The surprise presence we get at Christmas is the way Christ is born – made real – not just THAT Christmas, but THIS Christmas.
Calvary Memorial Episcopal Church in Saginaw Michigan first opened its doors Nov. 23, 1884, and Episcopal parishioners continued to worship inside the building for 125 years.
"In 2010, the congregation — due to advancing age and dwindling numbers and— decided to close," or more accurately, merge with the nearby St. John's Episcopal Church.
"At the same time, a blossoming mostly African-American congregation run by The Rev. Eugene and The Rev. Melissa Burton was looking for a space of its own.
"The church they serve, Christ Image Community Church had outgrown their space and saw the church building for sale, and in 2010 entered into a $125,000 land contract with the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan to purchase the building that formerly housed Calvary Memorial Episcopal Church.
"A balloon payment of $93,000 was coming due on the building in 2015.
"[Last week,] the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan forgave the entire $93,000 debt owed by the independent church.
"It was literally a miracle for our congregation," Pastor Burton said.
"They pack the church, with regular services, Sunday school, Bible studies, youth group meetings, a men's ministry and other programs.
"And the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan saw supporting this congregation in this way as consistent with their vision. “Anyone and everyone is welcome to come check out the church, Pastor Burton said."They can come dressed down; they can come dressed up," he said. "It's not how they come, but it's how they leave."