St. Michael’s Episcopal Church
|Date Posted||March 15, 2019|
Michigan (Jim Gettel)
|Location||Grosse Pointe Woods|
|Health Benefits||Full Family|
|Communicants in Good Standing||225|
|Average Sunday Attendance||115|
St. Michael’s Episcopal Church is located in Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, near Lake St. Clair, bordering the east side of Detroit. Our beautiful property is in a quiet, residential neighborhood, bounded by a private home on one side and a middle school playfield on the other. Our rear entrance is from a main street lined with small retail businesses, and our front entrance faces a country club golf course.
Our mission is to “share the light of Christ by actively loving and serving our neighbors in the world.” Some of the ways we accomplish our mission are:
Loving community: We seek to welcome people wherever they are on their life’s journey, accept all persons with love and understanding, embrace a multi-generational and diverse community, and promote an environment of peace and joy.
Worship and Music: We seek to nurture our faith community through worship and music. We offer two Eucharistic services each Sunday. The 8:00 a.m. Sunday service is a spoken, Rite I celebration. Many of the approximately 30 members who regularly attend this service are cradle Episcopalians or longtime members of St. Michael’s. They value the comfort that Rite I brings them through its familiar form and language. At the 10:30 a.m. service Rite II is used with a seasonal Eucharistic prayer, enriched by music from our organ and our choir sings weekly from September to June. Average attendance at this service is approximately 85 members and visitors. During the summer months we take advantage of our large front lawn to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation and worship outdoors. St. Michael's has a rich musical history, including the acquisition and restoration of the E.M. Skinner Opus 705 Organ, dedicated in 2015. We recently called a very accomplished Director of Music, and with him we are committed to rebuilding our music program. Our goals are to enhance the worship experience and provide choral opportunities for adults, youth and children.
Outreach: We seek to serve others outside our church walls, connect with God and one another through commitment to social justice, and recognize and serve God in all persons. Although we are a suburban church, St. Michael’s has been deeply involved with the City of Detroit. Our commitment to loving and serving our brothers and sisters in need has never wavered and continues to grow. When a need is identified, near or far, St. Michael’s somehow finds a way to help. Many projects have become commitments lasting 20 years or more. Others, such as a natural disaster, a home fire or an individual emergency require an urgent response. Some outreach ministries include:
- Food: For more than thirty years, St. Michael’s has prepared and served a hearty meal on four Saturdays a year at Spirit of Hope Church, a combined Episcopal-Lutheran congregation in Detroit. On the Sunday nearest July Fourth, 25-30 parishioners prepare and serve a picnic-style lunch for up to 800 persons at Crossroads, a social service outreach agency of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan. Every Sunday we collect non-perishable food items for their food pantry and provide them with clothing items from our Thrift Shop. St. Michael’s has a close relationship with Crossroads, as the founder and first director was Father James McLaren, a former rector of this parish.
- Shelter: St. Michael’s is a member, along with eleven other churches in the area, of Grosse Pointe Habitat Partners. This organization was formed to raise funds and to work on a Habitat for Humanity house the second Saturday of each month. It has recently expanded its scope to include helping other non-profits in the Detroit area.
- Clothing: The Little Thrift Shop at St. Michael’s has been serving our parish and the larger Detroit community for 60 years. This consignment shop receives clothing and household items for resale. When an item sells, the consignor receives 60% of the sale price and St. Michael’s ECW disburses the remaining 40% to many charities throughout the Detroit area, as well as St. Michael’s ministries. About 50 parishioners work diligently to take in, price, and sell gently used items in the shop. These dedicated volunteers not only staff The Little Thrift Shop, but also enjoy warm fellowship with church friends. Customers also become friends, and we invite those who “shop the Shop” to consider attending St. Michael’s on Sundays. As a result of the hard work and dedication of the many Little Thrift Shop volunteers, over $26,000 was contributed to St. Michael’s and over 20 outreach ministries last year. In addition, all items not sold are either reclaimed by the consignor or given to various nonprofit groups in the Detroit area.
- Good Samaritan Projects: A generous donor gave us $10,000 to establish a Good Samaritan Fund and use the money to bring the second commandment to life by caring for our marginalized neighbors and encouraging them to do the same for others. Our confirmation class youth led our first project with a local elementary school with an underserved population. After meeting with the school principal, our youth decided to create “Night Night” kits for 84 first and second graders. Each kit contained a new pillow, pillowcase, fleece blanket, pajamas and two books. Our youth and mentors met to cut and tie blankets, cut and sew pillowcases and collect books. The project engaged the entire congregation, and many parishioners donated fabric, books, cash and time. The kits were blessed in church on a Sunday morning, and then delivered to the school that week. This gift has energized St. Michael’s to serve our neighbors in new ways and has put feet on our faith. The youth will meet in early 2019 to explore possibilities for their next project.
- Christmas Gifts: At Christmas time, St. Michael’s parishioners provide gifts for about 40 family members of men living at Mariners Inn, a shelter and treatment center for men. In December, we also have a “Warm Fuzzy Tree” on which we collect warm winter clothing to be given to Crossroads.
- Building use: We make our building available to various non-profit support groups including the Harper Woods chapter of The Arc (the largest national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families), two local chapters of Alcoholics Anonymous, a chapter of Narcotics Anonymous, an Alzheimer’s Support Group, Business Network International, and The Lake House (cancer support services and activities).
- Financial gifts: In addition to these hands-on activities, the Outreach Committee responds to various funding requests. Among these have been Episcopal Relief and Development, Crossroads, Diocese of Jerusalem, Food for the Poor, Heifer International, Mariners Inn, Episcopal Migration Ministries and many others.
Spiritual Pathways: Over the last year, members involved in several ministries dedicated to supporting individual and group spiritual development realized that their collective efforts likely seemed as ad hoc events to parishioners. These ministries merged to form Spiritual Pathways. The goal of this ministry is to provide an organized plan and supporting resources and activities for learning and spiritual enrichment. Monthly meetings explore new ways to engage the congregation and the community in worship, spirituality and fellowship. Current offerings include a book group, a Lenten series, Bible study, and labyrinth walks. This ministry also supports special worship services and sponsors joy-filled events such as All Saints Celebration, Shrove Tuesday Mardi Gras and Pancake Supper, St. Patrick’s Corned Beast Feast, a New Year’s Eve labyrinth walk we call “Step Into the New Year”, a Pentecost Potluck and outdoor summer services.
Stewardship: Our stewardship has traditionally been rooted in Time, Talent and Treasure. Many of the ministries of time and talent have been described above and many members also offer their time and skills to help maintain our building and grounds.. As a community of faith, we are feeling a renewed spiritual enthusiasm which is moving our stewardship and budgetary practices from a scarcity, “make do” orientation to one of abundance based on faith. For example, we have developed an operating budget for 2019 that we believe will provide support for the growth of our outreach and ministries that is nearly $60,000 more than the 2018 budget and most of this is supported by new or increased pledges.
Despite the challenges we have faced, we have accomplished a lot as a parish family during this transition period, including: reinvigoration of our worship experience, development of a new mission statement reflecting our congregational passion for outreach, launch of new outreach projects, focus on transparent and frequent communication, a renewed sense of joy.
The last ten years brought many challenges to our parish – retirement of our rector after 26 years, a new rector with many ideas and processes that created pro and con factions within the congregation, the murder of a beloved member by her husband, an interim rector who left with no warning after 9 months. We experienced a reduction in membership over time due both to an aging population and the challenges of understanding and meeting the needs of young families and single adults. Pledge income declined in recent years ($100,000 over the past seven years) primarily because the number of member deaths has significantly surpassed the number of new members. Collectively our reaction to these issues was an emotional shut down. We clung to the ways of the past, we worshipped by rote, we had no direction for the future.
Thankfully, God did not abandon us. Beginning a little over a year ago, as we truly entered into the transition process, we began to feel the Holy Spirit’s active presence among us. We have new life. The work that we did as a community of faith to redefine our mission and values has brought energy and passion, our worship is reinvigorated with a new music director and new opportunities for worship. There is passion around our existing and new outreach projects, there is desire to learn and do more to be the people God is calling us to be. Our congregation is growing. We feel it through new and returning members who express joy in finding a spiritual home at St. Michael’s.
We are beginning to believe that God has big plans for us, and we are praying for a Rector who will care for us and join with us on our renewed journey of faith. We want to continue to demonstrate the courage to follow God’s path.
If our celebration of Christ through worship and outreach and our challenge to grow in spirit and numbers excite you as they do us, we invite you to explore our website (http://www.stmichaelsgpw.org/), learn more about us through our profiles (http://www.stmichaelsgpw.org/?page_id=25434 and OTM), and submit an application if you feel called to do so.
To apply for this position, please send a resume, cover letter, OTM Portfolio, and two sample sermons (in any format) to:
Canon for Congregational Life
Episcopal Diocese of Michigan