Our Season of Practice: A Post-Easter Update from Bishop Singh

Blessed Easter! May the spirit of the risen Christ fill us with hope and joy and keep us curious! 

It has been over a year since you called me to join you and I am excited about our odyssey of healing and new life in Christ together.

As we’ve leaned into our life together as dioceses and as our Building Bridges Steering Committee has conducted its work in listening and facilitating our discernment process in our Season of Practice, we have some exciting announcements and updates to share with you as clarity rises from our collective wisdom. Thank you for your prayers and participation in discerning our forward movement together in Eastern and Western Michigan. 

Here are some crisp highlights for what’s ahead for us as Easter people:

We are organizing ourselves into three geographic “collaboratives.”

To nurture increased relationship (a rallying cry across nearly all listening sessions earlier this Spring!), starting in May, we will transition our current organizing structures to three geographic “collaboratives” that span across the two dioceses. This way of organizing ourselves will honor our existing relationships and nurture new ones.

Collaboratives will be areas, supported by a canon, where clergy and congregations can support each other. Our goal is that collaborative members can explore ways they might work together for the advancement of mission and ministry in the parish and in the diocese as a whole. Collaboratives will also allow us to experiment with ways that we might effectively structure ourselves in the future. 

Due to canonical implications, we are intentionally using the language of “collaboratives” rather than “regions” to help facilitate this practice out of a place of flexibility and curiosity about what we learn.

I invite our clergy to continue praying and attending our Clericus gatherings, the upcoming Clergy Retreat, and to provide feedback as we walk together. 

Click here for a spreadsheet of congregations according to collaborative.

Click here to view the new collaboratives as a map.

We are celebrating departing staff and preparing to welcome new staff.

Western Michigan’s Canons Missioner, the Rev. Canon Valerie Ambrose and the Rev. Canon Anne Hallmark, will retire at the end of May as previously announced. Please help us celebrate our beloved colleagues as they prepare to depart. We will celebrate Val on May 23rd at Grace, Grand Rapids (RSVP) and Anne on May 31st at Grace, Traverse City (RSVP). 

We are in the process of searching for and calling the Northern, Central, and Southern Collaboratives’ staff Canons who bring expertise in congregational development and transitions, while each holding special focus on coaching congregations around (1) Formation, (2) Digital Communities, and (3) Beloved Community and Creation Care. All canons will be shared staff across both dioceses. 

The Rev. Canon Tracie Little, current Canon to the Ordinary serving Eastern Michigan, will serve one of these collaboratives with the focus on formation. It is my prayer that the two additional Canons will be called this spring and summer, to be in place by August. We will have exciting news to share about our first new call in May.

We are looking ahead and planning for decision-making about the future of our dioceses.

We have worked in partnership between our dioceses since 2019, listening and sharing, building relationship and developing responsive, innovative ministry together. While the Building Bridges Steering Committee has work yet to do and has not yet issued their final report and recommendation for our future together, they have consulted with our Chancellor and Standing Committees to ensure we remain open and on track with timelines for all possibilities, including potential juncture between our dioceses. 

The first opportunity for the General Convention of The Episcopal Church to act on a juncture would be next summer 2024. While holding this reality, the Joint Standing Committee of Eastern and Western Michigan, with the support and recommendation from the Building Bridges Steering Committee, have determined that we will not hold a vote on juncture at the fall convention later this year. Our fall convention will focus instead on continuing to deepen relationship, entering big conversation, and consider more deeply our proposed mission and vision. If juncture is ultimately recommended and our communities are ready, we would anticipate calling for a special convention in the Spring of 2024 to bring a vote of the dioceses. 

Now let me provide added background for those who desire more information. 

Who are we? We are followers of Jesus as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement. Read more.

Where are we numerically? Numerical growth follows clear and consistent practices of hope. Read more.

Where are we going? Thanks to the Building Bridges Steering Committee, we have a compelling and hopeful vision. Our vision and mission will help us follow Jesus and grow in spiritual and missional ways into the future. Read more.

Let us move forward as wounded healers with curiosity, and love in the name of the risen Christ!

With affection,

The Rt. Rev. Prince G. Singh
Bishop Provisional
The Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan