At our convention in 2019, the Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan kicked off 3-5 years of intentional sharing, collaboration, and exploration focused on considering how we might continue to build and imagine the Kingdom of God from shore to shore.
In early 2020, the Joint Standing Committees appointed a discernment committee which became known as the “Building Bridges Steering Committee” and tasked them with coordinating a discernment process across both dioceses and advising the ecclesiastical authorities (bishop or Joint Standing Committee) regarding “opportunities for collaboration and proposed canonical changes to the structure, governance, and episcopal oversight of the Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan.”
Building Bridges has been reporting regularly to the Joint Standing Committees, to the joint diocesan conventions, and more recently to the Diocesan Councils and other leadership bodies. While originally charged with submitting resolutions regarding juncture to the 2023 diocesan conventions, the committee received input through the early 2022 Listening Sessions and from the Joint Standing Committee that more time would be helpful. The Joint Standing Committees extended the time frame and the Building Bridges Committee will submit recommendations and resolutions regarding juncture to a Joint Special Convention in March 2024. This will allow our dioceses time to still meet the goals of this process and, should juncture be the decision, to submit our “Application for Union” to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in June.
The ultimate question we have been tasked with discerning the answer to is, “Could we be better as one diocese?” Our answer is “YES! We are BETTER TOGETHER.”
We believe that together we can meet this moment with greater strength, broader experience, and a wider range of gifts and abilities.
We continue our work prayerfully, with our hearts oriented towards the provisional Mission and Vision statements discerned through listening to the values, hopes, and dreams articulated by people throughout our bi-diocesan community over the past several years. Please use this page to share our information and materials extensively with your congregation, preparing for continued conversation in late 2023 and early 2024, leading up to the Special Convention on March 16th in Grand Blanc.
November – Meeting with Diocesan Leadership bodies and staff
Epiphany – Feedback sessions for all participants to review and give feedback on draft canons, finances, etc. Registration to come.
Lent – Pre-Convention Meetings for clergy and delegates to prepare for the March Special Convention.
March 16, 2024 – Special Convention to Consider Juncture at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, Grand Blanc
In addition to regular content in our bi-diocesan e-newsletter, the following have been specific communications from the BBSC.
In our Building Bridges Listening Sessions that took place earlier this year, we heard many commonalities, some curiosities, and a loud call for greater opportunity to meet one another and pray for one another. And so, when the Rev. Jerry Lasley (St. Christopher’s, Grand Blanc) came to our Eastern Michigan Diocesan Council with a proposal for bi-diocesan prayer partners, our Building Bridges group enthusiastically endorsed the idea, now inviting us all to a new initiative: Congregational Prayer Partners.
We have partnered up all of our communities into pairs or triads, taking care to partner congregations that have different contexts from one another. To participate, we ask that you include a specific prayer for your partner(s) during your Sunday Prayers of the People. We hope you will go beyond Sunday prayer, perhaps engaging with your partnering community through things like online Bible Study or features in your parish newsletter. Perhaps you make one Sunday a pulpit swap or plan a day when you worship together in the same place. Perhaps you plan to attend a baseball game together. The possibilities are endless and the potential for learning and connection, boundless. How you engage this invitation will be unique for each partnership — we’re excited to see what you do.
How might we engage our partner congregation?
- Weekly prayer during Sunday Prayers of the People
- Pulpit Swap – on a Sunday, the clergy/worship leader from one congregation visits the other and vice-versa
- Zoom Bible Study
- Zoom Prayer and Worship
- Congregational visits – all worship together in one place
- Joint Zoom Vestry Meeting
- Shared youth event
- Shared adult formation – book study, liturgical training, etc.
- Shared fellowship activities – baseball game, dinner, hike, etc.
- Shared outreach and fellowship activities – food drive, advocacy, etc.
- Innovate! What else is possible? Let us know!
What are some sample prayers we could use in worship?
- Almighty and everlasting God, from whom comes every good and perfect gift: Send down upon our the people of our dioceses, especially our partner congregation _____, the healthful Spirit of your grace; and that they may truly please you, pour upon them the continual dew of your blessing. Grant this, O Lord, for the honor of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ.
- O God who has made us one in Christ, we pray for all the people of _____. May they see the presence of your Son in one another and share the good news in the mission and ministries they share. As our dioceses discern and discover collaborative ways, we ask that you strengthen the relationships among us. Reveal Christ to us as we seek and serve your church and your world together.
FOR THE SEASON AFTER PENTECOST/ORDINARY TIME
- Giver of all holy gifts. We thank you for the presence of your Holy Spirit in our congregation and in the lives of our siblings in our partner congregation, ______________. Together, may we use those gifts for the building of your Kingdom.
- Holy Spirit, guide the people of our partner congregation, ____________ and our own community. Give us the wisdom necessary to bring healing, light and love to the world.
- Gracious God, as your church prepares to celebrate the coming of your son, Jesus Christ, we ask that you grant us, and our siblings from our partner congregation, _____________, the desire to always seek you in our journey through this life until we see you face to face.
- God of love and mercy, graciously deal with your church as we prepare to celebrate the Incarnation. Be with us, and the people of our partner congregation, ________________, that in all things, we continue to walk in wisdom, and always seek your face in all of our brothers and sisters here on earth.
How do we connect with our partner congregation?
Click here to access a list of all congregational partners. In the “Contact” column, you will access their directory page on our diocesan website where you can also view their contact person(s). Please reach out to their identified contact person.
We’re aware that the congregation may not be keeping their information up to date on our website. If it seems like that may be the case or you’re not getting a response, please contact Michelle Ruiz at email@example.com
or firstname.lastname@example.org for further assistance in connecting with your partner’s clergy and/or senior warden.
If you notice that your community’s contact page is not up to date, you can click the “Update this Place” button to submit a correction to any of the information provided.
Click here to download the informational survey to share with your partner.
The Building Bridges Team put together a new FAQ resource, responding to questions and concerns identified at our diocesan convention in 2023 and through the course of their work.
ChurchLands Map (in partnership with Plainsong Farm)
Summer 2023 – Newsletter content on Listening Session Take-Aways
Fall 2023 – Newsletter content on the BBSC sub-team work
Please see below for content specific to the 2023 BBSC Report.
BETTER TOGETHER: THE 2023 BUILDING BRIDGES REPORT TO THE DIOCESES
For our 2023 Diocesan Convention, the BBSC offered an extended presentation, briefing the delegates on our work thus far of listening, researching, considering, and reflecting back what we’ve heard. We also detailed the next few crucial months of our bi-diocesan discernment in preparation for our special convention in March, including the need for delegates and clergy to take the information back to their congregations to help inform and encourage participation.
The following materials are available to assist in your sharing the report with the local congregation:
- The written 2023 Building Bridges Report, also accessible in the “Ministry Reports” section of the convention booklet
- The slideshow from the plenary report from the Building Bridges Steering Committee
- Downloadable QR Code that links to the written report
- Printable bulletin insert with a brief overview and QR code to the report
THE BUILDING BRIDGES STEERING COMMITTEE
In 2020, the Standing Committees of Eastern and Western Michigan appointed a steering committee to oversee and facilitate the ongoing conversation around our bi-diocesan partnership.
The committee is accountable to the Ecclesiastical Authority (the Standing Committees and/or the bishop) as well as to the Diocesan Conventions of the dioceses.
The Rev. Brian Chace*
The Rev. Don Davidson
St. Paul’s, Flint
St. Paul’s, Gladwin
Janet Huff-Worvie* **
St. John the Baptist, Otter Lake
St. John’s, Dryden
St. John’s, Midland
Holy Family, Midland
The Rev. Jen Adams* **
The Rev. Jared Cramer, D. Min.
St. John’s, Grand Haven
The Rev. Deacon Jan Gockerman
St. Mark’s, Grand Rapids
The Rev. Anne Schnaare
Grace, Grand Rapids
St. Augustine’s, Benton Harbor
BI-DIOCESAN MEMBERS AND SUPPORT
Canon Katie Forsyth
Eastern & Western Michigan
Bill Fleener, Jr.
Chancellor; St. David’s, Lansing
Consultant to Building Bridges
Eastern & Western Michigan
There are several working groups that have been (or will be) created to focus on a particular aspect of the conversation.
- Internal Conversations
- External Conversations
- Storytelling and History
- Mission & Vision
- Stewardship of Resources
- Constitution and Canons