Episcopal Diocese of Washington

To draw people to Jesus and embody his love
for the world by equipping faith communities,
promoting spiritual growth, and striving for justice

News & Features : Archives June 2018

God's Hands Among the Laity

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

Category: Uncategorized

Immigration Becomes a Family Matter

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

Category: Uncategorized

La Inmigración Es un Asunto de Familia

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.


Category: Uncategorized

Where Do You See Jesus?

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


Category: Uncategorized

The Episcopal Center for Children – a Healing Way Station for Children for 124 Years

June 07, 2018

The Episcopal Center for Children

Since 1894, the Episcopal Center for Children has been a way station for children facing challenges. They are kids like Suzie, who came to the Center as a third grader. Suzie was facing severe emotional challenges – her slender shoulders were already carrying more trauma and difficult experiences than many people see in a lifetime. And she was also at least two grade levels behind her peers.

At the Center, Suzie found teachers and staff who cared about her well-being. They wanted to help her thrive. They coached her gently and gave her new tools to help manage her behavior.  A reading specialist and math teacher devoted hours to helping her, and she eventually read above her grade level.

Suzie is just one of thousands of children touched by the Center in its storied 124-year history. Decades ago, the Center was an orphanage and an overnight school for children with disabilities. Now we are a day treatment program and school for children facing serious emotional challenges who can’t stay in their neighborhood public schools and need focused one-on-one help to succeed.

Suzie’s story is linked to a legacy of social justice and service to others that’s always been part of the Center’s experience. It’s that legacy – inspired by our Episcopalian heritage – that formed the bedrock of the Center’s work decades ago and still inspires our work today.

Dozens of children attend the Center today – where they get wraparound support services. To continue to make a difference in the lives of these children, we invite your help and support.  Here are a few ways you can help:

  • Go to www.ECCofDC.org and sign up for our e-newsletter
  • Distribute information about us quarterly in your parish bulletin or e-newsletter
  • Request a speaker for your service, event or class
  • Support our MakerSpace by purchasing items on our Amazon wish list
  • Consider becoming a monthly donor to the Center
  • Hold a drive for school supplies, canned/packaged food, smaller toys, or holiday gifts
  • Volunteer at the Center
  • Organize a fundraiser
  • Donate to the Center on one of our days of giving. Giving Tuesday is November 27, 2018

In the heart of every child like Suzie – still beats the glorious wonderment of childhood. One that can love learning, heal from past hurts, self-manage his or her behavior, and embrace beauty and joy.

Dodd White is the president/CEO of The Episcopal Center for Children. If you would like to help, please email Mr. White or call him at 202-363-1333.

Taken at a recent Career Day at the Center

Category: Uncategorized

Preparing for a Safe Summer Season

June 06, 2018

Late spring and summer bring joyous celebrations of transitions: graduations, weddings, and anniversaries. We open our doors to outside activities and welcome an engagement in bible schools, camps and mission trips. It also is the season of maintenance and repair work.

The Church Insurance Agency provides useful tools for keeping people and property save during each season. The Good Steward is a free monthly publication available on the Church Pension Group’s website and available by email subscription. This month’s topics include recognizing sexual harassment in the Church, safe driving tips, social media usage and self-care following a disaster. A new feature, From the Claims Desk, addresses common issues clients face nation-wide. Have volunteers working on your roof? Read the From the Claims Desk before they climb the ladder again.

Additionally, there are easy to share tip sheets for summer events. Click the links below and share these with appropriate parish leaders.

Tips: Hosting Outside Groups
Tips: Inflatable Bounce Houses for Children
Tips: Liquor Liability at Church Events
Tips: Non-owned Auto Liability (personal and rented vehicles)

Update Staff and Volunteer Job Descriptions

Summer may provide time for each staff person to review his or her job description with the appropriate supervisor. The EDOW website has a template that may be completed if you don’t have job descriptions in place.

The benefits of up-to-date job descriptions include:

  • Maximize understanding about the duties and responsibilities of a position

  • Help an organization know if there is proper delegation of duties

  • Serve as a basis for meaningful performance evaluations

  • Act as a training aid

  • Provide objective criteria for corrective action, reprimand, or termination

If you would like to discuss creating or editing job descriptions for staff and volunteers, please contact Kathleen Hall.


Category: Uncategorized

Lessons Learned: Periodic Confirmation of Parish Internet Domain and Social Media Account Registration and Administration Rights

June 06, 2018

Among the lessons learned by Diocesan staff—several times each year over the past decade—concerns the problems EDOW parishes have encountered in situations relating to control of their website and social media accounts. For example:

  • A parish sought to move its hosting to a new provider only to find this couldn’t be accomplished until parish leaders traced the registration to a former parishioner who had arranged for the creation of the internet domain twenty years ago. The former parishioner had since died. Complicated and time-consuming efforts were required to transfer the domain registration to the parish.

  • Another parish decided to increase use of its Facebook account in parish communications. The Facebook account had been created ten years ago, but had been used only sporadically. When the parish tried to change the administrator of the account, it couldn’t do so because it couldn’t locate the individual who, as a member of the youth group, had opened the Facebook account in the name of the parish before going off to college. The former youth member had since moved across the county and his other family members also had relocated in the meantime, to whereabouts unknown. The registration was transferred only after weeks of effort.

These are examples of internet domain and social media registration/administrative rights difficulties that EDOW parishes have confronted in recent years.  

We recommend parishes verify internet domains and social media account registrations and administrative rights each year so that changes among volunteer leadership over time don’t jeopardize access to vital communication channels. Peter Turner, EDOW’s Technology Director, can help if you have questions or concerns.

Category: Uncategorized

What Property-Related Transactions Require Diocesan Approval?

June 06, 2018

One of the most common interactions between parish and diocesan leaders occurs in the context of renovation projects, loan transactions, leases, easements and sales of parish real estate. The Episcopal Church canons require the consent of the Bishop and Standing Committee before a parish enters into certain transactions. Episcopal Church Canon I.7.3 provides that:

 No Vestry, Trustee, or other Body, authorized by Civil or Canon law to hold, manage, or administer real property for any Parish, Mission, Congregation, or Institution, shall encumber or alienate the same or any part thereof without the written consent of the Bishop and Standing Committee of the Diocese…

How does this canonical requirement apply to the following situations?

Q1: A parish is planning a major renovation of its parish hall, to be financed by a loan that will be secured by a mortgage/deed of trust on parish real estate. Consent required?
A1: Yes.

Q2: The vestry has determined to sell the parish rectory. Consent required?
A2: Yes.

Q3: A parish plans to finance a major renovation by a bank loan secured by pledging a portion of its endowment account. Consent required?
A3: No. Endowment funds are not real property; since there is no lien being placed on real property of the parish, no consent of the Bishop and Standing Committee is required.

Q4: A parish desires to lease an unused area in the parish house to a local charitable organization. Is this an “encumbrance or alienation” requiring consent?
A4: Maybe. It depends on the length of the lease. If the term of the lease--including renewals--is for more than three years or more, consent is required.

Q5: The parish has an opportunity to receive a grant from the local county, which provides financial support for maintenance of historical properties. A condition of the grant requires the vestry to enter into an easement agreement with the county. Consent required?
A5: Yes. An easement on real estate imposes limitations on the use of that property. For canonical purposes, this is an “encumbrance.” Consent of the Bishop and Standing Committee is required.

Who can help? In the Diocese of Washington, the Diocesan Finance Committee serves as staff to the Standing Committee and Bishop on property sale and encumbrance matters. Contact Paul Cooney, staff liaison to the Finance Committee, if you have questions.

Category: Uncategorized