Ordained to Serve the Bishop:
Deacons in Liturgy
by Br. Francis
Worship is central to the identity of the church.  We need to worship, and before anything else deacons are worshippers.  Here's the catch, "the deacon is the constant irritant to anyone who thereby  supposes that daily life is left at the door when we enter, or that worship ends with the dismissal; it merely changes location and expression.  Liturgy is radically related to how we live our lives."

To worship and to participate in the liturgy means 'the work of the people' and the people should work, and be aided by the deacon.  When the deacon proclaims, 'Go in peace to love and serve the Lord,' they challenge the congregation to live those words on Monday morning.  This, however, does not mean that we bow are heads as we leave after we receive His Body and Blood. But, realize that we are being sent out to be witnesses to Him before the world.  We are charged with being in the thick of the struggle for justice and freedom and peace.  That is what it means to a friend of Jesus!

Deacons are there to ensure that worship is both heavenly and earthly, to hold liturgy and social justice together.  "They are to express how all of us live our lives through the week before we are summed again in the liturgy when the church next gathers in one place."

Read more about the ministry of deacons here.
Happy New Year
A message from Bishop Hougland about Deans

Bishop Whayne Hougland
With the New Year comes a change in the role of our diocesan deans. We have had been blessed by the leadership of excellent clergy serving as deans for our five deaneries: Daniel Richards and Jim Croom (who have both left the diocese), along with Jared Cramer, Rebecca Crise and Brian Coleman have competently and graciously filled these roles for a number of years. 

They were initially hired to provide local pastoral clergy support, help facilitate communication within each deanery, and serve as a council of advice for the bishop.  Their role, under my tenure, has shifted toward providing more direct support to the local congregation focusing on creating stronger relationships amongst us while helping strengthen vitality.

In the past year, a Restructuring Task Force undertook a detailed study of our diocesan structure and presented a report to the 142nd diocesan convention in November. This report will be further discussed in a joint Diocesan Council, Standing Committee and Task Force retreat later this month. 

One of the suggestions the task force is proposing is we shift from deaneries to regions and that we consider hiring regional Canon Missioners to provide more direct and consistent support to our local congregations. In preparing for this potential, and to help finance these positions, the deans have volunteered to shift their role again. Beginning January 1, 2017 our remaining deans will serve in a non-paid capacity to gather and host local monthly clergy gatherings and to help disseminate information within their deanery. The two open positions in Grand Traverse and Grand Valley deaneries will not be filled.

Our deans have been tremendously gracious and selfless in all this role shifting and I am very grateful to them and for them. I greatly appreciate their service to me and to the diocese and hope you will join me in thanking them for all they have done to strengthen this diocese to the glory of God.


Anna Cushman "Cush" Memorial Fund

Anna "Cush" Cushman, an active member of the diocese, Cursillo and Education for Ministry, died December 28, 2016 from complications of C.O.P.D. As an active member of Education for Ministry (Efm), a memorial fund has been started in Cush's honor for scholariships to EfM. EfM participants study the Hebrew Scriptures, the New Testament, Christian History, and Modern Theology and Ethics, and learn how to think theologically by practicing theological reflection within their small group. 

To read more about the life of Cush, click here.

Sisters of St.  John the Divine:
Spend a year living in God's Rhythm

The Sisters of St. John the Divine have opened applications for the 2017-2018 cohort of their program called Companions on an Ancient Path. They are now about 4 months into the first year of the program, and are excited to have five young women from across Canada and from various denominational backgrounds living with them this year. 

This program is geared toward young women in their 20s and 30s who have a passion for the gospel, who want to serve others, who seek ways to deepen their lives as followers of Jesus, and who would like an experience of intentional community.

The deadline to apply is June 15, 2017. More information on the program, what it entails and how to apply, click here.
Preventing Winter Colds and Flu is January's Health Topic

Colds and flu happen most during wintertime in Michigan. Cold and flu virus germs can be inhaled when another person with infection coughs, sneezes, or talks. Touching an object like a phone or computer keyboard and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth is also a way germs are caught.
  • Get your flu shot (age 6 months and older)
  • Practice thorough & frequent handwashing
  • Don't smoke
  • Eat healthy & exercise
Flu attacks your nose, throat and lungs and is serious. A runny nose, sneeze, and sore throat resemble a cold but could be the start of the flu. The flu differs from a cold in that it comes on suddenly and usually causes you to feel worse.

Common signs and symptoms of the flu:
  • Fever over 100.4°F (38°C)
  • Aching muscles (especially back, arms, & legs)
  • Chills & sweats
  • Headache
  • Dry, persistent cough
  • Feeling very tired & weak
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat.
Most persons don't need to see a doctor. Children under 5, adults over 65, pregnant women up to 12 weeks, people with weakened immune systems, and some with other conditions are at risk for complications and should report to their doctor or healthcare provider right away.

The Mayo Clinic
Centers for Disease Control
National Institutes of Health

Do you have a question about a health topic? Contact Health Ministry volunteer Eva Jerome evamjerome@gmail.com.

Healthy Congregations Workshop
at Transformations Spirituality Center,
led by Bill Blank
of the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center

Friday, February 17, 2017 7:00-9:30 p.m.
Saturday, February 18, 2017, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

In many congregations today negative, reactive forces are allowed to set the agenda for the church. This workshop uses Family Systems theory to teach ways to prevent this anxiety from becoming a toxic force in your congregation. Come and learn how to shape and share healthier congregational life.

The Healthy Congregations workshop is designed to equip leaders to respond to the presence or potential threat of anxiety in a congregational system in ways that prevent destructive conflict and help the church stay focused on its unique mission and purpose.

Register by January 20th for $105 per person early registration; $125 thereafter.

Click here for more information and to register online.
Bishop's Workshops Here Again

Each year, Bishop Hougland and the diocesan staff hold workshops to be of service to leaders in EDWM congregations, including new and experienced vestry, delegates to convention, and other decision-makers in our parishes.
Bishop Hougland's annual set of workshops are now scheduled for 2017, and here is what we will address.

The Bishop's presentation will be called "Adaptive Leadership in Reformation Times."

There will be four breakout sessions that will include the following:
  • Nuts & Bolts of Church Finances
  • Listening to Each Other and Discerning the Spirit
  • Thinking Theologically in Today's Culture
  • Communications Tech Desk (for help with church websites and communications - please bring your laptops/tablets with you).
All are welcome. Bishop's workshops begin at 9:30 a.m. with the Bishop's presentation starting at 10:00. The event is free and lunch is provided. We request at all parish leaders, including vestry members (and especially NEW vestry members) attend for the benefit of their role in the congregation.
Childcare will be available, but please answer the questions on the form about ages, special needs, etc. if you need childcare.
Accepting Applications:
2017 Dominican Republic Mission Trip
For the past several years, the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan has sent mission teams to the Dominican Republic through our companion relationship with the Diocese of the Dominican Republic.  We have built long lasting friendships with our Dominican brothers and sisters as well as our fellow missioners from the Dioceses of Michigan and Eastern Michigan.
The focus of the trip June 17-24, 2017 will be to help the communities of Mosovi and San Simon. We have been able to assist with construction of a new church, repair on existing structures, painting, Bible School, and contributing to the water project in Mosovi.  Our 2017 trip will continue the finishing touches on bringing potable water to the Mosovi community and also to return to San Simon to repair flood damage to the perimeter wall that occurred during recent flooding. 

Applications are due April 1, 2017. Questions may be directed to the Rev. Beth Drew at  bethdrew7@gmail.com.

Apply Online