First Latino Priest to be Ordained in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan

For immediate release.

October 13, 2017 Grand Haven, Michigan.

The Rev. John Infante at the Grand Haven Pier

It has been quite a journey from Bogota, Colombia, to Grand Haven, Michigan, for the Rev. John Infante, soon to be the first Latino priest ordained in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan.

Born into the Episcopal Church in Colombia, his career path took him from a large hotel chain in Colombia, to law school in the evenings, and then a career as an attorney where he worked in Internal Affairs for the police in Colombia. During this this time, he served as Junior Warden and then Senior Warden of his parish and eventually as legal counsel for Province Nine of the Episcopal Church.

However, Infante had a deeper sense of calling for pastoral ministry in the church. He sensed a calling to priestly ministry and began the process of discernment and formation for the priesthood. He was licensed as a Lay Pastoral Minister in 2008 and appointed to work at St. Patrick’s Mission, outside of Bogota. In 2009, he began his studies at the Center for Theological Studies in Bogota, receiving a Licentiate in Theological Studies. He was ordained a transitional deacon in 2012 and assigned to continue his work at St. Patrick’s Mission.

In 2015, Deacon Infante began his final six months of Anglican Studies to be prepared for ordination to the Priesthood, studying at the Episcopal Seminary in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. It was during this time of study that he met the Rev. Dr. Jared C. Cramer who was at the Seminary doing intensive Spanish-language training in preparation for a new Latino ministry at his parish in Grand Haven, Michigan. After hearing of the ministry in Grand Haven, Deacon Infante offered to come and spend six months at St. John’s, helping launch their El Corazón Latino Ministry Initiative.

The ministry initiative at St. John’s was named “El Corazón” because of its focus to grow a Latino community that would be at the center/heart (el corazón) of the congregation, instead of at the edges. According to federal data provided by the Fair Housing Center of Grand Rapids, the Grand Rapids–Holland–Grand Haven metro area is the 20th most segregated in the United States. Grand Haven is located at the center of that segregation, an overwhelmingly white community, but with sizable Latino populations to the south in West Olive and Holland. That said, the Latino population in Grand Haven has been increasing over the years, now standing at 2.7% of the population—a nearly 44% increase since the 2010 data. However, there are still no churches in the Grand Haven area providing Spanish-language worship on a year-round basis.

In 2016, the parish applied to the Churchwide Office of the Episcopal Church to be named a Mission Enterprize Zone, giving it access to funding that, paired with parish and diocesan funds, could create a half-time Associate Rector position. Of the nearly seventy applications submitted across the Episcopal Church, only half were able to be funded—but St. John’s was among that half. Deacon Infante transferred his canonical residency to Western Michigan to complete his path to ordination and the Vestry of St. John’s enthusiastically called him as their Associate Rector.

The Latino Ministy at the Migrant Appreciation Festival

During 2017, Deacon Infante has been working with the Diocese of Western Michigan to finalize the steps for his priestly ordination while also working in and growing the Latino worshipping community at St. John’s. The parish hired a new bilingual Children & Youth Coordinator, Reyna Masko, to continue the work of the previous Coordinator, Luis Hernández, on bringing together the children and teenagers of both cultures. During this year alone, four new families have become a part of the Spanish-language worshipping community. The Mission Initiative ran a Taco Sale across from the grandstands of the United States Coast Guard Parade, raising nearly $1,000 for ministry. They spent an afternoon in the summer at the local Migrant Worker Appreciation Event, handing out food and household goods while also offering free face-painting and photos.

In August, the Latino Ministry celebrated its second anniversary and in September, Deacon Infante received his final approvals to be ordained to the priesthood. His ordination will take place at St. John’s on Saturday, October 28, at 11:00am, with a free celebratory catered luncheon of traditional Colombian food following for all who attend. Not only will Deacon Infante be the first Latino priest ordained in this diocese, but the ordination service will be the first ever bilingual ordination in the diocese. The celebrant will be the Rt. Rev. Whayne Hougland, 8th Bishop of Western Michigan, himself a descendent of Spanish heritage who is looking forward to speaking in both English and Spanish at the service. The preacher will be St. John’s Rector, Father Cramer, with the sermon being simultaneously translated into Spanish for the Spanish-speakers in attendance.

As the parish looks ahead, the excitement for their Latino ministry is evident. The cultures will continue to blend through offerings like regular bilingual liturgies throughout the year, the Día de Los Muertos Altar in November to celebrate All Saints’ Day and a planned Posada celebration in December that will culminate in the Lullaby to the Baby Jesus, a traditional Latino prayer service on Christmas Eve. The membership of the parish vestry now includes both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking members and they hope to continue efforts to ensure the community remains integrated in fellowship even as they worship in multiple languages.

St. John’s Episcopal Church is a diverse Christian community in the heart of downtown Grand Haven. One of the oldest places of worship in Grand Haven, they seek to blend historic liturgy with challenging education and active outreach. They gather together for Holy Eucharist on Sundays in English at 8:30am and 10:00am and in Spanish at 12:45pm. Additional information can be found at St. Johns website www.stjohnsepiscopal.com or Parish Office 616-842-6260.

October 13, 2017

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Canterbury Children’s Choir opening to Tri-Cities students

For immediate release.

August 3, 2017  St. John’s Episcopal Church, Grand Haven, Michigan.

Canterbury Children’s Choir opening to Tri-Cities students

St. John’s Episcopal Church of Grand Haven is opening their children’s choir program to students age 8-14 throughout the Tri-Cities area starting this season.  The Canterbury Choir program involves an in-depth study of music through choral singing, instruction, and instrument playing.  We will hold an informational meeting for interested parents on Wednesday, August 16, at 7PM in the church’s “Guild Room”, 524 Washington Avenue.

Studies have shown that students who are engaged in learning how to read, play, and sing music do better in school in all academic subjects, and are more engaged in the life of their church and community.  St. John’s wishes to offer these benefits to all students, age 8-14, through teaching the art of choral singing and through intensive music instruction, including class piano (starting later in the season), and lessons in music theory, following the Royal School of Church Music curriculum.

The weekly schedule will consist of rehearsals on Thursdays 4:15-5:00PM, and Sundays, 2-3PM.  The first rehearsal will be held on Thursday, September 7.  Later in the semester, group piano and theory instruction will take place on Wednesdays, 4:15-5:00PM for participating choristers interested in this additional instruction. A published schedule of Sunday services and a spring concert will be available at the informational meeting on August 16.

Transportation after school can be arranged with Harbor Transit, and with other participating families.

Tuition for students will be $100 per semester, to pay for materials and instructors.  Additional book purchases will be necessary for those who choose to participate in group piano instruction on Wednesdays.  Full and partial scholarships are available and tuition is waived for member families of St. John’s.

If you are interested in learning more about the program, contact Nick Palmer, music director at St. John’s: 616-842-6260, ext. 27, or music@stjohnsepiscopal.com.  You may also come to the informational meeting on August 16 at 7PM in the Guild Room at St. John’s.

St. John’s Episcopal Church is a diverse Christian community in the heart of downtown Grand Haven. One of the oldest places of worship in Grand Haven, they seek to blend historic liturgy with challenging education and active outreach. They gather together for Holy Eucharist on Sundays in English at 8:30am and 10:00am and in Spanish at 11:45am in the summer and 12:45pm the rest of the year.

August 3, 2017

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Sing-in Messiah – April 23, 2017 – 4PM

Sing-in Messiah
April 23, 4PM

Celebrate the Octave of Easter with Handel’s Messiah.  Bring your score (or RSVP to have one ready for you) and sing along with the choruses of G.F. Handel’s famous oratorio, “Messiah”.

Soprano, Diane Penning
Alto, Regina Schlaff
Tenor, William Potts
Bass, John Scheid

Professional players and a select chorus will accompany us as we journey through a commentary on the life of our Savior.

The performance is free, and donations will go toward the music ministry fund and music endowment.

Choral Passion of Christ – April 7 at 7PM

Choral Passion of Christ
April 7, 2017 – 7PM

Mystical Voices, under the direction of Nicholas Palmer, performs Heinrich Schütz’s dramatic “Passion according to St. Matthew”, along with meditations, motets, and congregational singing.  This striking a cappella work, to be sung in English, is a wonderful preparation for the liturgies of Holy Week.

The concert is free, donations are accepted to support the volunteer ensemble.

Palm Sunday Service to Raise Funds for Feeding Hungry

For immediate release.

March 23, 2015  Grand Haven, Michigan.  Palm Sunday Service to Raise Funds for Feeding Hungry

When Holy Week for Christians begins on March 29, two area churches will be coming together for the second year in a row to provide a musical devotion known as “Tenebrae—A Service of Shadows.”

The St. John's Nave lit by candles for a worship service.
The St. John’s Nave lit by candles for a worship service.

This year, St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven will host the event on Palm Sunday, March 29, at 6:00pm, their choir being joined by the choir of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Spring Lake. The choirs will present a series of musical meditations on Christ’s passion, interspersed with the traditional Scripture readings and prayers from the Tenebrae liturgy. The rector of St. John’s, Father Jared Cramer, and the pastor of St. Mary’s, Father David Gross, will both be leading the service together.

“Last year, St. Mary’s hosted us for this service. It was powerful to look out at the pews and see faces from both our churches alongside of Christians from many denominations in our area,” said Father Cramer. “The music from these choirs, set alongside these ancient prayers and Scripture readings, provide a powerful context from which to begin Holy Week.”

The free-will offering last year benefited the music programs at both churches, but this year the directors of the choir have decided that free-will offering will go somewhere else: the Loving Spoonfuls’ meal ministry at St. John’s. The church feeds between 30–40 people on Sunday afternoons and Wednesday evenings every single week through Loving Spoonfuls. The churches hope that the musical devotion of Tenebrae will inspire those who attend to reach out and make a difference in alleviating suffering right here in the Tri-Cities.

March 23, 2015

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Ecumenical Quiet Day Open to Community

For immediate release.

March 3, 2015  Grand Haven, Michigan.  Ecumenical Quiet Day Open to Community

During the Season of Lent, many Christians give something up or take something on as a way of observing the season. Though previously observed primarily Roman Catholic or Mainline Protestant churches, over the years the observance of Lent has spread to Evangelical traditions as well.

“The opening up of the Season of Lent to all Christian traditions is one of the great understatements of modern ecumenism,” says the Very Rev. Jared C. Cramer, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven. “This is a season when we reflect upon what it means to be a Christian and how God is calling us to change, to live differently, so that we can be more faithful in our daily life and work.”

Fr. James Honeycutt of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church and Fr. Jared Cramer of St. John's
Fr. James Honeycutt of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church and Fr. Jared Cramer of St. John’s Episcopal

In order to provide time and space for Christians of all denominations to explore these questions, St. John’s Episcopal Church is hosting an Ecumenical Quiet Day on Saturday, March 21, from 9:00am – 4:30pm at St. John’s. Their rector, Father Cramer, will be joined by Father James Honeycutt, the new priest at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Norton Shores, MI.

The day will begin and end with simple Morning and Evening Prayers. Throughout the day, there will be a total of four 30-minute meditations offered by Father Jared or Father James. Father Jared is leading meditations entitled “Divine Healing—The Christian Spiritual Life” and “Private Prayer, Contemplation, and the Illuminative Path.” Father James is leading meditations entitled “Humanity as Divine Reflection and the Purgative Path” and “Sacraments and Theosis—Relationship Restored.”

Each meditation will be followed by hour-long periods of quiet for contemplation and reflection. During those quiet times, both Father James and Father Jared will be available for one-on-one times of spiritual conversation for which people will be invited to sign-up when they arrive.

Before the official start time of Morning Prayer at 9:00am, a Yoga Instructor at St. John’s is also offering an 8:00am “Yoga Wake-Up” as an optional addition to the Quiet Day. The day has a suggested donation of $25 to cover costs, as breakfast and lunch are both included. There are scholarships to assist.

Those interested in attending are invited to register online or by calling the Parish Office, 616-842-6260.

“Lent is a time for deepening our relationship with God. By providing this space, filled with a quiet contemplation punctuated by meditations from two different spiritual traditions—one Orthodox and one Anglican—my hope is that area Christians will find themselves encouraged and inspired in their own Christian life.”

St. John’s Episcopal Church is a diverse Christian community in the heart of downtown Grand Haven. One of the oldest places of worship in Grand Haven, they seek to blend historic liturgy with challenging education and active outreach. They gather together for Holy Eucharist on Sundays at 8:30am and 10:30am and on Wednesdays at Noon and for Daily Prayer at 8:30am and 5:15pm Monday through Thursday.

March 3, 2015

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Memorial Service for Long-time Grand Haven Pastor

For immediate release.

December 11, 2013 Grand Haven, Michigan.

The Rev. George P Timberlake, was an Episcopal priest who served for over sixty years in ten different churches and institutions in Ohio, Michigan, Maryland, and Washington, including serving as the 29th Rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven. He died of complications from heart and lung ailments ion August 27 at the age of 89.

George_TimberlakeforwebsiteIn celebration of his life and ministry, St. John’s Episcopal Church is offering a Memorial Service and Requiem Eucharist on Monday, December 16, at 6:30pm, the sixty-third anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.

Father Timberlake played a significant role in the Tri-Cities area during his twelve-year tenure from 1958 to 1970. The church had explored moving to another location, but decided to stay in their one-hundred year old historic building and instead purchase the property around the church. This led to the construction of the Parish Hall, offices, and Sunday School wings, connected to the church in the now familiar “Y” design that dominates the east end of the block at Washington and Sixth Street in Center Town. The structure is meant to create an impression of Christ’s arms embracing the community.

Father Timberlake also expanded in ministry to young people, opening up a coffee house known as “The Oasis” that became a regular hangout for area teenagers. He took a leading role in debates relating to social issues, advocating for the poor and racial minorities, opening the first Thrift Shop in our area, and speaking out against the involvement in Vietnam.

“Each rector of this church is aware that we stand on the shoulders of this great man,” said the Very Rev. Jared Cramer, current Rector of St. John’s. “That is why every living rector of St. John’s will be participating in this special service.” The Rev. Henry Idema, III, the 31st Rector of St. John’s and a columnist for the Tribune will be assisting in the service along with the Rev. John B. Hills, the 29th Rector of St. John’s. Father Hills followed Father Timberlake as Rector. Both Father Hills and Father Idema live as retired priests here in Grand Haven.

“I know that many people in the Tri-Cities knew Father Timberlake and will want to be there on Monday to celebrate his legacy even as we are called to greater service in the world,” Father Cramer continued. “It will be a powerful day.”

St. John’s Episcopal Church is a diverse Christian community in the heart of downtown Grand Haven. One of the oldest places of worship in Grand Haven, they seek to blend historic liturgy with challenging education and active outreach. They gather together for Holy Eucharist on Sundays at 8:30am and 10:30am and on Wednesdays at Noon and for Daily Prayer at 8:30am and 5:15pm Monday through Thursday.

December 11, 2013

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Church Offers “Quiet Day” in the Midst of Holiday Bustle

For immediate release.

December 4, 2013 Grand Haven, Michigan.

Amidst the rush and activity surrounding the holiday season, one area church is offering an opportunity for quiet and reflection.

St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven, MI, is hosting an Advent Quiet day on Saturday, December 14, from 9:30am-4:30pm. Breakfast snacks and lunch are both included in the day which will begin and end with shared prayer with Holy Communion offered in the middle of the day. The Quiet Day speaker will be Sister Ann Walters, a Roman Catholic Nun and the Common Life Coordinator for the Grand Rapids Dominicans.

AWalters-157x157-ds

The focus of the day will be a series of meditations and conversations, along with quiet reflection, on the “O Antiphons.” Best known for their setting in the holiday carol, “O come, O come Emmanuel,” these antiphons are focused on several prophecies Christians believe were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Sister Walters will focus her meditations on what it means to make room for Christ in our own hearts during this season, particularly in light of the beautiful traditions in the “O Antiphons.”

“In my own experience, Sister Walters is a profoundly gifted spiritual director and leader,” said the Very Rev. Jared Cramer, Rector of St. John’s. “She always knows the right questions to ask to help you look a little differently at your life. I am looking forward to welcoming her for this Quiet Day and hopeful that it will provide residents of the Tri-Cities with a time to listen carefully for God’s voice in the midst of a very busty season.”

Father Cramer also indicated his hope that Sister Walters’ leadership would encourage an ecumenical group, “We all prepare for Christ differently—but each of us does need to find ways to make room for him in our lives. I hope an ecumenical gathering will contribute to the richness of the day.”

Anyone who is interested can register for the Quiet Day online at http://www.tinyurl.com/SJE-2013AdventQuiet or by contacting the Parish Office at 616-842-6260. There is a $25 suggested donation for the day, to offset the costs associated with the event, but scholarships are available by indicating such a request when registering. Registrations must be received no later than Monday, December 8, to be guaranteed a spot.

St. John’s Episcopal Church is a diverse Christian community in the heart of downtown Grand Haven. One of the oldest places of worship in Grand Haven, they seek to blend historic liturgy with challenging education and active outreach. They gather together for Holy Eucharist on Sundays at 8:30am and 10:30am and on Wednesdays at Noon and for Daily Prayer at 8:30am and 5:15pm Monday through Thursday.

December 4, 2013

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Church Board Publishes “Welcoming Statement”

For immediate release.

February 26, 2013 Grand Haven, Michigan.

A local congregation, St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven, has taken another step to identify themselves as a place that is explicitly welcoming to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons in the Tri-Cities. Though for some churches, this move might prove controversial, their church leadership believes this is a natural extension of their developing sense of identity and faithfulness to the Gospel.

“St. John’s has a history of social progress. Time and again, this congregation has heard God’s call to faithfulness beyond societal prejudices,” explains the Very Rev. Jared Cramer, rector of St. John’s. “In the early twentieth century, in an age of extreme gender bias, we were among the first Episcopal Churches to elect women to serve on our Vestry. This week’s decision marks the next step in that journey.”

The step Fr. Cramer is referring to is the church vestry’s (the parish lay governing board) approval of a “Welcoming Statement.” This Welcoming Statement is a step in St. John’s enrollment in the “Believe Out Loud” program of Integrity, USA, Integrity is a nonprofit organization of GLBT Episcopalians and straight friends and has been the leading grassroots voice for full the full inclusion of GLBT persons in the Episcopal church since 1974.

The Welcoming Statement approved by the vestry of St. John’s reads:

Grateful for the unexpected grace of God displayed in Jesus Christ, this congregation commits itself to answering the calling of the Holy Spirit that all people may be brought together in the Church. We repent of any ways that we have ever said to any part of Christ’s body, “I have no need of you,” and we commit to deeper faithfulness to God’s welcome in the world today.

In particular, we aspire to be a congregation where people of diverse ethnicity, culture, gender, age, sexuality, gender identity, political views, economic condition, mental and physical ability are present and fully involved in the ministry of Christ we share here.

We look forward to the ways a fully diverse congregation can teach us more about the manifold love of God and we commit to love all as Christ loved us—without reservation, without question, without judgment, without restriction.

St. John’s Episcopal Church Welcomes You!

“The next step will be to bring this statement before our Annual Parish Meeting for full ratification by all the membership of St. John’s,” Fr. Cramer said, “However, the Vestry feels confident that this statement reflects the sense of calling we have as a congregation and we are thrilled to announce it publicly.”

St. John’s Episcopal Church is a diverse Christian community in the heart of downtown Grand Haven. One of the oldest places of worship in Grand Haven, they seek to blend historic liturgy with challenging education and active outreach. They gather together for worship on Sundays at 8:30am and 10:45am and on Wednesdays at Noon.

February 26, 2013

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Local Church teams up with Bar to Screen Movie about Gay Bishop

For immediate release.

February 6, 2013 Grand Haven, Michigan. Local Church teams up with Bar to Screen Movie about Gay Bishop

As the debate about the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people continues to occupy our national political discussion, a local church prepares a community screening of a movie that deals with these questions head on. On Monday, February 11, St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven will be hosting a screening of “Love Free or Die.” The screening will be at the Rosebud Bar & Grill in downtown Grand Haven.

“Love Free or Die” is about a man whose two defining passions are seen by some to be in direct conflict: his love for God and for his partner Mark. Gene Robinson is the first openly gay person to become a bishop in the historic traditions of Christendom. His consecration in 2003, to which he wore a bullet-proof vest, caused an international stir, and he has lived with death threats every day since.

The film follows Robinson’s personal story as American churches debate whether or not lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are equal to heterosexuals in the eyes of God while our nation debates whether LGBT people are equal to heterosexuals in the eyes of the law.

In “Love Free or Die”, Robinson steps onto the world stage as he travels from small-town churches to Washington’s Lincoln Memorial to London’s Lambeth Palace calling for all to stand for equality – inspiring bishops, priests and ordinary folk to come out from the shadows and change history.

“My own experience as a priest has been deeply shaped by my LGBT colleagues in ministry and my LGBT parishioners. They have demonstrated God’s love and faithfulness to those they love and to me,” said the Very Rev. Jared Cramer, rector of St. John’s. “Bishop Robinson’s story is a small example of the struggles of LGBT people around our nation—and right here in the Tri-Cities—who are seeking faithfulness to God while having their relationships rejected by their brothers and sisters in churches. I hope this community screening provokes continued conversation about these important questions.”

Doors will open at 6:00pm on February 11, giving people ample time to order food or drinks. The movie will begin promptly at 6:30pm and will be followed by a discussion led by Father Cramer. Those coming are encouraged to RSVP online so that St. John’s and the Rosebud can be prepared.

St. John’s Episcopal Church is a diverse Christian community in the heart of downtown Grand Haven. One of the oldest places of worship in Grand Haven, they seek to blend historic liturgy with challenging education and active outreach. They gather together for worship on Sundays at 8:30am and 10:45am and on Wednesdays at Noon.

February 6, 2013

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