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 August 2021

EDOW's Path of Discipleship

August 19, 2021

Above: We've created sets of playing cards with questions for each practice of the Path of Discipleship for children, youth and adults to help in their spiritual formation. 

We grow as followers of Jesus throughout our lives, growing evermore fully into the stature of Christ. But what are the catalysts that cultivate that growth?  

Twelve months ago, more than two dozen congregational leaders in the Diocese of Washington gathered in small groups to share experiences of people, events, and practices that deepened their faith and drew them closer to Jesus. For some, pivotal moments such as an illness, the loss of employment, or the birth of a child drew them closer to God. Others found their faith grew through faithful ministry with others. Still others found Jesus’ love in the abiding love of a grandparent. These rich and varied experiences affirmed that following Jesus is a life of continuous turning toward Jesus, a journey of experiencing the holy, of finding oneself, of searching, and of making commitments. 

The purpose of the work of this group was to discern a path of discipleship for congregations in the Diocese of Washington--a pathway with a core set of essential practices that congregations can invite those new to faith and those with maturing faith to take in order to grow as followers of Jesus. Through a time of listening, prayer, and reflection on Scripture, we discerned five essential spiritual practices of discipleship:

Pray - Talk, listen, and respond to God
Learn - Learn the story of God and God’s people
Serve - Take part in God’s mission by serving others and creation
Give - Give generously from God’s abundant blessings
Share - Invite others to come on the journey with God

We invite every congregation to use these practices as a framework to review their formation offerings, their ministries, and their life together to help all people--newcomers and long-timers, young and old, weekly and monthly worshipers--take their next steps to grow in faith and deepen their commitment to Jesus

The life of faith is not a one-time event. It is a lifelong journey of growth and maturing as we are drawn more deeply into the heart of God and community and back out into the world. It is both individual and community oriented and changes along a growth path. 

Knowing where those you serve are along their path will help you be more effective in helping them grow in their faith. Those new to faith grow in faith through opportunities to know the love of Jesus through experiences characterized by love, trust, and acceptance. As their faith grows, they soon begin to feel at home within a particular faith community and enjoy participating in experiences of awe, wonder, and mystery. Many people’s faith, at some point, is challenged by new circumstances, a crisis, or relationship. This is a time of doubt, questioning and experimentation that can lead to growing clarity and commitment to particular faith claims and an awareness of what nurtures the spiritual life. The hope is that we grow in commitment to following Jesus with our hearts, hands, and heads, putting faith into personal and social action and being willing and able to stand up for what we believe.   

The journey described above can be identified as four styles of faith along a path of discipleship:

  1. experiencing faith
  2. belonging faith
  3. searching faith, and 
  4. owning faith.

The description may sound linear, but styles of faith are better understood as the rings of a tree. Each expression of faith is whole, yet there’s always room to grow. And as a person grows in faith, they don’t let go of previous capacities or affinities. Instead they build on them. While experiences of awe, wonder, and mystery are a primary marker for belonging faith, God meets us all in the realm of mystery. Those with an owned faith continue to yearn for such experiences. Lastly a person can exhibit multiple styles of faith simultaneously--for example, questioning in some areas and being fully committed in others. Faith is a lifelong process.

Knowing the predominant expression of faith, however, is helpful in discerning our next steps in faith and how we might grow in faith. Someone new to faith needs to feel a sense of belonging and might welcome prayer or reflecting on Scripture in a small group, or serving alongside others. Those with an owned faith could be invited to find ways to share their faith with others. 

To help congregations adopt this path of discipleship, we have developed:

  • A set of posters that can be displayed in your buildings and website that describe each practice. (Download here)
  • A set of playing cards for children, youth, and adults with questions for each practice. Send a deck to households. Use them at congregational gatherings, online or in person. (Print your own: Adults | Youth | Children; Print-on-demand decks coming soon.)
  • A path of discipleship app for iOS and Android devices to help individuals to grow faith on-the-go will premier in September. 

We will continue to develop and curate spiritual formation resources using these five practices as a framework to help you along the way.

The Rev. Jenifer Gamber
Director of the School for Christian Faith and Leadership
and Tending Our Soil Thriving Congregations Initiative

Category: News

Digital Learning

August 19, 2021

Imagine with me. You’re a brand new vestry member and relatively new to the Episcopal Church. You would like to learn more about what it means to be on the vestry. You are excited for your role and want to learn the role of the vestry, the kinds of decisions you will help make, and how the vestry works with the rector. You happen to get The Bulletin in your email and notice that the School is offering a course called Vestry 101. “Perfect, you think. I’ll sign up! That will help me learn!” Only then you discover it’s being offered once this fall, in person, in DC on a Wednesday night. For those who live in Southern or Northern Maryland, driving into DC can take 90 minutes or more. On some nights, driving 5 miles even within DC can take 90 minutes! So you can’t attend, therefore starting your tenure as a vestry member knowing less about what you’ve agreed to than you’d hoped. 

The other possibility is the course is offered online, via zoom, and recorded. It’s on a Saturday at 10:00 a.m. but your kid has a soccer game. So you miss the online session. You go back to watch it after the fact and realize there are all kinds of questions that didn’t get answered but now you’re watching the recording and don’t have an opportunity for a real-time Q&A. 

The mission of the School for Christian Faith and Leadership is to inspire, equip, connect, and empower the people of God for faithful life and leadership. If we want to do that effectively, we have to get innovative. We have to be forward-leaning and outward-looking. 

The School’s new digital learning hub provides us the opportunity to do just that. Starting this fall, you will find courses online that are both live and on-demand. If you miss a live course, you’ll have the opportunity to take it on-demand whenever and wherever you want, and still be able to connect with others in ministry. Our learning hub doesn’t just deliver information, it builds community. (By the way, you can sign up for the on-demand Vestry 101 course here.)

The Role of the Pandemic in Shaping Online Learning 

Pushed by the pandemic, digital learning has swept the globe over the last 18 months. Individuals, families, schools, companies, and faith communities have adapted beyond our imaginations. This global crisis has exposed our vulnerabilities, laid bare our societal inequalities, and increased our capacity for creativity as we sought to adapt in real time. Churches turned to technology to make worship, formation, and committee meetings accessible, making church far more available to those near and far.

In their March study, the Barna Group discovered that among what people missed most about church during the pandemic included “socializing with other churchgoers before and after services” and the “chance to connect with like-minded people.” People simply want to gather. They want to gather and socialize, gather and learn, gather and serve. Embracing digital learning provides the opportunity to gather online and build community in and beyond the diocese.

Digital community has been looked down upon as fabricated. But as my friend and colleague, the Rev. Jim Keat reminds us, “Virtual is not the opposite of real, it’s the opposite of physical.” When we approach digital learning with the innovation of a digital learning hub, so much more is made possible in our efforts to equip and connect the people of God. 

So then, what about this learning hub? 

We invite you to try out the School’s digital learning hub at learn.edow.org. It is designed with you in mind. It is easy, streamlined, and collaborative. Our learning hub meets the needs of a variety of learning styles--whether you learn by reading, watching videos, engaging in conversation, or practicing. And there will be the opportunity to participate in live as well as on-demand learning opportunities. 

Our digital offerings last year have become known for their digital toolboxes chock full of resources to support you in applying what you have learned to your context. We continue this practice. Each course has a section dedicated to resources to which you can return again and again. 

You can participate from the comfort of your own home which makes this particularly useful during the pandemic, or anytime you’d prefer to learn from home or office. The School is committed to growing your capacity for baptismal living and faithful leadership. Our goal is to become your go-to place for best practices in ministry. We want to provide you access to the riches within the diocese on topics that matter, such as stewardship, creation justice, prayer practices, Wardens 101, and more. 

Our new learning hub will allow us to share resources widely and readily. After your course is complete, you can maintain your connection to that course and continue the conversation with other participants about topics you learned or ideas they shared, increasing the overall collaboration across the diocese to build communities of practice. 

We know that not everyone is tech savvy. When you find a sticking point or run into an issue, support is readily available with a course that orients you to how the learning hub works. Plus, we are here to support you as you explore, learn, and grow. 

We are so excited to be able to offer you the School’s new learning hub for ongoing faith and leadership formation in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. 

To learn more about the diocese’s new learning hub and how you can use it in your congregation, attend the School’s Open House on August 31, 12:00-1:00 pm. (Register). Or, take a course about the learning hub on your own time with this Learner Guide.

The Rev. Emily Snowden
Program Coordinator for The School of Christian Faith and Leadership
and Tending Our Soil Thriving Congregations Initiative

Category: News

Celebrating the Official Launch of the School for Christian Faith and Leadership

August 19, 2021

Above: A screenshot of what you'll see when you click on the School's new online learning hub

“[S]peaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ, who is the head. The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does its part.”
Ephesians 4:15-17  

Today, we celebrate the official (hard) launch of the School for Christian Faith and Leadership with an online learning hub that hosts both on-demand and live courses and an ever-growing set of congregational formation series to support congregations in their ministry of formation and leadership. 

In the fall of 2020 we launched with a suite of online learning opportunities. In the early months of the School, a team of leaders met to discern the School’s mission and vision. Over the summer we convened an Advisory Board to guide the future of the School. This official launch comes after a yearlong “soft launch” the School hosted more than 40 courses, serving over 2,000 people from the Diocese of Washington and beyond. 

On the learning hub, you will find courses to take as an individual such as the Bible’s Books of Wisdom (click to learn more) and courses for congregational leaders such as Strategic Pyramid and Ministry Alignment (click to learn more) as well as formation series for your entire congregation to take together such as Discover (click to learn more).

Finally, we have designed a clear path of discipleship that every congregation can adopt to guide individuals in taking their next step in faith. Read about the path of discipleship here.

As you explore the offerings, you will notice that the School has drawn on the rich gifts of leaders in the diocese. For these gifts, we give thanks. 

We’re excited by the great potential of the School and its joyful reception. We invite you to join us as we continue to grow in every way into Christ and build up the body of Christ. 

The Rev. Jenifer Gamber
Director of the School for Christian Faith and Leadership
and Tending Our Soil Thriving Congregations Initiative

Category: News

Vital Stories Everywhere

August 05, 2021

When Barnabas came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to the Lord.
Acts 11: 22-24 

The Parish Vitality Working Group

The verse above comes from a longer passage in Acts 11:19-30 that describes one of the high points of the early church. In Acts we can find lots of passages about the struggles of the early church, but there are also passages like this one which relate stories of the early Christians thriving. In a recent meeting of the Parish Vitality Working Group--a collection of diocesan leaders and staff working to advance our strategic plan around vitality--we spent time sharing the same kind of stories of where we’ve seen congregations thriving. 

Identifying Vital Signs in Scripture

In that meeting we read the longer Acts passage and identified the vital signs in their story. We heard “Compelling Mission and Vision” in Barnabas’ exhortation for the people to remain faithful to the Lord. We heard “Inspiring and Capable Leadership” in how Barnabas was described as a “good man full of the Holy Spirit and faith.” Although the passage didn’t specifically mention worship, we saw “Inviting and Uplifting Worship” and “Welcoming and Connecting Ministries” present in the rejoicing and exhorting. 

In other parts of the passage, we noticed “Blessing of the Community” as they sent help to those who were suffering from famine and “Faithful Financial Practices” in how they determined what they could send. This exercise showed us how the seven Vital Signs can serve as touch points to see where a Christian community is doing well. 

Using the Vital Signs to Share Stories About Our Own Recent Experiences and Innovations

Locating the Vital Signs in the Acts passage became a jumping off point for us to share stories of how we saw the vital signs at work in our own parishes, especially in the last 18 months of our pandemic journey. The stories soon took on a recognizable rhythm: Members of the working group would identify a need or challenge that arose at their parish, explain what was done to address the issue, then share the outcome, relating each story to a Vital Sign. 

It was an energizing, informative, and inspiring conversation--and when we shared our takeaways at the end, each member of the working group offered an encouraging or empowering insight:  “Stay creative.”, “Let’s keep shaking it up!”, “Surfacing people’s gifts”, “Meeting people where they are”, and “Moving from our building dependence”

An Invitation to the Diocese

This fall, the Parish Vitality Working Group will invite the whole diocese to share stories about the ways in which our parishes have experienced vitality in the last 18 months, framed by the seven Vital Signs. 

In addition to being a great opportunity to cross-pollinate ministry ideas, this Zoom gathering will allow us to document the creativity and innovation demonstrated by our congregations during a time of immense challenge. The Rev. Dr. Anne-Marie Jeffery, Canon for Congregational Vitality will facilitate. 

Have questions about the Parish Vitality Working Group or how to use the seven Vital Signs to help with storytelling? Contact the Rev. Canon Anne-Marie Jeffery.

Category: News

Bishop Chilton to Serve as Assisting Bishop in Chicago

August 03, 2021

Dear Friends,
As our beloved former colleague Paula Clark continues to recover, the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Chicago, with Paula’s full support, has decided to call an Assisting Bishop to begin serving this fall. With the support of our Presiding Bishop, the call was extended to me and I have accepted.
In a way, this is coming full circle for me. I served several congregations, and was on the Diocese of Chicago staff for 10 years, until being elected Bishop of Maine in 1997. I want to say that I have been happily settled with you, and only this kind of unique situation would draw me away. This absolutely feels like God’s call.
My ministry as Assisting Bishop of Washington will conclude on September 30th, and I begin serving the Diocese of Chicago in early October. I will maintain my current residence, commuting between Maryland and Chicago; I am grateful for all these months of learning how to do ministry remotely.
It has been two and a half years since I joined the diocesan staff in EDOW. Even with the immense challenges of the recent period, this has been a grace-filled time for me. I will write some longer reflections on our time together shortly before we say farewell. For now, my gratitude, love and prayers are offered in fullest measure.
The Rt. Rev. Chilton R. Knudsen
Assisting Bishop of Washington

Dear Friends in Christ, 
While we share Bishop-elect Paula’s disappointment that her consecration in Chicago must be delayed, we can give thanks to God that she is surrounded by love and care on every side as she continues to heal. 
 And while we in the Diocese of Washington are sad that Bishop Chilton will leave us, how good it is for one who is both beloved of the Diocese of Chicago and who loves Bishop-elect Paula to serve as Assisting Bishop at her side. 
As Bishop Chilton writes, she feels called by God to serve the Diocese of Chicago and Bishop-elect Paula. I spoke with the Rev. Anne Jolly, President of the Standing Committee in Chicago, and she is overjoyed that Bishop Chilton has accepted the call. “Her presence will be a tremendous gift to the entire diocese.” she told me. We know this is true, for Bishop Chilton has been a great gift to us.
The time to say goodbye is not yet upon us. Bishop Chilton will be on vacation in August and here for the month of September. Her responsibilities will be reassigned to members of the diocesan staff, as we take stock in the weeks ahead and discern our way forward. 
Mark your calendars for Wednesday September 29, 5:30 p.m. We’ll gather Washington National Cathedral (both in-person and live-streamed) to offer prayers of thanksgiving and blessing for Bishop Chilton. In the meantime, please take every opportunity to thank her for saying yes to the Diocese of Chicago now, and yes to us so whole-heartedly for the last two years. 
Thank you for your continued prayers for Bishop-elect Paula. She continues to pray for us all. We are united by our prayers.
Faithfully in Christ, 
Bishop Mariann
The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgard Budde
Bishop of Washington

Category: News

La Obispa Chilton servirá como Obispo Asistente en Chicago

August 03, 2021

Queridos amigos, 
Mientras nuestra querida y antigua colega Paula Clark continúa su recuperación, el Comité Permanente de la Diócesis de Chicago, con el completo apoyo de Paula, ha decidido llamar a un Obispo Asistente para servir durante el otoño. Con el apoyo del Obispo Presidente, el llamado me ha sido extendido y yo he aceptado.  
En cierto sentido, este es un círculo que se cierra para mí. Yo serví en varias congregaciones y estuve en el equipo de trabajo de la Diócesis de Chicago por 10 años, hasta ser elegida como Obispa de Maine en 1997. Quiero decirles que me he sentido a gusto con ustedes, y solo este tipo de situación única me alejaría de ustedes. Esto absolutamente se siente como un llamado de Dios. 
Mi ministerio como Obispa Asistente de Washington concluirá el 30 de septiembre y comenzaré a servir en la Diócesis de Chicago a inicios de octubre. Mantendré mi actual residencia, viajando entre Maryland y Chicago. Estoy agradecida por estos meses de aprendizaje sobre cómo hacer el ministerio de manera remota.  
Han sido dos años y medio desde que comencé a formar parte del equipo diocesano de EDOW. Incluso con los retos inmensos del período reciente, este ha sido un tiempo lleno de gracia para mí. Escribiré una reflexiones más largas de nuestro tiempo juntos antes de decirles adiós. Por ahora, mi gratitud, amor y oraciones en su máxima expresión. 
La Reverendísma Chilton R. Knudsen
Obispo Asistente de Washington

Queridos hermanos, debemos amarnos unos a otros, porque el amor viene de Dios. Todo el que ama es hijo de Dios y conoce a Dios.
1 Juan 4:7
Queridos amigos en Cristo, 
Aunque compartimos la desilusión de la Obispa Electa Paula por el atraso de su consagración en Chicago, damos gracias a Dios porque ella está rodeada de amor y cuidado mientras continúa su sanación. 
Y aunque nosotros, en la Diócesis de Washington estamos tristes de que la Obispa Chilton nos dejará, es muy bueno que una persona tan querida en la Diócesis de Chicago y quien ama a la Obispa Electa Paula, sirva como su Obispa Asistente a su lado. 
Como escribió la Obispa Chilton, ella se siente llamada por Dios para servir en la Diócesis de Chicago y a la Obispa Electa Paula. Yo hablé con la Rev. Anne Jolly, Presidenta del Comité Permanente en Chicago, y ella está muy feliz de que la Obispa Chilton haya aceptado el llamado. “Su presencia será un gran regalo para toda la diócesis”, me dijo. Nosotros sabemos que es cierto ya que la Obispa Chilton ha sido un gran regalo para nosotros también.  
Todavía no ha llegado el momento de decir adiós. La Obispa Chilton estará de vacaciones en agosto y nos acompañará todavía en septiembre. Sus responsabilidades será reasignadas a miembros del equipo diocesano mientras nos preparamos para las siguientes semanas y discernimos nuestro futuro.  
Marquen sus calendarios para el miércoles, 29 de septiembre, 5:30 p.m. Ese dia nos reuniremos en la Catedral Nacional de Washington (tanto en persona como en línea) para ofrecer acciones de gracias y bendiciones a la Obispa Chilton. Mientras tanto, por favor, utilicen cada oportunidad que tengan para agradecerle por decir sí a la Diócesis de Chicago ahora, y por decirnos de corazón que sí a nosotros en los últimos dos años.  
Gracias por sus oraciones constantes por la Obispa Electa Paula. Ella continúa orando por nosotros. Estamos unidos en oración.  
Fiel en Cristo, 
Obispa Mariann
La Reverendísma Mariann Edgar Budde
Obispa de Washington
Category: News