|Date Posted||January 30, 2020|
Michigan (Jim Gettel)
|Communicants in Good Standing||165|
|Average Sunday Attendance||65|
Spirit of Grace (http://spiritofgrace.church/) came into being on May 6, 2015, when Advent Episcopal Church, Sylvan Lake Lutheran Church and Ascension Lutheran Church were officially united together as one federated Lutheran and Episcopal church. Spirit of Grace is rooted in relationship. Our common existence is based primarily in our relationship with God - God's love and our love for God. And God has brought us into relationship with one another and, to our amazement and delight, we have felt God forming the relationship that our community has together in every way!
In 2012, when Advent Episcopal Church was without a home, Sylvan Lake Lutheran invited Advent to shared a building, but we worshiped separately, held separate Bible studies, conducted separate community events…. the Lutherans and the Episcopalians. Then God whispered, “go see what they’re doing over there.” Soon, there were blended Bible studies, joint Game Nights, a merged Youth Group, and help at our individual community events.In the summer of 2013, God pushed a little harder. “Worship together”, He whispered. We listened. After all, it was just a temporary situation to get through the summer…and it was God. The service was such a nice blend of both Lutheran and Episcopal traditions that, from the start, it was hard to figure out which parts belonged to whom.
By this time, we had developed our deep respect for one another. While we were getting to know our new roommates, we were developing a deep respect for their traditions, their experiences and their talents. As we entered into a courtship, we developed a respect for each other in honoring not only the similarities in our beliefs but also differences in our experiences. We took the time, and continue to take time, to learn from each other out of this respect.
We had also developed great affection for one another. We started to care for one another. When one congregation had a death, the other congregation served at the funeral. We started to find out that we weren’t just the Lutherans and the Episcopalians, but our status had changed to “in a relationship.” When the summer ended and it was time to worship our last worship together, both congregations felt a deep sorrow. We were being pushed in a direction that we didn’t want to go. Our pastors gave us a choice – better together or back to before? Under a unanimous vote, we never had our last worship together.
During 2014, we started talking marriage. With vestry members and council members working side by side for countless hours, we brought in another element you should expect at Spirit of Grace and that is trust. We vowed as we merged to always have transparency. If we are going to make this marriage work, we needed to be able to have trust between each other and trust between the leaders and the congregation. Without it we would not survive.
On May 6, 2015, as we joined together as one congregation. We took our relationships, our respect, our affection and our trust all bundled together to say our vows before God, our friends and an over abundance of clergy who all turned out to see what this was all about. It was spectacular! We confirmed our first set of blended confirmands and there was cake!
During our first five years together, We’ve gotten stronger in all of these ways.
Our relationships have grown to include new members – some of whom are not Lutheran or Episcopalian. (And we don’t care.) We welcome relationships with those who are not the same, may have challenges, and may need special care. We have relationships with our member’s families who come when they are in town or to help with our community activities. We have relationships with our community partners at Roosevelt Elementary, Bloomfield on the River, Open Door, the Muslim Unity Center, and others to help support them. We have relationships with our business partners in the neighborhoods to keep us close in their hearts so they can help support us.
Our respect has grown. After our marriage, we had to build our own family traditions. This took respect to allow each other to grieve the loss of long-term community events and traditions. It took respect to see other viewpoints in determining what was best for the direction of Spirit of Grace. Our worship is a joyful blend of Episcopal and Lutheran liturgy. You will find readings, prayers, traditional hymns, contemporary songs, a sermon and sharing of communion every Sunday. The service begins at 10:00 am and we invite you to stay for coffee afterwards.
And with the time that we have spent together, our affection has grown for one another. We have formed deep friendships, we care for those in need and we have built a sense of community. We welcome people into our congregation with the same enthusiasm we have for an old friend, because we all know what it feels like to be the new kid in the congregation. We have affection for those that we meet through our community activities like our Free Community summer picnic, our Free Christmas dinner, Lunch with Neighbors, Circle of Friends, quilting for Lutheran World Relief, and other activities.
And our trust continues to grow, especially now when we are relying on our leaders to make sound decisions for our future as we work simultaneously to continue our work in God’s name.
During this interimn time we hope to celebrate where God has brought us and discern where God might be calling (or rather, "whispering" or "pushing") us next. Our challenges are opportunities for us to work together, such as meeting, inviting and welcoming new people to join us (our membership and attendance have leveled off since 2016); serving in our numerous outreach activities; and building a stronger financial situation for our future.
As we continue to serve God through serving others, Spirit of Grace is seeking a strong, experienced interim Pastor who can lead us and continue with us through our ministry as we prepare the way for a permanent call.The ideal interim candidate will share our passions and values of relationships, respect, affection and trust.
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