Episcopal Diocese of Washington

To draw people to Jesus and embody his love
for the world by equipping faith communities,
promoting spiritual growth, and striving for justice

Bishop's Writings Author: The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde

Present and Accounted For

March 26, 2020

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send and who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I, send me.’
Isaiah 6:8

One of our first instincts in the face of calamity is to ensure the safety of those we love. So it is in this COVID-19 wilderness that we are calling one another more, asking the age-old question, “How are you?” We truly want to know and stay close even from a distance. 

We start close in, because our hearts are wired that way. But rarely do we stop there--invariably the call of compassion draws us to consider others we don’t know who have been adversely affected by what threatens us all. Scientists suggest that empathy is an evolutionary response to help ensure the survival of the species. If so, it is also a God-given capacity for us to truly care for one another. “And who is my neighbor?” a lawyer once famously asked Jesus. In telling the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus makes it clear that a neighbor is one who demonstrates kindness. 

A question that hovers around a crisis like this is “Where is God?” Let me be clear that in our church, human suffering is not interpreted as an expression of God’s anger; nor do we believe that God causes suffering. We believe God is present with us in suffering and able to bring good out of hardship. Still, we all struggle to feel God’s presence at times, doing our best to respond to glimpses of grace and the guidance for which we pray.

Another, equally important question is this: “Where are we?” Let me suggest that we are all here, present and accounted for. Some of us may need to stay home, but we’re not passive. Our heroes include not only medical professionals working long shifts, but also those who stock grocery shelves, deliver packages, and pick up trash. Those of us keeping physical distance are showing up in other ways--working from home, schooling our kids, holding things together, checking on our neighbors. We’re not perfect by any means, but we’re all rising to this moment in ways that can surprise even us. 

As it turns out, deeds of kindness are precisely what we need in order to cope with our own sorrow and fear. In the words of Episcopal priest Barbara Brown Taylor: 

The best thing to do when fear has a neck hold on you is to befriend someone who lives in real and constant fear. The best thing to do when you are flattened by despair is to spend time in a community where despair is daily bread. The best thing to do when sadness has your arms twisted behind your back is to sit down with the saddest child you know and say, “Tell me about it. I have all day.” (quoted in Richard Rohr’s daily meditation for March 26, 2020)  

In showing up for others, we’re not asking them to make us feel better. Something  deeper is at stake--the mystery of experiencing grace and solidarity in the hardest times. 

We’re also holding up our part of the world. The simple tasks of tending to our relationships, tending to normal routines in an abnormal time, are our spiritual disciplines now. It may feel strange, but this is important work.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is from the book of the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah lived in a time of great turmoil and right before he was carried off into exile, he planted a tree. That tree would take root in his homeland and remain as a sign of hope for better days to come.

We all have trees to plant. We’re here, present and accounted for, ready to do our part.


Presentes y Contados

March 26, 2020

Entonces oí la voz del Señor, que decía: “¿A quién voy a enviar? ¿Quién será nuestro mensajero?” Yo respondí: “Aquí estoy yo, envíame a mí.”
Isaías 6:8

Uno de nuestros primeros instintos ante la calamidad es garantizar la seguridad de los que amamos. Entonces, en este desierto del COVID-19, nos estamos llamando mutuamente, haciéndonos la antigua pregunta: "¿Cómo estás?" Realmente queremos saber de nuestro prójimo e incluso tratar de estar cerca pero a la distancia.

Comenzamos de cerca, porque nuestros corazones están conectados de esa manera. Pero poca veces nos detenemos allí - invariablemente, el llamado de la compasión nos lleva a considerar a otros que no conocemos que se han visto afectados negativamente por lo que nos amenaza a todos. Los científicos sugieren que la empatía es una respuesta evolutiva para ayudar a garantizar la supervivencia de la especie. Si es así, también es una capacidad dada por Dios para que realmente nos cuidemos los unos a otros. "¿Y quién es mi vecino o mi prójimo?" - le preguntó un maestro de la ley a Jesús. Al contar la historia del buen samaritano, Jesús deja en claro que un prójimo es alguien que demuestra amabilidad.

Una pregunta que revolotea alrededor de una crisis como esta es: "¿Dónde está Dios?". Permítanme aclarar que en nuestra iglesia, el sufrimiento humano no se interpreta como una expresión de la ira de Dios; ni creemos que Dios causa el sufrimiento. Creemos que Dios está presente con nosotros en medio del sufrimiento y que es capaz de sacar el bien de las dificultades. Todos luchamos por sentir la presencia de Dios, a veces haciendo nuestro mejor esfuerzo para responder a destellos de gracia y guía, por las cual oramos.

Otra pregunta igualmente importante es esta: "¿Dónde estamos?". Permítanme sugerir que todos estamos aquí, presentes y contados. Es posible que algunos de nosotros necesitamos quedarnos en casa, pero no somos pasivos. Nuestros héroes incluyen no solo a profesionales médicos que trabajan en turnos largos, sino también a aquellos que almacenan estanterías de comestibles, entregan el correo o paquetes y recogen la basura. Aquellos de nosotros que mantenemos la distancia física nos presentamos de otras maneras: trabajando desde casa, educando a nuestros hijos, manteniendo las cosas en orden, vigilando a nuestros vecinos. No somos perfectos de ninguna manera, pero todos estamos llegando a este momento de manera que puede sorprendernos incluso a nosotros mismos.

Como resultado, los actos de bondad son precisamente lo que necesitamos para enfrentar nuestra propia tristeza y miedo. En palabras de la Reverenda episcopal Barbara Brown Taylor:

Lo mejor que se puede hacer cuando el miedo te tiene atrapado es hacerte amigo de alguien que vive en un miedo real y constante. Lo mejor que se puede hacer cuando la desesperación te ataca es pasar tiempo en una comunidad donde la desesperación es el pan de cada día. Lo mejor que puedes hacer cuando la tristeza tiene los brazos retorcidos detrás de la espalda, es sentarse con el niño más triste que conoces y decir: “Cuéntame más acerca de eso. Tengo todo el día”. (citado de la meditación diaria de Richard Rohr para el 26 de marzo del 2020)

Al presentarse ante los demás, no les pedimos que nos hagan sentir mejor. Algo más profundo está en juego: el misterio de experimentar la gracia y la solidaridad en los momentos más difíciles.

También estamos sosteniendo nuestra parte del mundo. Las tareas simples de atender nuestras relaciones, atender las rutinas normales en un tiempo anormal, son nuestras disciplinas espirituales ahora. Puede parecer extraño, pero este es un trabajo importante.

Una de mis historias favoritas en la Biblia aparece en el libro del profeta Jeremías. Jeremías vivió en una época de gran agitación y justo antes de ser llevado al exilio, plantó un árbol. Ese árbol echaría raíces en su tierra natal y permanecería como un signo de esperanza para los mejores días por venir.

Todos tenemos árboles para plantar. Estamos aquí, presentes y contados, listos para hacer nuestra parte.


Pautas y recursos para la adoración

March 25, 2020

Adoren al Señor en su hermoso santuario.
Salmo 96:9

Estimados colegas del clero de la Diócesis Episcopal de Washington,

Gracia a ti y paz en sus esfuerzos fieles para guiar a nuestra gente en oración dentro de las nuevas limitaciones que se nos imponen a todos. Doy gracias por tu deseo de ofrecer consuelo espiritual a tu congregación en este tiempo desconcertante.

Les escribo para compartirles algunas pautas para la adoración en nuestra nueva realidad. Mi intención es permitir la mayor amplitud posible, ya que el Espíritu Santo está inspirando una tremenda creatividad entre ustedes y en todo el Cuerpo de Cristo. Sus ministerios son evidencia de que nuestras iglesias no están cerradas, sino abiertas a servir a Dios y a nuestras comunidades de nuevas maneras.

Órdenes de cierre obligatorio a nivel estatal y distrital
Ahora que tanto el Gobernador Larry Hogan, de Maryland como la Alcaldesa Muriel Bowser, de Washington, DC han emitido el cierre obligatorio de negocios no esenciales y restricciones estrictas a las reuniones públicas, continuaremos suspendiendo la adoración pública hasta que se levanten esas órdenes. Además de aquellos involucrados en servicios esenciales, los empleados de la iglesia deben trabajar desde casa siempre que sea posible. Consulte la página Operaciones Parroquiales Esenciales en nuestro centro de recursos COVID-19 para obtener más información sobre el significado de servicios esenciales.

Pautas y recursos para la adoración en línea
Afortunadamente, las órdenes de cierre permiten ofrecer adoración en línea desde nuestros santuarios siempre que:

  •  se restrinjan a diez o menos personas involucradas 
  •  no involucrar a nadie que caiga en una categoría de alto riesgo
  •  practicar la distancia física en la adoración

Por favor, esté atento a las notificaciones al respecto. Si las órdenes cívicas se vuelven más restrictivas, tendremos que ajustar como corresponde.

Muchos de ustedes están ofreciendo servicios en línea diarios o entre semana, como la oración matutina y completas. La respuesta positiva revela un fuerte deseo entre nuestra gente de tener oración comunitaria. En su simplicidad, sus ofertas son conmovedoras y les agradezco sus esfuerzos. A menudo termino mis días uniéndome a uno de los muchos servicios de Completas que se ofrecen en toda la diócesis. Por favor, ve a tu ritmo en este trabajo e involucra a otros para que tus ofrendas puedan ser sostenidas.

En español usted puede encontrar la página de recursos. En inglés usted puede encontrar la página de recursos de adoración en línea. De particular ayuda para la Semana Santa son los recursos provistos por el Seminario Teológico de Virginia.

Adoración los domingos por la mañana 
Algunos en la diócesis sienten firmemente que la Oración Matutina es la ofrenda apropiada mientras que no podemos reunirnos en la comunidad para adorar. Respeto ese punto de vista y apoyo la práctica de la Oración Matutina del domingo.

Muchos han expresado un fuerte deseo de rezar la Eucaristía, y el de su gente de escuchar las oraciones familiares. Es un deseo comprensible y una respuesta pastoral. Siéntase libres de ofrecer las oraciones eucarísticas de consagración sobre el pan y el vino. En lugar de participar en recibir los elementos, considere no hacerlo y rezar alguna versión de la oración de comunión espiritual:

Jesús mío, creo que estás verdaderamente presente en el Sagrado Sacramento del Altar. 
Te amo por encima de todas las cosas, y te anhelo en mi alma. 
Como ahora no te puedo recibir sacramentalmente, entra espiritualmente en mi corazón. Como si ya hubieras venido, te abrazo y me uno completamente
a ti; nunca permitas que me separe de ti. Amén.
     (St. Alphonsus de Liguori, 1696-1787)

Comenzando este domingo en la Catedral Nacional de Washington, celebraremos la Eucaristía de esta manera, ofreciendo las oraciones de consagración sin participar de los elementos.

No intente ofrecer los sacramentos de otras maneras, como la comunión en automóvil o la entrega de elementos consagrados en los hogares de las personas. Dejando a un lado los problemas teológicos, debemos minimizar los viajes y el contacto humano. Tampoco es apropiado reunirse en grupos de menos de diez para una celebración eucarística cuando no se pueden incluir a otros.

Es perfectamente apropiado, por otro lado, diseñar un servicio de adoración que involucre a individuos y hogares partiendo el pan juntos como en la antigua práctica de una comida de ágape.

Un sacerdote de la diócesis preguntó si sería aceptable invitar a los miembros de la congregación a enviar sus oraciones e intenciones. Al colocarlos en el altar, el sacerdote presidiría la Eucaristía y recibiría los elementos en nombre del pueblo. Si tal práctica fuera significativa para usted y su congregación, me complace dar mi consentimiento.

Rezando con otros
Mientras que su congregación quiere orar con usted y su comunidad, no necesitas cargar solo con la carga de ofrecer adoración en línea. Siéntase libre de alentar a los miembros de su congregación(es) a orar en línea con otras comunidades de adoración. La Catedral Nacional de Washington es uno de los muchos recursos disponibles para usted. Dadas sus muchas responsabilidades y el estrés de este tiempo, su autocuidado es esencial. Permita que otros ayuden, es decir, inviten a miembros laicos a dirigir la Oración Matutina o Completas.

Cierro, como comencé, con una palabra de admiración y agradecimiento. Juntos estamos aprendiendo que hay innumerables formas de reunirse en oración y que las personas tienen hambre de alimento espiritual. Como muchos me han dicho, ahora es un momento ideal para enseñar y alentar las prácticas de oración en el hogar para individuos y familiares. Que una vida de oración en el hogar más fuerte sea uno de los resultados duraderos de este tiempo.

Tenga en cuenta que yo y otros miembros del personal diocesano estamos aquí para ayudar de cualquier manera que podamos, y recuerde que ustedes son todos recursos el uno para el otro. Nos encantaría recibir copias de sus liturgias para compartir en la página de recursos y, por lo tanto, crear una biblioteca sólida de ofertas para compartir. Puede enviarlos por correo electrónico directamente a la Archidiácona Sue von Rautenkranz. En español lo puede compartir con la Rvda. Sarabeth Goodwin quien las puede publicar en nuestro pagina web en español.

Que Dios te bendiga y te mantenga fuerte.

Fielmente,

Obispa Mariann

Worship Guidelines

March 25, 2020

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.  
Psalm 96:9

Dear Clergy Colleagues of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington,

Grace to you and peace in your faithful efforts to lead our people in prayer within the new constraints placed upon us all. I give thanks for your desire to offer spiritual solace to your people in this disorienting time. 

I write with a few guidelines for worship in our new reality. My intention is to allow for as much breadth as possible, for the Holy Spirit is inspiring tremendous creativity among you and throughout the Body of Christ. Your ministries are evidence that our churches are not closed, but open to serving God and our communities in new ways. 

State and District Mandatory Closure Orders 
Now that both Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland and Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, DC have issued the mandatory closure of non-essential businesses and strict restrictions on public gatherings, we will continue our suspension of public worship until those orders have been lifted. Apart from those involved in essential services, church employees are to work from home whenever possible. Please see the Essential Parish Operations page in our COVID-19 resource hub for more information on what is meant by essential services.

Online Worship Guidelines and Resources 
Thankfully, the closure orders allow for offering online worship from our sanctuaries provided that we:

  •  restrict those involved to ten or less 
  •  involve no one who falls in a high risk category 
  •  practice physical distance in worship 

Please be vigilant in your compliance. Should civic orders become more restrictive, we will need to adjust accordingly. 

Many of you are offering online daily or midweek services such as Morning Prayer and Compline. The positive response reveals a strong desire among our people for communal prayer. In their simplicity, your offerings are deeply moving and I’m grateful for your efforts. I often end my days now joining one of the many Compline services offered throughout the diocese. Please pace yourselves in this work, and involve others so that your offerings can be sustained.  

Our website includes a page for online worship resources. Of particular help for Holy Week are resources provided by Virginia Theological Seminary.

Sunday Morning Worship 
Some in the diocese feel strongly that Morning Prayer is the appropriate offering while we cannot gather in community for worship. I respect that view and support the practice of Sunday Morning Prayer. 

Many have expressed a strong desire to pray the Eucharist, and that of their people to hear the familiar prayers. It is an understandable desire and pastoral response. You are free to offer the eucharistic prayers of consecration. Rather than partake yourself, consider not doing so, and praying together some version of the prayer of spiritual communion: 

My, Jesus, I know that you are present in the Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment  receive you sacramentally
come spiritually into my heart.
I embrace you as if you were already there and unite myself wholly to you. 
Never permit me to be separated from you. Amen. 
       -- Prayer by St. Alphonsus (1696-1787)

Beginning this Sunday at Washington National Cathedral, we will celebrate Eucharist in this way, offering the prayers of consecration without partaking ourselves. 

Please do not attempt to offer the sacraments in others ways, such as drive-by communion or delivery of consecrated elements to people’s homes. Theological issues aside, we need to minimize travel and human contact. Nor is it appropriate to gather in groups of less than ten for a eucharistic celebration when others can’t be included. 

It’s perfectly appropriate, on the other hand, to craft a worship service that involves individuals and households breaking bread together as in the ancient practice of an agape meal.  

A priest in the diocese asked if it would be acceptable to invite members of the congregation to send in their prayers and intentions. Placing them on the altar, the priest would then preside at Eucharist, and receive the elements on behalf of the people. If such a practice would be meaningful for you and your congregation, I’m happy to give my consent. 

Praying with Others 
While your people want to pray with you and their community, you needn’t carry the burden of offering online worship alone. Feel free to encourage members of your congregation(s) to pray with other online worship communities. Washington National Cathedral is one of many resources available to you. Given your many responsibilities and the stress of this time, your self-care is essential. Allow others to help, i.e., inviting lay members to lead Morning Prayer or Compline. 

I close, as I began, with a word of admiration and thanks. Together we’re learning that there are countless ways to gather in prayer and that people are hungry for spiritual food. As many have said to me, now is an ideal moment to teach and encourage home prayer practices for individuals and households. May a stronger home prayer life be one of the lasting results of this time.

Please know that I and others on the diocesan staff are here to help in any way we can, and remember that you are all resources for one another.  We’d love to receive copies of your liturgies to share on the resource page and so build a strong library of offerings to share. You can email them directly to Archdeacon Sue von Rautenkranz.

May God bless you and keep you strong. 

Faithfully,

Bishop Mariann



Parish Support

March 25, 2020

Leer en español

“God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble.” 
Psalm 46:1

Dear Congregational Leaders of the Diocese of Washington,

In the midst of a pandemic that requires faith, stamina and creativity from you as spiritual leaders, you’re also facing uncertainty about the significant financial challenges in efforts to maintain your ministry. May God give you wisdom, strength, and courage in this time. We, your diocesan leaders, recognize the challenges before you. We are praying for you daily and seek to offer relief and assistance. 

We understand the priority of congregational ministry. This is a unique moment and opportunity for your ministry as more people are coming toward our congregations in their time of need. As you take stock of your financial situation, please know that we do not expect you to forgo critical parish needs in order to meet your financial pledge to the diocese. If you are in a position to continue your support, we would receive it gratefully, but we want you to focus on your congregation first. We’re aggressively scaling back diocesan-level spending in light of this crisis and also determining what resources we can make available to you. 

None of us knows how long this crisis will last. In the next two months, our focus is to ensure that all congregations have sufficient cash on hand to make payroll and pay health insurance premiums for their staff. At a special meeting, the Diocesan Council approved a process for applying for financial assistance. See below for a letter from Andrew Walter and Don Crane describing that process.  

The Church Pension Fund has also offered assistance for financially stressed congregations that are struggling to pay pension payments for their clergy. The application process for a two-month waiver involves contacting the diocesan office. Please be in touch with Kathleen Hall for assistance. 

We realize that every congregation is most likely experiencing a significant drop in income, perhaps most dramatically from those whose rental income has been sharply curtailed. Given the number of congregations whose budgets are balanced with rental income (totally over 6.2 million dollars annually across the diocese), we aren’t in a position to provide financial relief to offset that loss. We are here, however, to assist in the needed work of budget evaluation and reprioritization, with an eye toward weathering this storm and preserving the capacity for future ministry. 

While long-term implications for all our ministries are not clear, we are clear that the mission, vision and goals of our diocesan-wide strategic plan provide a framework for making decisions in a ministry context none of us anticipated. We also rely daily on prayer and collective discernment, as together we ask God to guide us, Jesus to abide with us, and the Holy Spirit to strengthen us. May God grant us all wisdom and courage for the living of this hour.

Faithfully in Christ,

Bishop Mariann

+  + +

To:  Congregational leaders

From: Andrew Walter, Canon for Strategic Collaboration
Donald Crane, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Counsel to the Bishop

Dear Friends, 

As Bishop Mariann said in her letter, we are here to provide support during this challenging time, with an immediate focus on the short term impacts of this crisis. To assist all our congregations, our financial team has developed a program for supporting our congregations, working with the Finance Committee and approved by the Diocesan Council: 

Parish Financial Evaluation and Reprioritization
All parish leaders are wise to evaluate their parish financial situation with the priority of addressing short term liquidity. We emphasize the following immediate steps for church leaders:

  • Examine the budget for planned expenditures that are not essential and that can be postponed or eliminated
  • Manage for immediate cash flow and liquidity – consider whether any endowment funds would be available, subject to restrictions or need to liquidate investments at a loss given market conditions
  • Encourage parishioners who typically pay their pledges with one payment or over the year to consider whether their situation allows them to pay the pledge in full at this time  
  • Make plans for alternate giving (Linda Baily of the Financial Resources Committee and Peter Turner will offer Stewardship and Giving in the Time of COVID-19, a free webinar on Thursday, March 26 at 1:00 p.m. Register here

Financial Support for Parish Employees and Regular Contractors
Diocesan staff and financial leaders have identified a limited amount of funds to be used to assist parishes that need financial assistance in order to pay salary and health benefits for church employees and contract staff for a period of two months, including:

  • Clergy
  • Church musicians
  • Administrators 
  • Sextons
  • Others who are paid for their services during normal church operations 

This support would not be extended to supply clergy or those who provide contractual services on an intermittent basis.

Applying for and Determining Support
Our support will be based on cash flow needs. Though we may not be able to meet all needs, we will do the best we can. Parishes should contact Andrew Walter to discuss their situation and have the following information ready to share:

  • 2019 year end and monthly financial statements to date, including cash balance and projections; availability of endowment funds which could be utilized to the extent unrestricted and available (cash or short terms)
  • Description of the impact to date from the suspension of operations, including school or other user payments lost and percentage of overall budget attributable to user income
  • Identification of steps to encourage alternative giving methods
  • Staff compensation, including clergy, lay staff and part-time or regular contract staff
  • Steps taken to reevaluate budget expenses for deferral or cancelling
  • Identification of amount and timing of funds needed to cover payroll (compensation and health benefits) shortfall 

Application Review and Dispersal of Funds
The Finance Committee, on the recommendation of the Diocesan staff, will review each application and approve any funding to parishes. 

  • Funds will be provided as a loan or grant, to be determined on a case by case basis
  • Funds will be allocated based on the most urgent needs of Diocese of Washington congregations, and will be disbursed as needed, not in a lump sum single payment 

Encouraging Congregational Giving
We realize that many of our people are worried about their own finances, which will certainly affect their ability to give. Yet we are confident that they understand the value of your ministry in a time of crisis and the need for continued for financial support. It’s appropriate for you to pastorally remind them to support the church and your ministries as best they can. 

In this time of great uncertainty, please be assured that your diocesan staff and members from our leadership bodies are working diligently to help all of our parishes come through this crisis in the best financial health possible. We will continue to reprioritize diocesan funds as needed, just as we ask of you, and we will remain in regular communication with you as circumstances unfold. May God be our compass as we navigate these troubled waters together. 

Friends in Christ, 

Andrew Walter
Canon for Strategic Collaboration

Don Crane
Chief Operating Officer and Senior Counsel to the Bishop

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