News & Features
May 31, 2018
ETH Walk, Silver Spring, 2017
How does the Holy Spirit inspire our mission to make a holy impact in this world? When we think about social impact we typically think more about how we “help” others, less about how the helping changes us disciples. Yet that change may be as important and impactful as the other – or so I would suggest!
At Samaritan Ministry where I serve, those two ingredients are intermixed in an inspired “special sauce” which is how our mission was ingeniously defined 32 years ago, a sauce that continues to be a winning formula. It works like this: We invite potential participants to sit down with a caseworker to consider three questions:
- Do you want your life to be better and what would that look like?
- Are you ready for change and will you participate in the change process?
- Will you accept the coaching required to set goals and take the necessary “next steps” to meet those goals?
If the answer is “Yes” then we offer all the coaching, support, and follow-up for as long as a participant needs it to succeed – our proverbial hand-up!
But a second ingredient is equally important for us: When we invite a participant into our Next Step program, we also invite ourselves. In a quote that’s been on my office door since our earliest days, “If you have come to help me you are wasting your time; but if you have come because your liberation is bound up in mine, then let us work together.”
This wisdom speaks to who we are and what we do but also to how impactful collaborative ministry is. Samaritan Ministry wasn’t founded just to “help people” but to participate in their liberation, with the implied invitation that they will participate in ours. This demands a level of compassion, commitment and vulnerability not found anywhere or among everyone. But we – Samaritan and the Body of Christ – are not just anywhere or anyone. We’re followers of Jesus – so the greatest impact we make is when we are impacted ourselves. We rely heavily on volunteers because we believe in mutual empowerment, in a community partnership where everyone experiences for themselves the change they want to see in the world – generating an explosive and inspired holy impact!
As I write, our Partner Churches and Schools are planning events in our Empower the Homeless (ETH) Campaign where partners engage with those who experience homelessness, while building momentum to address homelessness in our region – great opportunities for holy impact. Five Silver Spring partner parishes are planning a Community Walk in September, St. Luke’s & St. Thomas’ in DC are hosting a participant success story on July 1 – or you can jump into a partner-wide 5K ETH run/walk this Sunday, June 3, from 8:45 a.m. – 10 a.m. at Bluemont Park in Arlington. Interested? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with “ETH event question” in the subject line and we’ll guide you.
Opportunities for holy impact abound, but remember to bring yourself, because the greatest change may be in YOU and through YOU – that’s the holiest impact of all!
The Rev. David B. Wolf serves as Executive Director of Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington (SMGW) and adjunct priest at Church of the Transfiguration, Silver Spring.
May 31, 2018
John McCleaf and the pews he built for St. Luke's
It all started when I asked John McCleaf, one of our parishioners at St. Luke's, Brighton, a seemingly simple question as we shook hands after a Sunday worship service, “How hard would it be to refinish these pews with a new coat of stain?” The first thing you need to know about John is that he is a master craftsman, specializing in woodwork. The second thing you need to know is that master craftsmen take their work very seriously. Serious as in there is no simple way to “freshen up” pews, there’s only the right way.
John replied, “What you’re talking about is sanding off the polyurethane coating and the stain; that’s a huge amount of work, months of labor.” Weeks went by and I could see John giving the pews a once over after each service. Then one day he said, “You know, I could build pews for the amount of time and energy it would take to refinish and repair the existing ones.”
Thus began the pew project. John presented to the vestry design plans, a cost analysis for supplies (labor would be his gift to the church), and an estimated time line. Given the parish’s blessing, he began the project in October 2017.
The third thing you need to know about John is that he is diligent. For eight months he woke up early (Sundays were days of rest), went to his workshop, and worked on the project until evening. Lovingly transforming six thousand pounds of red oak lumber into twenty pews.
“He was driven,” said his wife Beverly. “He’d go into his workshop, I’d hear him sawing away, he’d come in for lunch, and then he’d go back and work until dinnertime.”
Most of us would consider this a Herculean project; John saw it as a challenge. “For years I wondered how difficult it would be to make pews,” he explained. “I discovered I enjoyed fabricating the pieces and fitting them together. It was like doing a massive puzzle.”
Like many Episcopal churches, St. Luke’s Brighton Parish has a tradition of supporting local artists. At our fall festival (known in the community as the Candle Festival; when years ago the parish sold hand-dipped candles) artisans are invited to sell their wares. The Brighton Quilters handmade quilt raffle has been a big draw for over 50 years. A portion of the proceeds from the festival supports the local food pantry.
Throughout the year, members of the community visit our labyrinth, an Eagle Scout project by parishioner Ian Smith, and stroll through our Memorial Garden. John’s work is the latest addition to our sacred space. Completed in May 2018, the pews now reside in their new home. We invite you to visit; our church doors are always open.
The Rev. Vikki Clayton, rector of St. Luke's, Brighton
John McCleaf in his studio
May 24, 2018
Multi-cultural, multi-racial, interracial, culturally diverse? These and other terms have been used in the attempt to describe congregations that have more than one race. However, a congregation can be multi-racial and not multi-cultural. As we strive to evangelize, to bring others to Christ, and in truth, into our congregations, it is crucial that our liturgies actually reflect “the work of the people.” What follows are two examples of how to take our familiar liturgy and make it welcoming to those who might not be Episcopalian.
A classic pipe organ or a Hammond B-3? The decision between the two is usually not difficult in the traditional black church. Hands down, you will find a Hammond B-3 because it plays well the contemporary gospel music of today. So, it came as a surprise when Rev. Delman Coates, senior pastor of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church, told EDOW lay and clergy at a “learning day” in April that he advised his congregation a pipe organ would join the church’s Hammond organ. “Anthems,” he said, “sound better on a pipe organ.” His lesson? Music speaks to the soul and if a visitor to the church can find something familiar in the service, in the liturgy, it just might bring them back the next Sunday.
An inclusive liturgy could also be found at St. Stephen and the Incarnation on Good Friday. The sweet aroma of Copal incense from Ethiopia and sounds of soft cello music greeted me as I entered the church for the “Liturgy of the Burial of the Icon.” Throughout the service, the readings, the music, the lighting, all engaged the entire body of the worshiper; engaging all of the senses. he music spanned Latino hymns, European anthems, and black spirituals. The readings and prayers were spoken in English and Spanish. A Tibetan singing bowl announced and ended the periods of meditation. The congregational procession to the place of repose evoked visions of a New Orleans funeral procession. The service was Episcopal; the framework of the Eucharist was there; however, onto that frame, liturgy – the work of the people – was enfleshed.
What a radical welcome for a first-time visitor to experience worship that lifts up the familiar – a smell, a song, a prayer, a custom. Visitors should not have to assimilate to worship. The preface to the 1789 Book of Common Prayer, reads, “It is a most invaluable part of that blessed ‘liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,’ that in his worship different forms and usages may without offence be allowed, provided the substance of the Faith be kept entire. . . ”
The Book of Common Prayer permits flexibility in worship and that flexibility will permit us to be both multi-racial and multi-cultural, and above all else, welcoming.
The Rev. Gayle Fisher-Stewart serves as the assistant rector at Calvary, D.C.
May 17, 2018
The Reverend Daryl Paul Lobban has been named the diocese’s new missioner for communications. A fourth-generation Holiness Pentecostal ordained minister from Brooklyn, N.Y., Daryl comes to Church House with a rich background of ecumenical experience in parish and organizational contexts, having served in Pentecostal, UCC, RCA, African Methodist Episcopal, Baptist, and Evangelical churches. Most recently Daryl served as director of external relationships for the Massachusetts Council of Churches, where he managed the Council’s communications strategy and helped lead engagement with government officials, donors, and local churches.
“We are excited to have Daryl Lobban round out our team at Church House as the new missioner for communications,” said Canon Paul Cooney, chief operating officer of the diocese. “During the search process it became clear that Daryl’s gifts for communications combined with his infectious passion for the Gospel made him the ideal candidate. I suspect he will be able to hit the ground running with the various needs in supporting our diocesan communications--both internally in our parishes and externally with our wider commitment to social justice.”
Daryl’s first day in the office was May 3. Since then he has spent his time getting oriented to the ministry of the diocese and its many communications priorities. Daryl will be charged with a broad range of public relations topics, including editorial oversight of our internal publications and website, leveraging our social media presence, and presenting a unified message from the diocese.
“I am thrilled and humbled to join the dynamic staff of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, and to work alongside Bishop Mariann at this pivotal time in our nation's history,” said Daryl. “While we are bombarded daily with so many messages that strike fear and hopelessness into many hearts, we who have passed through the baptismal waters, and tasted the bread of heaven, have a hopeful, loving, life-giving, and liberating message to share with the world. I am excited to join the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement and partner with parishes to get the message of Christ’s Gospel to the people in the diocese and the wider world.”
Daryl earned his Master of Divinity degree from the Boston University School of Theology, and is a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, graduating from Nyack College with a Bachelor's degree in Biblical and Theological Studies. He has traveled to Nigeria, Cuba, Canada, Jamaica, and across the United States as a conference and church speaker. He has served as the chair of the Senator Edward Brooke Educational Foundation and also on the boards of directors for the Homebound Leadership Institute, Generation Excel, and Ray of Hope Children Services. Daryl is happily married to his beautiful and gifted life-partner Dr. Shavonne Moore.
May 17, 2018
More than 50 leaders from the diocese gathered last month at Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Md., for a learning day with the Rev. Dr. Delman Coates, senior pastor of Mt. Ennon. The invitation came following Dr. Coates’ sermon at Diocesan Convention in January, and builds upon a burgeoning friendship between the diocese and the people of Mt. Ennon, led by Bishop Mariann Budde and Dr. Coates.
In the day-long workshop, Dr. Coates talked about how his church has grown from a few hundred to more than 10,000 over the past two decades. His primary argument was that churches need to respond to the changes in the world around them to remain relevant in our twenty-first century. How? In his leadership, he said, he has developed a number of practices that make for “contagious churches”--churches that share the love of Christ in such an infectious way that the community grows while responding to the changes in culture to meet the needs of a busy and fractured world.
Here are Dr. Coates’ Nine Practices of Contagious Churches:
- Maintain a biblical model of governance. Church leadership needs accountability, checks and balances, and a healthy governing body, says Coates. Churches with too much power vested in one body or one leader do not reflect a contagious love of the Gospel.
- Practice servant leadership. Our leadership should be grounded in a biblical model of the leader as a servant. Every disciple is a servant of God, even pastors. When we show servant leadership we are modeling what it looks like to follow Jesus in leadership.
- Protect team chemistry at all costs. Coates stresses the importance of strong relationships between staff and leaders--but to the end of creating a team that enjoys being together, and working together toward a common goal. Rather than having individual players who shine on their own, Coates claims that contagious churches have a team of leaders who work together well and enjoy their collective mission.
- Have a clearly defined “win” statement. Coates asks, how can we know if we are succeeding as a church if we haven’t defined what “winning” is? In other words, have a clear vision statement for where you aspire to be. Mt. Ennon’s “win” statement is: “We aim to create and produce unparalleled spiritual experiences that foster growth and enthusiasm.” Each week the staff assess itself based on how their win statement is resonating as true.
- Be relentless about evaluation. Related to the “win” statement, Coates advocates for always reflecting back after a service, event, or project. While celebrating the success of anything, Coates says being relentless about evaluation in terms of constructive ways to improve, leaves the team always wanting to do--and be--better.
- Create margin and prioritize radical differentiation. In other words, Coates says, ask yourself how your church community is unique amid the competition. And the competition, Coates argues, is not just other church communities--but the secular world as well. What is your church offering that people can’t get anywhere else? How are you different? Do you prioritize resources around that which is unique and different about you, or are you trying to be all things to all people?
- Focus on what we do and don’t do. Also related to radical differentiation is a willingness to be clear not only about what we focus on, but also about what we do not prioritize. Leaders of contagious churches do not expand the mission of their church just because someone has a good idea. “Some things are a ‘good’ idea but not a ‘God’ idea,” Coates says. Churches have to stay focused on God ideas--not all the good ideas out there.
- Embrace change! Perhaps this goes without saying, but Coates maintains that churches with a culture of embracing change, rather than resisting it, are the ones that succeed. An openness to change is an openness to the ways the Spirit is calling the Church to respond to the changing world around us.
- “Maintain revival in the kitchen.” Is your leadership and your practice of ministry grounded in joy? Don’t forget, says Coates, that your primary role as a leader is to be a worshiper, too. “Your job is to worship,” he says. Don’t be in church work just as a worker. It can get old on the inside. We can get burnt out. Instead, maintain a connection to why you were called to ministry in the first place, and ensure that your team is maintaining that same sense of joy and worship.
By The Rev. Richard Weinberg, assistant rector at St. Margaret's, D.C. and diocesan Strategic Communications Advisor