Episcopal Diocese of Washington

Engaging a changing world with
an enduring faith in Jesus Christ

News & Features

In Memoriam: Ms. Jo Ricks

November 01, 2018

The diocese mourns the death of one of its most dedicated lay leaders, Ms. Jo Ricks. A member of Standing Committee and former delegate to convention, Ms. Ricks was an active member of St. George’s, Valley Lee.

Jo was already on Standing Committee when The Rev. Sheila McJilton was elected to join that group: “From Day One, she welcomed me and encouraged my expression of thought about our deliberations. Before anyone else mentioned it, she told me, ‘You need to be the next President of Standing Committee.’ So when someone else articulated that request, I smiled, knowing that Jo had been, in some small way, a prophetic voice….Jo was unfailingly optimistic, deeply grounded in her faith, and joyful. Even when she had to wear a wig, her joy was undiminished. Her presence on Standing Committee was, indeed, a light in our midst, and we already miss her.”

The Rev. Greg Syler, her rector at St. George’s, further reflects, “Like that song she sang growing up in her North Carolina Methodist church, Jo let her light shine. She was a great friend and charming host. At various pool parties or with Jo and Jeff, her husband, in their comfortable "Island House" -- the home they made on St. George Island -- Jo would keep conversation alive, ask interesting questions, play in the pool with our daughter, and connect the most interesting people to one another. That light, her light, allowed others to shine in its reflection. She helped me better understand D.C., too -- their primary, or, other residence -- and I loved stories of "Jo Jo" in her glory in the 70's, and found it hard to believe that Logan Circle was ever anything unlike the posh neighborhood it is today, and has become -- in large part thanks to Jo's pioneering work in D.C. real estate. Her light, as it turns out, truly was God's light -- and she had a special place in her heart for all sorts of people; remembering back to her early days in a more gritty D.C., especially those marginalized and considered ‘other’.”

“In fact,” Rev. Syler continues, “One of Jo's greatest surprises came at the very end -- when her obituary was published this week in The Washington Post. ‘I had no idea she did all those things!’ I've heard all week, time and again. Indeed, no one knew. She was, very simply, a great friend to so, so many and a brilliant, radiant light.”

As a diocese, we affirm that Ms. Ricks was a faithful servant of Christ and His church, and with a heart full of thanksgiving, we say, “Well Done, you were a  good and faithful servant, rest well in the joy and presence of the Lord. Alleluia! Amen!”


Category: News

St. George's, Glenn Dale Youth Group Mission Trip to Puerto Rico

August 30, 2018


This summer, the Youth Group from St. George's Episcopal Church, Glenn Dale went on a mission trip to Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Below is a reflection of their time there, in their own words. 

Looking back now, none of us anticipated how life-changing and impactful our 2018 mission trip would be. For several years St. George’s Youth Group discussed going to Puerto Rico, but the amount of money required discouraged us. When Hurricane Maria hit in September 2017, we feared that chaotic events occurring on the mainland would overshadow the devastation taking place in Puerto Rico the following months. We then decided we were going to make reaching Puerto Rico a priority. To bring all 11 members, we needed to raise $10,000. At first, this number was daunting, but the generous support from our Parish amazed us all. Throughout the year, we worked to put together several fundraising events which displayed just how compassionate our parish is as a community and a family. Events included raking leaves, putting on a pancake supper, selling flowers for Mother’s Day (and many more). Our most successful event was the post-trip dinner which 100 people attended, including the bishop.

When we first arrived in Puerto Rico, we were taken aback by the lack of progress, because we came 7 months after Hurricane Maria. We were anxious to help with the rebuilding process; however, we learned once we arrived in Arecibo that we would be split into different groups, some helping with manual reconstruction and others with emotional and relational work. At first, those who were sent to relational work sites were afraid that we weren’t contributing enough, but as the week progressed we formed incredible relationships that would change our perspective. It was amazing to see how, in such a short time, we were able to create unforgettable bonds with the children. The group who worked at the manual labor sites not only helped construction, including repairing the sanctuary in an Episcopal Church, but also built meaningful relationships with the congregation and construction workers at their sites.


During our trip, we witnessed genuine happiness in a community that we expected to be disheartened. It was uplifting to see the community’s positivity despite their circumstances and taught us that the strength of faith would overcome even in the darkest of times. Throughout our experiences, we learned many things, but the people of Puerto Rico taught us one of the most meaningful lessons, which is to persevere and remain compassionate. We came back from the trip being more appreciative both of what we have and the significance of our faith. We all anticipated that this trip would bring us closer to God, but our expectations were surpassed. It is easy to feel a connection with God through the action of service but what surprised us was that we saw the face of God more through the people we encountered. In a quote by Staff member and friend, Danny, “Different languages may divide us, but our hearts speak to us as a universal language.” We were struck by how much this quote resembled our experience. Despite the language barrier, our love and faith in God are what ultimately brought us together. No matter how different we may be, God will always connect us in unexpected ways.

Marilyn Prosser Yang
Rebekah Rowe
Speaking on behalf of the St. George’s, Glenn Dale Youth Group

Category: Uncategorized

Claggett Summer 2018 - A Joyful, Spirit-filled Season of Love

August 08, 2018

For many years the Claggett Center has been hosting successful summer camps for Maryland’s young people. This year for the first time, EDOW has partnered with Claggett and the Diocese of Maryland – a collaboration that supports Claggett Summer Camps as the destination for EDOW campers and staff, this summer and going forward.

Claggett Center provides an ideal camp setting – 268 acres that include a working farm and extensive facilities, including a junior Olympic-size pool, a ropes course and zipline, hiking trails, and canoeing. It is holy ground to be sure – with gorgeous views of Sugarloaf Mountain and the surrounding Monocacy River valley.

There were four sessions this summer – featuring three week-long camps: High School Week, Middle School Week, and Youth Week – each hosting 60 campers, including boys and girls from Washington. A fourth session brought participants in the Sutton Scholars High School Enrichment Program – 80 Baltimore City high students (grades 9-12).

I arrived at Claggett in mid-June to volunteer where helpful, accepting a gracious invite from the Rev. Spencer Hatcher, Director of Summer Programs. I was warmly welcomed by Spencer and our own Rita Yoe, who serves as Assistant Director – and by the first-rate counselors and staff at Claggett. I served as Co-Chaplain for Middle School Week and staff-at-large throughout – a role that included playing guitar in chapel, facilitating small groups, pastoral moments with kids and staff, leading several evenings of open mic and karaoke – and lots of relationship building in the Claggett community.

The spiritual heartbeat of community life was twice-daily chapel services and small groups, where campers wrestled with Scripture and explored their personal faith in a more intimate setting. Creativity flowed freely and Scripture was often presented in dynamic, engaging ways. The story of Ruth and Naomi, for example, was shared through biblical storytelling, with campers reading parts and everyone singing a refrain: “Wherever you go, I’ll go too. For you’ve got me, my friend, and I’ve got you…”

Chapel services offered times of unbridled joy as well as more reflective moments. There was always room for the Spirit to move! One memorable morning, the homily opened with a reflection on our freedom to love God and our neighbor – and then the band kicked in, and it became a full-throated roar as everyone stood and joyfully sang the Tom Petty song Free Fallin’“…well I’m freeeeeee! Free falling…”

Each day at camp was packed full of love and life and laughter. The God moments were powerful and numerous. Yet, it is camp – where some of the best times are unplanned. Lots of memorable moments to share – here’s one… On the last day of camp, a young Sutton Scholar asked Spencer to teach her to swim during our afternoon pool time. They spent some time in the shallow end, and soon she was paddling around with a big smile. That evening, everyone gathered around the final campfire – we sang, we swapped stories, and we danced. Spencer felt a tap on her shoulder – she turned to see her swim buddy who smiled and asked: “Miss Spencer, I want to teach you something. Do you know how to dance the dougie?” And so they danced. It was a beautiful and sacred moment, as they practiced the way of love – each sharing what they have with each other, and letting God’s love do the rest.  Blessed be.

Written by the Rev. Kent Marcoux, rector of St. George's, D.C.

Category: Uncategorized

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

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.