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Posted on Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 4:37 p.m.

St. Andrew's breakfast co-founder retiring Sunday after 30 years of volunteering

By Lisa Carolin


Svea Gray at a breakfast served at St. Andrew's in 2007. files

After 30 years of serving breakfast to tens of thousands of people in Ann Arbor, Svea Gray, a deacon at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, is retiring.

Gray says that there are age limits for clergy, and at age 76, she needs to step down.

It was in 1982 when Gray and her husband Whit Gray, now a retired law professor, got involved at the church.

"People started coming to St. Andrew's for all kinds of things," said Svea Gray. "There were bad economic times and the auto companies were laying off people. I joined St. Andrew's Church and Society Committee and we wanted to do something to help.

"We came up with the idea to serve a meal, and chose breakfast because it's a meal with a fairly traditional menu."

Gray and four additional volunteers from the church made and served breakfast at the church on North Division Street for about 35 guests when the breakfast program started 30 years ago.

Now the average number of breakfast guests is 150-175 people on any given day. Breakfast is served seven days a week from 7:30-8:30 a.m., and volunteers number more than 70, many from outside the church.

"We get to know people and their needs," said Gray, referring to the people the church serves breakfast to including many homeless people as well as civic groups, school groups and neighbors.

"When you get to know people on a first-name basis, you get to know we're all the same, and I've made many friends."


Svea Gray

Courtesy of St. Andrew's

The connections made at the breakfasts are important, the church's pastor said.

"Coming to breakfast is many people's way of going to church," said St. Andrew's senior pastor Alan Gibson. "They see their friends and community here every day and connect with something beyond themselves."

The church gets the breakfast food through distributors and organizations like Food Gatherers.

"It serves the purpose of physical, emotional and spiritual nourishment," said Gibson. "We have deep thanks and admiration for Svea for her dedication over these years and are thankful for the blessing that she's been to all of us."

On Sunday, breakfast at St. Andrew's will be extended an extra hour from 7:30-9:30 a.m., followed by the main Sunday service at 10 a.m.

Then at 11:15 a.m. there will be a special celebration in honor of Gray's retirement that will include cake, a magician, and a performance by the Community High School jazz band.

Gibson says breakfasts will continue at the same time and the same place.

As for Svea Gray, she and her husband will be doing some traveling. Her official capacity as minister of the St. Andrew's breakfast program may end Sunday, but Gray, who lives close to the church insists that she will stay involved.

"It has been a wonderful ministry," said Gray. "Deacons are helpers with one foot in the church and one foot outside the church to try to help people in the world."


Rick Durance

Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 6:31 p.m.

St. Andrew's Breakfast Program was an incredibly importance experience for me when I was living in Ann Arbor. I am so thank for Rev. Svea and all the volunteers over the years. You have helped so many people and taught a number of us so much. Thank you!

Tom Morson

Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 10:30 a.m.

Thank you Svea for all of your commitment, genuine affection for others regardless of denomination or faith. Amazing, how quickly 30 years flys by. Wishing you and yours all the best-


Mon, Sep 10, 2012 : 2:55 a.m.

Svea Gray - God bless you.

James Toy

Sun, Sep 9, 2012 : 1:25 p.m.

Svea in my estimation is not retiring: Svea is advancing! In her booklet, "Grandma, What Is a Deacon", Svea points out that deacons help and serve other people. By her example, Svea teaches us that we all can be helpers and servants. Thank you, Svea, for your faithful and loving service to our community.

mike gatti

Sun, Sep 9, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You have done so much for so many.

Old Salt

Sun, Sep 9, 2012 : 2:05 a.m.

ThankYou Seva God Bless You and Your Family

Albert Howard

Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 11:13 p.m.

A very nice woman with an awesome heart for all people!


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 10:53 p.m.

Goodbye to a wonderful lady and one of the closest people to a saint I ever met in my life.


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 8:58 p.m.

Thank you Svea! Its a great program that does great work.

Linda Peck

Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 8:48 p.m.

The beauty of her love shines in her face.