St. Clare of Assisi Episcopal Church
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St. Clare’s mission is to worship with joy, grow in faith, act for justice.
We welcome all those seeking a closer relationship with God, regardless of prior church affiliation, sexual orientation, political views, or economic status, to join the loving fellowship of our faith community. We take Scripture seriously and believe that God is in the spirit of scientific inquiry. We are open to being moved by the Holy Spirit, and we love joyful and music-filled worship!
Worship With Joy
St. Clare’s is a Christ-centered welcoming community. We express the joy of Christ’s love through our rich Episcopal tradition, diverse music, and innovative liturgy. Everyone is valued and included.
Grow in Faith
We welcome people in all stages of their faith journey, inviting exploration and discovery in faith and relationship with Jesus Christ. We endeavor to nurture people of all ages.
Act for Justice
Faith without action is empty. We work as individuals and as a community to grow in ministry and to work for peace, reconciliation, and justice. Our partnership with Temple Beth Emeth is one expression of this commitment.
Inez Wisdom and her companion Gertrude Griffith had admired the small family chapels that they came across on their European travels. When Dr. Wisdom’s patients, unable to pay their doctor bills with cash, requested options, she suggested they could help her to build a small chapel. With the help of these patients, local artisans and craftsmen, the small white stucco, brown shingled St. Francis Chapel seating 12-15 people was built. Within the chapel, John Maxon, a student artist at the University of Michigan painted the unique al secco fresco of the Transfiguration behind the altar. In 1952, Inez Wisdom, donated part of her land and the St. Francis Chapel to the newly designated St. Clare of Assisi Episcopal mission church in southeast Ann Arbor. The succeeding decades brought a new sanctuary and a relationship with a local Reform Jewish congregation, Temple Beth Emeth, which rented space from St. Clare's. Eventually the two congregations entered a formal partnership called Genesis of Ann Arbor, and both congregations outgrew the existing facility. The facility shared now by the two congregations took shape between 1974 and 1994, when the new sanctuary was dedicated.
Volunteer Opportunities at St. Clare's 1. Children's Ministries - Jesus welcomed children and encouraged us to welcome them in his name. We take our baptismal promise seriously to nurture all children committed to our care. We believe that the body of Christ in worship is incomplete without them. The presence of children is essential for both the full congregation and for the children themselves because worship is one of the basic ways in which people of any age learn what it means to be Christian. Contact Xan Morgan a. Children & Worship b. Church School c. Tuesday Night Pizza Dinners d. Milestones of Faith e. Story Song f. Parent formation 2. Youth Ministries - 6th-12th graders participate in a whole smorgasbord of activities at and around St. Clare’s! The star of the show is our weekly youth group meetings. We play games, sing songs, and talk about our lives, our faith, and our questions. Contact Jayin Wavrik a. Middle School Youth Group b. High School Youth Group 3. Coffee Hour - Following each Sunday service, we have a gathering time in the reception area with coffee, tea, and snacks. Contact: Grace Vandervliet (9am) or Karen Slagell (10:30) 4. Adult Education Commission - Our commission plans educational opportunities for Adults in our congregation including the seasonal dinner groups, Bible Study groups, speakers, retreats and more. Contact Ann Putallaz 5. Children & Youth Commission - Our commission plans programming and faith formation for children and youth, ages birth through high school. Contact Anne Casper 6. Fellowship Commission - The Fellowship Commission oversees a variety of activities at St. Clare’s, many of them involving food! The Commission recruits and supports the coordinators for coffee hours, sponsors the annual canoe trip on the Huron River and the parish picnic, and provides the cooks for the soup dinner during the Advent workshop and the annual Pancake Supper. The Commission also assists with refreshments for the Easter Vigil, set up for the Annual Meeting luncheon, and any other special celebrations that require food and hospitality services. 7. Grounds & Garden Committee - We are a group of hardworking gardeners that keep our grounds and gardens looking beautiful throughout the year. We have a number of ongoing initiatives and invite you to lend a hand! Contact Penny Griffith / Linda Annesley 8. Outreach Committee - The Outreach Commission functions as the umbrella group for all of St. Clare’s outreach efforts, and determines how income from outreach fundraising undertaking is to be spent. 9. Parish Resources Commission - The Parish Resources Commission has oversight and care of all the St. Clare’s resources, including maintenance and repair of the Anderson/Wisdom House, the St. Francis Chapel and the clergy residence at 721 Charles St., Ypsilanti. The commission is also responsible for establishing Business Policies (legal, health, insurance), for Vestry Operations, for the constructive deployment of peoples’ gifts and talents, and, in concert with the Finance Committee, for Financial & Fiscal Policies and Procedures. Contact Laurie Kantner 10. Stewardship Commission - Financial support of our incredible congregation is vital to our ministry. Everything we do at St. Clare’s—running Sunday services, supporting our creative staff, providing for our Food Pantry, developing programs for our youth, and more—is funded through donations! We invite you to consider prayerful tithing as a spiritual discipline, a way to give thanks for all God has provided for you in this life. Our commission works throughout the year to create marketing campaigns and encourage generous giving. If you have ideas for our group, join us! We meet the first Wednesday of the month at 6 pm in the Adult Lounge. Contact Mark Davis-Craig 11. Worship Commission - This commission helps plan our worship services. We are always interested in new ideas and ways to make our worship more soulful and exciting. Join us! Contact Rachid Hatem 12. Meal Trains Ministry - Providing meals for members of our congregation is an important ministry! These meals go to families who are experiencing births, recent surgery, or just need a helping hand. We invite everyone to volunteer! 13. Sunday Service Volunteers a. Vergers - The verger is the “detail person” at the Sunday services, a role that enables the clergy to focus on worship and newcomers. You will frequently see the verger dressed in a long black robe with a silver cross around their neck. The verger makes sure that people who agreed to serve are present or a replacement is found, and that unassigned servant duties are covered. The verger counts attendance and fills in the count in the parish register after the service. Finally, the verger brings the offering money to the church safe. Contact Laurie Kantner (9:00) / Karen Slagell (10:30) b. Ushers - Ushers greet worshippers as they arrive and distribute service bulletins and prayer books and hymnals. c. Lectors & Readers - We need readers for every Sunday service! These readers lead the congregation through the first and second readings from the Bible, the psalm, and the Prayers of the People. Please sign up! It’s an easy way to serve the congregation. Contact Mary McIver (7:45) / Julie Timmer (9:00) / Pete Ross (10:30) d. Acolytes - Acolytes perform important and necessary ceremonial duties during our services. These volunteers (2nd grade and older) wear special red and white vestments, light the candles on the altar, carry the cross during the processional, hold the Gospel Book for the reading of the Gospel, and assist the Priest in various ways. Contact Dan Timmer e. Chalice Bearers - Chalice Bearers help serve Communion during worship. This is a powerful service to the congregation as you bear “the blood of Christ, the cup of salvation.” Others are always there to help, so there is no training necessary, just a willing heart. Contact Pete Ross f. Nursery Host - At every 10:30 service we offer parents free childcare in the nursery, but we need adult and teen volunteers to staff this program. You can sign up to volunteer once, or get on our regular, rotating schedule. We need you! Contact Xan Morgan g. Altar Guild - Members of the Altar Guild arrange our altar and sanctuary in preparation for Sunday worship. Volunteers are needed before and after all three services to set our Communion feast and clean our sacred space. This group also arranges for decorative flowers in our sanctuary every week. Contact Mary Lu Barth 14. Music Ministry - Contact John Goodell a. Story Song - All children in Kindergarten and younger (and their parents!) are invited to join us for a time of listening to stories, prayers, and finger plays led by Xan Morgan and themed singing and music instruction by Charlotte DeVries. Our StorySong choir will lead us in worship by singing for us in church regularly. So come join us as we grow in faith together while we experience God’s love and then bring it home and share it with the congregation b. Children's Choir - All children in first through sixth grades are welcome to participate! This high-energy choir features music in various languages (including sign language!), fabulous games (musical and non-musical) and a joyous time of celebration in making music as an ensemble every week. c. Youth Ensemble - This group is open to children grades six through high school and features both choral and instrumental opportunities. The ensemble meets on specific dates to prepare for specific services throughout the year. Additionally, every other year this group presents a fully-staged musical in the spring. d. Tone Chimes - Open to everyone in grade six and older, this intergenerational ensemble uses our three octave set of Tone Chimes to prepare instrumental anthems for both the 9am and 10:30am services throughout the year. All levels are welcome, and no experience is necessary – Tone Chimes is a great opportunity for families as both parents and children can participate at the same time! e. StC Ensemble - Participants in this group are the “house band” for our intergenerational 9am service every Sunday. All instruments are welcome, and participation is a great way to help lead worship through music every week. Saxophones, flutes, guitars, and more! f. Adult Choir - Our Adult Choir is open to anyone in high school or older! Music is diverse in both level and style, and we have (this past year alone!) presented works by Archer, Thomas, Tye, Mendelssohn, Britten, Mozart, Scroggins, Rutter and many more! The ability to read music is a plus, but not required to join this fantastic group of young at heart musicians who help lead worship every week at our 10:30am service. 15. Outreach a. Food Pantry - We are committed to providing groceries to those in our area who require assistance. Volunteers are needed to stock purchased items (Mon 1:00), shop at Food Gatherers for donations (Wed 11:30) and distribute food to patrons (Thurs 3-5/5-7). Contact Kathy Daly b. Haiti Outreach Mission - St. Clare’s support for and involvement in the Haiti Outreach Mission (HOM) has been a major factor in the improved medical and educational resources in Mirebalais during the past 10 years. Donations of medical supplies, participation in mission trips, and prayers for our friends in Haiti are critical contributions to sustaining this ministry. Volunteer to work on this year’s Feast – our committee welcomes new helpers. Contact Mark Davis-Craig c. Alpha House - provides temporary shelter, food and support services for homeless families in Washtenaw County. It is run by the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Washtenaw County (IHN), of which St. Clare’s is a member. We provide volunteers four times a year to staff Alpha House and cater meals. We always need more help with this. It is a profound and important form of outreach. Please join us. Contact Jeanne Hernandez d. Rotating Shelter - The Shelter Association of Washtenaw County operates a rotating shelter at 23 churches across the county, December through March. St. Clare's hosts the shelter for Thanksgiving week each year. Volunteers are needed to pick up the guests in the evening, prepare a meal, host them overnight in the church and drive them back to the Delonis Center in the morning. Contact Judie Erb
BACK DOOR FOOD PANTRY
The Back Door Food Pantry is committed to helping people in need by supplying food to all those who come to our door in a welcoming, friendly, and non-judgmental environment.
Food Pantry FoundersThe Back Door Food Pantry was founded in March 2007, by four local women dedicated to reducing hunger in the Ann Arbor area. Originally providing “basic calories” by distributing canned and packaged goods, the pantry now provides an array of nutritious food items including bread, eggs, milk, meats and local produce. The pantry also distributes personal hygiene items and paper products and provides help with food stamp applications and other financial and food aid programs.
The pantry is located at the Wisdom House on the Genesis Campus at 2309 Packard Street. It is open every Thursday from 4 to 7 PM. Each week the pantry distributes groceries, fresh produce, meats, bread and basic hygiene items are distributed. Currently, over 250 individuals per week depend on the pantry for basic food support.
The Back Door Food Pantry began as an outreach program of St Clare’s Episcopal Church, distributing items from Food Gatherers. The pantry is operated completely by a dedicated group of volunteers who help with everything from ordering food, unloading delivery trucks, stocking shelves and helping distribute food each and every week of the year! Since opening its doors, the need for food assistance in our community has increased significantly. To help meet this growing need, Temple Beth Emeth joined the effort in early 2009 providing additional funding and more volunteers. In late 2010, Muslim Social Services also joined the effort to help further expand the reach of the food pantry.
In February 2012, the Back Door Food Pantry become a “client choice” pantry allowing clients to choose from a wide variety of food to better meet their personal dietary needs. The client choice approach also provides clients a greater sense of dignity and higher satisfaction with the food they are able to choose. It also reduces waste and ultimate reduces costs.
While food donations are vital, the majority of the food distributed each week is actually purchased from Food Gatherers. Costs vary throughout the year depending on subsidies and grants but now exceed $42,000/year. Funding from St Clare’s, Temple Beth Emeth and Muslim Social Services underwrites about 20% of this total. The other 80% comes from generous donations from individual, local businesses and fund raising efforts. Please visit our Donations Page to learn more about how you can help.
PARTNERSHIP WITH TEMPLE BETH EMETH
In 1966 the Temple Beth Emeth (House of Truth) began as a Reform Jewish congregation in Ann Arbor. In 1970, after several years of meeting in other Ann Arbor churches, the growing temple entered into a rental agreement to hold their services on Friday nights and their religious school classes on Saturday mornings in the St. Clare's facility. During the next 4 years, as the two congregations shared the upkeep of the building and grounds, and began holding joint education classes and a communal Passover seder, a proposal was made that they might share the facility more completely than as landlord and tenant. In June 1974, with the approval of the Diocese of Michigan and both congregations, an agreement was signed to create a new non-profit organization to be known as Genesis of Ann Arbor, which would own and operate the facility in a way that honored their individual religious identities, traditions and goals.
Over the next 40 years, through the construction of a larger Sanctuary, additional offices and classrooms, the two congregations continued to grow and prosper. An enlarged new worship space was designed to quickly transform from a Jewish temple to a Christian church and back again. The center two of six cherry wood doors behind the altar open outward to disclose a beautifully decorated Ark containing the Torah scrolls. When they are closed, the two flanking doors can be swung together over them and the two halves of a large burnished brass cross meet in the center, leaving niches on either side for communion vessels. When all the doors are closed, the ecclesiastically 'neutral' space can be used for concerts, lectures and community meetings.
During this period, the Jewish and Christian congregations found opportunities to build their ties. Pulpit swaps, in which the Episcopal priest gave the sermon at the Temple's Friday Shabbat service and the Rabbi preached at one of the Sunday services, and a joint Erev Thanksgiving (Thanksgiving Eve) service with a combined choir, became annual events. Their strong individual Social Justice outreach programs found willing partners in each other to host the Washtenaw County's Rotating Shelter for 25 homeless men for a week each winter, to provide quarterly meals to the Interfaith Hospitality Network's Alpha House family shelter, to jointly build 2 Habitat for Humanity homes in Ann Arbor and to operate the Back Door Food Pantry on the Genesis premises.
In 2015, members of both congregations and their governing boards undertook a significant process of partnership discernment, culminating in the formulation of a revised Genesis Vision Statement: "By daily embracing mutual trust and respect, we partner with God and one another to heal a broken world" and a revised Mission Statement: "The Mission of Genesis of Ann Arbor is to exemplify interfaith understanding, cooperation, and friendship, and, through its board, to steward its shared space in ways that strengthen St. Clare's Episcopal Church and Temple Beth Emeth and the broader community". It is hoped that this Genesis Covenant Renewal will form the basis of the next 40 years of partnership in our shared space.
DETROIT HAITI OUTREACH MISSION
Saint Clare's is active in Haiti Outreach Mission. We are one of 7 Episcopal and Catholic parishes supporting the St. Pierre Episcopal Church Medical Clinic in Mirebalais, Haiti. We, along with the other parishes, send medical and dental missionaries and supplies down to the clinic for one week once a year. The flouride team alone provides 1,400 - 1,600 flouride treatments and deworming pills to school children.
PARTNERSHIP WITH EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN CONGREGATION, BLUE OCEAN FAITH
In January 2015, Blue Ocean Faith Ann Arbor was planted by co-pastors Ken Wilson and Emily Swan with prior members of the Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor, who split from that church over its adoption of policies that forbade full welcome and inclusion of same-sex couples. Blue Ocean Faith Ann Arbor (BOFAA) is part of an emerging network of churches with the goal of a spiritual revival in the secularized West, making faith accessible to the growing sea of people who have spiritual longings combined with religious aversion.
As BOFAA sought a worship space for their new communion, building on strong personal ties with the BOFAA clergy and a deep commitment to LGBT acceptance, St. Clare's offered a short-term rental agreement for the use of our social hall (used for worship before the construction of the current Sanctuary) and class rooms to BOFAA for a Sunday service. In January 2016, following a year-long trial period, with the approval of the board of Genesis of Ann Arbor (the legal owner of the facility), the board of Temple Beth Emeth (who shares the facility with St. Clare's), the St. Clare's Vestry and the Diocese, a lease continuing BOFAA usage of our facilities for up to 3 years was signed.
In addition to our building, the clergy and members of the two congregations have found other missions to share. We have a common Children' Minister and share some youth ministry, participate together in the Sunday of Service, and join with temple members in supporting the Shelter Association of Ann Arbor's Rotating Shelter, in which congregations host up to 25 homeless men in their facilities at night, for a week at a time during the winter months.
A cell group is a small group, but one that has unique characteristics. The four elements of a cell group include:
1) Authentic community
2) Bible study/application leading to life transformation (moving from knowing Scripture to applying it)
3) Service together (at least once per quarter)
Each cell group has a covenant, which is a written document spelling out the cell group members’ commitment to one another, including values and goals, ground rules, and length of time for initial commitment.
The purpose of a cell group can be summed up in two words: deeper discipleship. Connecting with other Christians in a small group designed specifically for spiritual transformation is a powerful experience, and an effective cell group will help its members become disciples who engage the world There is a simple hymn that we sometimes sing during a service: “Take, oh take me as I am; summon out what I shall be.” That in its simplest form, is what cell groups are all about.
MILESTONE YOUTH PROGRAM
The children and teens of St. Clare’s are on a journey, a journey of faith. We are excited to be on this journey with the kids and parents of St. Clare’s. Through Milestones of Faith, we will be celebrating faith experiences along the journey. With each new milestone we have a celebration here at church and encourage families to honor and recognize these milestones at home.
Each child or teen has a Faith Journey Box, a symbol of the presence of God in our homes, much like the Ark of the Covenant was to the children of Israel on their faith journeys. As milestones are celebrated a “faith stone” will be received to remember that phase of their journey. Along with these faith stones other milestone tokens, pictures, etc. will be collected in the Faith Journey Box. In other words, this box will be a representation of each child’s faith journey as they learn and grow.
This idea of celebrating faith milestones is nothing new. God often directed the people to build up stones to remind them of God's place in their lives. Upon crossing into the Promised Land, God spoke to the people:
"Take twelve smooth stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan...and lay them down in the place where you camp tonight. ....when your children ask in time to come, "What do those stones mean to you?" then you shall tell them..." Joshua 4
Milestones celebrated include: Celebrating our Baptism, Learning Together, Exploring God's Word, Exploring Holy Communion, Worshipping Together, Exploring Prayer, Responding to our Baptism, Practicing Stewardship, Acting for Justice, Made in the Image of God (sexuality), Recording the Journey.
MUSIC THEATER CHURCH CAMP
For over 10 years, Music Theater Church Camp has offered children who have completed grades 1 through 7 a week-long, end-of-summer experience! The camp includes singing, acting, swimming, and growing in our faith together. Teenagers are invited every year (by application) to participate as counselors, and all participants enjoy a safe and supportive environment to grow together with friends. The week concludes with a fully-staged musical presentation that includes chorus, soloists, props and lots of fantastic choreography!
SUNDAY OF SERVICE
Sunday of Service (SOS), also known as St. Clare's Outreach Sunday, is an annual one-day event, which traditionally takes place in May, in which many parishioners get together to execute service projects for twenty or more non-profit organizations around the Ann Arbor area as well as some "inreach" projects for St. Clare's parishioners and programs. The event is now in its sixth year, and since 2015, the St. Clare's congregation has welcomed parishioners from Blue Ocean Faith to plan and take part in SOS. Between 100-200 parishioners have taken part every year. The day starts with a church service followed by a blessing to go out and do "the work you have given us to do". Participants may buy a t-shirt, which is a different color each year. The photo of all the participants has become more multi-colored each year as past participants sometimes chose to wear shirts from prior years. The service projects generally take about 2-4 hours to complete, and then the teams can come back to the church for a celebratory post-event dinner. Service projects often take place at locations who have welcomed our help every year, but SOS organizers are always open to suggestions from either church.
Sacred Ground Race Dialogue Circles
Sacred Ground is dialogue series on race, grounded in faith. Small groups are invited to walk through chapters of America’s history of race, racism, and whiteness while weaving in threads of family story, economic class, and political and regional identity. The 10-part series is built around a powerful online curriculum of documentary films and readings that focus on Indigenous, Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific American histories as they intersect with European American histories.
Sacred Ground is a resource coming out of Becoming Beloved Community, The Episcopal Church’s long-term commitment to racial healing, reconciliation, and justice in our personal lives, our ministries, and our society. This series is especially designed to help white people talk with other white people, while being open to all racial/ethnic groups. Participants are invited to peel away the layers that have contributed to the challenges and divides of the present day – all while grounded in our call to faith, hope and love.
News about St. Clare of Assisi Episcopal Church
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2309 Packard St
Ann Arbor, MI 48104