Congratulations to our 2013 Graduates

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  • Connor Brewer, grandson of John & Nan Strickler, graduated from Haslett High School, accepted into Elmhurst College.
  • Noah Fowle, son of Bill Fowle and MaryLee Pakieser, graduated with a Juris Doctor Degree and a Masters in Bioethics from Case Western University.
  • Graham Kelly, son of Tom and Anne Kelly, graduated Salutatorian, from Suttons Bay, accepted to University of Michigan.
  • Hannah Isenhart, daughter of Chris and Mariana Sanford, grand daughter of Alice and Harold Sanford, graduated with a Registered Nursing Degree from NMC.
  • James Lovell, son of Sue Lovell, graduated from Elk Rapids High School, accepted into the Air Force.
  • Tyler Stachnik, son of Terry and Kelly Stachnik, graduated from Glen Lake High School, accepted into Grand Valley State University.
  • Hannah Kate Wescott, daughter of Jeff Wescott and Catherine Turnbull, graduated from Traverse City West High School, accepted into Mt. Holyoke College.
  • Hannah Will, daughter of Brad and Kathy Will, graduated from Traverse City West High School, accepted into Luther College.
  • Henry Lee Winters, son of Ann and Bill Stephen Winters and grandson of Dixie Stephens, graduated from Ann Arbor Pioneer High School.
  • Elizabeth Wolterink, daughter of Charles Wolterink, graduated with a Masters Degree in Mythological Studies and Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute.

Bishop transition: The Not Chosen

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes.

We had a wonderful slate of nominees before us and a difficult set of choices to make regarding them. We are all blessed by their willingness to stand for election. They were each ready to be called upon to serve if chosen and to serve if not chosen. All of us at the convention were elected, chosen, to serve as deputies. We know the satisfaction that comes from such an honor and the difficult stewardship this responsibility entails. But the Not Chosen in every election have an important role to play as well. They have as much to say about the life, nature and ministry of our Church as the Chosen do.

The Not Chosen are subject to particular temptations. They have done all of the qualifying stints of service, they have good ideas and important insights, and they stand vulnerable as do all nominees to the harsh light of vote counts made public. Because of this, the Not Chosen are especially subject to resentment, an attitude that Carrie Fisher says is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die. Resentment is neither reasonable nor good but it is human and hard to resist.

The Not Chosen have been with us for a long time. Have you ever heard of Eleazer of Damascus? Probably not but he was the servant that the Patriarch Abraham expected to inherit his estate –until Isaac was born. The name Isaac means “Laughter” reflecting the joy Abraham and Sarah felt at his birth. There is a good chance that Eleazer had a different name for him, but it is not recorded. Nor do we have a record of the feelings of Hagar, the slave girl who had mothered Ishmael to Abraham at Sarah’s insistence, only to be driven out when Sarah finally conceived. And then there was Justus who had been with Jesus from the beginning and through all of Holy Week so that he qualified to replace Judas among the apostles but lost that coveted position in a roll of the dice to Matthias. All took their place among the Not Chosen.

But rather than defining them by their losses and temptations, let us be aware that the Not Chosen have a unique opportunity to be the very heart of the Christian enterprise. Because by the spirit and attitude with which they bear disappointment, resist resentment and continue to serve the Lord, the Not Chosen declare, in ways not available to the Chosen, whether or not this Church actually serves something larger than individual feelings. The Chosen have opportunity to show that we are a wise Church with good stewardship and a vigorous claim on our hopes. But the Not Chosen have the power to show that we really are a servant community and followers of the One whose management style was foot washing.

Let us be grateful for all who stand for elections. Let us be supportive of the Chosen. But let us know that we rely on the Not Chosen to show what kind of Church we really are.

Adapted from a meditation written by The Rev. Dr. Francis Wade



Embrace the circle of giving – Stewardship ministry minute 6/02/13

Posted by & filed under Ministry of the week.

The goal of Grace’s stewardship ministry is to help God’s people grow in their relationship with Jesus through the use of the time, talents, and finances that God has entrusted to them. There are certain characteristics that the Bible lifts up when it talks about giving, and the stewardship committee has adopted the following six characteristics as “The Grace Circle of Giving.” We encourage each member of the congregation to pray for God’s guidance as how best to grow into the practice of living into these biblical stewardship characteristics.

· Value #1: Intentional: Being intentional in one’s giving means to develop a plan for your giving and then follow through with the plan. One tried and true method of being intentional is to indicate the amount you will give in the coming year with a pledge card.

· Value #2: Regular: To be regular in your giving means to establish a pattern in your giving, such as giving weekly or monthly, and to follow that pattern.

· Value #3: Generous: Generous giving is perhaps the most basic stewardship value. In Luke 12:34, Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Generous giving is a tangible sign of your spiritual health.

· Value #4: First: First-fruits giving means giving to God first and living off the rest. If you are going to give generously, you need to give first.

· Value #5: Proportional: The Bible always calls us to percentage giving: “Give in proportion to the blessings you have received.” Those who have much wealth are expected to give proportionately. Those who have little wealth are also expected to give proportionately. The tithe, or ten percent, is obviously the best example of the Bible’s teaching of proportional giving.

· Value #6: Cheerful: Perhaps the best known stewardship verse in the Bible comes from 2 Corinthians 9:7: “God loves a cheerful giver.” If the first five values characterize your giving, you will be cheerful in your giving. If they don’t, you won’t.

Giving intentionally, regularly, generously, first, proportionally, and cheerfully will lead a giver’s heart to Jesus. As we live our stewardship values, we increase our giving, not so that our church will have more money, but so that, as God’s children, we will grow in relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


Adapted from Ask, Thank, Tell: Improving Stewardship Ministry in Your Congregation by Charles R. Lane. Adapted from Ask, Thank, Tell by Charles Lane copyright © 2006 Fortress Press, admin Augsburg Fortress. Reproduced by permission. All rights reserved.


New Spiritual Formation Series Starts in September

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We are excited to share with you our next venture into relevant, biblical teaching and significant relationships. Grace Episcopal, Feast of Victory Lutheran Church in Acme and First Congregational Church in Traverse City have collaborated to offer The Apprentice Series, a spiritual formation series that explores how our beliefs about God, ourselves and our world shape our lives.

The Series will be launched on Saturday, September 14 at a mass retreat to be held at First Congregational Church. You are invited to participate in this program to discuss apprenticeship to Jesus through the book The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love with the God Jesus Knows by James Bryan Smith. The program will consist of participation in small group experiences which will be offered at the three congregational sites throughout the week. We currently have 6 Grace members participating in facilitator training: Dave Eitland, Mary Pierce, Penny Campo-Pierce, Connie Riopelle, Ellen Schrader and Nan Strickler. These members will serve, with members from the other churches, as small group leaders.

For more information, please find brochures on the bulletin board in the Parish Hall. Please consider participating in this series as it is a great opportunity to get to know one another and experience the joy of learning to know Christian brothers and sisters from Feast of Victory Lutheran Church, First Congregational and our own Grace members.


Sing in your own voice: Report from Diocesan Convention 4/20/13

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By Chuck Wolterink, Convention delegate

The annual Diocesan Convention was held on April 20, 2013, at the Western Michigan University Conference Center in Grand Rapids. I attended as one of three delegates elected from Grace at our last annual meeting; the others were Ann and Jamie Hackett, acting as alternates for Bob Foote and Jeff Wescott who were unable to travel that day. Others attending from Grace included Daniel Richards, Steve Wade and Greg Hagan.

It was my first time as a convention delegate, so I was looking forward to seeing what it would be like. Perhaps the biggest surprise for me was the relatively small amount of time we spent on the business matters of the convention. The election of delegates to the next National Convention and members of various Diocesan committees, and the approval of some amendments to the Constitution and By-Laws, were all accomplished quickly and with little or no comment in several brief sessions interspersed throughout the day.

A significant part of the day was spent in worship. We began with a bible study on the Gospel of the Day, John 15:1-11 (Jesus as the true vine and God as the vine-grower). In small groups, we discussed verse 2, “Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit,” and what such pruning might mean in the context of our individual communities of faith. The Bible study was followed immediately by the convention Eucharist, celebrated by Bishop Robert Gepert. The sermon was given by our featured speaker of the day, Rev. Margaret Marcuson, who again focused on the Gospel reading.

Just before lunch, Bishop Gepert gave a brief reflection on his experience as bishop. One image he used struck me particularly strongly. Apparently he and his wife have kept pet canaries for some years. He has observed that, although most of the time the canaries sing a lot, when they molt they become completely silent. Then, when their new feathers grow in, they begin to sing again, but they sing a new song–as beautiful as before, but different. He compared this to the process of “molting” we all experience at times of change in our lives, and in particular to the change the Diocese is going through as we choose a new bishop, and he likened it to the idea of pruning referred to in the Gospel.

After lunch we heard a presentation by the guest speaker, Rev. Margaret Marcuson. Rev. Marcuson is ordained in the American Baptist church, and has taught for the last 14 years in the Leadership for Ministry workshop, a training program for clergy. She addressed the question of how church leaders can avoid burnout and create sustainable ministry. She emphasized the importance of knowing oneself, one’s purpose, and one’s context, in both ordained and lay ministry. I especially liked a remark she attributed to her vocal coach: “When you try to sing like somebody else, it sounds bad.” Like Bishop Gepert’s canaries, it is important to sing in our own voice, even when the tune changes.

I enjoyed going to convention, and I appreciate the opportunity to be your delegate.

Add your voice to campaign to end hunger – Bread for the world ministry minute 5/26/13

Posted by & filed under Ministry of the week.

Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation’s decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.  God’s grace in Jesus Christ moves us to help our neighbors whether they live in the next house, the next state or the next continent.  By changing policies, programs and conditions that allow hunger and poverty to persist, we provide help and opportunity far beyond the communities where we live.  This spring’s Offering of Letters encourages our elected officials to work together to protect anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs.  For the first time, a petition to the President has been added to the usual letter-writing campaign to our senators and representatives.  Please stop at our table in the Commons for a few minutes after today’s service to add your voice to this effort.

How did Whayne Hougland become the bishop elect?

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By Steven Wade,  Sr. Warden

The Truth – The clearest and simplest answer is God chose him. I believe this and ask that if you are less sure of this to prayerfully consider this possibility.

Electing convention from the balcony at Grace Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids

Electing convention from the balcony at Grace Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids

The Process – First you need to know a group of good and faithful people developed a plan that led us to Saturday’s election. Their work included researching and writing the profile that was shared throughout the Episcopal Church. This profile drew the interest of many and ultimately several dozen people chose to submit their name to the process. The search committee was very thorough in their work. They met with the candidates, explored their qualifications, studied their ministries and questioned their faith. After months of work the slate of candidates was announced. The task of discernment then transferred to all Episcopalians from across the diocese. This phase concluded last Saturday when the clergy and delegates met to pray, worship and actively listen for God’s call.

The Election – The first few ballots showed each candidate with strong support from both clergy and lay delegates. The following few votes showed support for Bill Spaid waning, ultimately leading him to withdraw from the election. The next few ballots saw Jenn Adams and Whayne Hougland emerge as the strongest candidates in both the lay and clergy orders. Angela Shepherd then withdrew from the election leaving Whayne and Jenn. Although Jenn’s support rivaled that of Whayne, he was elected with the 8th ballot.

What Comes Next – Each of us cast our first vote for the candidate we believed called to be our bishop. The final ballot saw a very different result. Roughly 75% of the people did not see their candidate elected. Three-quarters of us were disappointed to see the candidate we identified not elected. Most of us left the convention having to reconcile our personal disappointment with the great promise that lies ahead. Despite this frustration we must all earnestly welcome Whayne as our bishop and must do all within our power to support him in his ministry.

How can so much change in 90 minutes? That is the power of God.




Whayne Hougland elected next bishop of Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan

Posted by & filed under Events, Grace Notes.

The Rev. Whayne M. Hougland, Jr., was elected at a Special Electing Convention on May 18,2013,  to be the 9th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan. The Rev. Hougland, currently rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Salisbury, North Carolina, was elected on the 8th ballot out of a field of four candidates. To be elected, a candidate must have received a majority of the votes in both the lay order and the clergy order. He received 87 of 139 votes cast in the lay order and 34 of 65 votes cast in the clergy order.Whayne-Hougland

Under the canons (III.11.4) of the Episcopal Church, the election of a bishop requires the consent from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees of the Episcopal Church. Assuming that consent is received, The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, will consecrate The Rev. Whayne Hougland, Jr., as the 9th Bishop of Western Michigan on September 28, at the Van Noord Arena on the campus of Calvin College, Grand Rapids.

The election, which was held at Grace Church, Grand Rapids, followed a year-long search process in which three candidates were selected by the diocesan search committee; the fourth was nominated through a petition process. Prior to the election, the four candidates spent the first weekend in May traversing the diocese, meeting the people, and answering questions in a series of three “walkabouts.”

The Rev. Hougland has been rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, in Salisbury, NC since 2005. Originally from Kentucky, he also served as Canon Evangelist at Christ Church Cathedral in Lexington, KY, and prior to ordination, worked for Lexmark International, also in Lexington. He Chaired the Missionary Resources Support Team for the Diocese of North Carolina (2008-2012), and was a Clergy Mentor for postulants to Holy Orders for the Diocese. He is married to Dana Lynne Hougland, an educator and autism specialist. They have two daughters. Erin Elizabeth Hougland, 27, is married to Isaac Hougland and is a postulant for Holy Orders in the Diocese of Indianapolis. Leigha Karl Hougland, 23, lives with her partner Evan Edwards in Chicago.

The other three candidates for bishop were as follows:

The Rev. Jennifer Adams, Rector, Grace Episcopal Church, Holland, Michigan

The Rev. Canon Angela Shepherd, Canon for Mission, Diocese of Maryland

The Rev. Canon William Spaid, Cannon to the Ordinary, Diocese of Western Michigan

The Rev. Whayne Hougland will succeed The Rt. Rev. Robert Gepert, who is retiring after serving as Bishop of Western Michigan for 12 years. Bishop Gepert and his wife, Anne Labat-Gepert, will be moving to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in September to be closer to their grandchildren. He hopes to do some writing, and she plans on doing a lot of quilting and volunteer work at their new church home in Lancaster.

The Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan covers the western half of the lower peninsula of Michigan with 10,153 members worshiping in 61 faith communities.

From the Official Press Release of the Western Diocese of Michigan.

Help save a life – Blood drive ministry minute 5/19/2013

Posted by & filed under Ministry of the week.

We are privileged to have Michigan Blood use our facility as one of its collection sites. Normally the bus comes to Grace every other month on the third Wednesday of the Month, 3-7 pm. A sign up sheet is available in our Parish Hall for you to sign up for the time that works best for you. Signing up in advance is a great help for Michigan Blood employees working the bus since it lets them know ahead of time the amount of supplies necessary for blood collection.

What a great feeling as you leave the bus to know that you have helped save someone’s life!

Service connects us to God’s spirit – Service participants ministry minute 5/12/13

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Lay Eucharistic Ministers The ministry minute this week focuses on service participation. Service participants are those individuals who provide assistance for our worship services. This ministry includes ushers, lectors, intercessors and Lay Eucharistic Ministers; ministries that are integral to our worship in the church. Participants volunteer to assist as their schedules allow. The time required of participants is simply an hour to an hour-and-a-half approximately once a month at one of the three weekly services.

Service participation is an enriching part of our discipleship. It touches us and connects us to God’s Spirit in the Eucharist.