Connected to God

We all want our kids to know that they are connected to God. This year, the St. Luke’s children’s formation program is all about that.

Here are some ways we’re making it happen.

  1. We have a new children’s educator: Amy Hanson!

The details: We have grown and are ready to divide our children’s formation program into younger (3-5) and older (6-11) classes!

What won’t change: Children of all ages will still worship with us, receiving their own sermon during the liturgy. And the formation hour structure will remain the same: leaders from throughout the community will work with Renee to offer multi-week, in-depth studies of topics relating to our scriptures, tradition, history, doctrine, and liturgical practice.

But: While the older children work with an array of lead teachers, the younger kids will work with Amy for the whole program year! She will take the wider topics and help shape them for 3-5 year olds. There will be lots of art; more singing and dancing; more storytelling and imaginative play. And they’ll have her all year, the stability of which will be a gift to our littles!

About Amy: Amy Hanson and her husband, Randy, have been coming to St. Luke’s for 27 years! Their daughter, Aubrey, and son-in-law, Ben, were married at St. Luke’s and live in Kalamazoo. Their son, Mitch, was an acolyte at St. Luke’s and now lives and goes to school in Atlanta. Amy works in Parchment Elementary Schools substituting and providing teacher support, and her husband is an attorney in Kalamazoo. She says, “I am so looking forward to working with the 3 to 5 year olds this year. One of my favorite things to do with this age group is to sing! I will enjoy singing God’s praises and sharing our stories with them. I have served in many different capacities at St. Luke’s, but working with children is the highest honor, in my opinion.” If you see Amy, please welcome her and thank her for taking on this sacred work!

  1. We have a new youth leadership team: Fritz MacDonald and Amy Vliek!

The details: Fritz and Amy will lead our GROWING number of youth-aged parishioners, with both Donna and Renee serving as staff liaisons.

Our first meeting: Will be held at 5pm on the 24th of September, and will be a time for group pondering, imagination, and reflection. Oh and: there will be pizza! Youth and their families are asked to attend; the entire parish is invited! Come be a part of a conversation that will shape this new program year.

About Fritz: Frederick (Fritz) MacDonald PhD is originally from Middleport, New York.  He attended State University of New York at Fredonia, majoring in Music, Speech and Drama and graduated from Mannes College of Music in New York City in 1969 with a Bachelor of Science in Music, majoring in Voice Performance (bass-baritone).  As a professional musician, Fritz has performed in the United States, Canada and Germany.  Specializing in Family Studies and Family Therapy, he graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Masters Degree in Social Work in 1977 and earned his PHD from UT in 1986.  His research areas are insiders and outsiders in Central Appalachia, cultural competence, and rural social work.  He has been Associate Professor (Emeritus) in the Western Michigan University School of Social Work for 27 years where he served as Associate Director before his retirement in June of 2012.  His second home is in Sonneberg, Germany where he spends several months each year with his wife Linda.  He has taught as guest professor at the Universities of Applied Sciences in Coburg and Kiel, as well as the Alice Solomon School of Social Work in Berlin, Germany. His most recent passion is the tuba, an instrument he played enthusiastically as a teenager. After a fifty year hiatus, Fritz offers solo recitals and plays in several local concert bands and a brass jazz ensemble (The Brass Rail) in the Kalamazoo area.  He and Linda are grandparents to two lovely little girls, Elizabeth and Isla MacDonald and  four-week-old Ethan Folger MacDonald.

About Amy: Amy is a social worker (who will, as of this year, have earned a PhD in Social Work from Western Michigan University!) who lives on Westnedge Hill with her three kids, Grace (13), Alexandra (12), and Elijah (9), as well as her “family of choice” daughter Elli (20). She currently works at WMU and is on the board for Fire Historical and Arts Collaborative. She has a passion for middle and high school kids, ice cream, good books, and lots of other stuff. She is very excited to work with our youth this year!

If you see Amy or Fritz, please tell them how grateful and delighted we are to have them join our formation team.

More to come on the topics we’ll explore and who will lead them!


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