How Do We Serve?
In August 2003 our parish leadership adopted the following Mission Statement:
Inspired by worship, Christian education and fellowship through our extended family in Christ, we will reach out to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ and minister to those in need throughout the world.
This Mission Statement is intended to shape our life and work as a congregation. We believe we are called to seek the Holy Spirit’s gifts through worship, education and fellowship – both within the congregation and beyond it – and then to use those gifts in the Lord’s service, ministering (or serving) with those in need.
The Church’s Ministers
Q: At St. Michael’s, who are the ministers?
A: We Episcopalians have long held that the orders (or groups) of ministers include lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons – in short, every member of the Church. Those included in the three ordained orders have been set apart within the Body of Christ to perform special functions:
♦ Deacons are mentioned in the New Testament. They have special responsibility for the poor and marginalized. Deacons are called to hold up before the congregation Christ’s special ministry with all who are sick, lonely, hungry, or in other kind of need. (And yes, women may be ordained deacons in the Episcopal Church.)
♦ Priests serve as colleagues of the Bishop. The priesthood developed in the Early Church when congregations became too numerous for the bishop to visit every Sunday. The priest tends to the sacramental, pastoral and educational needs of his or her congregation. (And yes, women may be ordained to the Episcopal priesthood!)
♦ Bishops are mentioned in the New Testament and have been a familiar part of the catholic (catholic means universal) Church from the beginning. The bishop is in charge of a geographical diocese (a diocese is a group of congregations), and is called to represent Christ and his Church in the world, particularly as apostle, chief priest, and pastor of his/her diocese. (And yes, in the Episcopal Church women may also serve as bishops!)
Q: So, then, what is the ministry of lay people?
A: It is important to recognize that the ministry of the three ordained orders rests on the solid foundation of lay ministry, which comes to each and every one of us by means of our baptism. In baptism, even as infants, we are ordained as ministers of the gospel, and are given gifts (or skills) by the Holy Spirit for that purpose. Different people receive different gifts, but all these gifts are for the common good and the spread of the kingdom of God.
St. Michael’s Ministry
Q: How do lay persons minister at St. Michaels?
A: Lay persons exercise a wide variety of ministries both within and beyond the parish. Ministries within the parish are for the benefit of its members. For example, many of our youngest members serve as Acolytes (or Servers), helping the priest at the altar, while older members serve as Lectors (reading scripture lessons and leading the prayers), as Eucharistic Ministers (serving the wine at Communion), and as Ushers and Greeters (offering a ministry of hospitality at worship). Our Altar Guild members set up for all our services, while members of the Choir lead our congregational singing.
Others serve as faculty in our Church School, helping children learn the great stories of the Bible and especially the story of salvation in Jesus Christ. Still others have gifts for the Christian education of adults through Bible study and special courses.
The women of St. Michael’s, through an umbrella organization called the Episcopal Church Women (ECW) have a very rich ministry among us. This includes four guilds which meet for study, spiritual growth, fellowship, and service. The ECW also operates our Little Thrift Shop, the proceeds from which support the parish and its outreach ministry.
Some members have a ministry of intercessory prayer on behalf of the ill, while others help organize fellowship and fund-raising events. There are also a number of committees that coordinate such functions as evangelism, finance, pastoral care, and property. Chief among these committees is the Vestry (our governing body).
Beyond St. Michael’s our members serve a variety of ministries that benefit the hungry, the homeless, and those in other kinds of need. Some of us work at two soup kitchens in downtown Detroit, while others volunteer at local nursing homes and hospitals. Our Outreach Committee offers many opportunities for parishioners to be ambassadors of Christ to his people, either by personal service or by offering financial support. Participation in the annual CROP Walk against hunger is just one example. We also share a joint ministry with a regional grouping of Episcopal congregations in Wayne and Macomb counties.
Remember that Christian ministry is intended to be a 24/7 activity. It’s about how you lead your life and respond to others. Attention to the needs of one’s family, a kind word to someone at work, or the sharing of a neighbor’s sorrow or joy, is ministry at its best.
What is your ministry?
Q: Do new members have to sign up for a ministry right away?
A: No! We realize that new members often want time to settle in before joining a group. Remember, however, that sharing in one of our ministries is the best way to see what gifts the Holy Spirit has given you! It is also a great way to meet other members of the congregation! If you wish, we will be happy to help you discern where your gifts for ministry can best be used.
St. Michael’s logo is a grape vine superimposed on a cross. In his teaching Jesus often talked about grape vines and vineyards. These were among his favorite images! For example, Jesus described himself as “the true vine” and asked his friends to “abide in me” so that they could bear good spiritual fruit (John 15:1-5). At St. Michael’s we see ourselves as people called into relationship with the Lord so that we can share his ministry of service in the world.
Jesus also told a story about a landowner who hired vineyard workers at various times throughout the day, from morning until evening. In the end (unfairly, some thought) he paid everyone the same amount, regardless of how long they had worked (Matthew 20:1-16). At St. Michael’s we recognize that people seek out the Lord at various times, depending on the circumstances of their lives. Therefore we welcome infants and elderly, rich and poor, seasoned Episcopalians and those from different traditions, and those with no church background at all. Each of us is on the same footing before the Lord. Everyone matters, but no one matters more than the next.
Please know that here at St. Michael’s there is always room on the vine for another fruitful branch! Come join us as we share the faith, fellowship and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ.