News & Features : Archives March 2017
March 30, 2017
The Diocese of Washington will be well-represented when advocates gather in Chicago next month for Unholy Trinity: the Intersection of Racism, Poverty and Gun Violence, a three-day conference grounded in scripture, liturgy and theology and sponsored by Bishops United Against Gun Violence.
The Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, Susan D. Morgan Distinguished Professor of Religion at Goucher College in Baltimore and canon theologian at Washington National Cathedral, will be part of the conference’s “three-note” panel, and Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde will join with Bishop Mark Beckwith of Newark to lead a plenary session on community organizing.
Workshops at the conference are devoted to helping participants work with police, young people, legislators, anti-violence advocacy groups and other constituencies to reduce gun violence.
“I hope to come away from the conference with concrete ideas and suggestions for reducing gun violence, especially the gun violence that continues apace below the radar of broad public consciousness,” Budde says. “I’d like to move my work and advocacy closer to the ground, in neighborhoods, communities, and among people for whom gun violence is a given in their lives.
“I’d also like to learn ways to speak with people of faith across the spectrum of political views regarding guns and gun violence, so that we can have a real conversation.”Budde is sponsoring the participation of the Rev. Rob Schenck, a conservative evangelical minister who has alienated some of his political allies by speaking out against the gun culture in the United States. Schenck and Lucy McBath, the mother of an unarmed teenager who was murdered in Florida, are the subjects of Abigail Disney’s documentary, “The Armor of Light.” McBath will join Schenck in presenting a workshop.
Budde said she felt strongly about including Schenck in the conference. “He has deep pastoral relationships and a leadership role in the branches of Christianity that most support gun rights,” she says. “His story is a testimony of courage and determination to help influence those most resistant to changing gun culture. He sees gun violence not only as a public health crisis in our country, but a spiritual one as well.”
Douglas, the author of “Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God,” will be a member of the conference’s three-note panel along with the Rev. Julian DeShazier, senior minister of University Church in Chicago and hip-hop artist; and Natalie Moore, South Side reporter for WBEZ and author of “The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation.” The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, will moderate the panel.
“We can’t see gun violence in isolation from some of these issues like race and social economic justice,” Douglas says. “Until we bring those three things together, I don’t think we are going to resolve issues of gun violence. So I think the conference is approaching it in the right way.”
Holding the conference in Chicago, which has become synonymous with urban gun violence and last year had the eighth-highest murder rate in the country is also important, Douglas says. In January, President Donald Trump tweeted that he might “send in the Feds,” if the city could not “fix the horrible carnage.”
“This new administration has given attention to Chicago in a way that I think is not helpful,” Douglas says. “It focuses on the violence that actually is a consequence of the systemic and structural violence which has created a culture that actually nurtures death and not the ‘abundant life’ which God promises to us all. In order to curb the gun violence that has impacted the lives of various neighborhoods in Chicago, one has to address the violence that is the realities of social economic injustice.”
But reducing gun violence in Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods and others like them is not the only gun violence issue challenging the country, Douglas says. “We’ve got to get these guns out of the hands of various people who feel threatened every time they see a black body on the street. Because the threat to black life is not just going on in what I call these ‘enclaves of death.’”
Douglas says Trump’s presidency has raised both racial tensions and the awareness of racial tensions in the United States. “Such awareness perhaps will help even more people to understand the realities of racism that actually contribute to issues such as gun violence, and began to understand that these issues do not exist in a vacuum,” she says. “It is my hope that we will began to recognize the disproportionate impact that gun violence has on communities of color does not result from violent people, but rather violent systems. Far too often we focus on the people as if something is wrong with them—playing into racist narratives—when in fact our focus should be on the situations and conditions in which people are forced to live—which themselves are products of racism. We have to begin to name the violence that is white racism.”
March 16, 2017
By Kathleen Moore
On April 1, the Center for the Study of Faith in Justice will host The Police are the Public; The Public are the Police – Repairing the Breach. Speakers include Wesley Lowery, a reporter for The Washington Post and author of “They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and the New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement.
“This conference is an opportunity to make a real change in policing,” says the Rev. Gayle Fisher-Stewart, founder of the Center for the Study of Faith in Justice at Calvary Episcopal Church and retired captain with the Metropolitan Police Department. “For me, if we’re going to be serious about the Jesus Movement, it needs to affect every aspect of our lives, to include how American policing affects people of color. I truly believe that with a few people we can start making connections with law enforcement agencies. If we start small and get commitments to meet the police face-to-face, it’s going to be the relationships that change policing.”
The day-long event will include presentations from Fisher-Stewart, author of “Community Policing Explained: A Guide for Local Governments”; the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, distinguished professor of religion at Goucher College, canon theologian at Washington National Cathedral, and author of “Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God”; Brian K. Jordan, chief of police and executive director for safety and security, Howard University and co-author of “A National Conversation on Police and Community Relations on HBCU Campuses”; the Rev. David Couper, retired police chief of Madison, Wisconsin and author of “Arrested Development: A Veteran Police Chief Sounds off about Protest, Racism, Corruption, and the Seven Steps Necessary to Improve Our Nation’s Police” and Tim McMillan, lieutenant with the Garden City, Georgia police department whose Facebook post following his experience pulling over a young black man went viral.
Fisher-Stewart, who spent twenty years working as a police officer, believes the church has a key role to play in the work of police reform. “To repair this breach, it needs a theological direction, because the races have never been one in America if we look at it from a secular perspective,” she says. “The only way we can look at it is through a theological lens where God created one human race that human beings then divided. That's the only way we can get back to reconciliation. Because if we look at the races in America, they've never been one, so how can you reconcile what's never been one in the first place?”
This racial divide created a police force in the United States that “has never really been about serving and protecting everybody,” Fisher-Stewart says. “So it's time to fix the breach, and I think that the church is in a better position to do it, because that is what the church is called to do: the reconciling work of Jesus Christ.”
Fisher-Stewart believes the Trump administration has created even more urgency around the need to take action toward repairing the law enforcement breach. “If we don’t do something, nothing is going to change,” she says. “And most likely, it’s going to get worse now that we have a ‘law and order’ President again. We know what ‘law and order’ means in this country – it means mass incarceration. Trump said the other day to the major city [police] chiefs, ‘You don't have the weapons you need.’ Weapons? Are you going to war? And if you're going to war, who's your enemy? And if the community is the enemy, that's a problem. And it makes it dangerous for civilians and the police.”
The conference will provide attendees with concrete tools to engage in this work toward change. “There is so much to do that you can get paralyzed with inaction because you don’t know where to start,” Fisher-Stewart says. “This conference is a way to start, because the church is about relationship. And if everybody who comes to this conference makes one contact with the chief of their jurisdiction face-to-face, then we start seeing each other as human beings as opposed to enemies.”
“The Police are Public; The Public are the Police – Repairing the Breach” will take place Saturday, April 1 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Grace Episcopal Church in Silver Spring, Maryland. The free event is limited to 200 participants. Breakfast and lunch will be served. Register online by February 28.
March 13, 2017
The following is a letter from Bishop Mariann to the Diocese:
Dear Friends of the Diocese of Washington,
We are thrilled to report that the Diocese of Washington has received a $100,000 grant, approved by the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, to support the launch of a new bi-lingual worshipping community, Misa Magdalena. Here is how the Rev. Sarabeth Goodwin, diocesan Latino missioner, described the new worshipping community in our grant application:
We wish to plant a sacramental, bi-lingual neighborhood church in the Aspen Hill neighborhood of Silver Spring, a Maryland suburb with one of the highest concentrations of Latino populations in the Washington DC metro area. Our target population will be drawn from the unchurched and under-churched community neighbors, many of whom are culturally Roman Catholic but do not attend church. The neighborhood is comprised primarily of immigrants who are stable and well rooted and New Generation Latinos, those who were born abroad or in the US, many of whom are highly acculturated but appreciate their Latino language.
We are blessed by this new collaborative endeavor, the leadership of Sarabeth Goodwin and the enthusiastic partnership with St. Mary Magdalene parish in Silver Spring, and I am not the only one who thinks so. The Rev. Tom Brackett, the Episcopal Church’s missioner of new church starts & missional initiatives, commended Sarabeth and the Diocese of Washington for the strength of our application.
The grant is “a huge vote of confidence in the work we are doing in the diocese,” Sarabeth notes, and says she is excited to continue the work of establishing Misa Magdalena as “a vibrant Spanish language congregation working in partnership with St. Mary Magdalene Church to spread the good news of Christ's love.”
I have spoken frequently about the importance of parishes collaborating with one another in ministry. It is no less important for us, as a diocese, to collaborate with the wider church. This is a wonderful example of such collaboration, and I look forward with great anticipation to our work in Aspen Hill, and on other initiatives that deepen our shared commitment to congregational vitality and evangelism.
March 09, 2017
By the Rev. Elizabeth Gardner
I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this, all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)
Episcopalians have mastered Ashes-to-Go. By taking church to the streets, many of you have made brief but meaningful connections to people who don’t have regular church attendance on their radar. They are the majority in society today--people who don’t feel right going into church but who crave a deeper connection with God.
As life-changing as Ashes-to-Go can be, it is only one of many opportunities for evangelism and neighborhood engagement. Below are some ways you can continue to take your church outdoors to meet folks where they are.
Go to the same spot where you distributed ashes (Metro stop, coffee shop, parking lot, etc.), put up a folding sign and offer the following:
Palms on the Monday following Palm Sunday
Hand Washing on Maundy Thursday
Flowers on Easter Monday or throughout Easter Week
Alleluias-to-Go during the Season of Easter until Pentecost
Prayers for the dead on All Saints Day
Caroling after the last Sunday of Advent and before your Christmas Eve services
Healing prayers and anointing outside your church throughout the year
And as you do these things, remember to resist the temptation to look at them as recruiting opportunities. The goal of evangelism is to share God’s love, not to get more people in the pews on Sunday morning.
If you would like me or someone from the diocesan staff to join you, give me a call. I’d love to stand on the street corner and share the love of God in Christ through these and other methods. Have an idea to share, send me an email. We are always looking for new and innovative ways to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world.
March 02, 2017
In the wake of raids across the country by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), diocesan congregations are considering options for supporting undocumented immigrants and their communities that range from providing sanctuary on church properties to offering educational events, according to the Rev. Sarabeth Goodwin, the diocese’s Latino missioner.
Calvary Church, Church of the Holy Comforter, St. Alban’s and St. Stephen and the Incarnation in the District, Church of the Ascension in Gaithersburg, St. Matthew/San Mateo in Hyattsville, St. John’s in Mount Rainier, Church of the Ascension in Silver Spring, Grace Church in Silver Spring, and Church of Our Saviour in Silver Spring are among the churches considering ways to support the sanctuary movement, Goodwin said.
One or more of those churches may decide to offer to host an individual or a family, she added.
The sanctuary movement has gathered momentum since the election of President Donald Trump, who campaigned on promises of increased border security and stringent enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws. On February 21, John F. Kelly, the secretary of homeland security, issued new enforcement policies that significantly broaden the categories of undocumented immigrants who are subject to deportation.
“People are at risk in many of our congregations,” said the Rev. Paula Clark, canon for clergy development, multicultural ministries and justice. “Most of us know that people in Latino communities are in danger, but there is great fear in our heavily West African and Caribbean churches as well. This may not be pain we all can see, but you can feel it present in church on Sunday morning.”
Bishop Mariann Budde will lead a diocesan forum on immigration issues on March 28 at 7 p. m. at Church of Our Saviour in the Hillandale section of Silver Spring. Lacy Broemel, refugee and immigration policy analyst for the Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations, an immigration attorney, and representatives of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) and Sanctuary DMV, the leading local sanctuary organization, are scheduled to speak.
“I’ve spent too many years working to help bring sanity and compassion into our nation’s immigration system to accept extreme mandates as the best we can do as a nation,” Budde wrote recently to the diocese. “My heart breaks for those who have lived as contributing members of our communities and churches for years and want nothing more than legal status in this country, who are now afraid to leave their homes for fear of deportation.”
Churches can support undocumented immigrants in numerous ways, Goodwin said, including:
Accompanying immigrants to ICE checks or to court. (Immigrants who are accompanied to their hearings are less likely to be deported than those who are not, Goodwin says.)
Hosting educational events to brief immigrants on their rights and non-immigrants on how the immigration system and the sanctuary movement work.
Forming rapid response teams willing to report from the scene of ICE raids.
(For more information on how to assist immigrants in danger of deportation, watch this video featuring Laura Stump Kennedy of St. Stephen and the Incarnation, who led the workshop on sanctuary issues at the recent Leadership Learning Day. Additional videos on the sanctuary movement and immigrants’ rights are available in Spanish and the immigrants’ rights video is available in English.)
The Rev. Charles Wynder, Jr., priest-in-charge at Holy Comforter in the District, preached on the sanctuary movement on Sunday with the ambassador of St. Lucia and the diplomatic corps of several Caribbean countries including Haiti, Barbados, and Grenada in attendance. Wynder, who is also missioner for social justice and advocacy engagement for the Episcopal Church, told Clark that the diplomatic community from the Caribbean is concerned about U. S. immigration issues.
“This will be a group we will be working cooperatively with as we get our arms around sanctuary," Clark said.
Locally, Sanctuary DMV and the PICO National Network have been “the motors” behind the sanctuary movement, Goodwin said. A meeting led by PICO on February 13 drew 240 people from 90 congregations—four of them Episcopal—to All Souls' Unitarian Church in the District. “That meeting included small group conversations according to geographical locations and some decisions were made about how to work collaboratively to stand with our immigrant brothers and sisters in the coming days,” Goodwin said.
One third of the churches at the meeting committed to supporting the sanctuary movement in some way, she added.
The next meeting about sanctuary will be held on March 13 at 7 p. m. at All Souls Unitarian, 1500 Harvard St NW, in the District, Goodwin said. Newcomers are welcome.
March 01, 2017
Spring Grants Awarded
This Spring, Diocesan Council awarded six congregational growth grants totaling $82,000.
Parishes in Northern Montgomery County were awarded $20,000 to coordinate and establish regional children, youth and family ministries.
St. Michael and All Angels in Adelphi and Our Saviour in Silver Spring were jointly awarded $10,500 for a collaborative vacation bible school to take place this Summer.
St. Mark’s and Calvary on Capitol Hill were jointly awarded $8,500 for a collaborative effort to provide community programs. Activities planned include art lessons, afternoon jazz sessions and yoga to connect spirituality to everyday events.
Church of the Ascension in Gaithersburg was awarded $20,000 to continue its ministry to reach the growing latino population.
St. Peter's in Poolesville was awarded $20,000 to help seed a new nursery school to meet the growing need for childcare in the community.
St. George’s in the District was awarded $13,600 to launch a service aimed at appealing to those in their neighborhood are interested in new liturgy.