Episcopal Diocese of Washington

Engaging a changing world with
an enduring faith in Jesus Christ

News & Features : Archives October 2017

The Common Shalom

October 26, 2017


By: The Rev. Dr. Patricia Lyons

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.          Jeremiah 29:4-7

In Jeremiah’s letter to the exiled Israelites, we find our mandate for evangelism and community engagement. In this passage, the Israelites are foreigners in a strange land, and a false prophet tells them to turn inward, grit their teeth and disengage with the people around them. But the Lord tells Jeremiah this is a false teaching. God says to the people, “While in exile, plant, harvest, marry, grow, invest, engage in and work for ‘the welfare (shalom in Hebrew) of the city, for in its shalom you shall find your shalom.’”

Anglican spirituality is not a separatist endeavor. Through Jeremiah, God convinces us that grace is built into and bursts out of the material world. Our great vocation and blessing is to work with God inside and outside of our churches. The Holy Spirit is restless for reconciliation in the world and pulls the baptized beyond their walls to seek and bring grace to all. Jeremiah tells us we are in exile, that we are “in but not of the world.” God tells us to turn outward and be the partners for shalom with all people.

It is inspiring to see how meaningful our churches are to us, but churches that work hard for the shalom—the common good—of their neighborhoods matter to everyone. There are not enough Episcopalians to save our buildings, and as Christians, we are not called to such a narrow mission. As God says in Jeremiah, we work for the peace of the world with everyone in our neighborhoods. Our buildings are consecrated to be wells of grace in the public square; centers to be shared, not citadels to be defended. Community engagement is working for this common shalom and recognizing that through it, we live into our baptismal vows and find joy, vocation, and transformation. Evangelism is going out to do this work confident in our own faith stories, confident in who God is and what God is doing in our lives. 

Working together for good means a renewed commitment to the common shalom—to helping the diocese move beyond its walls, embed itself in its communities, and be confident in its faith story. As we look toward the year ahead, we have a renewed commitment to evangelism, community engagement, and faith formation. 

October Council Highlights

October 10, 2017

Bishop’s Report

  • Tricia Lyons: Missioner for Evangelism and Community Engagement: Tricia updated council on the progress she has made in her work on diocesan staff. She is currently conducting a listening tour--visiting leaders at each congregation to hear how God is moving within our churches and communities. Tricia is currently a third of the way through her conversations and hopes to make a full report to Council once complete.

  • Diocesan Staff Changes:

    • Bishop Mariann reported she has hired the Rev. Robert Phillips to join the diocesan staff as interim associate for leadership development. In this role, Robert will help with the ordination process, lead vestry retreats, and support congregations in leadership transition. This ¾ time position will allow Robert to continue serving as chaplain for the Bishop Walker School.

    • The Church House staff will continue to evaluate how its staff structure can best serve the diocese with faith formation and discipleship following the departure of Iman Syler.

  • Strategic Financial Resources Commission: The continued interest in the commission’s work is encouraging. The SFRC received 17 applications to participate in its pilot program, far more than their capacity allowed them to accept. They will begin working with six of the congregations as part of the pilot programs and will help the 11 others on a focused basis during the coming year. The commission is also planning on hosting further workshops in the Spring on fundraising topics.

  • Cathedral Task Force Listening Sessions: The Cathedral Task Force is hosting listening sessions across the diocese to examine the role the Cathedral plays in the life of the diocese and nation. One session will be on October 30, 7-9 p.m. at Grace, Silver Spring, and the other will be on November 1, 7-9 p.m. at the Cathedral.

Congregation Growth Grants

Bishop Mariann and Tricia Lyons

  • Bishop Mariann reports that Tricia Lyons will serve as staff liaison to the congregational growth grants subcommittee of council. Together, they will work on administering the grant program, with emphasis on  reporting successes and lessons learned from past grants. There are two pending grant applications for the Fall 2017 grant cycle. The subcommittee will also look ahead to the Spring grant cycle-- honing the grant guidelines to better allow churches to explore new ideas and grow their congregation.

Regional Assemblies and Convention

  • Regional assemblies will take place during October and November. Bishop Mariann reported on the programmatic content of the assemblies, which includes the financial conversation findings, updates on regional collaborative efforts and reevaluating the diocesan staff structure and presence to better serve the diocese.

  • Convention Updates: Diocesan staff are planning an optional event the evening before convention in January. The event is still tentative, but would consist of an inspiring evening with time for fellowship and learning. More information will be available closer to Convention.

Finance Committee Report

Jim Jones (Finance Committee Chair) and Paul Cooney

  • Draft Budget Narrative and presentation to Regional Assemblies: The finance committee reported to Council that it is currently working with diocesan staff to develop a budget presentation and accompanying narrative for regional assemblies. This document and draft budget will be available on the regional assembly pages of the website once ready.

  • Bishop Walker School Finance Updates:

    • The financial results for FY16-17 met expectations, and the BWS finance committee will continue to move the school towards budget neutrality.

    • The BWS board decided in June that beginning with the 18-19 school year, BWS will end with grade 5. The decision was based on educational considerations, but also will the effect of modestly reducing the school’s cost base.

    • BWS is on schedule to move to THEARC in November 2018. They have identified a potential tenant for their current space once they vacate.

Category: News