think the average American resident understands how these rights work in relation to the First Amendment rights?
When we enter the voting booth, where is our faithful self? It is in there with us as we vote our religious and civic conscience together. We cannot separate these two parts of ourselves any more than Solomon himself could cut the baby in half and expect it to live. These parts of our daily life are indelibly entwined.
Yes and no. Americans understand free speech generally, but not necessarily when religion is part of the message. My dissertation survey also showed that while American Christians 12 | The Record 2020
When sitting in the church pew (back in the good ol’ days before COVID), where is our civic self? It’s right there with us. A sermon may spur us to consider the gospel in light of a pressing government-related current event.
This reality has interfaith implications as well. None of us can separate ourselves from society and our respective faith traditions. The First Amendment offers
equal access to all faith traditions to participate in public life and its policy-making decisions--not to control the government, but to inform it as one of many voices. That's especially important in southeast Michigan with a vast religious plurality represented here via Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Many Eastern faiths add to our diversity with Jains, Sikhs, Hindus, and Buddhists. And, we all have as a basic faith tenet that we must care for our neighbors. Do you think we have public theologians in the Bible? Jesus constantly challenged the status quo from not only theological positions but also from very decidedly political ones. He challenged the Jewish theocratic institution of government, as well as the Roman Empire. He threw down the gauntlet repeatedly when witnessing a lack of care and compassion. Moses serves as our public theologian as a role model for public theology even today. Speaking truth to the pharaoh about the unjust nature of slavery had an overtly public message. Its foundation came directly from the theological covenant between God and Abraham. The public cry of the people triggered God’s saving action. That’s our job: to catalyze God’s action in the world through our advocacy and a shared cry alongside the marginalized to inspire mercy and inclusion. What or who is the current “pharaoh” who hoards wealth and crushes the poor under its feet? Answer that question, and you have a blueprint for faith-based public mission whether at city hall or the halls of Congress. What is lacking in our public messages? Fortunately, we’ve got two marvelous advocates preaching the gospel and using words if necessary: Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry, Jr. and Bishop Diocesan Bonnie A. Perry. Many more progressive Christians advocate for an inclusive, loving, incarnational gospel message around the country. However, let’s face it, we are often either silent when the conservative corner of Christ’s vast vineyard states a noninclusive gospel message. Even when we do respond collectively, we are on the reactive far more than when we are proactive. So, we need to frame our own issues.
Jesus said to Peter, “Feed my sheep?” What does that look like? I propose it encompasses nurturing others with food for sure, but as importantly, providing emotional, and spiritual support, shelter, in other words, practicing compassion. Compassionate care is essential ministry and requires public discussion. Why don’t people have enough to eat? Why do we need a Black Lives Matter movement? We cannot nurture the whole person if we do not address the root causes of hunger and systemic racism, homelessness, etc. When we speak mostly from a reactive position, we lend credence to the arguments of those with whom we disagree, as if they are truly the sole authority. That. Must. End. Part of the big problem is that mainline Christians are “too nice.” We don’t like delivering a bullying message of “Repent or believe or you’re going to hell!” That’s not our approach to theology, the study of God, nor should it be. Bullying and intimidating people as an evangelistic approach causes us to miss the whole point of the Trinity’s relationship with us as Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. The Trinity models community for us: inclusive, loving community. I do not believe that we should be getting into arguments with more traditional sectors of Christianity. I defend their right to interpret scripture , however, we enjoy that same right. Let’s direct this debate to the society-at-large in order to arrive at more just policies and laws that govern “we the people.” As Americans, and as Christians, we are uniquely blessed to have this opportunity, even though we have many, complex issues, and at present, many people are in survival mode. We have an opportunity to work for justice and shalom--peace and wholeness. So if Jesus said, “Feed my lambs,” to Peter, the rock of our church, what does that look like for us? It means not only do we talk about caring for and empowering the “least of these,” it means we act publicly so that others will know we are Christians by our love. Love is the way through doing. Let’s find missions that speak to us and stop worrying about what others think. Jesus didn’t worry about that, and we even have the First Amendment to protect us! The Record 2020 | 13
Plus, the Republican canvassers sought only to invalidate the Detroit vote despite the fact that Livonia, a predominantly white city, had similar discrepancies. I won’t expound on the machinations going on behind the scenes, but the first vote was clearly partisan as a means of negating Detroit’s vote to move Michigan to the Republican party’s “win” column. It was as brazen an act of racism as I have witnessed in a governmental proceeding during my entire legal career. I’ll never forget that night. Initially, I had that nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach due to the sourness of same-old-same-old racism. Then we experienced boundless joy when justice prevailed in the voices of the people.
Ledford Ser ving as poll chaplain in Detroit on Election Day, Nov 3, 2020 with Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson
Let’s frame our conversations about loving our neighbor proactively and how that might best be achieved by doing it in our given locality. We can have these conversations and public actions as individuals, congregations, as a diocese, as a province, and as the church universal. Yes, we can do this. Our acts can be small or big. It doesn’t matter, as long as we work to usher in the reign of God. Do you think there is “safety in numbers” by doing political theology with a group? Yes, I certainly do. For example, on November 17, 2020, I was scheduled to speak at the Wayne County Board of Canvassers (WCBOC) as it met to certify the election results prior to being forwarded to the Michigan State Board of Canvassers for certification on November 23, 2020. As many of you know, the two Republicans on the bipartisan WCBOC voted initially not to certify the election by citing some out-of-balance precinct books in supermajority Black Detroit. Minor discrepancies are normal in poll books. 14 | The Record 2020
As people testified – attorneys and law students, people who had worked the polls for hours on end, clergy, and Wayne County voters – I saw democracy rise up. And there were no guns, no threats, no violence, only well-thought-out, impassioned oratory from citizens determined to protect every voter. Intelligent, air-tight arguments won the day by people who also believe in Madison’s “Great American Experiment,” the belief that we the people have the right to self-govern. In my mind’s eye, the allegory of justice took to her feet, and while blindfolded, she became larger than life. Justice called for all voices to be counted, as she held out the balanced scales of justice and liberty. I couldn’t help but think of Christ’s mandate to love one another by recognizing all as having a voice, by acknowledging each as a child of God – and as such, we all count. It gives a striking new insight into Jesus’s feeding of the 5,000. Each and every person counts in the reign of God. So, how do people get involved as public advocates? Great question. Here are three things you can do to help make a difference. Do an inventory of your strengths and things you care most about, and share this info with people whom you trust and with whom you can work. Identify an issue together and act on it publicly with faith.
Or, take this inventory to a larger group, like your congregation or other association. Your faith-based motivation can still be expressed via a non-faith-based entity. Watch the power of the people build with increasing voices.
Register for training on how to meet with your legislator. You have the right to request a meeting even if you do not support the politician. “Power Meetings for Episcopalians” is scheduled for Thursday, January 7, 2021, 6-7:30pm.
What about community organizing? Are you a fan of this kind of public advocacy?
Stay tuned for PV-PTN’s Phase II in early 2021 by signing up for the Province V newsletter. We will delve more deeply into specific issues involving topics like eradicating gun violence, community-police relationship building, immigration reform, etc.
Yes, and it has changed my life! Join a community organizing group. I work with Michigan United in support of immigration reform; they work on numerous issues. Get trained on what community organizing is. We’ve had this kind of training in the diocese already and another one starts soon. learn more at www.edomi.org/CommunityOrganizing) Learn about how to harness public power via many voices for social change. For instance, hundreds of people attended the Wayne County (300+) and State Board of Canvassers meetings (800+) because Michigan United volunteers contacted us to attend and speak.
Sign up for my newsletter for more specific Michigan-related public theology work at Political Theology Matters, LLC. Our efforts at political theology will make our common life better. So find ways to speak your faith publicly to all who would listen! Walk in love as Christ loved us. Blessings on your journey. Thank you, Marcia!
What’s an action that people can take right away? You can start learning from the comfort of your own sofa, complete with dog, cat, beverage, or snack. We are developing new learning opportunities to help you find your role. Call your congressional representatives and senators about passing a COVID stimulus package. Phone calls are the most effective, but emails and even texts are important. Watch Phase I of Province V’s “Basics of Faith-based Public Advocacy” mini-series from October. Learn about the numerous resources available through our own church’s Office of Government Relations and Province V-Public Theology Network (PV-PTN). Watch the recording from PV-PTN’s “Advocate at Home for COVID Stimulus Relief Nuts and Bolts In-service” from December 8, 2020. Learn about how to contact elected reps and how to maximize the effectiveness of your correspondence. We’ll cover phone banking too!
Learn more and get involved with The Rev. Dr. Marcia Ledford’s work at www.politicaltheologymatters.com The Record 2020 | 15
The Consecration of
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Bonnie A. Perry February 8, 2020
FIVE THINGS THAT HAVE WORKED (in a pandemic) What a challenging year! Despite all of the hurdles, disappointments, and barriers we have all faced, we have also found creative solutions! We reached out to congregations around the diocese and asked for five ideas and practices that have worked for them with the goal that sharing these insights might help those who have been struggling.
THE REV. SHIRLEY MCWHORTER, ST. THOMAS, TRENTON 1) Be very forgiving. We have not done COVID-19 before. Things cannot be the way they were and neither can we, so let's see what God has in store for us in this new day. 2) This [COVID-19], too, SHALL pass. (In God's time!) 3) "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." (Matthew 24:35) 4) Humor! Laugh often! 5) Be kind to others and yourself, too.
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THE REV. DR. KATHERINE CARLSON, ALL SAINTS, EAST LANSING 1) Using the chat function in Facebook Live and now YouTube Live to greet, share prayer requests, comment on the sermon, and more. From the first Sunday we weren’t in church, this is the thing that has bound our community together. We “do church” as one community every Sunday at 10 a.m. But having it live on Facebook and YouTube has also allowed “lurkers” to check us out and see what we are about. 2) Vestry members have phoned everyone in the directory at least three times since this started. We know how everyone is doing. 3) Robocalls – judiciously – to the members. Once on Easter Day to send Easter greetings, and once in stewardship season to alert folks that their packet was about to arrive in the mail. 4) Hand-delivered blessing bags to every one of the 83 children and youth on our list at the beginning of the program year. A smaller second round of Advent bags to the 30 or so kids who actually participated in the fall. 5) Personally, a description of a leader from Edwin Friedman’s A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix is my touchstone. I have the four qualities written on a Post-It next to my desk: “Resiliency, Determination , Self-regulation, Stamina” to remind me how a leader keeps going.
THE VERY REV. BARRY RANDOLPH, CHURCH OF THE MESSIAH, DETROIT 1) Small group sessions have worked for us because we are a congregation of about 200, so keeping in touch during the pandemic would be hard as a whole. We have many small groups that meet and keep in touch on a daily or weekly basis. The vestry is updated weekly. 2) The church is the people, not the building. All of our ministries, including our housing corp, are all being done safely off site. Our pantry is a delivery service of food to our neighborhood instead of coming to pick it up. Our youth group and community meetings are on Zoom. 3) We’ve grown closer to many of our sister churches. We have a 30-year partnership with Christ Church, Grosse Pointe. We also are now discussing ways to solidify partnerships with St. Matthew’s and St Joseph’s in Detroit and also with St. Paul’s, Brighton. St Paul’s, Brighton along with Trinity-in-the-Woods, Farmington Hills and The Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Detroit all worked with us on our “COVID-19 Christmas” project. The projects provide toys to inner-city kids during this pandemic. 4) We are more solidified in our neighborhood work. Messiah has become even stronger in its relationship to the neighborhood by meeting its needs. Through our internet program, we are providing free internet to over 50 households who otherwise couldn’t afford it. 5) We have a very strong text message ministry. Each morning, our youth director sends out hundreds of motivational scripture messages to church members and community members to remind us that God is with us and will bring us through this.
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THE VERY REV. ANDREA MORROW, ST. STEPHENâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S, WYANDOTTE 1) Prayer partners. Pairs (or small groups) pray a shortened version of morning prayer together. Each participant received a copy of the morning prayer framework when we started this program or when they joined. Then, each week, they are mailed the lectionary readings for the upcoming Sunday. They pray together, and often end up doing Bible study together on the scripture, and catch up with each other's lives. Some more creative folks even sing together! We have about 40 people participating. 2) Nightly compline on Facebook. We use pre-recorded videos, which are loaded on Facebook and set to automatically release at 9 p.m. each night. About 20-25 people watch them every night. People say that compline helps them fall asleep in a more peaceful frame of mind. 3) Storytime. OK, this one is weird. I started reading chapters of a childhood favorite book each night at 7 p.m. on Facebook Live. We started with Misty of Chincoteague, a story about two children and a wild horse. We read all three books in the series, then read My Friend Flicka, a longer, more young-adult horse story. Then, we moved on to Amish murder mysteries! The audience for storytime is mainly adults, and these books are pretty wholesome anyway. We're on our second book in a series of 23! About 20-25 people tune in faithfully every night, and they say it makes them feel less alone. 4) Vestry calling circles. Members of the vestry split up the phone directory and called everyone on their list. At first, the goal was weekly calls, but that got to be too much. Now they touch base with their people about once a month, and it has led to some new friendships and helped everyone feel cared for. 5) Weekly online worship. We tried Zoom for months, and then broadcast the recording on Facebook. We found very few people attended the live Zoom worship, while the Facebook broadcast was very well attended. So, we switched to doing worship on Facebook Live in August, and we've been doing it since then. A small team of us broadcast from the church, including our musician, who plays the hymns on the piano. Sometimes, to add in some singing, we play recorded music for both hymns and service music. People appreciate seeing the church and hearing the live music. We have our bulletins on Google Drive for those who want to follow along. Our attendance on Sundays is usually around 60, which is a little lower than our in-person average Sunday attendance, but not all our people are on Facebook. We've also attracted several new members via our online worship. THE REV. DANIEL LAWSON, ST. PAULâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S, ROMEO 1) Stay home; save lives. Not gathering indoors is an act of love for our neighbor. Refraining from unnecessary trips out is a way to cherish the sacred gift of life that God gives to us. This is itself a spiritual practice in these challenging times. 2) Continue in the apostles teaching and fellowship. We are maintaining physical space, not "social distance." The church is still a community that cares for one another. The church is still a community that learns from the tradition of the apostles how to better
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follow Jesus. We are keeping physical distance from one another, but doing what we can to continue to learn and keep fellowship. 3) The breaking of the bread. We decided early on that if we take the rubric at the bottom of page 457 seriously when ministering to the dying (and we do), it is no less real when trying to stop the spread of a deadly pandemic: "If a person desires to receive the Sacrament, but, by reason of extreme sickness or physical disability, is unable to eat and drink the Bread and Wine, the Celebrant is to assure that person that all the benefits of Communion are received, even though the Sacrament is not received with the mouth." So we've kept up the celebration of Holy Eucharist throughout this pandemic, daily in some seasons, even when most of the participants have had to receive the benefits of Communion by desire and not by eating and drinking. 4) We distributed materials for the Daily Office early on. I've been praying the Office with a prayer partner over the telephone every weekday evening during the pandemic. 5) We've started our online Sunday liturgies with ten minutes or so of choir practice. Our choir director has taught the congregation how to sing the hymn of the day (just one), so that we could sing it together remotely. The choir director sings and plays the piano, and the rest of us are muted on Zoom but heard by God singing along in our own spaces. Keeping that music in the liturgy has been an important part of our liturgical offering.
STEVEN CHISHOLM, ST. CLEMENT’S, INKSTER 1) Our church members have missed each other and haven’t seen or heard from one another. The virtual services (video and phone) have enabled them to reconnect. 2) Parishioners are assisting with lightening the load for the wardens. We’ve recently had multiple parishioners take the worship leader training and safe church training so they can participate in services as leaders and conduct them in the absence of a warden. 3) Thanking pledgers. Every Sunday, and through different methods, we are mindful to thank parishioners for their giving during this time of transition, which consists of our priest retiring and the COVID pandemic. Some have increased in giving to see the church sustain. They’ve utilized electronic methods and U.S. mail, which was a method most opted not to use in the past if they were absent from the building. 4) Community groups have shown their appreciation for the church by cleaning and doing minor repairs on the building. Most recently, cleaning restrooms, repairing the parking lot light, and have voiced intent to repair other lights throughout the building that need more than a lightbulb. We don’t have a sexton. 5) One challenge has been that our priest retired. That void has caused all members to really examine how we love one another, love the church, and show a deeper love for God. Some didn’t realize how much they have a desire for a leader until the leader for over ten years retired.
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THE REV. HEATHER BARTA, CHURCH OF THE RESURRECTION, CLARKSTON 1) Our Sunday worship moved immediately to Zoom. We value everyone’s participation so we keep everyone’s voices on to get a holy cacophony of sound. We do the Liturgy of the Word and include a couple of songs. Only the gospel and the sermon are recorded and posted publicly.
2) Facebook Live Noonday prayers. I started using Facebook Live to do a weekday noonday prayer service. This service focused on taking a moment to breathe and center ourselves in the midst of anxiety. 3) During the summer, we held a few outdoor Eucharists on Wednesdays. Our last one even had a baptism! 4) For outreach, we collected paper products in the summer for Lighthouse Clarkston. We donated money for Thanksgiving boxes through Lighthouse. While we had usually collected food items, we used money from the outreach budget this year. We collected items for Christmas baskets for seniors through Lighthouse. We used SignUpGenius to have people sign up for the items that they wanted to bring. 5) Advent (and Christmas) bags. This year, we made an Advent packet for each family. It included some Advent devotionals (Living Compass did a nice book), the flyer from Episcopal Relief and Development with their Gifts for Life information, and the Advent wreath from Illustrated Ministry. We also included a Christmas trivia game “What Do I Wonder About Christmas?” from Creative Communications.
THE REV. PHIL DINWIDDIE, ST. JAMES, GROSSE ILE 1) Virtual Summer School. We pre-record a children’s service of eight to 12 minutes during the week. It begins with something fun or funny, transitions quickly to a charismatic telling of the day’s Bible story and how it helps us, then ends with a prayer and a song if we can swing one. We have a live Zoom Sunday school too, at which we usually play the part of the video that is the teaching, but add more to make the time last about 30 minutes. The video is debuted on Sunday morning along with the Sunday service video. Lots of parishioners say they watch both! 2) Upping our email game. Before the pandemic, our weekly parish email was just a cut-and-pasted version of our Sunday bulletin sent out by Gmail. As everything closed down, we found we were using email communications so often that Gmail began blocking some of our messages. After a decent internet search process we decided to go with the free level of Mailchimp and are so glad we did! 3) Greens market pickup. Our active ECW (Episcopal Church Women) pulls off two large rummage sales a year, plus a wonderful greens market. The rummage sales were no-go’s this year, but our creative ECW leadership team came up with a way to go forward with a pared-down greens market. They took pre-orders for wreaths, swags, and roping, then only bought what was on order. Simple decorations were included in a
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Kroger bag: a large red bow, three wired pinecones, and a tree ornament. Pickups were accomplished by a small team while socially distanced in the parking lot where people never left their cars. 4) Meals for COVID-19 sufferers. As our neighbors and fellow parishioners began to get COVID-19, we realized that they suddenly need lots of help with meals. Especially when everyone in a household is sick, it’s impossible to run to a grocery store or a restaurant, and even if they have food in the pantry, it’s hard to get the energy up to cook. So, we have begun helping these households with meals, almost always carry-out from a favorite place. We’re encouraging our parishioners to keep an eye out for neighbors who they can perhaps help with the same. 5) Investing in building and grounds. While the church building and grounds are mostly fallow, our junior warden has been hard at work shoring up various projects that are ideally done when no one is around. Polishing floors, seal-coating the driveway, core-aerating and overseeding the lawns, electrical projects, and capital campaign projects.
THE VERY REV. JULIA HUTTAR BAILEY, TRINITY-IN-THE-WOODS, FARMINGTON HILLS
1) Coffee hour. Prior to March, we had a congregation where 90 percent of people would stay and talk. People would mostly sit at tables, often with people they already knew. Now, we divide people randomly into breakout rooms for 15 minutes or so, and then gather as a group with those who choose to stick around. There have been some very deep discussions in that larger group. And I have heard over and over again how people have gotten to know each other on a much deeper level through the coffee hour, I think especially through the breakout rooms. 2) Prayers of the people. We invited people to type their intercessions and thanksgivings in the chat bar during the service. During the prayers of the people, someone is assigned to read them aloud at different points. It does take a little time, but is very powerful. 3) A couple of times during the summer, we ended Zoom morning prayer not with a dismissal, but The Peace, and extended the "Offertory" to 30 minutes so that those who could came to the church for the Liturgy of the Table. This was outdoors, six feet apart, and masked of course, and not lasting very long – just the Eucharistic Prayer and distribution of the bread. That worked well. 4) We have done a couple Zoom funerals. The second was last Sunday afternoon, for the elderly mother of a parishioner, V. There were people attending from four continents (North America, Australia, Asia, and Europe) and several states across the U.S. That would not have been the case if we were in person. People added memories in the chat bar, and family stayed for a long time afterwards. V's mother (the deceased) had her own Zoom box, featuring her urn with cremains, labeled with her first name. 5) Participation. A long-time, dearly beloved parishioner who had a severe stroke and moved to a different state so her sister could care for her is now with us every Sunday morning. And we have weekly events: happy hour on Tuesdays, a wonderful group of women called “stitchers” who have gathered weekly for years to knit (now on Zoom), coffee hour on Thursdays, compline Thursday nights, and Bible study on Friday – all well-attended.
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THE BISHOP’S ADDRESS BY THE RT. REV. DR. BONNIE A. PERRY
Delivered to the 186th Convention of the Diocese of Michigan October 23, 2020
Ian Ednie; Ruth Strang; Ken Rasnick; Chuck and Carol Swineheart’s daughter, Judy; Mike and Margaret Walbridge’s son, Victor; Richard Boulter’s wife, Judith; Charley Bilberry; John Koh. Oh friends, we have all suffered so much loss this year. May we now hold and offer the names of all the ones who have died this year. I think of my colleague, Cynthia Hallas; my young cousin, Christopher; and Mr. George Floyd in Minnesota. Who do you remember right now? Name them aloud. Remember their lives and offer their souls to God. We inhabit the world that they helped create. Sometimes it’s hard, knowing that words fall short to describe the world in which we live. But words tell the stories of our lives, and your story and my story intersect and intertwine, to form the stories of our lives. If I had a story that someday might be our story, it would be this: we, the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan and all the people who are yet to be known to us, that we as individuals, as faith communities and as communities of faith communities, are a Christian people who dare to risk, dare to hope for, dare to create something more. I long for us to be people of faith who risk embodying and enacting the Kingdom of God. I long to be – I long for all of us to be – a people of Christian faith who dare and risk and reflect and learn and risk again to be the people who live out God’s hope for our world. I know, grand words. But still. How might we do this? I think a widow, an unjust judge, and some
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feisty kindergarteners have a lot to teach us. I’ll start with the kindergarteners. There is a Harvard Business School study that goes like this: A group of kindergarteners were given the task of building as tall a structure as possible using 20 sticks of spaghetti, a yard of string, a yard of tape, and a marshmallow that had to be placed on the top of the finished structure. The kids were great at it, so the researchers decided to push the project and brought in a group of Harvard MBA students to compete against the kindergarteners. In 18 minutes, the team that builds the highest structure with a marshmallow perched on top wins. The MBA students came in to win, and the kindergarteners came in to get the job done. And yes – the kindergarteners, time after time, beat the Harvard MBA students. While this was not the point of the study –merely a juicy byproduct – what the researchers found is that the kindergarteners consistently beat the graduate students because they didn’t waste too much time theorizing over how to complete the task. They didn’t argue over process or over who was going to be in charge. Instead, they just started doing it: cooperating, collaborating, risking, doing, failing, learning, refining, and doing again. They managed maybe 18 tries to every one of the MBA students’ tries.
Here’s what I take away from this story: risking, doing, failing, learning, refining, and doing again are frequently way more productive than theorizing, structuring, processing, and lamenting. Risking, doing, laughing, refining, doing again, bit by bit: that gets the job done. If you want a biblical basis for it, go to Luke’s Gospel. Remember the story Jesus tells of the widow who went to the unjust judge, demanding justice for her cause. Time after time, she went to him, and he just kept blowing her off. But she doesn’t give up. She has tenacity. She will not bow to convention. She does not believe that she can just show up once with an incredibly well reasoned argument and think that her words in one instance will change the judge’s mind. Instead, it is her shear persistence and faith in her cause that eventually takes him out, wears him down, and finally enables her to get what she needs, to see justice made real and part of the Kingdom come.
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Kindergarteners and a tenacious widow, that is what I want for us. I want us to have a vision for what a part of the Kingdom might be and enough faith to risk trying and risk doing for our God. Trying, risking, daring, doing, sometimes failing, always learning, laughing, refining and daring to risk it all over again – that is what I long for us to do in our coming years together. Couple that with praying, reflecting, worshipping, rejoicing, someday even singing, just imagine what we will do. Ours can be a risking and a doing based on remembering and knowing in our bones that we are not alone, that we are not doing this all by ourselves. But in fact, God in the person of Jesus has invited us to walk with him and transform the world around us. What might this all look like? Taking a risk, changing our emphasis, and daring to turn our congregations inside out, so that much of our focus is now on the people and the needs of the communities that surround us, thinking of caring for the people we have not yet met.
Imagine risking reaching out, and when the plan doesn’t first work and the people don’t come, to reflect, to learn, to laugh, to refine and to risk doing something like it, slightly altered again. Risk, do, refine, try again. Risk, do, refine, try again. The kindergarteners’ 18 tries to the MBA students’ one. Imagine risking, rethinking how we gather now, and how we will gather when the vaccine is here and the pandemic is past. Imagine how we can be? What about risking and daring to return to our diocesan-wide hunger relief efforts? My friends, with your generosity we raised more than $220,000 in the first wave of the pandemic to help our neighbors in need.
What about continuing what we are already doing in areas of race and risk going even deeper with more vulnerable conversations about white privilege, racism, and systemic racism and then learning, growing, risking, and reaching well past our comfort zones? What if, on the basis of those conversations of race, we risk again and move toward the reparations that must happen before true reconciliation can happen? Can you see it? Do we dare? Together? What about risking and asking young people who do not come to our churches why they don’t and listening to their answers? What about changing our ways and inviting them into positions of leadership and power? Do we care?
But mostly friends, as I stand here this night in our beautiful cathedral, mostly I long for us, all of us to risk believing that we matter. To risk believing that we are holy, that we are of God, and that we are all being called to change and to grow into grace-fueled people who know that God inhabits the synapses of Risking, daring, doing, learning, our souls. sometimes failing, sometimes laughing, always praying, can you imagine that story across our diocese being told? I can, if we dare.
What if we risked believing that God is calling us to completely and utterly embody Matthew 25:35? (“For I was hungry and you gave me to eat.”) What if we went county by county in our diocese focusing our efforts on alleviating hunger bit by bit, continuing to risk making a massive difference? What if we dared? Since we are talking about scripture, what if we risked embodying Isaiah 58:12 here in the city of Detroit? The prophet says to the people, God has called you: “You will rebuild those houses left in ruins for years, You will be known as the builders and repairers of city walls and streets (Common English Version).” Wow, can you imagine? You, me, all of us, and God. Imagine the mistakes we’d make, but if we kept at it, learned from those excellent mistakes, prayed and cried and laughed together, reached out and found more and more partners and kept on refining, learning and risking – can you imagine what it is that God is calling us to do? Can we risk trying such an audacious proposition?
But mostly friends, as I stand here this night in our beautiful cathedral, mostly I long for us, all of us to risk believing that we matter. To risk believing that we are holy, that we are of God, and that we are all being called to change and to grow into grace-fueled people who know that God inhabits the synapses of our souls. For once we know that, the story that we will tell and the story we will know is that with every risk we take, we are never ever alone. It is my joy, my profound honor to be your Bishop. Pray for me. Know that I pray for you. In Christ’s Holy Name,
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Bonnie A. Perry 11th Bishop of the Diocese of Michigan
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Loss, Grief, and Movement
The Rev. Chris Johnson, All Saints, Pontiac
I celebrate my 20th year ordained as a priest on December 23, 2020. In so many ways, 20 years is not a long time, especially when you are serving a congregation that has been around for 183 years. Over the course of its history, All Saints’ Pontiac has endured a couple devastating fires, the Great Depression (coming on the heels of a major capital expansion that was justified for having created a place for the community to gather seven days a week rather than only on Sunday), serious congregational fallout for standing in support of open housing and busing, a priest stricken by terminal cancer at her prime in ministry, and now a pandemic of global proportions. And frankly, plenty of our churches have suffered worse. So All Saints’ finds itself as other churches do, trying to process profound grief and loss among its members, forced to redefine its place and purpose in a community, declining membership at a time when the reality of local hardship is most in need of corporeal acts of compassion long associated with communities of faith, buildings in great need of repair and structural maintenance, and shrinking income from pledging parishioners. In fact, these realities have been familiar challenges faced by all the congregations I have served throughout the past 20 years. But here are the facts as we look back on the year that is coming to a close. Our weekly produce market did close by the end of March. Our biannual rummage sales were shuttered (along with $50,000 in budgeted income). Our resale shop was closed. Two AA groups were kicked to the curb. Our Saturday Community Breakfast moved out to the parking lot and even closed for a month to reorganize and Bound Together moved out to the same parking lot to distribute needed food supplies to children and their families. In the meanwhile, worship morphed to Zoom, Facebook Live, and YouTube broadcasting platforms that were lead for a time from home and them from within the church nave itself. Depending on our status, we read and preached and sang from both our homes and from the church for the same worship service. But these facts don’t tell enough of the story about All Saints’ as a congregation in 2020. From a stewardship perspective, we were the recipients of a large bequest from the estate of a former parishioner. That bequest positioned us to tithe generously and to invest carefully while we discern how God is calling us to steward those funds.
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Most parishioners kept up with the pledges, 82 percent as of today. Feeding remains a central focus for our outreach as a community of faith. We were able to share a portion of our tithe with the diocese for its food pantry campaign. The Saturday Community Breakfast continues to provide a warm food item, along with breads, fresh fruit, and grits. It also provides hygiene, underwear, gloves, and shoes (HUGS) items that our guests can select. We even had toilet paper when the stores apparently didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t! Partnering with the Pontiac SUN TimeBank, we also provide a mixed variety of fresh greens and vegetables, access to healthcare vaccinations in partnership with Honor Community Health, and maybe most importantly, our volunteers and guests see each other on a routine basis letting each other know they are seen and missed by someone. Conversations may be brief, but just seeing one another keeps hope and relationships alive. Michael Kobylik currently serves as the program facilitator for the weekly breakfast. He found himself reflecting on the past Saturday meal and wrote about one aspect of our meal that still has room for growth: The need for prayer among our guests and workers was just palpable. One gentleman who I have come to know over my time working the breakfast, came to me and asked for prayers: hewas experiencing some emotional difficulties and it obviously weighed heavy upon him.
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Another person who I have come know shared some of his struggles and hardship and let me know that while his past week had been difficult, he was glad to be at the breakfast where he could find some comfort and sense of purpose. Another person shared the loss of his wife just a few years ago, and how the memories have kept him going on and living life. Other guests shared openly their struggles of not having any work, anecdotally blaming it on COVID, or the government, or some other invisible force. One person asked me if the church was open for services, because he would like to pray. We prayed together. Community partnerships continue to strengthen and grow as we join forces in service to the many community members we value. All Saintsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and the Saturday Community Breakfast have rented a tent to provide a durable, warm place that will ensure our parking lot ministry is there from week to week throughout the winter ahead. It is our hope that other community neighbors will know they too are able to use our parking lot and tent on occasions they seek to reach out to our residents. Bound Together has adapted its program model dramatically as well. The network of mentors has expanded to include a large number of college-age volunteers who work with the students each week by Zoom. The program has continued to provide access
to food, COVID-19 testing, flu shots, and anything necessary to improve students’ ability to be successful even when they are learning from home. Bound Together has grown and strengthened its network of community partners as well. In her own words, Bound Together director Michele Wogaman (also Sr. Warden of St. James, Birmingham) writes: Embracing change. Everything is different now, but that has not stopped Bound Together. Long-time tutors are now Zoom experts and are joining new college-age colleagues who are enabled by an online platform. There is transformation happening everywhere – tutors sharing long experience and youthful idealism. Access to technology and creative solutions to technical glitches, keeping our kids online. Food and learning supplies being delivered to our families weekly, keeping food insecurity at bay and learning moving forward. Parties are held remotely, but no less raucously. (The Christmas shopping day that allows kids to choose donated gifts to give their loved ones? You guessed it: BT “Amazon.”) Stay tuned! COVID-19 has dealt us a blow, but the truth is many of our churches have been on the precipice of life and death for years. This challenge has, like many challenges, been accompanied with opportunity to change, to adapt, to listen deeply for the voice of God in our midst and to respond to that voice. God knows that comfort can also
breed complacency. So, while I will not go so far as to suggest that God has created this challenge, I will suggest that God is always willing to be about the work of redemption. Given the challenges, God’s redeeming work can reveal new opportunities for ministry, new ways to do ministry, and new ways to use old and familiar tools for new purposes. Rather than dig in and resist change, we can adapt just as the living gospel adapts its message to the needs of a new day. COVID-19 has become the present-day catalyst that will inspire All Saints’ to discern a new vision for its ministry and a new understanding of mission that will guide its decision-making process towards the attainment of that vision. I don’t know what I thought my ministry would look like over the course of the last 20 years. It certainly has evolved differently than I imagined at many points along the way. Nevertheless, I have never doubted that my response to God’s call was faithful. In the same way, I don’t think the congregation at All Saints’ has always been clear about its next steps in ministry either, but I do believe it has been faithful with each step. COVID-19 has just been a reminder that while we are to be intent about our work, we must always be flexible enough to adapt to a new day, maybe even a day that wasn’t anticipated. And as we do so, to do so with the assurance that there is One who goes before us.
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Galilee in Cyberspace The Rev. Clare Hickman, St. Lukes Ferndale and Tech Task Force
Our God is a venturing God: a God who is everywhere and yet constantly moves into new spaces. Our God was before creation, yet chose to bring creation into being. Our God created the earth and all things, including us. God then traveled with us on our long journey, from Eden to Egypt to the promised land to exile and beyond. And when the time was ripe, God even went so far as to enter into our very flesh, in the person of Jesus. God’s venturing never ends, and neither does ours. God continues to send the people of God into new territory, testing us and teaching us and challenging us to new ways of finding God, knowing God, and spreading the good news of the reign of God. So it is that we have found ourselves in such unexpected places during these past nine months. All at once, with very little notice, Jesus is going before us into Galilee, and it turns out Galilee is in … cyberspace. Since the pandemic has made meeting in person a risky proposition, churches have been forced to learn (and invent!) new ways to worship together, stay connected, and care for each other and the communities around us. This has, without doubt, brought challenges that hit some congregations harder than others. Issues of access to wi-fi or equipment, as well as varying levels of technological comfort and expertise, have created a wide variety of experiences across our diocese (and even within congregations). In the Diocese of Michigan, we have taken steps to narrow those gaps, by forming the Technology Taskforce. This group has been active since early in the pandemic, bringing clergy and lay leadership together with tech experts to try to explain how to build the bicycle we are all already trying to ride. As we have figured things out, we’ve written “best practices” documents on such topics as “How to protect against Zoom-bombers,” “What equipment do you need to livestream?” and “What is a mesh network and why should you install one?” These, and others, can be found on the Diocesan website at www.edomi.org/bestlittlebytes In addition to these resources, the taskforce has been, and continues to be, available for direct consultation
with congregations needing assistance. So far this year, we’ve assisted more than half the congregations in the diocese, whether through a phone call to troubleshoot connection issues, or individual Zoom tutorials, or hands-on assistance with purchasing and set up for livestreaming from a given sanctuary. Anyone who wants help can call or email the chair, the Rev. Manisha Dostert at firstname.lastname@example.org to get their very own tech expert! Also, since we (and our bishop) are deeply committed to online ministry as a mission field, there is grant money available for congregations whose equipment needs exceed their funds. You can find the application at www.edomi.org/bestlittlebytes. There are limitations that come with online worship. Not being able to sing together is a loss that hits too deeply to be fully expressed. Not being able to gather around the altar to share the Eucharist, or embrace at the peace, or eat and drink together at coffee hour – all these things grieve our hearts and can leave us feeling disconnected from God and each other. But there is also possibility in our current reality, reminding us that God’s creation is always unfolding in new and surprising ways. One thing is for sure: we will find a way to connect with each other, no matter what, using whatever tools we have at our disposal. We are using the U.S. mail, the telephone, and email; we are on Zoom for vestry meetings, Bible studies, and worship services; we are pre-recording worship and uploading it; and we are livestreaming on Facebook and YouTube. New communication tools, while unpredictable (“What do you mean Zoom went down right before our Sunday worship was supposed to begin?”), can lead to new opportunities. All Saints’ East Lansing turned their presence on Facebook Live into a chance for growth, interacting with newcomers in the chat, inviting them to fill out an online visitors card, and responding personally to their need for support and community during this stressful period. So many people were drawn to the parish through these efforts that they held a Newcomers’ Gathering on Zoom in October. We’ve all gained so many new skills and tried out new ideas. Anyone who dropped into the worship at Diocesan Convention in October could see that some The Record 2020 | 35
of us have figured out how to put together virtual choirs (shout out to Rachael Rose!). Many of us have scavenged for tents, speakers, and very long ethernet cables, so we can now more easily worship outside. It should be noted, however, that few of us can compete with Grace, Southgate, who held services in the park, where people could arrive via Zoom, on foot, or even by kayak!
But there’s no question that experiences have varied during this time, and often it has been the smaller communities with fewer resources who have struggled. Equipment and internet access can be a barrier at the individual and congregational level, and even when that has been sorted, a given group of people might vary in its levels of interest in and skill with technology. Having limited staff leadership has often compounded such difficulties.
The challenges of online worship have led to some Alongside continued access to the Tech Taskforce’s great creativity. It may not be possible to sing resources, these congregations will now have the together, or even manage a decent Great Amen Missioner for Telephone and Online Ministry, the Rev. without massive echo, but there are advantages to Sr. Veronica Dunbar. Sister Vee will provide pastoral gathering on Zoom. Across the diocese, we’ve care and ongoing support for our smaller churches, as discovered the power and beauty that comes with well as officiate morning worship and bible study each access to limitless visual images. During our hymns Sunday at 10:00 a.m. This service will bring together at St. Luke’s in Ferndale, our eyes have wandered any who have not had the opportunity to participate such places as the Scottish Highlands, the streets of in regular online worship Cape Town, and the rooftops of We can help each other by during this time of pandemic. Assisi. Alongside their spoken To receive the dial in number sharing our stories about prayers, congregations have or Zoom link for worship and what we have tried, what placed images of the things for we have learned, what we bible study, and for more which they pray and give thanks. information, please send an Options abound, from a have suffered, and where email to Sister Vee at slideshow of the beloved we have found grace. email@example.com. departed for All Saints’, to video profiles of the veterans in the There are so many ways for us to survive and thrive in congregation, put together at Trinity-in-the-Woods, this time, so many ways to minister to each other and Farmington Hills for Veterans Day. come face to face with God. We can help each other by sharing our stories about what we have tried, what In some ways, we are more connected than ever we have learned, what we have suffered, and where we before. As so many of us become comfortable with have found grace. As taskforce members, we have been video-conferencing, people are hanging out on Zoom profoundly moved by what we’ve heard from our with friends and family from across the country and congregations. Each community, according to its own across the world. Our (not so) new bishop has been needs and its own character, has found ways to be able to meet with clergy and leadership weekly connected to each other and active in the world. And throughout this time, offering an amazing level of each community has had to pivot and expand those communication and connection. Combine that with ways, as our time online has lengthened and the her recorded sermons, as well as numerous weekly situation has evolved. “visitations” over Zoom, and it is clear that this time has brought great gifts as well as challenges! We mourn the public health crisis that necessitated Zero commute has made attendance easier for many, in fact. Bible studies are open to more folks than ever, and online worship has made it possible for the homebound and the far-flung to be equal participants in worship again. These are wonderful things for us to celebrate.
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this education, but we can’t regret the concrete skills and the increased adaptability that this year has brought to the church. These will surely stand us in good stead as we continue to seek and serve Christ in all persons! Just remember: thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s
livestream setup or their beautiful virtual choirs! Just ask them about it, then decide if it’s actually what your congregation wants and needs. If it isn’t, simply rejoice in their good work and dig deeper into your own ministry. If it is, then gather your local experts, do some more research, and if you need money and/or assistance, the Tech Taskforce is here to help! Jesus is calling all of us, over and over, to go out to Galilee. He has promised we will find him there, and he has given us to each other as companions for the journey. So, let’s gather up our equipment, our imaginations, and our love of God and neighbor, and let’s go! Tech Task Force Members: Tim Bailey, Holy Cross, Novi Albie Bell, Christ Church Cranbrook, Bloomfield Hills Nick Bell, Christ Church, Dearborn The Rev. Manisha Dostert, Christ Church Cranbrook, Bloomfield Hills (chair) The Rev. Clare Hickman, St Luke’s, Ferndale The Ven. Tim Spannaus, St. John’s, Royal Oak Dan Tines, St. Mary’s In-The-Hills, Lake Orion The Rev. Chris Yaw, St. David’s, Southfield Our Tech Experts: John Alexander, Nativity, Bloomfield Township Alan Cooper, Cathedral of St. Paul’s, Detroit and Christ Church Cranbrook Kevin McLogan, St, John’s, Royal Oak Alvin Rockhey, First Presbyterian, Ann Arbor Rob Squier, St. John’s, Clinton
Find resources, guides and more at: www.edomi.org/BestLittleBytes
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