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Under the Tent in Michigan

The Episcopal Church is not famous for tent revivals, but its youngest diocese wants to try new approaches, according to the Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley, Bishop of Eastern Michigan.

St. John’s Church in Midland was the host for a diocesan-wide leadership strategy session September 7. The purpose of the meeting was to offer a collaborative platform for building parish enthusiasm and focus on common diocesan mission initiatives.

“I’m not sure who came up with the idea to call it a tent revival, but it was visible from the intersection of two busy streets,” Bishop Ousley said. “People would have seen something out of the ordinary on that lawn that day. It was lots of fun.”

Bishop Ousley said he and other meeting organizers were very pleased with the turnout and results.

“I think we won over many skeptics, especially those who thought there was a predetermined result,” he said. “We invited people to share what was on their heart. Some of the results were predictable, but some were quite unexpected.”

Bishop Ousley said the diocese was still compiling written submissions for a report to be submitted to diocesan council. Based on comments during the meeting, he sensed strong agreement on priorities to reduce community violence and address systemic causes of hunger within the diocese. He said support for recovery ministries was also strong and perhaps previously under-appreciated.

Diocesan tent revivals will probably become a regular event in Eastern Michigan, and Bishop Ousley commended the concept to others throughout the church.

“We are always interested in exploring new ways of loosening structure and encouraging people to contribute,” he said. “No one has a lock on wisdom or inspiration from the Holy Spirit.”

General Convention approved creating the Diocese of Eastern Michigan in 1994. Approval came after a years-long process within the Diocese of Michigan that commended forming the new diocese.

Steve Waring


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