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.


Senior warden shares his pick for next bishop

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Candidates for Ninth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan:  (L-R) Whayne Hoagland, Jen Adams, Bill Spaid, Angela Shepherd The election will take place at a convention on May 18 in Grand Rapids.

Candidates for Ninth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan: (L-R) Whayne Hoagland, Jen Adams, Bill Spaid, Angela Shepherd The election will take place at a convention on May 18 in Grand Rapids.

By Steven Wade, Sr. Warden

On Saturday, May 18 delegates and clergy from around the diocese will gather to elect our next bishop. This is an important event in the life of a diocese as the bishop is not only the leader of the diocese as a whole, but also of each congregation. Grace will send five voting members including me, Daniel Richards, Bob Foote, Jeff Wescott, and Chuck Wolterink. As a delegate I believe I am called to represent not just my thoughts but those of all of you. As such I feel compelled to share my thoughts in advance of the election. It is my hope by publishing my intentions you will then have an opportunity to share your thoughts affirming or challenging my position.

I have met each of the candidates, read their biographies and have done some level of additional research . I find each of them to be deeply faithful, qualified for the job of bishop, effective priests and all around nice people. That said here’s a summary of my thoughts:

· Jen Adams – Jen has a great wealth of experience from her work with our diocese and the national church. However, almost all of Jen’s ordained ministry has been at one church. As a bishop she will need to understand a variety of church structures and systems. I am concerned her lack of experience with other congregations will limit her ability to effectively support parishes of various sizes, and those facing issues different than those with which she is familiar.

· Whayne Hoagland – I found Whayne charming and personal. I think he communicates well and could easily become well liked and respected across the diocese. I believe Whayne could be an effective manger and administrator but question his ability to lead spiritually. This is the unique balance a bishop must fulfill and I believe there is a candidate better suited to this job.

· Angela Shepherd. Angela brings a great breadth of experiences as a priest, including time serving small and medium sized parishes, larger and smaller communities and her work as a member of a diocesan staff. I find her unequivocally able to communicate from a spitit-centered base. I found her response in writing and orally to be direct and thoughtful. Her history and her presence communicate an air of confidence without self-importance.

· Bill Spaid – I have worked with Bill often and have always found him knowledgeable, prepared and a valuable member of the team. Bill’s leadership style seems pastoral and supportive but not very directive. I feel this diocese needs clear and decisive leadership and I believe there are candidates better suited to this work.

For these reasons and many more I feel Angela Shepherd is being called to be our next bishop. I am committed to continue a prayerful discernment in the days leading up to convention. Each of you can play a role in this by sharing your thoughts about these candidates. If you care to do so please call me 938.3362 or email

I appreciate your trust in me to represent you at this important time.

God speaks to us through the ‘thin spots” – Stewardship ministry minute 5/5/13

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By Bill Montgomery

I speak to you this morning as a member of the Stewardship Committee of Grace Church. The goal of this ministry is to help God’s people grow in their relationship with Jesus through the use of the time, talents, and treasure that God has supplied to each of us. In other words, it is to help Christians to grow in their commitment to be a disciple of Christ.

My belief is that God periodically communicates with us as we endeavor to become a disciple of Christ. The question has been put to me twice in my life.

His first question came to me in the crowded courtyard of a medical clinic in a poor Latin American country. It was Friday afternoon and I had been putting up wallboard in a school building for the entire week. Several of us on the construction crew piled into the back of an ancient pickup truck and went to see the clinic being staffed by medical personnel that were part of our mission. The clinic, free for the people of the town, was only open the two weeks a year when our group visited. There were about 100 people patiently waiting in line.

As I stood in awe of the help being given by the medical staff, a small, 7 or 8 year old, boy with very deep dark eyes looked up at me as if he were looking through me. Amidst the din of the surrounding crowd, he pointed to the small wooden cross and nametag that hung around my neck. In spite of the noise, I heard him speak clearly in English. “Are you a Christian?” he asked. We locked eyes and I responded, “Yes.” He nodded his head and in an instant was gone into the crowd. I stood transfixed in the courtyard of the overcrowded clinic. No one had ever asked me that question before!

I have thought many times about the communication with the young boy. God had spoken to me through a “thin spot,” that is a place and time when our physical world touches the world of God. Our encounter was a brief moment, but it was unmistakable. The Lord had asked me to assess my use of time, talent and treasure in my role as a disciple of Christ. The answer to that serious question would have many significant ramifications in my life.

The next “thin spot” occurred recently in a Grace Stewardship Committee meeting. Someone posed the question “Are you a disciple of Christ?”

I just stared ahead seeing the boy staring up at me. Again, God had used the image of boy to ask the discipleship question. Again the boy was gone in a few seconds as the “thin spot” closed. This time I had not given a quick answer. I believe the message from this “thin spot” was for me to focus on the question: Are you a disciple of Christ? I think a lot about how I should have responded. How am I using my time, talent, and treasure? How should I be using my resources in the service of discipleship?

I am thankful for Grace Church giving me the opportunity to be among the many examples of lives being lived as Christians. They are helping me to prepare for the next “thin spot,” when I am confronted by the question: Are, or were you a disciple of Christ?


Acolytes serve at the Altar – Ministry minute 4/28/13

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Priest and acoloytes at the altarGrace Church acolytes are scheduled to serve during the school year calendar (September – June), at the Sunday 10 am services, and as needed around Easter and Christmas. Acolytes carry the cross and candles, and serve at the Altar during the Liturgy of the Table portion of our services. Currently Grace has 15 girls and boys ranging in age from 10 to 18 who have chosen to be part of the Eucharist. Acolytes are trained and rehearse two or three times before they first serve on a Sunday. All young people are welcome, and there is no age limit. If you have a son or daughter who would like to be trained to become an acolyte please contact Chris Johnson at 231-276-5041.

Episcopal Peace Fellowship mobilizes against gun violence

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Shrine of burning candlesBy Betsy Davidson and John Lewis

The people of the United States have been witness to too many public and private shootings. Statistics show us that there are about 80 deaths daily by shooting, ten of which are children. That does not even account for injury by shooting. Recent public shootings have been top news stories for some time.

Our Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, sent out a statement in February of this year saying that “Far too many lives have been cut short or maimed by both random and targeted acts of gun violence.” She goes on to say that “the Spirit is moving across this land to mobilize people of faith to act.” Jefferts Schori urges all Episcopalians to contact our federal legislators to express our concern and our expectation that gun violence be addressed.

Additionally, at the Episcopal General Convention in 2012, Resolution D003 was passed. It calls for all Episcopal churches and diocesan buildings to be gun free zones. In January 2013, our Episcopal Peace Fellowship (EPF) wrote the Vestry of Grace Church requesting that Grace Episcopal Church declare itself to be a gun free zone. To date, we have received no response.

Currently, our nation is in a great debate over both gun violence and gun control. We urge you to prayerfully give consideration to these issues. We recommend the following actions: 1) Contact your federal legislators and let them know as a constituent and an Episcopalian where you stand on these issues. Our EPF position is to ask our legislators to support policies that will change the culture of violence in our country. We seek universal background checks, a ban on the sale of military assault weapons and high capacity magazines, and better access to mental health services. 2) Contact our Vestry and let them know whether or not you support Grace Church declaring itself to be a gun free zone.

We end with a quote by our Presiding Bishop. “We believe all God’s people should be able to live in peace, as Zechariah dreams, ‘old men and women shall again sit in the streets…And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing.’ The prophet reminds his hearers that even if this seems impossible, with God it is not. [Zech 8:4-6]”





Embracing the Breath of Fire

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By Donna Olendorf

I caught a cold last week, and for the past few days I’ve been stuffed up and sneezing, nonstop from morning till night–with one small respite. My head clears and the sneezing stops from 4 – 6 pm. That’s when I’m in Yoga.

I practice at a local studio, staffed by wise, kind yogis, and the classes I seek out for practice are Vinyasa flows. When I enrolled two years ago, I understood Vinyasa as a posture or asana that began with a Sun Salutation and ended with Downward Facing Dog. Between those poses, new movements would be gradually introduced and repeated, until the Vinyasa had grown to a chain of flowing poses, each separate and unique, but also linked to the one before like a pearl added to a growing strand to create an unbroken chain.

At first, I focused on the movement. But gradually, I heard the teachers, one after another as if in unity, guiding us students to focus on the breath. The priority is the breath. Allow yourself to connect to your breath. Explore the movement of your breath.

There are so many types of breathing in yoga that it was hard to keep them straight: Kundalini Breath of Fire, Ujjayi Victorious Breath which sounds like ocean waves rolling in and out of the shore, Lion’s Breath that almost roars. But over time I learned that each one is a type of Pranayama yogic breathing and each has its place in the yoga flow.

And that’s when my practice started to deepen into a spiritual connection with God. The Anglican liturgy is filled with references to the breath of God. “Breathe on Me Breath of God,” was written by the Anglican priest Edwin Hatch in the late 1800s. On my mat, in a dark heated room filled with students, I close my eyes, and welcome in that image.

The sound of my breath drawing in and rolling out, like ocean waves, anchors me in the moment. I begin my practice. Breathing in, I raise my arms overhead to the sun, breathing out, I fold at the waist and touch the floor, hanging low. My breath guides my body through the poses and in the resting moments between the movements, I connect with my spirit. This is the essence of me, since birth and till death, the self that God created and nurtures through disciplines like yoga, like prayer.

There is probably a scientific explanation for why my sneezing stops in the yoga room – the heat, the humidity, the release of daily worries and absorption in an activity that I enjoy. But, I like to believe it’s God’s gift. At the end of our Wednesday Lenten study, Daniel closed with a prayer that began: “Holy God breathe on us…Inspire us.” Right now, that inspiration comes to me in yoga.

Where do you feel that inspiration? Where do you connect with the breath of God?


You are not alone on this journey…

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By Lynn Feeter

Last year Daniel challenged us with a Lenten task: to seek out someone to share time with in study of the weekly gospels. At the time he did so, I was at a spiritual turning point, although I didn’t realize it, and I jumped at the chance.  I cannot begin to tell you what a gift he gave in holding out that task for me, or what a happy result it’s given me since I accepted it.

Over the past year I have come to look at scripture in a totally different way – still enjoying the study from a “head” standpoint certainly – but more so in a personal way, a way that lets the scripture really speak to me. Beyond the usual questions about how this scripture might resonate with me today, what the author is saying, and so forth, I find myself purposely looking at where the love of God is in the passage and questioning what I would ask God about the reading if I could. But then I realize I can ask. And I do. And while I can’t say I hear the voice of God physically whispering an answer in my ear, I know that if I keep myself open, the answer will come in some form or another, in His time.

I’ve also been more inclined to speak easily with God about things that trouble me or move me, as I would with a friend…more lateral than vertical as you might say. Prayer for me has become much more spontaneous, less “book bound.”  This development, I believe, is a direct outgrowth of studying, sharing and praying with my “study pal,” and has brought a new richness and depth to my relationship with God that I would never have anticipated.

While learning to exercise more faith and trust, I have found a new comfort in difficult situations, knowing that when I get myself out of the way and let God work, the results can be astounding no matter how contentious the circumstances. I am not so naïve that I’m not aware that sometimes we all need to go through very difficult struggles. Some situations just will not work out as I might have hoped, but it has become a whole lot easier to realize that if they don’t, the world is quite likely not going to end over it. Knowing that my partner in study and prayer also experiences struggles and has conversations with God about puzzling stuff helps me to remember that I am not alone on this journey and that trust and faith really do pay off, often in unexpected ways. This is a huge step for someone who has always been expected in the work world to take charge and solve the problems. (Nine years in the military, 10 working for a major corporation, and even working as a therapist, where I oversaw several different programs, reinforced that.)  My particular study partner has been a real role model for me on this.

Engaging in Christian study with a committed study partner opens doors I would never have imagined.  I find it is possible to grow in ways that studying by myself cannot offer, if for no other reason than that one person alone cannot bring the viewpoints, questions, challenges, and experiences of two. (“Where two or three are gathered in my name…”) There is a closeness and affirmation in studying with another person.  There is also the possibility of vulnerability in sharing your personal thoughts and perhaps being challenged by the other.  But there is tremendous opportunity for growth–personally and spiritually.  I wouldn’t trade this past year’s experience for anything.


Becoming disciples of Christ – Lenten study

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Multiply: Disciples making Disciples, by Francis Chan

Grace will be using Francis Chan’s book, Multiply: Disciples making Disciples, for Lenten study in 2013.

Lenten discipleship study
Wednesday evenings, from February 20 – March 20
6 pm, simple meal. Bring your own table service.
6:30 pm, Lenten study

Our Lenten class this year is all about become disciples of Christ who, in return, make disciples.

Most of us don’t feel equipped to do that because we accustomed to the idea that we must be a master in order to disciple someone. But the faith that Christ gave us is about disciples, people on the way, walking alongside other people on the way. We help each other out, but primarily we connect them to God, to the teachings of Christ, and let the Spirit be the teacher to us both.

Contact the office for additional information, including childcare.

Upcoming dates of interest

Posted by & filed under Events.

Maundy Thursday

Thursday, March 28

6 pm service, meal to follow

Good Friday

Friday March 29

7 am – Rite II

12:30 pm – Stations of the Cross

6:30 pm – Rite II

Holy Week

March 24 – 31, 2013

Palm Sunday, March 24

Maundy Thursday, March 28

Good Friday, March 29

Holy Saturday Easter Vigil,  8 pm, March 30

Easter Sunday, March 31