Voice of the Vestry | by Sonia Jacobson

The Annual Retreat, January 21-22, 2023

March 2023 | By Sonia Jacobson, Clerk of the Vestry

Although it is rather “old news” now, the Vestry would like to report back about the one-day (but overnight) annual retreat in which the Vestry participated back in January.  Almost all Vestry members were present, most in person, or on Zoom.  After gathering late in the afternoon of Saturday, January 21, at Northport’s Omena House, a lovely designed and re-purposed renovation of the old Congregational Church and dinner at Knot Just a Bar, we retreated to the house which proved to be a beautiful and quiet setting to get to know each other better and have a fruitful discussion.


Our Saturday evening meeting was facilitated by The Rev. Anne Hallmark, Canon Missioner for the Northern Region, Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan.  Anne provided several questions to explore an informal review of the Grace Episcopal Church (GEC) ministry.  Vestry members paired up for brief discussions and offered spontaneous impressions about GEC’s current mission and goals, its strengths, core qualities, and values and principles we want to protect, nurture, and preserve.  Based on those ideas, we pondered issues of the church’s authenticity: what Grace could and should be, how it fits into the community, and the world, and why it matters.  Who are our key allies, collaborators, partners, and important networks GEC is part of?  In summary, we want to stress our catholic (lower case “c”) mission, that laity and clergy are collegial, the commitment to outreach beyond the church building, but also emphasize that the church building is busy and available to many outside the congregation, and that we want to be adaptive and accessible.  How do we know we are successful at those efforts?  The first, smallest step the Vestry might facilitate would be to devise and implement a strong “listening campaign.”  The Vestry also can equip and enable its ministries with “ministerial liaisons” and draft a “Vestry mission statement” to show a that there is not only vision and aspiration but also action and accountability. 


After a yummy Sunday breakfast of waffles, bacon, fruit (and lots of coffee), Fr. Jim celebrated the Mass, after which the discussion resumed with “business”: the approval (by consensus) of Vestry officers, and of “staffing” the  ministries with liaisons from the Vestry (see below).  


  • Officers for 2023 were approved by consensus as follows:
    • Chair: Jim Perra and/or Derek Quinn
    • Senior warden: Meghan Chenoweth
    • Junior warden: Tony Nelson
    • Clerk: Sonia Jacobson
    • Treasurer: Catherine Collins
  • Vestry liaisons in the various ministries comprise new and returning members, and were approved as follows:
    • Fellowship and Pastoral Care:  Primary: Sonia Jacobson and Anne Kelly; secondary: Tony Nelson
    • Evangelism:  Primary: Liz Stuk and Carolyn Purcell; secondary: Elizabeth Wolterink
    • Administration:  Primary: Brenda Quick and Mike Okma; secondary: Meghan Chenoweth
    •  Worship (liturgy team) and Formation:  Primary: Tony Nelson and Dan Bruining; secondary: Jim Perra and Derek Quinn
    • Outreach and Mission:  Primary Kitty Kringen and Derek Quinn; secondary: Sonia Jacobson
    • Youth and Children: Primary: Elizabeth Wolterink and Meghan Chenoweth


Everyone found the retreat to be a valuable opportunity to think more deeply about the church, and its future.  Parishioners should feel comfortable approaching any of the Vestry members with questions and concerns.


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