News & Features
August 08, 2018
For many years the Claggett Center has been hosting successful summer camps for Maryland’s young people. This year for the first time, EDOW has partnered with Claggett and the Diocese of Maryland – a collaboration that supports Claggett Summer Camps as the destination for EDOW campers and staff, this summer and going forward.
Claggett Center provides an ideal camp setting – 268 acres that include a working farm and extensive facilities, including a junior Olympic-size pool, a ropes course and zipline, hiking trails, and canoeing. It is holy ground to be sure – with gorgeous views of Sugarloaf Mountain and the surrounding Monocacy River valley.
There were four sessions this summer – featuring three week-long camps: High School Week, Middle School Week, and Youth Week – each hosting 60 campers, including boys and girls from Washington. A fourth session brought participants in the Sutton Scholars High School Enrichment Program – 80 Baltimore City high students (grades 9-12).
I arrived at Claggett in mid-June to volunteer where helpful, accepting a gracious invite from the Rev. Spencer Hatcher, Director of Summer Programs. I was warmly welcomed by Spencer and our own Rita Yoe, who serves as Assistant Director – and by the first-rate counselors and staff at Claggett. I served as Co-Chaplain for Middle School Week and staff-at-large throughout – a role that included playing guitar in chapel, facilitating small groups, pastoral moments with kids and staff, leading several evenings of open mic and karaoke – and lots of relationship building in the Claggett community.
The spiritual heartbeat of community life was twice-daily chapel services and small groups, where campers wrestled with Scripture and explored their personal faith in a more intimate setting. Creativity flowed freely and Scripture was often presented in dynamic, engaging ways. The story of Ruth and Naomi, for example, was shared through biblical storytelling, with campers reading parts and everyone singing a refrain: “Wherever you go, I’ll go too. For you’ve got me, my friend, and I’ve got you…”
Chapel services offered times of unbridled joy as well as more reflective moments. There was always room for the Spirit to move! One memorable morning, the homily opened with a reflection on our freedom to love God and our neighbor – and then the band kicked in, and it became a full-throated roar as everyone stood and joyfully sang the Tom Petty song Free Fallin’ – “…well I’m freeeeeee! Free falling…”
Each day at camp was packed full of love and life and laughter. The God moments were powerful and numerous. Yet, it is camp – where some of the best times are unplanned. Lots of memorable moments to share – here’s one… On the last day of camp, a young Sutton Scholar asked Spencer to teach her to swim during our afternoon pool time. They spent some time in the shallow end, and soon she was paddling around with a big smile. That evening, everyone gathered around the final campfire – we sang, we swapped stories, and we danced. Spencer felt a tap on her shoulder – she turned to see her swim buddy who smiled and asked: “Miss Spencer, I want to teach you something. Do you know how to dance the dougie?” And so they danced. It was a beautiful and sacred moment, as they practiced the way of love – each sharing what they have with each other, and letting God’s love do the rest. Blessed be.
Written by the Rev. Kent Marcoux, rector of St. George's, D.C.
June 28, 2018
Small group work at AEL session
Excitement and nerves. An opportunity to engage a complex ministry challenge collaboratively. The realization that God had equipped each person in the room with unique gifts to move the process along in a reminder that it is better together than alone. (Ecc. 4:9)
I have no doubt that this swirl of hope and faith, anxious and enthusiastic in turns, lived inside the 11 individuals from five parishes in our diocesan Latino/Hispanic Ministry who attended Academia Ecuménica de Liderazgo (AEL - Ecumenical Leadership Academy) training at Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) last November. As mentor to their group, I felt the rush, too. Something powerful was forming, a seed planted that held the potential to bear amazing fruit.
A “train the trainers” program for laity interested in starting and facilitating adult formation programs, the AEL format features an online and small-group hybrid approach shepherded by lay leaders. Before leaving VTS, the newly trained facilitators would develop a draft work plan to guide them through the implementation process in their home parishes.
AEL planning team
By early April, with support from their clergy, the final planning group of six lay leaders embarked on a journey to prepare how they would kick off AEL in their communities. As many of you know, the planning stage of any project is the most critical because you must address the elephant in the room -- the who, what, when, where, why, and how. Now multiply that by a common language and add over 11 distinct cultural contexts. With time and intentionality, the planning group agreed upon sharing costs, facilities, a timeline, and out of the 12 possible courses ranging from evangelism to liturgy to the Book of Common Prayer, they would begin forming disciples by offering a class on the Bible.
The group announced the class within their respective congregations. The format for each session would include convivio (fellowship), prayer, hymns, games, video presentation and reflection. The reflection portion would provide space for all involved to synthesize where they encounter God in specific situations, including those simple things that happen in their daily life. In mid-May, they kicked off the first of eight sessions, with 20 participants (two groups of 10). By week three, they were at a maximum capacity of 30 (2 groups of 15). Truly, the Holy Spirit was at work.
According to Araceli Ma, one of the facilitators and a member of the Church of Our Savior, the experience of AEL and learning to read the Bible among brothers and sisters from various congregations and at different levels of experience, allows everyone to connect, speak, and learn from one another. “There is a special energy that makes everyone collaborate -- the participants come enthusiastically to help arrange chairs or equipment, share a Bible, eat together and begin to know each other at a deeper level, which makes it very motivating to do AEL.” Sarabeth Goodwin, Latino Missioner for the diocese, noted it is, “great to see the empowerment of laity as they become comfortable in leading others.”
As their mentor, witnessing and supporting the passion and commitment of these lay leaders has been a breath of fresh air. The excitement as they gather via Zoom week after week to do their lesson plan inspires me as a lay person, to see new paths to discipleship being embraced and created. This calling to incorporate new learning models and experiences that embody the teachings of Christ in Christian formation is extremely transformative. I have learned more than I have taught and look forward to seeing the fruits of all those involved. Knowing that God’s hands are at work among the laity reassures me that there is an eagerness to adapt to a new environment of forming disciples.
Are you interested in creating a laity-led adult formation group? Want to learn more about the AEL model and how it can work in your parish or regional context? Want to explore where your gifts, ministry, and mission can lead you and others? I welcome your questions and looking forward to hearing from you.
Mildred Reyes, Missioner for Collaborative Formation
June 21, 2018
I first met Fredy Diaz about 10 years ago at a meeting of Latino leaders of our Diocese. He was a leader at St. Mathew’s/San Mateo, where he was a member of its vestry. His charisma and energetic personality stood out immediately.
I eventually came to know something of Fredy’s history: He came to the United States from Honduras when he was just 17, and over the next 20 years established a life for himself and his family here.
In 2015, Fredy moved to Gaithersburg where he, his wife Berta and their three American-born children joined the Church of the Ascension. Fredy and Berta are both supervisors in their places of work, he with a landscaping firm, manages work teams and negotiates new contracts, and she as Manager of Housekeeping for a hotel.
At Ascension, Fredy stepped into leadership as a member of “La Mesa Latina,” the congregational leadership group. Fredy took charge of the grounds and kept them looking spiffy. He began to manage the technology for the Latino congregation’s services, streaming Sunday services online, and producing the weekly PowerPoint for on-screen services. He participates in Ministerio Felicidad, which provides lunches for day workers and homeless people. And Fredy is also a singer and composer. In the little spare time he has produced two albums.
Two weeks ago, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was waiting for Fredy as he was on his way to work. He is currently in a detention center in Glen Burnie, MD, where he remains incarcerated. The family is reeling. The children are bewildered. Berta is trying to remain strong as she doubles down to make ends meet while doing her best to comfort the children. The people of Ascension, Gaithersburg are supporting the family as they can through financial donations, as well as through a support network providing assistance in any number of ways, in the hope of making the children’s lives seem as normal as possible during their “Papi’s” absence.
We understand that Fredy’s attorney has been able to defer any deportation proceedings pending notification from immigration authorities whether they will reopen his case. We ask you to pray for Fredy, Berta and their children, and for all our immigrant families, who are eating the bread of anxiety during these terrible times.
If you are moved to help in a more direct way or wish to know more about Fredy and his family, contact Church of the Ascension by clicking here.
By The Rev. Sarabeth Goodwin, Latino Missioner
June 21, 2018
Conocí a Fredy Díaz hace unos 10 años en una reunión de líderes latinos de nuestra Diócesis. En aquel entonces asistía a Saint Matthew’s /San Mateo, donde era miembro de su junta parroquial. Su carisma y personalidad energética se destacaron de inmediato.
A través de los años, llegué a conocer algo de la historia de Fredy: vino a los Estados Unidos de Honduras cuando tenía solo 17 años, y durante los siguientes 20 años estableció su vida y comenzó una familia aquí.
En 2015, Fredy y su familia se mudaron a Gaithersburg, donde con su esposa Berta y sus tres hijos nacidos en los Estados Unidos se unieron a la Iglesia de la Ascensión. Fredy y Berta son supervisores en sus lugares de trabajo--él trabaja en una empresa de landscaping, donde maneja los equipos de trabajo y negocia nuevos contratos, y ella es Directora de limpieza y mantenimiento de cuartos de un hotel.
En Ascensión, Fredy asumió el liderazgo como miembro de "La Mesa Latina", el grupo de liderazgo congregacional. Fredy se hizo cargo de los terrenos de la iglesia y los mantuvo con mucho cuidado y cariño. Comenzó a administrar la tecnología para los servicios de la congregación latina, transmitiendo los servicios dominicales en línea y produciendo las presentaciones de PowerPoint para proyectar los servicios en pantalla. Participa en el Ministerio Felicidad, que ofrece almuerzos para jornaleros y personas sin hogar. Fredy también es cantante y compositor. En su poco tiempo libre ha producido dos CDs.
Hace dos semanas, el Servicio de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas de EE. UU. (ICE, por sus siglas en inglés), estaba esperando a Fredy cuando se dirigía a su trabajo muy de mañana. Ahora se encuentra en un centro de detención en Glen Burnie, MD, donde permanece encarcelado. La familia está tambaleándose. Los niños están desconcertados. Berta está tratando de mantenerse fuerte haciendo lo necesario para llegar al fin del mes y haciendo lo posible por consolar a los niños. La gente de Ascensión, Gaithersburg están apoyando a la familia como pueden, a través de donaciones financieras, así como a través de una red de apoyo que ofrece asistencia de muchas maneras, con la esperanza de hacer que los niños experimentan la vida en la manera más normal posible durante la ausencia de su "Papi."
Entendemos que el abogado de Fredy ha podido aplazar cualquier procedimiento de deportación hasta que las autoridades de inmigración les notifiquen si van a reabrir su caso. Pedimos sus oraciones por Fredy, Berta y sus hijos, y por todas nuestras familias inmigrantes, que están comiendo el pan de ansiedad durante estos tiempos aterrorizantes.
Si quieren saber cómo pueden ayudar de manera más directa o por saber más de Fredy, contacten a la Iglesia de la Ascensión haciendo clic aquí.
June 14, 2018
My most profound experiences of God have been found in two places: in the natural world around me and in the people with whom I have shared experiences of mission or the work of the Church. This might be a brief encounter on my drive to work, saying hello and sharing food or water with a woman who stands on the corner of Canal and Foxhall Road. Or it may be the weeks of any given summer doing short-term mission with young people in cities and rural places near and far. Or in a meeting with people who are passionate about the plight of refugees as they listen and share ministry opportunities with each other. This is the work of the Church and where Jesus comes alive for me.
I say the work of the Church because our Baptismal Covenant calls each of us to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as yourself;” and “to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” For all Episcopalians, this is our servant ministry. How each of us engages the work or ministry depends upon our experiences and our passions. What might excite and move you to one place of ministry will not engage another. Where you might be willing to spend your time, talent and treasure might be a place that another person may never even visit. Yet, each of us is called to find our work for God.
The Diocese of Washington has been engaged in developing a program to raise up and train deacons for the last four years. These deacons are not transitional; meaning that they will not be ordained as priests to lead and guide various faith communities. These are life-long deacons who are passionate about the hopes, needs and concerns of the world and will do whatever it takes to assist the Church in responding, as a servant community. Deacons do this by example, by taking others along with them, and by assisting disciples in living out their faith in the world, so that they too might see Jesus.
Since the first ordinations of three deacons in the fall of 2012, we have tripled our numbers. This fall, God willing and the people consenting, we hope to double that number to 22; and hopefully increase that by 9 more in 2020. On Saturday, October 27, we will again hold a Diaconal Workshop Day - a day to explore the ministry of deacons, learn about the process for ordination, and hear about the formation program used to train and equip deacons for ministry.
Does this enliven or stir your heart? What to know more about deacons and their ministry? Visit the deacon’s page on the website and watch for further information and a registration process for the Diaconal Workshop Day.
By The Venerable L. Sue von Rautenkranz, Archdeacon