News & Features
August 01, 2019
Photo caption: Mae Wong, a councilor, with one of the neighborhood children. At the time, Mae was a fine arts freshman at Carnegie Institute of Technology, in Pittsburgh, PA.
What was your first summer camp experience? Was it a classic sleep away with roasted marshmallows and time in the outdoors? Or was it closer to home, maybe in Washington, DC?
The Diocese offered sleep away opportunities for students entering 8th and 9th graders (or Junior High) in the 1940s and 1950s at Camp Strawderman in Columbia Furnace, Virginia. "A large mountain farm, 12 minutes from Woodstock, Virginia, where cabins and an outdoor chapel, the Chapel of the Pines, offer an ideal setting for six days of fellowship, study and recreation for young people of the diocese." Shrine Mont, in Orkney Springs, Virginia, was promoted for Senior High students (age 15 years and up).
Closer to home, in the 1960s, St. Stephen and the Incarnation poured resources into a summer day camp for children from the parish and the neighborhood. Five days a week, beginning in July and August of 1961, the "inter-racial and inter-denominational" staff of college students with experience with youth work lived in the Rectory or their Church House. They partnered with the clergy to offer a church service, trips to a reserved space in Rock Creek Park, swim lessons at the Jewish Community Center pool, and lessons in art, sewing, music, dramatics, and athletics.
The children’s families were involved as well. In order to “stimulate parental cooperation and interest,” adults were required to personally register the children and pay $5, if they were able. They were offered small tasks to assist with the program and parents’ nights were an opportunity to show what was going on during the day and to “air various neighborhood concerns.” In later years, the meetings served as a “sounding board for community needs and resources as seen by the neighborhood residents themselves.”
Photo caption: Songfest around the campfire at the Junior High Summer Conference, at Camp Strawderman, led by the Rev. Harry B. Dalzell (far left) in charge of Recreation
There were also trips to the country. A partnership with St. Francis, Potomac brought a busload of children far from the city to dig for fishing worms; visit prize cattle; watch a horse being shod; and to pick plums, apples, and tomatoes--and to immediately consume them! The last activity of the day was a swim in a parishioner’s pool, watched over by young people from St. Francis.
Where did the money come from for the ministry? Donations from St. Margaret’s, St. Alban’s, St. Patrick’s, and women’s and other groups from other parishes. In 1966, financial aid came from the Office of Economic Opportunity, the National Youth Corps and other Government agencies. The Diocese, working with the Department of Christian Social Services, filled gaps in financing amounting.
The program began in 1961 serving 200 children. By 1966 the report was that 375 children participated with 64 adults listed as staff. The Rector, the Rev. William Wendt, said “...we believe that the Church has an obligation to play its part in bringing these children and people to the healing love of Jesus Christ. By keeping its doors open and by demonstrating its concern for the people around it, the Church can make an indelible mark on the life of the whole community.”
Pictures and history brought to you by Susan Stonesifer, diocesan historiographer
July 30, 2019
Have We No Decency? A Response to President Trump
The Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington
The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of Washington National Cathedral
The Rev. Canon Kelly Brown Douglas, Canon Theologian of Washington National Cathedral
The escalation of racialized rhetoric from the President of the United States has evoked responses from all sides of the political spectrum. On one side, African American leaders have led the way in rightfully expressed outrage. On the other, those aligned with the President seek to downplay the racial overtones of his attacks, or remain silent.
As faith leaders who serve at Washington National Cathedral – the sacred space where America gathers at moments of national significance – we feel compelled to ask: After two years of President Trump’s words and actions, when will Americans have enough?
As Americans, we have had such moments before, and as a people we have acted. Events of the last week call to mind a similarly dark period in our history:
“Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. … You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?”
That was U.S. Army attorney Joseph Welch on June 9, 1954, when he confronted Senator Joseph McCarthy before a live television audience, effectively ending McCarthy’s notorious hold on the nation. Until then, under the guise of ridding the country of Communist infiltration, McCarthy had free reign to say and do whatever he wished. With unbridled speech, he stoked the fears of an anxious nation with lies; destroyed the careers of countless Americans; and bullied into submissive silence anyone who dared criticize him.
In retrospect, it’s clear that Welch’s question was directed less toward McCarthy and more to the nation as a whole. Had Americans had enough? Where was our sense of decency?
We have come to accept a level of insult and abuse in political discourse that violates each person’s sacred identity as a child of God. We have come to accept as normal a steady stream of language and accusations coming from the highest office in the land that plays to racist elements in society.
This week, President Trump crossed another threshold. Not only did he insult a leader in the fight for racial justice and equality for all persons; not only did he savage the nations from which immigrants to this country have come; but now he has condemned the residents of an entire American city. Where will he go from here?
Make no mistake about it, words matter. And, Mr. Trump’s words are dangerous.
These words are more than a “dog-whistle.” When such violent dehumanizing words come from the President of the United States, they are a clarion call, and give cover, to white supremacists who consider people of color a sub-human “infestation” in America. They serve as a call to action from those people to keep America great by ridding it of such infestation. Violent words lead to violent actions.
When does silence become complicity? What will it take for us all to say, with one voice, that we have had enough? The question is less about the president's sense of decency, but of ours.
As leaders of faith who believe in the sacredness of every single human being, the time for silence is over. We must boldly stand witness against the bigotry, hatred, intolerance, and xenophobia that is hurled at us, especially when it comes from the highest offices of this nation. We must say that this will not be tolerated. To stay silent in the face of such rhetoric is for us to tacitly condone the violence of these words. We are compelled to take every opportunity to oppose the indecency and dehumanization that is racism, whether it comes to us through words or actions.
There is another moment in our history worth recalling. On January 21, 2017, Washington National Cathedral hosted an interfaith national prayer service, a sacred tradition to honor the peaceful transfer of political power. We prayed for the President and his young Administration to have “wisdom and grace in the exercise of their duties that they may serve all people of this nation, and promote the dignity and freedom of every person.”
That remains our prayer today for us all.
July 29, 2019
Spring Grants Awarded
This Spring, Diocesan Council awarded seven congregational grants totaling $62, 035 in five diocesan regions.
In Central DC, St. Margaret's will revamp the music and worship of their principal service based on demographics of the neighborhood and the desire to reach new people as a result of their strategic planning process. In addition, St. Luke's, DC and St. Stephen and the Incarnation will explore a speaker series on gentrification, congregational engagement and the community around both parishes.
In North DC, St. David's will focus on providing a breadth of activities of hopes to further strengthen and increase connections between the parish and the neighborhood.
In Southern Maryland, Christ Church, La Plata and Christ Church, Wayside will provide monthly open mic/coffee hour events shared between the two parishes. St. Thomas, Croom will develop and implement PRAY, a religious awards program for the local Scouts program.
In Central Montgomery County, St. Francis, Potomac will develop a series of videos to further showcase the parish and Christianity to the larger community.
In North Montgomery County, St. Bartholomew's will continue to support their Beading ministry - by production, training, and distribution of Anglican prayer beads to those within the parish and diocese.
July 25, 2019
Are you familiar with the Gospel story of Jesus feeding the large crowd of people with a few loaves of bread and fish? (John 6:1-14) Reflecting on the strategic planning sessions within our diocese, I’ve been thinking of that child in the story who was found with a small lunch. John humanizes the miracle by telling us of that child’s presence, something the other Gospel writers don’t do. Can you imagine being that child? I’m sure they weren’t necessarily following everything Jesus was saying, between chatting with friends and the excitement of a huge crowd, but they had to know something important was happening. Suddenly they’re in front of Jesus himself, and Jesus is holding out his hands for that small packed lunch. Good stuff is about to happen!
Strategic planning and dreaming with God is a very human thing to do. We’re asked to plan. Scripture gives us some wisdom about planning, like when Jesus taught on the seriousness of discipleship with the analogy of a builder counting costs before starting. (Luke 14:28-30) Proverbs speaks many times of planning, especially Proverbs 16:3, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Sounds like an exciting invitation to dream dreams, and then to share those dreams with a listening, supportive God.
Strategic planning is a work we do with God, humbly, faithfully, expectantly. Like the child in John’s Gospel we come, maybe feeling quite small against the enormity of the needs we see, but we’re willing to step up, to step out, to answer the call. We’ll dream and plan, and we’ll watch for God to do, as Paul prayed, “far more than we can ask or imagine.” Good stuff is about to happen!
The Rev. Todd Thomas
Interim Missioner for Young Adults
July 18, 2019
“Tell me about your faith journey.”
It’s a question I often ask. Over the years of asking, I’ve been moved (and pleasantly surprised) as people happily welcome this conversation. Many folks are grateful for the chance to describe their faith journey, and believe that church is an important context in which such conversations can happen.
In sharing their faith journey, people emphasize the vital role of the worshipping community in their spiritual growth.
“The welcome you receive from this congregation is genuine.”
“I visited here and knew this was my spiritual home.”
“I feel the Holy Spirit’s presence in worship, especially in the Eucharist.”
“I went through a hard time: the support and prayers of this congregation probably saved my life.”
“The ministry we have to the community, through our mission and outreach, shows me that Jesus can be found in every person, no matter the circumstances”
Human beings are created for relationship. From the moment of our birth, bonds with loved ones sustain our life. The tapestry of our lives is threaded with curiosity, pain, joy, loss, fear, tragedy, triumph, hope. Even in our early years, before we have much vocabulary to express it, we yearn for a sense of belonging. As with other developmental horizons, our emerging religious consciousness becomes God-hunger (what several authors have called the “God-shaped hole” at the center of our being).
I am particularly grateful that the Episcopal/Anglican tradition honors both our need to belong and our yearning for God. Rather than urging people onto a solitary path of individual conversion, we weave the compelling and empowering love of Jesus Christ into the experience of belonging.
In the diocesan Strategic Planning process, gathered in each region, a unanimous priority came clear: to revitalize our faith communities as bearers of the Good News of Jesus Christ and to foster the experience of belonging for which we yearn. In the coming weeks, our diocesan community will review and reflect further on this priority, as we together seek to fulfill God’s preferred future for the Diocese of Washington.
The Rt. Rev. Chilton Knudsen
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.