Lent Begins Ash Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Create your congregation's own Ash Wednesday and Lent Videos with Acts 8 Movement.
The Acts8 Movement is a Missionary Society made of lay and clergy members of the Episcopal Church. They are offering customizable Ash Wednesday and Lent Renewal videos to invite people to your congregation.

With some basic video editing skills, you can create a customized video for your congregation. If you aren't able to download and edit a video, you can simply copy the YouTube URL and post it the way it exists on your congregation's website or Facebook page. Be sure to include the details about your parish's Ash Wednesday services in the text. Many people are looking for this information.

Lent Curriculum
for small and large groups, individuals, children and families

The Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE) offers excellent Lent curriculum.Their 2017 Lent program is called " 5 Marks of Love: Living Life Marked at Christ's Own," and provides free videos, thought-provoking questions and activities to help you examine and reflect upon the ways in which God's mission expresses itself in and through us. Participants will look for signs of God's presence and activity in our lives.

How to sign up:
Downloadable materials are free for participants and facilitators, for adult and children's groups. Those who sign up will also receive daily video offerings.  Click here to sign up to participate.

Read Along with the Bishop: Fierce Conversations
by  Susan Scott
The Bishop invites us to read together, in the season of Lent, the book,  Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time , by Susan Scott. It was recommended to him by Bishop Jeff Lee of the Diocese of Chicago and is considered, "a guide to tackling your toughest challenges and enriching relationships with everyone important to your success and happiness through principles, tools, and assignments designed to direct you through your first fierce conversations with yourself on to the most challenging and important conversations facing you."

Said Bishop Hougland, "Perhaps the best way for us to work through trying times in our country is to find ways to communicate well with one another so we might faithfully fulfill our baptismal covenant vow to respect the dignity of all people."

Bishops Against Gun Violence offers Workshop

Unholy Trinity: the Intersection of Racism, Poverty and Gun Violence: A Conference Facilitated by Bishops United Against Gun Violence is a three-day event April 20-22, 2017 grounded in scripture, liturgy and theology at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. The conference will feature speakers and discussions on poverty, racism and gun violence, contextual Bible study, education and advocacy workshops and a prayerful procession to sites of gun violence on Chicago's South Side. Registration is now open.
Unholy Trinity is sponsored by Bishops United Against Gun Violence, a group of nearly 70 Episcopal bishops, of which Bishop Hougland is a member, working to curtail the epidemic of gun violence in the United States. The conference is open to everyone who is committed to exploring the intersection of racism, poverty and gun violence as people of faith. Registration will be capped at 250 people.

Register Now for Godly Play Training

Grace Episcopal Church, Traverse City will be hosting Godly Play training June 9 - 11 at their church in Traverse City. The Godly Play method is based on Montessori principles and it helps children explore their faith through story, gain religious language, and enhance their spiritual experience through wonder and play. 

Training Schedule:
Friday, June 9, 1:00p-9:00p
Saturday, June 10, 8:30a-6:30p
Sunday, June 11, Noon-4:30p

Dinner on Friday, and lunch on Saturday and Sunday, are included in your registration.
Trainer: Kathleen Capcara

You can get details about times and locations for the training by clicking hereOr contact Grace Youth Director Donna Olendorf at youth@gracetc.org (231-947-2330, ex. 309)
Women's Lenten Retreat: A Quiet Day of Reflection and Spiritual Renewal

There will be a "Women's Lenten Retreat" on Saturday, March 11 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at St. John's Episcopal Church, Fremont (click here for map).

The Retreat is called "Dwelling Places of the Heart" and will be led by Mother Mary Frens, Episcopal Priest and Spiritual Director. Cost is $15.00. 

Please send your Name, address, phone number and check, made payable to St. John's to the  following:
St. John's Episcopal Church
124 S Sullivan Ave.
Fremont, MI 49412

If you have questions, you may call Mother Mary at (231) 519-2792. Hope to see YOU there :)
Lenten Quiet Day at St. John's: The Fruits of Contemplation

As we enter the Season of Lent, all are welcome to an ecumenical Quiet Day, hosted by St. John's Episcopal Church, Grand Haven (click here for map), on Saturday, March 11, from 9:30 a.m. -4:15 p.m.. The Quiet Day will be led by Daniel Snyder and Jarek Kozal. 

Daniel is a clinical psychologist and former Roman Catholic priest who is also a member of an ecumenical religious community, The Ecumenical Order of Charity. Jarek is a human anatomy and physiology instructor at Grand Valley State University and is an Associate of the Order of Preachers (i.e. the Dominican Order). He is an active member at Dominican Chapel, Marywood in Grand Rapids. Both of them, via their Orders' charisms, recognize the importance of contemplation in so far as it gives them perspective and clarity in God's mission for them. Like Christ, they often see the need for "going into the desert" to be contemplative so that they might come out with a clear understanding of their mission as a follower of The Way, The Truth, and The Life. The image of Christ in the desert, meditating and praying in order to discern the Father's will, will be operative for the time we will share. Find out more and register to attend online by clicking here now.
Two Churches, Kentwood
Collects 1,443 Cans of Soup

Fr. Mike Wernick at Two Churches, in Kentwood (Holy Cross Episcopal and Ascension Lutheran) is not a football fan. He would never go out of his way to watch college football, or any NFL game, or even the Super Bowl. 

But Two Churches has for several years collected soup in its Souper Bowl Sunday collection for the local food pantry (coincidentally named The Pantry). In early 2015, on the four Sundays leading up to and including Super Bowl Sunday (like the four quarters of the game), the congregations collected about 650 cans of soup. And in early 2016, on those same four Sundays, they collected about 850 cans of soup. 

Late last year at a Community Ministry meeting (led by The Rev. Kim Hoop), after thinking he heard the Holy Spirit whispering in his ear, Fr. Mike challenged the two congregations. He said that if they collected 1,000 cans of soup, he'd watch the entire Super Bowl. The people rallied. And by the end of church on Super Bowl Sunday, 1,443 cans of soup had been collected. His fate was sealed for what turned out to be a historic game with its unprecedented overtime.

Sure, the fellowship during the game, the commercials, the half-time show, and the food eased his pain (he said it was better than a dunk tank in a Michigan February), but at least those who received and ate the soup were warmed by it, by being remembered. Go Team!

Project ñ
Documentary about first-generation
American born Latin@s

Join the people of St. John's in Grand Haven on Thursday, March 2, from 7:00-8:30 p.m. at Loutit District Library in Grand Haven ( click here for map) for an evening with Denise Soler Cox, a social entrepreneur and filmmaker who produced Project ñ, a documentary film that aims to explore the experience of first-generation American born Latin@s (or ñs) living in communities across the United States, believing that their existence between two cultures is distinctive. As we watch the film together, Soler Cox will lead us by example on a journey of cultural self-discovery and a broadening of our understanding of culture and diversity wellness. Following the documentary, we will have a panel discussion with the filmmakers Soler Cox & Oscar-nominated documentary veteran Henry Ansbacher, alongside of local Latino & Latina leaders from Ottawa County, an opportunity for participants to share their reflections and reactions in a safe environment. Space is limited, so reserve a spot online here.

This program is funded by a generous grant from the Greatest Needs Fund of the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation. * Organized by the El Corazón Latino Ministry Initiative at St. John's Episcopal Church, Grand Haven, MI in collaboration with the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance and their work in Northwest Ottawa County. * Hosted by Loutit District Library.
Great Parish Swap
What we're planning for 2017, and why

We received a lot of helpful feedback when we conducted a survey after the Great Parish Swap Sunday we held last September.

The Great Parish Swap was an event that encouraged parishes to "swap" members of their congregation on a designated Sunday, in order to facilitate partnerships, inspire ideas and experience different styles of worship. Those who eagerly participated enjoyed the experience of seeing how others participate differently in the same liturgy. They also liked getting acquainted with other Episcopalians and hearing a different preacher/presider.

Scheduling conflicts made it difficult for some to participate. We heard from some of you that you would like a greater range of Sundays to participate in visiting, as well as taking part in hospitality and greeting visitors.

Based on these comments, some changes are going to be implemented for 2017.
  • The Great Parish Swap will be held in June, over the entire month, making the flexibility of multiple weekends more convenient for our congregations.
  • Parishes will pick the Sundays they visit and provide hospitality.
  • We will try to match you with a parish or two parishes that are closest to you.
  • More information to come!
St. John's Ionia Holds Hat, Scarf and Mitten Drive for local schoolchildren

St. John's Episcopal Church, Ionia began collecting winter gear for local schoolchildren in December. Recognizing that many children in the Ionia area were receiving free or reduced school lunches, the congregation rallied together to make sure the kids would be plenty warm this winter. 
"The school district identified Emerson, Jefferson and Twin Rivers schools as the most in need in the county, so we're going to be handing them out to those schools after school resumes," Sue Carter, church administrator at St. John's Episcopal Church said. "To think that here in Ionia County we have that many kids living in poverty. The best way for them to get out of it would be education, if you're cold and if you're hungry, you're not paying attention."
The scarves were hand-knitted by women from another local church. The effort paid off, with St. John's filling four boxes full.
Read the news article here.
Registration still open - Bishop's Workhops

There is still time to register for the Bishop's Workshops in Kalamazoo and Traverse City. 

The Bishop's presentation will be called "Adaptive Leadership in Reformation Times."
Come to Bishop's Workshops
There will be four breakout sessions that will include the following:
  • Nuts & Bolts of Church Finances
  • Discerning Our Own Racism 
  • Thinking Theologically in Today's Culture
  • Communications Best Practices
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.