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 offer 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 core value and a spiritual practice.
Our worship is well-planned and inclusive. It utilizes both traditional and cutting-edge options. In the weekly Sunday Eucharist, the laity participate 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 that many in the congregation take turns preparing, sharing with each other and our guests.
After the initially tight pandemic restrictions, we joyfully resumed meeting in person, first for Morning Prayer in Epiphany’s parking lot and then in the sanctuary. Before we gratefully received our interim Rector, we took turns leading the service, giving a homily, and selecting and playing recorded music. At first with lawn chairs and masks in hand, finally in the familiar comfort of the nave, we gathered to share time with each other while maintaining and strengthening our strong community connection.
During the pandemic and without a rector, we were creative with ways to maintain our programs, long held to be supportive of emotional and spiritual health. Now, daily yoga classes and our Meditation/Centering Prayer group are back to old schedules. Our weekly Ecumenical Healing Service and Searching Spirits book group maintained their community availability through tough times by meeting outside in the Memorial Garden. Now they are back to regular schedules indoors. Our Pastoral Care Team, which connected for a time through projects like mask-making and our pandemic buddy system, continues to 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 have hosted the Refugee Task Force and sponsored Know Your Rights talks for our immigrant neighbors and LGBTQ support meetings.