News & Features
June 05, 2019
Did you have your first picnic over the weekend?
On Saturday, May 17, 1948 the Diocese sponsored a Lenten Mite Box Offering and Church School Day at the Cathedral. These small, blue, cardboard boxes are used to collect funds for the United Thank Offering, sponsored by the Episcopal Church Women. The mite is based on the "widow's mite" story from the Gospels (Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4).
The day began with the annual Presentation Service of the Lenten Offerings, an innovation in the diocesan calendar. Held from 11:30 a.m. -3:30 p.m., they hoped to bring in as many children as possible from the missions and parishes outside of the city. The service was held at the end so that those from far away might reach home before dark.
They made careful plans for a recreation and educational program, with the assistance of a parishioner who was the Director of the Division of Neighborhood Centers of the D.C. Recreation Department. Trained leaders were present to direct games and activities for children of all ages. Tours of the Cathedral were arranged with specially trained guides and included parts of the Cathedral which the “children can best understand.” Everyone was asked to bring their own lunch, after which there was community singing, while choirs, crucifers, and torch bearer prepared for the service.
The evaluation comments after these Days would sound familiar to anyone who has ever been part of a big event: “make more of an effort to get clergy to participate in service; loudspeaker difficulties; have the service moved to the beginning of the day; hymns and tunes chosen for the service should be familiar; have a band and parade (eventually the Boys’ Club Band did perform one year); put the service in children’s terms and language; the offering...could be dramatized by the use of a large reproduction of a mite box (which apparently St. Patrick’s had!).” Other observations included: “we had no choirs from the Negro churches...attendance was heavy in the rural areas and light in the city parishes.”
After seven years, it was decided in 1954 that there would be three regional services for mite box presentations. The Children’s Day turned into a Festival for Singing Children in 1955 with a festival of junior choirs, a picnic lunch, and games and contests.
Is your parish having an end of year festival or picnic? Take photos, print them out, and, using a blank address label, put the names of the people in the pictures, date, and occasion on the back. Future generations will bless you!
Feel free to contact me with any questions about this article or your church records.
Mrs. Susan Stonesifer
Historiographer, Episcopal Diocese of Washington
May 30, 2019
Photo credit: Steelbeach Productions
From seven states and the District of Columbia, mostly Episcopalians, joined by Lutheran, Mennonite, Baptist, Methodist, and “Nones,” the seasoned and the young, differently abled, black and white, clergy and lay, all told, fifty-two pilgrims converged on Birmingham, Alabama, to travel the Civil Rights Trail and visit the Equal Justice Initiative’s Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum May 20-25.
We traveled from Birmingham to Montgomery, and then to Selma. We were regaled by the foot soldiers – children at the time – who told their stories of being at the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday; of having to ask their parents’ permission to miss school to participate in the Children’s March. We were reduced to tears at the Legacy Museum as holographs of the enslaved told their stories of abuse, estrangement and a desire for freedom. We learned that Lehman Brothers, a major financial powerhouse that went bankrupt in 2008, began as a purveyor of human flesh. We learned that in 1857, there were more auction blocks in Montgomery than there were hotels and churches. We learned that the black residents of Selma, Alabama, are little better off economically today than they were in 1965.
Then, on the final night, reminiscent of the mass meetings of the 1960s, we gathered together for one last time to strategize – what would we do; how was God calling us? First, we will stay together; we came together, many of us as strangers and became our version of the beloved community. Across denominational and diocesan boundaries, we came together. We will share what we learned; we will challenge our congregations; and we will commit ourselves to breaking down barriers that keep God’s children from being all they are called to be. As one young adult offered, “I’ve read about these places and what happened and I knew they still existed; but to see them for myself, to see the people who are still alive to tell the stories, this isn’t history, this is today.”
The Rev. Gayle Fisher-Stewart, Ph.D.
Priest-in-Charge, St. Luke's Episcopal Church, D.C.
Photo credit: Steelbeach Productions
April 04, 2019
“Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step"
In Genesis 12, God commands Abraham and Sarah to go “to the place I will show you.” Abraham and Sarah struggled, as anyone would, with not being aware of the destination, after all they didn’t have Google maps or Waze! All they had was faith. They set out on their journey, by faith, one step at a time until they realized the promise God made to them. Like our spiritual forefathers and foremothers, God has led the Diocese of Washington on a journey to Become Good Soil and our response to God’s call mirrors that of Abraham and Sarah--by faith--one step at a time.
We know God’s preferred future for us will result in greater fruitfulness in spiritual growth, vibrant congregational life, more confident evangelism and deeper engagement in our communities, in faithfulness to Jesus and his mission of love. We get there by taking One Faithful Next Step.
As Bishop Mariann has expressed, there is no need to wait until the end of the Diocesan planning process to move forward strategically within parishes and regions. One Faithful Next Step that parish leaders can take to sustain momentum is to sign up for the Unstuck Course. Covering 12 core issues, this course will help you learn principles and practices that break down barriers to church health and growth.
Through this course you will gain the ability to help your church:
- Find clarity around mission, vision, values, and strategy
- Grow by expanding the “front door”
- Learn the best ways to close the “back door”
- Discover practical ways to enhance weekend services
- Build a plan to develop more leaders
- Learn to build teams & increase volunteer engagement
- Develop a Senior Leadership Team that works
- Learn how to staff for growth
- Clarify roles for the board & staff
- Improve communications at your church
- Learn how to establish healthier finances
- Build tools to monitor health & growth
Each lesson contains eight sections: overview (read), the big idea (watch), consider this (read), picture this (to-do), talk it out (to-do), dive deeper (to-do), self-evaluation, and leadership appreciation (to-do). Each of the eight steps takes approximately 3-4 weeks, so the entire course could be done in 8-12 months. There is a PDF accompanying each lesson that can be shared with the team.
To sign up for this course and receive more information, contact Mildred Reyes, missioner for Formation.
One more Faithful Step is for your prayers as we continue the work of Becoming Good Soil. The Rev. Joseph Constant, rector of St. John's, Beltsville, wrote a collect for the Becoming Good Soil process.
Gracious God, thank you for your love and faithfulness toward us. Your Son Jesus Christ commissioned the Church to go into the world and make disciples of all nations. We come to you as members of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington asking for your guidance as we engage in our Strategic Planning Process. Give us wisdom to discern your vision for the diocese and courage for our churches to implement the vision through programs and ministries. We pray for our sister, Bishop Mariann, and members of the diocesan staff as they provide inspiration and guidance to our churches. Open our hearts to your Holy Spirit and lead us to follow the Way of Love with creativity and purpose. We offer our prayer and petition in the name of your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.
April 04, 2019
“Why should faith communities care about justice?”
“What tells us more about the values of a community than what it spends money on?”
“In order to get from the world as it is to the world as we want it to be, we need power.”
These snippets can be heard on Thursday afternoons at The Epiphany Power Hour, a new social justice conversation series held weekly at The Church of the Epiphany in Washington, D.C. (map) Each week, we discuss systemic injustices, and ways we can affect change.
For years, Epiphany has operated homeless services such as The Welcome Table and Street Church - programs that provide meals, supplies, opportunities for creativity, and ministry to the downtown poor. Like many churches, we have operated within a paradigm of charity; that it is our duty, as people of God, to serve those who are perceived as “less fortunate” and “underprivileged.” Meals, extra socks, and a few hours of shelter are necessary for those surviving day-to-day, but they do little to combat the root causes of widespread poverty. “We believe that it is our duty to shift the charity paradigm toward one of agency and justice.” says The Rev. Glenna Huber, rector of Epiphany and host of the Power Hour.
We have an obligation to come together as a community, as people of God, to address the issues that threaten our common humanity - systemic poverty, ecological devastation, racism and militarism. These myriad overlapping issues come down to the question of power - who has it? How is it acquired? What are the best ways to empower those at the margins who are routinely left out of the conversation?
The Power Hour explores these questions each week. We regularly feature local faith leaders, nonprofit workers, and community organizers to bring their experience and wisdom; in April, we will have Nisha Patel of Robin Hood, the D.C. chapter of the Poor People’s Campaign, and Ed Lazere of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute. Check out Epiphany’s website for upcoming events, and come join the conversation on Thursdays at 12:10 for education, empowerment, and community.
Epiphany, D.C. received a Congregational Growth Grant from the diocese to launch The Epiphany Power Hour.
March 14, 2019
People from the village of Adot, South Sudan, celebrating the new well
After reading the novel, A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park in the winter of 2018, the sixth grade class at Christ Episcopal School in Rockville, Maryland was inspired to have a positive, lasting impact in the world. The novel portrayed the true story of Salva Dut, a Sudanese lost boy, who faced extreme challenges as he fled civil conflict in his South Sudanese village. The novel also told of the difficulty Sudanese families have in gaining access to clean water.
Galvanized by compassion for these suffering families, the CES 6th graders decided that they wanted to help get clean water to more families in South Sudan. This began a three-month campaign to raise money for Water for South Sudan, a non-profit created by Salva Dut. Their hope was to have the ability to co-sponsor a well in South Sudan. In order to realize their dream, the students needed to raise $5000—a lofty goal. The class was highly motivated and leveraged social media, as well as, a marketing campaign they developed and used throughout the school and church community. As part of the marketing, the students pooled their own money to design and sell bracelets that said “Water for South Sudan” and included the web address for the on-line, crowdsourcing web site that they created to collect donations.
The project soon exceeded expectations. By April, 2018, the students had raised over $15,000 from both the CES community and their extended network. This meant that rather than co-sponsoring a well with other schools, CES would sponsor one additional well in its entirety. In February, 2019, Christ Episcopal School received word that the well had been built! CES received pictures of the well surrounded by people in the Adot village waving their thanks and holding a sign recognizing Christ Episcopal School’s and Church’s sponsorship.
Christ Episcopal School's students are truly overwhelmed with what they have achieved. They have thrown their hearts into this project, feeling a strong connection with the plight of the Sudanese people. The generosity of the CES community has left a lasting legacy for the families in the Adot village and the students at CES. It is a legacy that is bound to create positive change in the minds, hearts and spirits of all those who have been touched by this project. The entire CES community--and the people of the Diocese of Washington--are proud of these students who on their own embraced the spirit of the Christ Episcopal School motto, “Minds to Learn, Hearts to Love, and Hands to Serve.”
Sharing Faith cards can be printed (double sided) from the document located here: Faith Cards Avery 8387. They are on Avery 8387 postcard stock and need to be cut in half once printed.