News & Features
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.”
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
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.
August 03, 2021
August 03, 2021
July 08, 2021
The Rev. Todd Thomas
We’re excited to share that the Vestry of St. Timothy’s Church in Southeast DC has called the Rev. Todd Thomas, EDOW Missioner for Congregational Vitality as the congregation’s 8th rector. Todd begins his ministry at St. Timothy’s on September 1. His last day on the EDOW staff will be July 31.
We have been anticipating this move for some time. When Todd joined the diocesan staff, he told us that he would gladly serve for 2-3 years, but that his heart was in parish ministry. Last fall he began in earnest his search for a new call, which is when we also reorganized our staffing structure resulting in the call to the Rev. Anne-Marie Jeffery as Canon for Congregational Vitality.
Bishop Mariann writes, “We’re thrilled that Todd will remain in the diocese as part of the clergy team of the South DC Region and that St. Timothy’s has a new rector passionate about congregational vitality. The congregation is poised for a new season of mission and ministry, and Todd will be a faithful, visionary, and Christ-centered leader and partner on the journey.”
“Coming into the Episocpal Diocese of Washington has been a journey of ordination, discovery and growth, and my time with the Bishop’s staff has given me the chance to meet so many in the diocese and to begin what I hope are life-long friendships,” shares Rev. Todd. “I’ve often said in regional gatherings and meetings that this is a great time to be in our diocese, and I still believe that! I cannot wait to see what God will do with our shared ministry and passion at St. Timothy’s, to continue serving in our diocese as a rector, and to keep becoming a Beloved Community in this Episcopal corner of Christ’s church.”
Todd initially joined diocesan staff two years ago as the Missioner for Young Adult and Campus Ministries. As the diocese embarked on the strategic planning process, Todd’s affinity for parish vitality became apparent and his portfolio expanded to include congregational revitalization. After a collaborative development process calling on the talent and wisdom of leaders from across the diocese, Todd introduced the Vital Signs of Parish Health last fall. A key tool for parish vitality, the vital signs can be used as a lens through which parish leaders approach their decision-making process. During the pandemic, Todd convened a weekly online Bible study with young adults in the diocese, providing a pastoral space for deepening faith during the crisis.
Founded in 1944, St. Timothy’s is a landmark in the Hillcrest neighborhood of the District of Columbia. The St. Timothy’s is involved in the life of its community and has served hundreds of families though its Child Development Center over the course of four decades.
St. Timothy’s has been selected as one of the parishes in the first cohort of the Tending Our Soil Thriving Congregations initiative that launches in September.
Bishop Mariann and EDOW’s senior staff are discerning how best to round out diocesan staff leadership as we emerge from the pandemic and will provide an update on the process later this summer.
For now, please join us in congratulating Todd and St. Timothy’s.