We are engaged in hunger ministry in five primary ways. We receive food donations every week, present them monthly in a liturgical manner and deliver them to our local food pantry. We cook a meal each month for the Ann Arbor homeless shelter that also serves dinner to any hungry adults in the community. We participate in the annual CROP Hunger Walk with both donations and walkers. We participate annually in the “Bread for the World” letter writing campaign. We write letters as part of the morning’s liturgy and present them liturgically in the offering before sending them on to Washington. In 2012, with our ministry partner, Northside Presbyterian, St. Aidan's constructed a food garden in our front yard and participating in the "Faith and Food" program of ICPJ (The Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice) that provides fresh produce for needy individuals and families in Washtenaw County. Our children are included in the activities and encouraged to participate and reflect on what we are doing.
We participate in housing ministries by hosting homeless men in our building for a week each year as an overflow shelter in coordination with our local homeless shelter. Youth as well as adults participate in this hospitality.
St. Aidan's helped create the Religious Action for Affordable Housing (RAAH). Together with other RAAH members and member congregations, we helped raise (with individual and operating fund donations) the $200,000 needed to buy the land for Carrot Way, a low income housing development for families and disabled people that was developed by Avalon Housing. Also with RAAH, we helped raise (with St. Aidan's Christmas offering) $50,000 to support the Michigan Prisoner Reentry Initiative (MPRI) to place returning prisoners with physical and mental disabilities (the most difficult to place) in our community. We helped (through the proceeds of the Rector's 30th yr. ordination celebration) RAAH with a housing first program that supports people living at 15% of the median income in the county. Another Christmas Offering is supporting the rebuilding of a low-income housing project that would have been lost through property deteroiation.
We hold a gift ingathering each Epiphany to help a homeless family moving into housing in partnership with a number of local agencies that work with homeless individuals and families.
St. Aidan's have two active computer workstations for the community to use and a public wi-fi connection. Several residents of the neighboring Avalon House have regularly used the computers we have made available to the community to accomplish their assignments for local schools and colleges.
We sent a team of adults and young people, in conjunction with the Diocesan program for Hurricane relief, to New Orleans for clean-up efforts after Hurricane Katrina. In preparation for this mission trip, our children worked all fall to refurbish a doll house, and to furnish it as a direct present from our children to the children of a new Episcopal mission in the devastated 9th ward of New Orleans. This doll house joined the organ that was donated by one of our parish families, to help bring hope to the members of this fledgling congregation.
Another outreach mission is realized through use of our building. Recognizing the travail in families and the harm done to earning capacity and life participation by addiction to alcohol or other substances, we host eight 12-step groups a week in our building. They range from small meetings of less than a dozen to large meetings with more than 100 participants. Judging from the publications of AA and Alanon, St. Aidan’s/Northside may be the most welcoming congregations in Ann Arbor to recovery groups. While 12-step groups, by their own by-laws, cannot be considered the ministry of a congregation, the warm hospitality and beautiful setting we offer is clearly appreciated by the groups that use the building. They express it with direct thanks and a good natured willingness to juggle space when needed to accommodate special congregational functions.
We are fortunate to occupy five acres of second growth forest within an otherwise congested urban setting adjacent to the University of Michigan North Campus. This area has been certified as a Wildlife Habitat and contains two nature paths, along with a resident family of deer. And, we believe it is our spiritual and civic duty to maintain and share this beautiful gem with the community.
This property has inspired many of us to become advocates for ecological-justice and environmental sustainability and St. Aidan's is the first congregation in Michigan to join the GreenFaith Certification Program, an inter-faith alliance dedicated to inspiring, educating and mobilizing people for environmental leadership.
St. Aidan's received a gift of a 10 acre lakeside conservation site in 2012. This site now knows as Aidansfarne will provide a beautiful place for nature spirituality retreats and a rich site for environmental conservation.
We have had a long standing supportive and cooperative relationship with the ICPJ (The Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice), one of the foremost inter-faith peace and justice ministries in the nation. ICPJ has offices in our building at 1679 Broadway.
The Food for the Journey Retreat Series offers spiritual and practical support for the challenges that we face in life. Taking its wisdom from the story of Elijah, in 1 Kings 19, in which Elijah, having performed every great act required of him by God still finds himself alone with this colleagues dead, hunted with a royal price on his head, and bone tired. So he goes south, parks under a broom tree, and goes to sleep intending to die. There, an angel comes to him twice bringing him food and drink and commands him to eat. The angel admonishes him "get up and eat, lest the journey be too hard for you." The practical and spiritual tools offered by this retreat series are designed to help us face the challenges of life's journey. While each retreat may have a different set of workshops, they are all designed to offer support to the participants and to provide a spiritual time in a beautiful setting.
Nature Spirituality is also a focus of our Spirituality program. At both of our locations, in Ann Arbor and at Aidansfarne, spirituality of nature is emphasized. There is an Evening Prayer service at Aidansfarne almost every Sunday night from Memorial Day through Labor Day at 7:00pm