Episcopal Diocese of Washington

Engaging a changing world with
an enduring faith in Jesus Christ

News & Features

Where Do You See Jesus?

June 14, 2018

My most profound experiences of God have been found in two places: in the natural world around me and in the people with whom I have shared experiences of mission or the work of the Church. This might be a brief encounter on my drive to work, saying hello and sharing food or water with a woman who stands on the corner of Canal and Foxhall Road. Or it may be the weeks of any given summer doing short-term mission with young people in cities and rural places near and far. Or in a meeting with people who are passionate about the plight of refugees as they listen and share ministry opportunities with each other. This is the work of the Church and where Jesus comes alive for me.

I say the work of the Church because our Baptismal Covenant calls each of us to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as yourself;” and “to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” For all Episcopalians, this is our servant ministry. How each of us engages the work or ministry depends upon our experiences and our passions. What might excite and move you to one place of ministry will not engage another. Where you might be willing to spend your time, talent and treasure might be a place that another person may never even visit. Yet, each of us is called to find our work for God.

The Diocese of Washington has been engaged in developing a program to raise up and train deacons for the last four years. These deacons are not transitional; meaning that they will not be ordained as priests to lead and guide various faith communities. These are life-long deacons who are passionate about the hopes, needs and concerns of the world and will do whatever it takes to assist the Church in responding, as a servant community. Deacons do this by example, by taking others along with them, and by assisting disciples in living out their faith in the world, so that they too might see Jesus.

Since the first ordinations of three deacons in the fall of 2012, we have tripled our numbers. This fall, God willing and the people consenting, we hope to double that number to 22; and hopefully increase that by 9 more in 2020. On Saturday, October 27, we will again hold a Diaconal Workshop Day - a day to explore the ministry of deacons, learn about the process for ordination, and hear about the formation program used to train and equip deacons for ministry.

Does this enliven or stir your heart? What to know more about deacons and their ministry? Visit the deacon’s page on the website and watch for further information and a registration process for the Diaconal Workshop Day.

By The Venerable L. Sue von Rautenkranz, Archdeacon


Category: Uncategorized

The Episcopal Center for Children – a Healing Way Station for Children for 124 Years

June 07, 2018

The Episcopal Center for Children

Since 1894, the Episcopal Center for Children has been a way station for children facing challenges. They are kids like Suzie, who came to the Center as a third grader. Suzie was facing severe emotional challenges – her slender shoulders were already carrying more trauma and difficult experiences than many people see in a lifetime. And she was also at least two grade levels behind her peers.

At the Center, Suzie found teachers and staff who cared about her well-being. They wanted to help her thrive. They coached her gently and gave her new tools to help manage her behavior.  A reading specialist and math teacher devoted hours to helping her, and she eventually read above her grade level.

Suzie is just one of thousands of children touched by the Center in its storied 124-year history. Decades ago, the Center was an orphanage and an overnight school for children with disabilities. Now we are a day treatment program and school for children facing serious emotional challenges who can’t stay in their neighborhood public schools and need focused one-on-one help to succeed.

Suzie’s story is linked to a legacy of social justice and service to others that’s always been part of the Center’s experience. It’s that legacy – inspired by our Episcopalian heritage – that formed the bedrock of the Center’s work decades ago and still inspires our work today.

Dozens of children attend the Center today – where they get wraparound support services. To continue to make a difference in the lives of these children, we invite your help and support.  Here are a few ways you can help:

  • Go to www.ECCofDC.org and sign up for our e-newsletter
  • Distribute information about us quarterly in your parish bulletin or e-newsletter
  • Request a speaker for your service, event or class
  • Support our MakerSpace by purchasing items on our Amazon wish list
  • Consider becoming a monthly donor to the Center
  • Hold a drive for school supplies, canned/packaged food, smaller toys, or holiday gifts
  • Volunteer at the Center
  • Organize a fundraiser
  • Donate to the Center on one of our days of giving. Giving Tuesday is November 27, 2018

In the heart of every child like Suzie – still beats the glorious wonderment of childhood. One that can love learning, heal from past hurts, self-manage his or her behavior, and embrace beauty and joy.

Dodd White is the president/CEO of The Episcopal Center for Children. If you would like to help, please email Mr. White or call him at 202-363-1333.

Taken at a recent Career Day at the Center

Category: Uncategorized

Preparing for a Safe Summer Season

June 06, 2018

Late spring and summer bring joyous celebrations of transitions: graduations, weddings, and anniversaries. We open our doors to outside activities and welcome an engagement in bible schools, camps and mission trips. It also is the season of maintenance and repair work.

The Church Insurance Agency provides useful tools for keeping people and property save during each season. The Good Steward is a free monthly publication available on the Church Pension Group’s website and available by email subscription. This month’s topics include recognizing sexual harassment in the Church, safe driving tips, social media usage and self-care following a disaster. A new feature, From the Claims Desk, addresses common issues clients face nation-wide. Have volunteers working on your roof? Read the From the Claims Desk before they climb the ladder again.

Additionally, there are easy to share tip sheets for summer events. Click the links below and share these with appropriate parish leaders.

Tips: Hosting Outside Groups
Tips: Inflatable Bounce Houses for Children
Tips: Liquor Liability at Church Events
Tips: Non-owned Auto Liability (personal and rented vehicles)

Update Staff and Volunteer Job Descriptions

Summer may provide time for each staff person to review his or her job description with the appropriate supervisor. The EDOW website has a template that may be completed if you don’t have job descriptions in place.

The benefits of up-to-date job descriptions include:

  • Maximize understanding about the duties and responsibilities of a position

  • Help an organization know if there is proper delegation of duties

  • Serve as a basis for meaningful performance evaluations

  • Act as a training aid

  • Provide objective criteria for corrective action, reprimand, or termination

If you would like to discuss creating or editing job descriptions for staff and volunteers, please contact Kathleen Hall.


Category: Uncategorized

Lessons Learned: Periodic Confirmation of Parish Internet Domain and Social Media Account Registration and Administration Rights

June 06, 2018

Among the lessons learned by Diocesan staff—several times each year over the past decade—concerns the problems EDOW parishes have encountered in situations relating to control of their website and social media accounts. For example:

  • A parish sought to move its hosting to a new provider only to find this couldn’t be accomplished until parish leaders traced the registration to a former parishioner who had arranged for the creation of the internet domain twenty years ago. The former parishioner had since died. Complicated and time-consuming efforts were required to transfer the domain registration to the parish.

  • Another parish decided to increase use of its Facebook account in parish communications. The Facebook account had been created ten years ago, but had been used only sporadically. When the parish tried to change the administrator of the account, it couldn’t do so because it couldn’t locate the individual who, as a member of the youth group, had opened the Facebook account in the name of the parish before going off to college. The former youth member had since moved across the county and his other family members also had relocated in the meantime, to whereabouts unknown. The registration was transferred only after weeks of effort.

These are examples of internet domain and social media registration/administrative rights difficulties that EDOW parishes have confronted in recent years.  

We recommend parishes verify internet domains and social media account registrations and administrative rights each year so that changes among volunteer leadership over time don’t jeopardize access to vital communication channels. Peter Turner, EDOW’s Technology Director, can help if you have questions or concerns.

Category: Uncategorized

What Property-Related Transactions Require Diocesan Approval?

June 06, 2018

One of the most common interactions between parish and diocesan leaders occurs in the context of renovation projects, loan transactions, leases, easements and sales of parish real estate. The Episcopal Church canons require the consent of the Bishop and Standing Committee before a parish enters into certain transactions. Episcopal Church Canon I.7.3 provides that:

 No Vestry, Trustee, or other Body, authorized by Civil or Canon law to hold, manage, or administer real property for any Parish, Mission, Congregation, or Institution, shall encumber or alienate the same or any part thereof without the written consent of the Bishop and Standing Committee of the Diocese…

How does this canonical requirement apply to the following situations?

Q1: A parish is planning a major renovation of its parish hall, to be financed by a loan that will be secured by a mortgage/deed of trust on parish real estate. Consent required?
A1: Yes.

Q2: The vestry has determined to sell the parish rectory. Consent required?
A2: Yes.

Q3: A parish plans to finance a major renovation by a bank loan secured by pledging a portion of its endowment account. Consent required?
A3: No. Endowment funds are not real property; since there is no lien being placed on real property of the parish, no consent of the Bishop and Standing Committee is required.

Q4: A parish desires to lease an unused area in the parish house to a local charitable organization. Is this an “encumbrance or alienation” requiring consent?
A4: Maybe. It depends on the length of the lease. If the term of the lease--including renewals--is for more than three years or more, consent is required.

Q5: The parish has an opportunity to receive a grant from the local county, which provides financial support for maintenance of historical properties. A condition of the grant requires the vestry to enter into an easement agreement with the county. Consent required?
A5: Yes. An easement on real estate imposes limitations on the use of that property. For canonical purposes, this is an “encumbrance.” Consent of the Bishop and Standing Committee is required.

Who can help? In the Diocese of Washington, the Diocesan Finance Committee serves as staff to the Standing Committee and Bishop on property sale and encumbrance matters. Contact Paul Cooney, staff liaison to the Finance Committee, if you have questions.

Category: Uncategorized