Watership Down
“The Rev. Absalom Jones.”

As members of the Body of Christ,  

All Saints’ Parish participates in God’s mission  

of reconciling love for the world 

by striving for justice and peace among all people  

and respecting the dignity of every living being. 

History in Black and White 

Historian Carter G. Woodson noted in 1929 that “if a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition…and it stands in danger of being exterminated.” For this and many other reasons, observing a “Black history month” was first proposed by Black educators at Kent State University in 1969; its first observance occurred a year later, in February of 1970, as a way to encourage the teaching of the history of Black Americans in public schools. Native American Christian theologian Randy Woodley has also noted the importance of ancestral traditions for the vitality of a people—whether white, black, or any other color of the rainbow of creation’s diversity.

Black History Month begins today and I am always reminded on such occasions of Paul’s frequent use of the image of the body to describe “church.” In his letter to the Romans he invites a deeper awareness of our shared joy and shared sorrow as diverse members of a single body (Rom. 12). In that sense, the horrors and triumphs, the suffering and achievements of both white people and Black people belong to the one history of American society. (This is also true for the Episcopal Church; the image above is an 1810 painting by Raphael Peale of Absalom Jones, whom we remember on February 13 and who was the first Black person ordained as a priest in The Episcopal Church, in 1802. To read more about his inspiring and troubling story, click HERE.) Setting aside this one month every year to focus our attention on Black history offers a powerful invitation to keep that history in mind throughout the year. Please mark your calendars as we begin our All Saints’ observance of Black History Month 2023 (and click HERE for a flyer to share with friends!):

  • LEVAS on Sundays: Most of the music for worship in February will come from Lift Every Voice and Sing II, which is the African-American Hymnal of The Episcopal Church (it was published in 1993, a revision of the first edition). While not all of the music in LEVAS is written or composed by Black people, the selections were made based on relevance to Black history in the U.S. and in consideration of styles of worship that have been so influential in American Christianity.
  • Truth and Reconciliation: In 2017, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and other clergy made a pilgrimage to the sites in Ghana where Africans were exported on slave ships to the Americas. Three short videos were made of these pilgrimages and we’ll watch them together on two Sunday mornings, February 12 and 19 at 9:00 a.m. and have some discussion together about them. While these videos revisit a truly painful history, they also offer images of hope, healing, and reconciliation.
  • Covert, Michigan: Even in the midst of Jim Crow segregation in this country, a small town right here in West Michigan modeled racial integration and healing. We are truly fortunate to have award-winning historian Dr. Anna-Lisa Cox living right next door in Douglas who has literally written the book on that town, Covert. She has graciously agreed to speak here at All Saints on Wednesday evening, February 15 at 7:00 p.m. in the parish hall. Invite your friends and neighbors! (We will also live stream this talk.)
  • St. Augustine’s University: Among the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, there are two remaining that were formed by Episcopalians. One of them, St. Augustine’s in Raleigh, North Carolina, has a special place in the hearts of All Saints’ parishioners and we will once again be donating money to St. Augustine’s as part of our Black History Month observances. Please bring a check made payable to All Saints (“St. Aug” in the memo line) on Sunday, February 12 (or you can mail it in!).

On a final note as February begins, I always remember one of my faculty colleagues back in Berkeley, a New Testament scholar, who absolutely loved Groundhog Day; she used to have big parties and send “holiday” cards. She didn’t seem particularly interested in my yearly reminders that February 2 is actually the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple! Of course we made silly jokes about Jesus poking his head out of the temple and seeing his shadow if winter would be longer. Here at All Saints’ Parish, we will mark and celebrate this Feast of the Church with our weekly service of Evening Prayer this evening. Click HERE for the liturgy leaflet and click HERE for the readings. To join this service on Zoom at 5:30pm (EDT), click HERE, or use meeting I.D. # 821 3414 0821 and passcode # 797197. We also stream this service on our Facebook page (click HERE for that page).

Fr. Jay 

Please let us know how we may pray for you—concerns as well as celebrations—and other requests you may have as we strengthen our bonds of care and compassion with each other here in western Michigan and with those around the world in need of prayer.

Prayer Requests 

  • The United States of America, for a renewed commitment to the common good; for an end to systemic racism and violence; for social and economic justice; for a courageous engagement with ecological renewal and healing; and for effective gun safety measures and reduction in gun violence.
  • The people of Ukraine, for an end to violence and the renewal of peace.
  • The mission and shared ministry of this parish, for pastoral insight and ministerial discernment for the clergy and lay leaders, especially the Vestry and our various Ministry Teams.
  • Denise, a friend of Marcy Elder’s, for healing and consolation.
  • Bob Johnson (Janice Williford’s brother) for healing and resilience.
  • Bruce Johnson (Fran Oleson’s brother) for healing and resilience.
  • Paul Messenger, for resilience and healing; Marcy Elder for resilience.
  • Lowell Frederick, Arthur’s brother, for healing and resilience.
  • Don Olendorf as he recovers from surgery.
  • Bonnie, Jessica Naylor-Tatterson’s sister, for healing.
  • Jane, sister of the Rev. Deacon John Meengs, who is struggling with cancer.
  • Win Ryder, for continued healing.
  • Deacon Francis, for continued healing.

Special Occasions in February
Do we have your special occasions on file? Would you like to prayerfully celebrate your baptismal anniversary? Ordination anniversary? Let us know what you would like us to remember with you and we’ll post it! 

Birthdays – February

Laurie Sullivan – 2/1, Sky Suydam – 2/3, John Fulenwider – 2/4, Arthur Frederick – 2/5, Jim Brown – 2/6, Steve Girod – 2/7, John Meengs – 2/19, Dorothy Steadman – 2/23, Francis Berghuis – 2/24

 Anniversaries – February

John and Abigail Collins – 2/7, Wayne and Linda Hamilton – 2/16 

All Saints’ Vestry

The Vestry meets this coming Sunday, February 5, from 11:30 to 1:00 p.m. in (appropriately enough) the Vestry Office next to the Parish Hall. Click HERE for an agenda for that meeting. Unless otherwise noted, Vestry meetings are open to all; those who are not members of the Vestry are asked to refrain from making comments or asking questions until the end of the scheduled meeting under “New Business.” Vestry meetings are also made available on Zoom (Click HERE for the Zoom invitation or use this Meeting I.D. 848 8322 3506 and this passcode if needed:  936033).

Our All Saints’ Book Club will meet on Sunday, February 12th at 3pm at the Saugatuck Yacht Club which is located at 15 Park Street.  We will be discussing “The Postmistress of Paris,” by Meg Waite Clayton.  All are welcome and be ready for a lively discussion!  Any questions, please contact Jane at 616-286-6922.

Father Jay is available by phone as well as email:

Please note that Father Jay takes Friday as his day off each week.  If you have a pastoral emergency on a Friday, please contact a member of the Pastoral Care Ministry Team: Margaret Mason (216-702-6040) or Deacon Francis (616-403-6556).