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Diocesan News and Updates

Follwing the Benedictine Way

Diocese Missioner Takes Vow, New Community Founded

Tuesday, October 21, 2021

On Friday night, David Carlisle, a priest and missioner in the Episcopalian Diocese of Northern Michigan, took vows to follow the Rule of St. Benedict, simultaneously becoming a novitiate in the order and founding a Benedictine community here in Upper Michigan. 

The ceremony took place in a private home in the forest near Big Bay. Participants included Bishop Rayford Ray and Missioner Bradley Pickens of the Diocese; and Father Chad-Joseph Sundin, the Prior of the Community of St. Mary of the Annunciation in Arizona, who took part via the internet.

The new community is named for St. James the Just, the younger brother of Jesus. Carlisle said that St. James represents reconciliation, stability, and the determination to stay with a task even if it is difficult or dangerous. Carlisle feels that these values are at the core of what it means to be Benedictine. They are also Upper Michigan values, and much needed in these difficult times.

Benedictines seek to find a balance between prayer, work, and study, seeking God in the ordinary. There is a special emphasis on hospitality and stewardship in the order, and they are known for their respect for others and their devotion to prayer. Carlisle said that the goal of the Benedictine movement is, “To serve as a sign for the world that people, strangers, can live together in peace and love.”

Bishop Rayford Ray spoke of why a Benedictine order works with the philosophy of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan, “The Benedictine focus on contemplative prayer, peace and service is an ideal fit for us. It is part of who we are.” 

The Community of Saint James the Just will be the first religious order within the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan in living memory, perhaps ever, and people are excited. Bishop Ray mentioned that people have already contacted the Diocese about the order and added, “We expect it to grow.”

A family man with young children, Carlisle will balance his duties as a father and a priest in the Diocese with the demands of the Benedictine way of life. He knows that it will be challenging, but he is excited about the future.

He explained why he is drawn to this path. “It is a means to an end, in which the end is to be as good a Christian as you can be.”

Unexpected Partners: Grace Episcopal Church in Ishpeming and Local Brewery Join Forces

Grace Episcopal Church and Kognisjon Bryggeri (Cognition Brewing Company reimagined) have entered into a new partnership to strengthen the community in the city of Ishpeming.

Grace is a small congregation of loving, faithful members who have cared for their building, their resources, and one another since 1902. “Church is community,” said Ginny Graybill, who is a member and priest at Grace Episcopal Church, “and the community has a great love for this beautiful building. Like so many parishes nationwide, Grace has experienced a decline in active members over the years and with that maintaining our building became a great financial problem.”

Lydia Kelsey Bucklin, who serves as Canon to the Ordinary for Discipleship and Vitality in the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan, began meeting with leaders of Grace in September 2019 to vision for their future as a community of faith. One of the tasks the group was asked to do was to reflect on their Ishpeming neighbors and the needs of their local community.



Dozens Gather in Watersmeet for a Day of Healing

The Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians and the Native Justice Coalition held a walk of remembrance and heard testimony from survivors of Indian Boarding Schools

The people walked south into Watersmeet, their orange shirts glowing in the sunlight of a beautiful, fall day, carrying signs and wearing t-shirts with messages such as: “No more stolen children,” “Every child counts,” and “All Children are Valued!!”  The gathering moved inside as survivors told stories about life at the boarding schools and being taken from their families, their people, their land.

The group had gathered at the Lac Vieux Desert Reservation to mourn the victims of the boarding schools, listen to firsthand accounts of the experience, and learn the truth. A mix of young and old members of the Lac Vieux Desert Band, representatives of other Indigenous tribes from the Upper Great Lakes, and allies from across the Upper Peninsula, the people hoped to raise awareness of a boarding school history and to show support for Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland’s efforts at truth and reconciliation…

Please enjoy this conversation that Maran Franson had with Deb Nedeau and Kathy Vanden Boogaard of The Great Lakes Peace Center about Indigenous People's Day

"Monarchs of Peninsula Point"

By Sue Jamison 

September 8, 2021

Just as the Peninsula Point Lighthouse guided ships on Lake Michigan, the Stonington Peninsula guides Monarch butterflies as they begin their 1900-mile journey south to their wintering grounds in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico.

In the fall, thousands of Monarchs can be seen here waiting for favorable conditions to help them cross Lake Michigan. Peninsula Point is one of only a few places in North America where Monarchs can be viewed migrating in large numbers. Because our area is so unique, the Forest Service together with Wildlife Unlimited of Delta County and many volunteers have been conducting research since 1994, making it the oldest data set on the Monarch in North America.

Shorter days and cooling temperatures are signals to the Monarch that it is time to begin flying south. Many of the Monarchs in the Upper Peninsula begin funneling down the Stonington Peninsula, following the shoreline. They will roost on the cedar trees here at Peninsula Point until north winds help them to cross the water over to Door County. Monarchs do not like to fly over large bodies of water. At the tip of the peninsula, they have a short distance to cross the lake.

Photos by Rayford Ray

Protecting Our Water

Water is Life Festival in Mackinaw City Showcases the Need to Act Now

by Steve Pelto, September 8, 2021

As I passed the halfway point of the five-mile long Mackinac Bridge, my eyes scanned the water, looking for protesters.  I was here to witness the Line 5 protest and experience the Water is Life Festival.  As I came to the end of the bridge, I could canoes and kayaks pulled up on the narrow beach and crowd gathered around a speaker in the adjacent park. 

It was Saturday, September 4, and members of several indigenous tribes and their allies had gathered in Mackinaw City, Michigan in a continuing effort to secure clean water for future generations.  They were there for the Festival and to protest the Enbridge Line 5 oil pipeline that runs underneath the Straits of Mackinac. 

I was part of a small group from the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan who made the trip to support the Indigenous peoples and to help protect our water.  Bishop Rayford Ray explained our role, “We are here to support and help the Indigenous water protectors.”



Trinity Wall Street Grant Received for Beyond These Walls

The Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan has received a leadership development grant from Trinity Wall Street for an initiative entitled, Beyond These Walls: Theological Education for All. The purpose of the grant is to meet the growing need in communities of faith for well-formed leaders with practical skills for engaging a changing world.

The Rev. Canon Lydia Kelsey Bucklin, who serves as the diocesan liaison to this initiative said, “To be invited into a partnership with this emerging collective of prophetic theologians and church leaders is a blessing to our diocese, which has, in our DNA a commitment to recognizing …


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