News & Features
March 18, 2021
No question, the pandemic has been hard on us all. But even in the midst of heartache and loss, God calls us to hope. Parishes in the Diocese of Washington have been able to maintain, and even increase, their sense of community and mission throughout this challenging time by investing in relationships and the gifts of technology. As Easter approaches this year, we hear from two of our regions and one of our parishes as they demonstrate what is possible when we come together, following Jesus’s Way of Love to bless our communities in creative ways.
“Last Christmas, the parish clergy of the South Montgomery Region realized we could pool our resources to create a joint online Christmas Lessons and Carols,” says the Rev. Cricket Park, rector of Church of the Redeemer, Bethesda and Dean of the South Montgomery Region. “We had such a good time working together. It seemed natural to look for opportunities to recreate the experience.”
They posted the prerecorded Lessons and Carols to YouTube where it ended up getting over 450 views within the first 24 hours. They wondered what might be possible for Easter and decided to record a Liturgy for Good Friday that would again be available on YouTube for anyone to view at a time best suited to their schedule. This time 5 of the 6 parishes in the region are participating and each of those churches will have a music piece in the service. Deacons will handle all the biddings, priests will do the collects, and lay people will speak the readings.
In the Central Montgomery Region the parishes have also come together to record a reflective Good Friday liturgy. The Rev. David Wacaster, Rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Silver Spring and Dean of the Central Montgomery Region says, “Originally developed and suggested by The Reverend Virginia Brown Nolan, this collaborative Good Friday liturgy has been a meaningful part of the Region's Holy Week worship for several years. The opportunity for regional parishes to join together on this project has been especially welcome during this pandemic time.”
This will also be the second year that the Rev. Wacaster’s parish, Good Shepherd, will collaborate with Luther Rice Memorial Baptist Church on an ecumenical Seven Last Words of Christ service. “This is the result of the diaconal ministry of The Reverend Kathryn McMahon,” Rev. Wacaster shares. “During the pandemic, Luther Rice Memorial and Good Shepherd have been working together to collect food for Luther Rice's foodbank in an effort to respond to the needs of the Silver Spring Community.” The two churches have also collaborated on an effort to help senior citizens become more comfortable with technology so they may remain connected to the community during this time when in-person gatherings are not possible.
We give thanks for the richness of these joint ministries, the strengthening of relational ties between parishes and within communities, and the opportunity to grow in faith as we seek to draw people to Jesus and embody his love for the world.
- South Montgomery Region Liturgy for Good Friday - available to view on YouTube on April 2.
- Central Montgomery Region Reflective Good Friday Liturgy - available to view on Christ Church Rockville's Website on April 2 beginning at noon.
- Good Shepherd, Silver Spring and Luther Rice Memorial Baptist Church joint ecumenical Seven Last Words of Christ service - available to view on Good Shepherd's and Luther Rice's websites on April 2 beginning at noon.
March 18, 2021
Rev. Emily Snowden, Program Coordinator
We are excited to introduce Emily Snowden, the diocese’s new Program Coordinator for the School for Christian Faith and Leadership and the Tending Our Soil initiative. Emily is a UCC pastor and joins the staff with nine years of ministry experience in the United Church of Christ, in both congregational and institutional settings. She brings with her coaching, administrative, and program development capacities that will serve the diocese well.
Emily will work closely with the Rev. Jenifer Gamber, Missioner for the School for Christian Faith and Leadership, to support the development of a broad base of offerings by the School to equip members of the diocese for faithful living and adaptive leadership and to guide congregations in an intentional process toward greater vitality. “I am honored and excited to bring my communication, collaboration, and organizational skills to the Diocese of Washington and look forward to contributing in a meaningful way to its mission.”
Jenifer Gamber shares, “I am delighted to welcome Emily and look forward to a fruitful partnership to expand learning opportunities that help the people of the Diocese of Washington engage in a changing world with an enduring faith in Jesus Christ and know God’s love.”
“Emily provides us with much needed administrative capacity as we continue to move forward on our strategic plan goals,” Bishop Mariann reports. “We’re grateful to have her join the diocesan staff team.”
March 17, 2021
EDOW Communications Manager Keely Thrall caught up with The Rev. Todd Thomas, Missioner for Revitalization, to ask him about the upcoming Teaching Tuesdays series on the Signs of Parish Vitality.
What takeaways do you hope attendees will have coming out of these sessions?
The whole process of engaging the question of parish vitality and identifying the seven Vital Signs of Parish Health has been a collaborative effort from the beginning. The Teaching Tuesdays: Signs of Parish Vitality series continues that spirit of collaboration. We learn so well from one another, both ideas and practices. Attendees will come away from each lunch hour session encouraged, inspired and energized with new perspectives on the vital signs, new resources to study and new ideas to adapt and use in our own contexts.
How does the Tending Our Soil initiative fit in with the seven Vital Signs of Parish Health?
The Tending Our Soil initiative is based on three foundations: parishes working together in cohorts to build capacities for adaptive leadership, trained coaches guiding and accompanying the parishes through the process, and a focus on the seven Vital Signs of Parish Health. The vital signs are our best vocabulary and framework for both evaluating where we are and creatively projecting where we want to be. Participating in Tending Our Soil is an amazing opportunity to dig deep into where a parish’s strengths lie within the vital signs, to identify opportunities for growth and improvement, and then to develop new ministries for growing in those areas of opportunity.
Bishop Mariann has stated she’d like each parish to choose one (maybe two) of the Vital Signs to work on first, not all seven at once. Why is it important to focus on a single sign to start with?
Using the Vital Signs of Parish Health as a self-assessment tool highlights a parish’s strengths as well as its opportunities for growth. Once a self-assessment is completed, a parish will have a better sense of where to spend its time and attention for maximum benefit. Choosing one vital sign, maybe two, further hones a parish’s strategic focus and creativity for the work ahead. Engaging the vital signs is not a quick-fix. No one expects a parish to make dramatic progress in a short amount of time, but narrowing the focus to one or two vital signs provides space for listening to where the Holy Spirit is calling a congregation, intentional prayer, strategic thinking, and innovative ideas to develop.
Teaching Tuesdays: Vital Signs of Parish Health Series
Grab your lunch and join Rev. Todd and congregational leaders from across the Diocese of Washington Tuesdays at noon, April 13 through May 25. We’ll share our stories, pool our creativity, and curate resources for how our faith communities can engage the Vital Signs of Parish Health, even in times of shift and change.
- April 13 - Mission and Vision
- April 20 - Inspiring and Capable Leadership
- April 27 - Clear Path of Discipleship
- May 4 - Faithful Financial Practices
- May 11 - Welcoming and Connecting Ministries
- May 18 - Uplifting and Inviting Worship
- May 25 - Blessing Our Community
Register for the series. Drop in when you can. Recordings and materials will be sent to all registrants.
March 04, 2021
With thanksgiving and joy, we welcome two people to diocesan staff this month. Amanda Anderson will serve as Executive Assistant to the Bishops and Hazel Monae comes on board as our Missioner for Equity and Justice. After extensive search processes for both positions, with many strong candidates, we are excited that Hazel and Amanda will bring with their faith, professionalism, and creativity to the diocese as we continue walking the way of love.
Amanda Anderson, Executive Assistant to the Bishops
Amanda joins us with a wealth of executive assistant experience and administrative skills, most recently having served as the Executive Assistant to the Mayor of Capitol Heights, Maryland. Amanda will manage the continued smooth functioning of the bishops’ office.
What drew Amanda to us was her desire to more deeply engage her faith with her work. “Throughout my career, I have maintained high performance standards within a diverse range of administration functions. I have proven myself to be solution-oriented, trustworthy, and a person full of initiative.” She is actively engaged in the work of her faith community having served in numerous leadership positions.
Hazel Monae, Missioner for Equity and Justice
Hazel comes to us from Episcopal City Mission where she serves as Senior Manager of Engagement and Leadership Development. She has over 10 years of program development and facilitative leadership experience in the fields of racial equity, education, and community organizing. Hazel’s portfolio as Missioner for Equity and Justice will focus on our strategic plan priority to bravely uncover, understand, reckon with and act to dismantle racism within ourselves, our faith communities, the diocese and our localities. Hazel’s first official day on staff is March 8th.
“I believe that we all must take an ethical approach to developing and engaging our church and society--moving us closer to God’s liberating dream for all people,” Hazel shared in her cover letter. “I am energized by your commitment to address racial injustice and to respond from within the values, ideals and framework of the Episcopal Church.”
“This is an important season in the life of the diocese as we've entered the second year of strategic plan implementation,” says Bishop Mariann. Amanda and Hazel are welcome additions to your faithful, skilled, and passionate diocesan staff. I am honored to serve God and this diocese alongside them.”
January 12, 2021
Well done, good and faithful servant.
At the end of January, we give thanks for the ministries of three remarkable members of the diocesan staff and send them off with our blessings. The Rev. Sarabeth Goodwin, Missioner for Latino Ministries, and Ms. Cheryl Wilburn, Administrative Assistant for the Bishops are both retiring, and the Rev. Paula Clark, Canon to the Ordinary has been elected Bishop of the Diocese of Chicago.
We invite your participation in our collective efforts to celebrate and give thanks for these extraordinary women.
Please send your personal note of thanks to each one individually, either by email
or by mail to:
Attn: Kathleen Hall
Mount St. Alban
Washington DC 20016
On the weekend of Diocesan Convention, we will present all three with a special gift, handcrafted by the Rev. Joe Clark out of the wood harvested from the oak tree that once stood in front of Church House. We will give them all the personal notes we have received.
We are also raising funds for Bishop-elect Paula’s episcopal ring and a liturgical set of cope, chasuble, and mitre. Both will be presented to her, on behalf of her home diocese, at her consecration on April 24. If you would like to contribute, please give online or text paulaclark to 50155.
In addition to the time to honor Sarabeth, Cheryl, and Paula at Diocesan Convention, we invite you to take part in these two events:
Latino Ministry Event to Honor Sarabeth
Join Bishop Mariann and the people of our Latino congregations for a virtual Celebration of Thanksgiving for the Rev. Sarabeth Goodwin’s ministry on Saturday, January 16 at 7:00 p.m. The service will be bilingual.
Drive-By Celebration for Cheryl and Paula
Each has blessed so many in their years of ministry. Now is our opportunity to let them know how much we love and appreciate who they are, their faithfulness to Jesus, and their many gifts to us.