St. John's Episcopal Church
|Date Posted||February 28, 2019|
Michigan (Jim Gettel)
|Communicants in Good Standing||90|
|Average Sunday Attendance||50|
St. John’s Episcopal Church in Westland, Michigan (http://www.stjohnswestland.com/) is a welcoming community that believes in demonstrating our love for Christ to all around us through good works and prayer. St. John’s is a place where Jesus always comes first. We worship our Savior, and serve His people.
St. John’s Westland has been a part of the Wayne-Westland Community for over 100 years and sits in a prominent location at 555 South Wayne Road in Westland on land donated by the Uht family.
Our congregation is small, and we average about twenty members attending our early service (8:30am) and thirty members attending our late service (10:30am). Our previous priest-in-charge was split between two churches. This meant that we continued to have two services on Sundays but every other Sunday consisted of two morning prayer services (run by trained parishioners). The other Sundays consisted of two services including celebrating the Holy Eucharist with our priest. A mid-week service, a service at a local nursing home, and Bible studies have also been regular parts of our worship schedule.
We have many activities and programs and regular attendees are almost all involved in one or more church functions beyond worship. Among our ongoing programs, St John’s has a food pantry with monthly distribution. Our Men’s Group puts on a free-will offering breakfast every other Sunday from Fall to Spring, and our Daughters of the King women’s group is an integral part of church prayer life. In addition, our altar guild has a long tradition of preparing the altar and sanctuary for worship. Taking our love of Christ to our neighbors is also demonstrated by members involved in putting on baby showers and birthday parties for the underprivileged. We have also volunteered groups to represent the church at the local Relay for Life and the Westland Blues and BBQ festival. Many of these programs are examples of our renewed vision statement that states that the church will continue to seek out community partnerships.
Our annual special events are all attended by our neighbors in the surrounding community and bring hundreds of community members through our building. These include a Fall Festival and a Spring Bazaar both with a craft show. Our Trunk or Treat Night attracts many neighborhood children and families. Our rummage sale supports outreach missions. Our Angel Tree campaign helps families in need during the Christmas season, and we also have a Women’s Christmas tea.
Our building is large for the church’s current needs and our congregation recognizes that our neighbors are far greater in number than the church membership. As Christians, we have a responsibility to serve this community. Therefore, parishioners point out that use of church facilities through rental agreements by groups that are helping others are important parts of Christian life. These groups include a co-op preschool, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Taking off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS), a Girl Scout Troop, and a Boy Scout Troop as well. Our large space is also useful for church programs that need the space such as our annual Fall Festival, our Outreach Rummage Sale, our Food Bank and periodic church dinners. Our education wing may be better utilized soon as we have had several new children born into the congregation and we expect a modestly larger Sunday school and a possible youth group to be on the horizon.
Our church remains optimistic about how much such a small group of Christians is able to do and about our future. As we begin looking for our next pastoral leader, we realize the importance of making wise decisions. In preparation for the next chapter of our St. John’s Community and to understand what the church needs in terms of leadership, we held a series of “Holy Conversations.” Church members spoke to the sense of family that they feel when they come to St. John's and discussed fond memories of life at St. John’s. Many older members recalled family weddings and past priests that they had loved. Parishioners were also quick to celebrate that we are doing God’s work in the community through our activities, events and offering our building to the larger community.
At the same time, most members are also acutely aware of our decline in membership and attendance through the years. We are an aging congregation (although we have a handful of younger families bringing young children to the church). This means that practical concerns include growing the church, keeping up with finances, and finding a priest who will be a long-term fit for the church. Members spanning multiple age groups feel that the congregation is called to reach out to visitors and make them feel welcome and that a priest can help with this. And with an aging congregation, our long-term members also spoke of the importance of finding a priest who is willing to make visits to the sick and especially to those in hospice or on-going nursing care.
Almost all of us seem willing to try new things if it means possible growth, although members are split about whether the church should maintain more traditional services or find ways to bring contemporary elements into worship. Members look forward to rebuilding programs like our Sunday School and the Music program. However, challenges like meeting future financial goals in order to maintain our infrastructure and to support a priest are common concerns. Most members believe that some level of part-time priest will be appropriate for our church for the time being, but a return to a full time rector is a common long term goal. If our priest does not need to use our rectory, several members mentioned the possibility of renting or selling the property.
We can structure compensation for this half-time position working within the priest’s needs (for salary, housing, benefits) and the congregation’s budget.
If our desires to grow together and better serve God and God’s people excite you as they do us, we invite you to explore our website and to 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