The Church of the Epiphany South Haven
The Church of the Epiphany is located in South Haven, Michigan, on Lake Michigan’s shore where its small-town flavor leads some to refer to it as a “Mayberry of the Midwest.” Unspoiled beach beauty and the Black River that flows through town offers a slower pace of life touched with old-fashioned charm. South Haven boasts 4,347 year-round residents with significant growth in the summer population and up to 50,000 on a festival weekend.
Nestled near the center of South Haven, the Church of the Epiphany is a vibrant community of believers that live out daily the sign at the church’s entrance: “Whoever you are, and wherever you find yourself on the journey of life and faith, you are welcome here!” These are not just words for us; they are a spiritual practice.
Our liturgical style and practice are traditional, but not formal. Our Sunday liturgy is well planned and inclusive with participation by the laity as readers, lectors, ushers, LEMs, and intercessors; on occasion, a layperson offers a homily. Sunday worship refreshes us spiritually. Afterward, we join each other for brunch (pre-pandemic) that many in the congregation take turns preparing, sharing with each other and our guests.
With the pandemic, we sadly closed our doors to services in the sanctuary in 2020 and chapel as well as any use of the church building on March 12. We met several times via Zoom in the late spring until we were permitted in July to joyfully resume meeting in person for Morning Prayer in Epiphany’s parking lot. Now we are back in the sanctuary, socially distanced and masked for Sunday service. We take turns leading the service, giving a homily, and selecting and playing recorded music. At first with lawn chairs and masks in hand, now in the familiar comfort of the nave, we gather to share this time with each other to strengthen our strong community connection.
During the pandemic, we have had to be creative to maintain our programs long held to be supportive of emotional and spiritual health. Daily yoga classes and our Meditation/Centering Prayer group have been connected online, more recently resuming some indoor times. Our weekly Ecumenical Healing Service and our community -open Searching Spirits book group have met in Epiphany’s Memorial Garden, now socially distanced indoors. Our Pastoral Care Team has remained connected through projects like mask-making; through our pandemic buddy system, they listen for our needs and that of the greater community.
As a community these last ten years, we have taken on practices that have taught us to actively listen to one another. These include sharing our stories and an activity called "knees to knees" where we have learned to listen without attempting to rescue or instruct, to hold confidences, and to experience being heard. In this way, we seek to reverently stay in place for each other and to manage any conflict that arises non -anxiously and with love. We know we will disappoint each other at times, but Epiphany strives to be a community of love. We listen to and ask each other for forgiveness when necessary. We value not talking about each other, but with each other.
For some time now, Epiphany has been involved in activities that have become great social concerns for the church in general. We connect with South Haven’s African American community through Ward One Community Action Committee, fundraising for scholarships for young people of color, and helping with a community picnic. We host a community-wide Refugee Task Force that provides school supplies and fun days for refugee children. We have also hosted Know Your Rights talks for our immigrant neighbors and LGBTQ support meetings.
We invite you to, “Come, and you will see,” as Jesus says in John 1:39. The Church of the Epiphany is an experience—we invite you to visit us and join in that experience. We will keep the Light on for you!