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In praise of three clergy beloved at St Clare’s recently in the spotlight in various ways
Dear Ones,

For many years I have known The Rev. Gene Curry and The Rev. Susan Bock. Both have blessed St Clare’s in many ways. Gene has been retired for a number of years, and it is important to honor his being retired by not presuming upon him. Yet he has chosen to serve the kingdom of God by being a constant help when needed, and he is free to say no when he needs to, as well. Gene has led the Thursday Bible Study and Eucharist, and once a month presides at the 7:45 service. During 2018 Gene really stepped up to the plate and helped with Sunday worship during the summer months, and more so, as he has for many summers. When needed during the rare pastoral emergency in my absence, Gene is there at the hospital and other places where human contact with a clergyperson is desired. Please let Gene and his wonderful and faithful wife and partner Ruth know how much they are beloved and appreciated as members, and for his constant helping presence.

Susan Bock was of course for many years a beloved Associate Rector of St Clare’s before my time. She is a gifted liturgical composer of prayers, and we have for many years used some of those compositions. Early in my tenure she knocked my socks off at the well-attended funeral of beloved Geri Chipault. Geri’s husband Fred Neidhart had asked too many people to speak at the funeral, and the now retired Director of the University Musical Society gave a very long talk as the final such of at least four speakers, and it had been over an hour, and the liturgy had not yet begun! I saw Susan drawing lines through her sermon as the speakers wore on, and a few notes. After the lessons and gospel, she stood up and gave the most brilliant seven-minute, tying it all together sermon that lifted us all that I have ever heard in such circumstances. Susan has for years helped me by serving the congregation on Beaver Island in the summer. It is a great joy to welcome Susan as a more frequent preacher and presider this summer during my vacation.

Finally, at her first General Convention as a deputy in the House of Deputies this July, Beth Scriven’s first resolution, improving the gender inclusiveness of Eucharistic Prayers A, B, and D, co-authored with another acquaintance of mine, The Rev. Scott Gunn, passed by over 90 percent in both clergy and lay orders. But of course, many of the fantastic things that happened at St Clare’s between 2008 and 2015 were because she was such a strong partner in ministry for all of us, and for me. Many good opportunities came knocking on her door starting in year two, and we were blessed that with clarity and purpose among us, she turned them down. John and I loved planning liturgy and congregational singing with Beth. Beth was always a wise and strong and beloved partner in ministry who helped our staff team complement one another, and speak the truth in love. Beth could step in at a moment’s notice (but she preferred more notice) in my absence with strength and clarity. A remarkable number of photos from General Convention of clergy being part of demonstrations against immigrant detention, against gender related mistreatment, and in support of our President of the House of Deputies included Beth in clear view.

We are a congregation blessed by those who have served among us faithfully as clergy building the kingdom of God whom I am privileged to call colleagues, friends, and beloved of my heart.

In Christ's love,
SUMMER WORSHIP: Our summer worship schedule began in May and continues through September 2. We have services at 8:30 and 10 a.m. Nursery care is available during the 10 a.m. service, and there is Children's Church during the beginning portion of the 10 a.m. service.

BLESSING OF THE BACKPACKS: Mark your calendars for a Blessing of the Backpacks on August 26 during the 10 a.m. service. Our children are welcome to bring their own backpacks for James to bless, along with those that we will donate. Through Thursday, August 23, we will collect backpacks, pencils, pens, paper, erasers, glue sticks, kids scissors, crayons, etc. to distribute to public school children in need. Drop your donations in the boxes outside the sanctuary on Sundays or in the church office during the week. Thank you in advance for your generosity in this effort. Questions? Please see Suzanne Di Piazza ( or 734-662-2449).

THURSDAY BIBLE STUDY & HOLY EUCHARIST: Our Thursday Bible Study and noon worship service continue their break through August. Both will resume on Thursday, September 6, with Bible Study at 10:45 a.m. in the Adult Lounge and Holy Communion at noon in St. Francis Chapel.

PARISH POOL PARTY: Have a splash with other Saint Clare families, on August 11, from noon to 5 p.m., at 4096 Central Blvd. The LaMoreaux family has generously offered their backyard so our church family can gather for food, fellowship, and frolicking, in their pool! Hot dogs, buns, ‘fixins’ and soft drinks will be provided. Please bring a dish to pass. This will be a ‘dry’ party. RSVP to by Monday, August 8, for planning purposes. See you there!

For the past year the Joint Sanctuary Committee comprised of members from Saint Clare’s and Temple Beth Emeth has considered the dangers immigrants and refugees currently face in our country. Under the leadership of Rachid Hatem and Shoshana Mandel the committee has sponsored several joint educational programs about the plight of immigrants and refugees, the challenges they face navigating the U.S. legal system, and the potential for the affiliation of our two congregations, within Genesis, with Washtenaw Congregational Sanctuary (WCS).

We learned that immigration lawyers are overwhelmed with very high caseloads due to the current numbers of individuals and families seeking refuge from the dangers of their native lands as well as those who desire to simply provide a better life for their children with greater opportunity available in the U.S. We considered the three levels of sanctuary status presented by WCS:

Level I: To host, providing sanctuary including housing, food, and other services, to an individual or family facing imminent (and often unjust) deportation.
Level II: Provide support—financial, personal, logistical—to a Level I Sanctuary (Host) Congregation or agency. (Currently, at least seven Washtenaw County congregations have declared either Level I or Level II sanctuary status.)
Level III: Provide support for the Congregational Sanctuary initiative at a personal, individual level. (This does not require the participation of the entire congregation.)

Photos by Pete Ross
At first it seemed that Level I sanctuary status was the best way to show the highest level of support and make the strongest statement to urge just and humane treatment of the strangers among us seeking refuge. However, concerns raised by members of our two congregations who are actively engaged in the Back Door Food Pantry called for a more nuanced stand on the issue. We recognized that if we were to house an individual or family seeking sanctuary on this campus, it could attract unwanted attention from Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. This could increase unease among the food pantry patrons, many of whom may be undocumented, and could cause fearful patrons to avoid the food pantry services depriving themselves and their families of needed sustenance. The sanctuary resolution that the joint committee ultimately submitted for review by St. Clare's Vestry, Temple Beth Emeth Board of Trustees, and the Genesis Board proposed that we declare Level II sanctuary status, recognizing that should the need arise, Level I sanctuary status could be revisited. All three entities approved the sanctuary resolution. The text of the resolution can be read in full by clicking here.

On Wednesday, June 13, 2018, leaders of our two congregations and Genesis came together in in a public ceremony to declare our support of Level II sanctuary status and to sign the document. More than 100 people from each congregation, members of Level I sanctuary congregations, and members of WCS were present to celebrate joyously this historic act of civil disobedience with prayer, testimony, and song. You can read more about the ceremony on the blog "We Were Strangers MI". The Joint Sanctuary Committee greatly appreciates the dedication and commitment that has enabled our two congregations to take this public stand for justice.

Are You Being Called?

If you are interested in serving the children of our congregation during the 2018-2019 school year, please plan to meet with Suzanne on Sunday, August 26, at noon in room 13.

St. Clare's will provide a light lunch and we’ll review plans and procedures.

Questions? Please connect with Suzanne ( Thank you!

Sunday, September 9 Three-Service Sunday Schedule Resumes (7:45, 9, 10:30 a.m.)
Sunday, September 9 First Day of Church School
Sunday, September 16 Parish Picnic
CHILDREN'S CHURCH: Children’s Church (aka Children’s Liturgy of the Word) takes place here during the 10 o'clock summer service. The emphasis during the Children’s Church experience is on ritual and the Word, not on catechesis. It’s celebrating the liturgy of the Word, including a sermon, prepared with children in mind. Prior to the start of the service, the leader prepares a small prayer table with a cross, candle and children’s Bible in the Family Room. The children recite a short version of the creed, after the sermon, then are led back to the church just before Prayers of the People. The minister or leader, typically Suzanne, will use a three-step process that includes:
Step 1: We listen to God speak. The readings are adapted to the language of the child while still maintaining the integrity of the Word.
Step 2: We reflect on the Reign of God. After drawing from the children what they heard God say to them, we share questions that invite the children to reflect on what difference God's Word makes in their life.
Step 3: We respond to God’s Word. Finally we explore with the children what they are going to do now that they have heard God’s Word.

FIRST TIME CAMPER by Suzanne Di Piazza
I spent the week of June 24 in New Era, MI, at Stony Lake. It was my first ever camping experience! I was with 65 children from several Lutheran churches and 11 from the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan. Young adult employees of Living Water Ministries run the camp. Like VBS the week prior, it was a change of pace for me to be involved and not be the lead person, as has been my experience for so long. A refreshing perspective, to be sure!

It is my hope that some of our children, from Saint Clare’s, might take advantage of this camping opportunity in the years to come. The children experienced outdoor morning worship and attended Bible study each day. There was singing, arts and crafts, low and high ropes, field trips, swimming, bonfires and much more. Spending so much time unplugged and surrounded by nature was a powerful experience for many of the children. Everyone pitched in to keep the camp livable. Memories and friendships were formed around everyone’s common love of Christ in a time and space set apart from everyday life. Please connect with me if you are considering sending a child or grandchild to Stony Lake next year. I’d be happy to share my pictures and answer your questions.

IS YOUR NAME ON THE LIST? by Suzanne Di Piazza
I have helped wrap up Religious Formation 2017-2018 and planned for Religious Formation for 2018-2019 since my arrival. I have touched base with each of the wonderful volunteers who kept the Sunday children’s program running the past few years. The list below includes the names of folks who desire to continue in the 2018-2019 year.

Nursery Jack Peterson
Age 3-5 Julia Cooper (prep only) and Wendy Hatem
Grades 1 & 2 Mariah Boucher and Cathy Stone
Grades 3-5 Knut Hill
Youth Group Christine Cook and Larry Vandenbergen
Substitutes Thana Millar

As you can see, we need a few more people. There must be two volunteers per class. Ideally there will be 3 or 4 interested in serving, in rotation, for each level.

It is my prayer that more families come to know all the gifts our congregation has to offer. I’m going to need help spreading the word and filling the roster of volunteers once people arrive with children in tow! Won’t you prayerfully consider adding your name to this list? You might volunteer as a lead teacher, an aide, a substitute, or in the nursery. You might commit to a weekly, biweekly or monthly schedule. I even have written volunteer job descriptions so you know what you’re saying yes to. There will be ongoing training and support. Please connect with me if sharing your faith with our children is something you are interested in.

LIFESKILLS by Suzanne Di Piazza
It has been my habit, on the occasion when I have led weekly classes, to begin class by reviewing and discussing one of the Lifeskills on the poster below. I collated this list a few years ago to help children live into leading a Christian life. I recently refreshed a bulletin board, on the lower level, with this list too. It serves as a reminder to me and I hope the children and all who pass it find it meaningful as well!.

We are getting ready for a great year of Youth Group activities at St Clare's. Suzanne is St. Clare's staff person charged with ministry to youth and families, while Larry Vandenbergen and Christine Cook will volunteer as leaders, along with other St Clarians who will join in the fun from week to week. There will be a number of opportunities to get involved with the Diocese as well. We hope all our St Clare's youth will join us for as many events as possible, because it's going to be a great year!
--Larry, Christine, and the Children & Youth Commission

YOUTH AND S'MORES: All middle school youth and their grown-ups are invited to join Larry & Marianne Vandenbergen at their home at 6 pm on Friday, August 3. Dinner will be hot dogs and hamburgers, and there will be time to talk about what youth group is like, hand out permission forms, play a game related to our theme for the year, and eat s'mores.

MISSION POSSIBLE, AUGUST 5-10: Mission Possible is a mission week for youth and young adults, aged 12 years and up. It's designed to help some of our neighbors in Detroit, learn a little about the city, and to form relationships with other youth in our Diocese and the Diocese of Eastern Michigan. You can go for the whole week (cost $150) or for one day. If you want to go for one day, you need to be accompanied by an adult. More detail and registration forms are available on the Diocesan website: If you have questions, please contact Eric Travis (, or Larry Vandenbergen (734-476-4261 or
Have you ever wanted to deepen your relationship with your God? Enrich your connection to the St. Clare’s community? Maybe you’re not sure how to go about it. Here are some ideas that might interest you and ministries at St. Clare’s that you may find engaging and rewarding. Some contact people are given, but more information about most of these opportunities can be found on our website. Click the “Ministries” heading at

On your own at home – the time and effort you spend are up to you:
  • Set aside a regular time for prayer. Investigate new prayers and prayer practices through your library or the internet.
  • Look for literature with religious themes – poetry, essays, fiction and non-fiction
  • Give your name and email address to the church office and you will get an email when parishioners make prayer requests, and join the people lifting these requests up to God
  • Volunteer for the birthday card ministry – sending out birthday cards to members (Harriet Giles or Mary Lu Barth)

Since you are already at church on Sunday morning, here are some “low impact” ministries. Not a lot of meetings or time is required to participate by becoming:
  • an usher or greeter (Martin Heggestad or Karen Slagell)
  • a chalice bearer, lesson reader, or intercessor (Karen Slagell)
  • a counter after the late service Sunday morning (Steve Lozano)
  • a host for coffee hour (Karen Slagell)
  • an Altar Guild member who helps set up and “take down” the sanctuary for services (Kate Morris Curtin)
  • a verger (Karen Slagell or Laurie Kantner)
  • a part of a Sunday school teaching team during the school year – summers off! (Suzanne Di Piazza)

There are a multitude of other ministries and activities to share (some requiring more time and effort than others):
  • Participate in one of the advertised adult education programs at church
  • Join a cell group for spiritual study and discussions (James Rhodenhiser)
  • Volunteer at the Back Door Food Pantry (Kathy Daly)
  • Join the Adopt-a-Plotters from St. Clare’s and Temple Beth Emeth who each take on the maintenance of a flower garden on the building’s grounds (Linda Annesley)
  • Come to one of the Tasty Tuesday dinner and activities here (bulletin announcement)
  • Come to a book club meeting on the 2nd Wednesday evening of each month (Donna Anuskiewicz)
  • Sign up to drop off a meal for a family when a meal train is announced in the bulletin
  • Volunteer to work 2-3 hours at the annual Sunday of Service (community service day) held every spring
  • Come to the Thursday morning prayer and Bible study in the Adult Lounge at 10:45 a.m., followed by Holy Eucharist in our chapel at noon
  • Help out for a morning at Vacation Bible School in the summer
  • Attend the wine tasting event each summer to evaluate the wines for the fall Haiti Outreach Mission wine sale fundraiser
  • Volunteer to help set up or clean up for a church function like the Advent workshop or the Agape feast
  • Volunteer to bring a meal or stay overnight at Alpha House (an Ann Arbor family homeless shelter supported by 12-15 local congregations) or when it is our week to host the Delonis Center's men's Rotating Shelter in our building

And for those with a real love of our community and the time and energy to serve:
  • Serve on one of the many commissions made up of laypeople that help to guide St. Clare’s
  • Serve on the Vestry or the Genesis Board

from Mary Lu Barth on behalf of the Vestry
by Christine Modey for the Genesis Board
The Genesis Annual Meeting was held on Sunday, June 10. We heard reports, particularly regarding recent revisions to the Genesis bylaws and updates to the building over the past year. We formally approved the 2018-2019 budget. We also honored two outgoing board members: Gail Jungbluth, who finished her term in January, and Mark Davis-Craig, who finished his term in June. For more details, you can check out the annual report online, if you haven’t already seen it.

New officers were elected at a brief meeting after the annual meeting. The new Genesis Board Officers are Murray Rosenthal (President, TBE), Jack Petersen (Vice-President, STC), Roger Palay (Treasurer, TBE), and Jim Downward (Secretary, STC). Continuing board members are Christine Modey (STC), Lisa Perschke (TBE), Ken Cook (STC vestry liaison), and Susan Gitterman (TBE board liaison). Rabbi Josh Whinston and the Rev. James Rhodenhiser are ex officio members of the board.

Following the annual meeting, the Genesis board, St. Clare’s vestry, and Temple Beth Emeth’s board met for the annual “Tri-Board Meeting.” During this meeting, the boards heard brief updates from each congregation’s leaders, then broke into small groups to discuss two questions:
  1. If you had a magic wand, what improvements or updates would you make to our building?
  2. What are the various ways in which we can raise revenue to meet the necessary repairs to our building, as well as to fulfill our hopes and dreams for this space?

The groups’ ideas in response to these two questions were collected and collated. The Genesis board will discuss this input and use it to inform its priorities for capital expenditures and strategies for fundraising over the next few years.

Over the past months, the Genesis board has undertaken several building-related projects.
  • We have updated furniture in the gathering area and replaced window treatments in the social, thanks to generous donations.
  • We have replaced the sanctuary sound system.
  • We have resurfaced the parking lots.
  • We have signed a lease on a new copier and ensured that both congregations can easily print to it using the network.

Other projects are underway. We are currently in the process of updating the building WiFi, to better support a video doorbell system. We are also in the process of testing new lights for the sanctuary; we expect the sanctuary to be relamped during August. The board has approved new carpeting for the hallway and several Core level classrooms, as well as for the outer rings of the social hall. These projects, too, should be completed in August.

As always, the board seeks ways to build relationships between the two congregations. Grounds Cleanup Day on April 29 and Mitzvah Day/Sunday of Service on June 3 brought congregants together to improve our shared property. Small dinners, of about a dozen members from both congregations, happen regularly. If you’re interested in participating, or hosting, send an email to Recently, a duplicate bridge game has begun meeting on Tuesday evenings in the Core, attracting a couple dozen people. Although the game is ACBL “official” and open to the public, congregants are welcome and encouraged to participate. For more information contact Matt Evett,

The Genesis Board welcomes you to participate in any of these events or to attend a board meeting, held at 7 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of the month.

by Bill Feiser for St. Clare’s Alpha House team

The Alpha House shelter for homeless families with children is an ideal example of Henri Nouwen’s definition of hospitality in action. According to Nouwen, a Roman Catholic priest and theologian, the host makes a safe space for the guest to come in and do whatever the guest needs to do. St. Clare’s and our companion supporter, Temple Beth Emeth help provide the safe space for the families who are the guests at Alpha House. The families are given temporary shelter, food and all else that is needed to make a safe environment. Our volunteers join with volunteers of other congregations in Washtenaw County to make this happen.

This allows the Staff at Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) to engage the families in a ‘Rapid re-housing’ process. The absence of permanent housing is greatly destabilizing for families with children. After many years of helping families find housing IHN has learned a lot about tailoring community resources to meet the needs of individual families. Whatever is needed to help a family become stable is employed, including temporary financial assistance.

Temple Beth Emeth and St. Clare’s will be providing volunteers again in September. Please sign up online when you see the dates and URL announced.

GREETINGS FROM PORTUGAL: The Rev. Reid Hamilton (former chaplain at Canterbury House / University of Michigan) sends greetings from Portugal (postcard is in the church office).

The St. Clarian is published monthly (except July). Contributions are welcomed; send by e-mail (to the editor at, U.S. mail, or drop off at the church office. The deadline for inclusion is the 15th of the month.

Have you remembered St. Clare's in your will?

Visit the Church Calendar online at

In the event of a pastoral emergency, please contact James Rhodenhiser.  
If you would like us to share personal support requests with the parish, please tell us, and any “where,” “when,” and “how” information. If you are hospitalized or want prayer, please contact the church office.

James C. Rhodenhiser,

Suzanne Di Piazza, Missioner for Children, Youth, and Families
John Goodell, Music and Technology Ministry
Karen Slagell, Parish Administrative Coordinator

e-mail contact:

Church Office:
John Little, Senior Warden
Kathy Daly, Junior Warden
Linda Klimach, Junior Warden

Pete Ross, Clerk
Mary Lu Barth
Ken Cook
Sue Evett
Barry Fuller
Joanne Heaton
Martin Heggestad
Linda Henny
Knut Hill
Mike Meyer