Category: Spirituality in Action

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!


Our upcoming Program Year

As many of you know, our focus at St. Luke’s this year will be “Attending to the Presence of God,” and our formation offerings are a delightful invitation to do so. Here’s a brief sketch of the good things coming our way. To hear more, join us at a forum on September 18th. And take note: this year finds us rich with new volunteers, whose names and roles are bolded below. Also, we are still in need of volunteers who feel called to offer their gifts to this year’s powerful offerings. Please see Renee to talk through where and how you might join these new endeavors!

Children’s Sermons:

During the 9:30 Eucharist, we will continue with our summer structure: keeping kids in the pews for the Liturgy of the Word; having them join Deacon Greg for the Gospel Procession; offering them a sermon, music, and art in the library; and then returning to the church at the Peace. This will keep kids closely connected to our worship gathering, and will allow them to sit with us through the mystery, praise, and complexity that is our liturgy. Laura Mercadal will serve as an alternate in leading these sermons, and we’d love to have one more person who might take pleasure in guiding our children this way.  

Children’s Formation:

In addition, beginning September 18th we will kick off a new religious formation program. This program will run from 11am to 12N, will be held on the third floor, and will be divided into nine units based on the topics we want kids to explore this year (and the liturgical seasons in which those topics fit). Some of these sessions will be intergenerational (we’ll bring kids down to learn alongside adults, and once even to teach us!), but most will be designed for ages 4-10. Part of our goal this year is to widen the lens of our children’s religious formation: we don’t want to limit the voices they hear. This is important because we are gifted with a parish full of wise and experienced teachers, scholars, and leaders, which is an immense privilege, and one from which our kids should benefit. It likewise allows individuals to devote themselves deeply for a series of weeks, and then to return to their own formation practices.

The topics we’ll cover include:

  • The Book of Common Prayer
  • The Eucharist
  • Home as a Family’s Spiritual Center
  • Isaiah, Art, & Music
  • The Story of Joseph
  • Matthew & First-Century Nazareth Context
  • Exodus, Art, & Music
  • Acts of the Apostles
  • Ecclesiology (or “What is Church?”)

And I am thrilled to announce our team of volunteer teachers this year. Though we are still searching for two lead teachers and a number of assistants – should you be interested! – so far our spectacular line-up includes Elizabeth Kraatz, Brian Lonberg, Amy Hanson, Becky Edmonds, Jenny Sanderson, Fritz MacDonald, Madeleine Roberts, and Jeremy Sabella. 

Adult Formation:

Adult Formation will also gather from 11am to 12N, and as I mention above will include intergenerational days, as well as content crossover, which will make it exciting for kids and parents to share what they’ve learned. There will be two forums per week, the content for which is being carefully created and cultivated by both St. Luke’s staff and our new Adult Forum Team: Frankie LeClear, Linda Snyder, Caleb Molstad, and Jax Lee Gardner.

Topics will include (but are by no means limited to):

  • Attending to the Presence of God
  • The Rector’s Fall Class: The Eucharist
  • The Home as our Spiritual Center
  • Adult Art Series: Writing Christ Icons
  • Social Justice & Outreach
  • Prayer Practices
  • The Adult Lenten Study
  • Anti-Racism Work
  • Music & Drama
  • History & Community
  • Ecclesiology (or “What is Church?”)


We’ve spent joyful time this summer creating a new structure for baptismal formation. Baptismal candidates and/or their families will prepare via communal exploration of the sacrament’s scriptural precedence, the liturgy in which they’ll make their covenant, and the history of the sacrament itself. Then – in the weeks following their baptism – they’ll experience the fullness of the corporate life of the Church and the mystagogos or “mysteries” of faith as they begin to live into Christ’s death and resurrection. This formation structure, therefore, is designed to make clear that the invitation to baptism is available for all and need never be earned, and that the work baptism initiates is lifelong, mysterious, and communal. As a parish, we are privileged to witness this process, and to consider the catechumens as living examples of our common need to reexamine and reaffirm our baptismal covenant.

I’m also happy to announce that Carla Baublis and Dennis LeClear have joined our new Baptism Preparation Team!

Confirmation, Reaffirmation, & Reception:

We’ve likewise revolutionized our process for confirmation, reaffirmation, and reception.

Candidates will engage deeply with the following topics:

  • Scripture
  • The Anglican Communion
  • Liturgy
  • Rule of Life
  • Discernment
  • Prayer Practices
  • Sacramental Rites
  • Stewardship
  • Safeguarding
  • Social Justice
  • Outreach

Our intention is to offer a flexible program that need not be met in any particular way. Though rigorous, this process is a journey and not a destination. It is an invitation to cultivate an approach for sustaining a rich spirituality throughout one’s life. Please let us know if you might feel called to explore this sacrament with us.

Also, join me in welcoming John Tucker to our Confirmation Preparation Team, and please reach out if you have interest in lending your voice to this new program!  


Please also join me in welcoming our new St. Luke’s Socializes Planning Team, which is comprised of Laurence Hawthorne, Stacey Marquee-Flentje, and Art McNabb. See these folks with ideas about food and fellowship!

Youth Group:

Finally, our youth group is growing, and we’re looking for an engaged volunteer leader. See Renee if you feel called to offer your gifts to this wonderful community of young parishioners.

The volunteer position will require:

  • 3-5 hours most weeks;
  • strong listening skills, creativity, empathy, and patience;
  • reliability and a talent for organization; experience with social media a plus;
  • the ability to work well with parents/caregivers, and to understand family dynamics;
  • the ability to connect with the interests and concerns of today’s youth;
  • engagement with our youth group principles of scripture, service, and solidarity, as well as our parish identity: “Spirituality in Action”;
  • flexible hours and energy for intensive fundraising endeavors;
  • summer flexibility, and a willingness to help plan and lead our yearly pilgrimage;
  • a likelihood of long-term (two-year) availability;
  • safeguarding certification (which can be completed before volunteer commencement);
  • a background check (completed by us);
  • experience working with youth and/or positive personal youth group history a plus;
  • enthusiasm for the opportunity to work with youth of diverse gender identity, sexuality, and background, and from a variety of family configurations.