|Date Posted||February 13, 2021|
Michigan (Ellen Ekevag)
|Communicants in Good Standing||24|
|Average Sunday Attendance||20|
St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church is located adjacent to the University of Michigan North Campus in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
From its inception in 1966, St. Aidan's has been an experiment in ecumenism, sharing a building and programming with another small church, Northside Presbyterian Church. As siblings in Christ, we have grown together in fellowship, ministry, outreach, and conflict resolution. Our partnership with Northside Presbyterian Church is formalized in the entity of Northside Associated Ministries. This corporation, supported by a separate budget funded by both congregations, owns the land and building and provides shared activities such as social action and Christian education for children and adults. The joint budget also funds a part time administrative assistant and custodian. About ten times a year St Aidan’s and Northside Presbyterian hold combined worship services on Sundays and other holy days.
St. Aidan's Episcopal and Northside Presbyterian churches occupy seven acres including five acres of secondary forested land located in an otherwise urban and residential environment. In 2009, the wooded acres were registered as a National Wildlife Habitat. There are two trails through the woods used by our neighbors and other nature lovers. Our grounds also include a labyrinth, a rain garden, and a Faith and Food garden. At St. Aidan's we really do worship in the woods as we view the natural habitat through the floor to ceiling windows of our sanctuary. Many of our members receive spiritual nourishment from nature and are especially attracted to this setting. Working on improvement, preservation, and sharing of this precious gift with the larger community is very important to us.
The building we share with our sister church does not look like a traditional church but it incorporates two worship spaces. Our nontraditional sanctuaries lend themselves to a variety of seating arrangements, greater flexibility, and more intimate gatherings. Because our building doesn’t present itself as a Church with a capital “C,” it promotes a more relaxed and natural worship experience, one that eases preconceived and overly rigid notions of piety and propriety. It is a building that lends itself to many uses and ministries. The building is paid for and sharing keeps our building expenses low.
St. Aidan's Episcopal Church is committed to experiencing and demonstrating God's love through Eucharistic worship, prayer, study, and action. We strive to be a nurturing, spiritual Christian community, strengthened by the participation of our members, the example of our youth, and our collaboration with our sister congregation. We embrace diversity and seek to understand it. With our partners in faith and community, we endeavor to be good stewards of all God's creation and to speak out for justice.
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. Our members have included students living on the University of Michigan North Campus. We also have members living outside of Ann Arbor: currently Canton, Plymouth, Belleville and Brighton, as well as Dexter in the past.
Worship and music: Throughout our history, in addition to ecumenical activity, St. Aidan's has emphasized support for a variety of liturgical expressions within the rich Episcopal tradition. We have adjusted our worship services throughout the years to accommodate changing attendance and spiritual needs. Special services have included healing services and a longest night service with prayers, song, and supportive conversation. Since March, 2020 our worship has moved to an online format out of an abundance of caution for the health and wellbeing of our congregants. Our current Zoom service attendance averages 20 members with frequent guests. We conduct one Sunday service at 10 am with social time following. When we met in person we also gathered prior to the service for conversation and continental breakfast. Music in our worship is important to our congregation. We have always had a paid music director to play service music. Although we do not currently have a choir, we occasionally have musical offerings from members gifted with singing voices or talent playing instruments. Our service music includes pieces composed by members of our congregation.
Outreach: St Aidan’s Episcopal and Northside Presbyterian churches have a strong commitment to social and ecological justice and application of the gospel in our lives and community.
Shelter: Jointly we host one week of the Ann Arbor rotating shelter for the homeless; offering our space and volunteers for overflow sleeping during the winter months.
Food: Our Faith and Food garden has grown over the years, providing more than 200 pounds of fresh vegetables for Food Gatherers, a food rescue program, each year. We also collect non-perishable food year round for distribution by Food Gatherers. We have participated in letter writing to our representatives for Bread for the World encouraging the support of legislation to end hunger.
International: A long time parishioner has expanded our outreach to the widows and orphans of his home village in Nigeria. His basket weaving skills are also shared through one or two fundraiser workshops each year where participants make their own basket. Other members have shared their gifts of writing, organizing and assisting with technical challenges.
Ecological: Our environmental stewardship includes maintenance of our natural habitat, trails, rain garden, labyrinth, and management of our building. We have completed a number of the requirements for certification in the GreenFaith program, an inter-faith alliance dedicated to inspiring, educating and mobilizing people for environmental leadership. We are also interested in forming new partnerships for environmental education.
Building use: Our mission also includes support of other entities by providing space at a reasonably affordable cost. For the past 3 years we have rented office space to the Michigan Council on Youth Justice. Prior renters have included the Interfaith Council on Peace and Justice, and Wee Wisdom childcare. We also participate in activities offered by our tenants. Our building hosts five 12 step groups welcoming more than 200 people each week. Annually, we offer the St. Aidan’s sanctuary to Pardes Hannah for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services.
Lay Ministries: Many of our members offer their gifts to support social action and our various local and diocesan ministries. Most of our members volunteer in some lay ministry including reading, altar guild, acolyte, hospitality, childcare, and leading our Morning Prayer services. We have members gifted in giving reflections. St. Aidan’s members have served and continue to serve on Diocesan Council, Diocesan Standing Committee, Commission on Ministry, and Covenant 5 (social justice ministries). Over the years, St. Aidan’s has also sponsored members as candidates for ordination.
Spiritual Growth: Our members care for and nurture each other. We value the views of each person as we continue our spiritual journey. In the words of a former priest: “The vast majority of St. Aidanites have walked through difficult times and have found a way to go deep spiritually in response. In doing so, they take a spiritual maturity with them through not only the worst of times but the best of times as well. Conversations about the environment, social justice, the Bible, or Theology are incredibly stimulating and mature. The spontaneous prayers of the people are inspiring.” St. Aidan’s members actively engage in intellectual and spiritual discussions. We like sermons that challenge us. A regular program of adult education and bible study, either led by or guided by our priest, is important to our members.
In our fifty-four year history we have had two rectors serving 20 (or more) years each, a vicar for the past 8 years and interim or short term priests for periods of 2 years or less. In 1980, St. Aidan's was granted independent parish status within the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan. In 2010 we returned to mission status. Our recent vicar was reduced during her tenure to a quarter time appointment.
St. Aidan’s current membership of 24 does not include any children. Our annual budgeted income and expenses for 2020 were $51,000 with 15 pledges. Our finances are stable and our congregation is committed to moving St. Aidan's forward.
We seek a pastor who will help provide leadership and inspiration to energize our spiritual life, social justice outreach, and pastoral care. We are looking for a pastor who is collaborative, a partner to guide us in our ministries. With many members doing so much, it is important for the pastor to be empathetic and flexible.
Our next pastor would ideally be enthusiastic about community outreach and communicating our welcoming spirit. Though cognizant that a small congregation isn't limited in the reach, scope, or richness of its mission, we feel that increasing our membership and returning to parish status would help fortify our current ministries and guide their future evolution.
If our mission and ministries and our challenge to grow in spirit and numbers excite you as they do us, we invite you to explore our Facebook pages (St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church, Ann Arbor, Michigan and St. Aidan’s/Northside Presbyterian Natural Habitat) and website (www.staidan.org , which needs some updating, but provides an extensive overview of our history, passions and ministries) 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:
The Rev. Canon Ellen Ekevag
Canon for Congregational Development and Transitions
Episcopal Diocese of Michigan