Episcopal Diocese of Washington

Engaging a changing world with
an enduring faith in Jesus Christ

News & Features

Tell Me About Your Faith Journey

July 18, 2019

“Tell me about your faith journey.”

It’s a question I often ask. Over the years of asking, I’ve been moved (and pleasantly surprised) as people happily welcome this conversation. Many folks are grateful for the chance to describe their faith journey, and believe that church is an important context in which such conversations can happen. 

In sharing their faith journey, people emphasize the vital role of the worshipping community in their spiritual growth.

“The welcome you receive from this congregation is genuine.”

“I visited here and knew this was my spiritual home.”

“I feel the Holy Spirit’s presence in worship, especially in the Eucharist.”

“I went through a hard time: the support and prayers of this congregation probably saved my life.”

“The ministry we have to the community, through our mission and outreach, shows me that Jesus can be found in every person, no matter the circumstances”

Human beings are created for relationship. From the moment of our birth, bonds with loved ones sustain our life. The tapestry of our lives is threaded with curiosity, pain, joy, loss, fear, tragedy, triumph, hope. Even in our early years, before we have much vocabulary to express it, we yearn for a sense of belonging. As with other developmental horizons, our emerging religious consciousness becomes God-hunger (what several authors have called the “God-shaped hole” at the center of our being).

I am particularly grateful that the Episcopal/Anglican tradition honors both our need to belong and our yearning for God. Rather than urging people onto a solitary path of individual conversion, we weave the compelling and empowering love of Jesus Christ into the experience of belonging.

In the diocesan Strategic Planning process, gathered in each region, a unanimous priority came clear: to revitalize our faith communities as bearers of the Good News of Jesus Christ and to foster the experience of belonging for which we yearn. In the coming weeks, our diocesan community will review and reflect further on this priority, as we together seek to fulfill God’s preferred future for the Diocese of Washington.

The Rt. Rev. Chilton Knudsen
Assisting Bishop

Category: News

June Service of Ordination - The Day in Pictures

June 20, 2019

Left to right: The Reverends Todd Thomas, Rachelle Sams, Yoimel Hernandez, Jenifer Gamber, and Tim Kennedy
All photos by Donovan Marks
On Saturday, June 15, Bishop Mariann ordained Jenifer Gamber, Yoimel Hernandez, and Rachelle Sam to the sacred order of priests and Tim Kennedy and Todd Thomas to the sacred order of deacons at Washington National Cathedral. In her sermon, Bishop Mariann told the ordinands:
You have been called to spiritual leadership...in a time of what some call adaptive change. [M]any of the challenges we face...surpass our current capacities and skills. So we must learn new skills, new practices, new ways of being ourselves in order to become--by grace and hard work--leaders capable of meeting the challenges and opportunities before us and helping others do the same.  
Read Bishop Mariann's sermon
Watch Bishop Mariann's sermon

Waiting for the procession to begin.

The Presentation of the Ordinands

Bishop Mariann

The Diaconate Laying on of Hands

Laying on of Hands for the Priesthood

The Ordinands with Bishop Mariann

Category: News

Youth Has Its Day - Diocesan Lenten Mite Box Offering, May 1948

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

Category: News

Ambassadors of Healing

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

Category: News

Becoming Good Soil: One Faithful Next Step

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:

  1. Find clarity around mission, vision, values, and strategy
  2. Grow by expanding the “front door”
  3. Learn the best ways to close the “back door”
  4. Discover practical ways to enhance weekend services
  5. Build a plan to develop more leaders
  6. Learn to build teams & increase volunteer engagement
  7. Develop a Senior Leadership Team that works
  8. Learn how to staff for growth
  9. Clarify roles for the board & staff
  10. Improve communications at your church
  11. Learn how to establish healthier finances
  12. 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.

Category: News

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.