Episcopal Diocese of Washington

To draw people to Jesus and embody his love
for the world by equipping faith communities,
promoting spiritual growth, and striving for justice

News & Features

Special Convention Approves Proposed Canon

April 29, 2021

On Saturday, April 17, the Episcopal Diocese of Washington convened a Special Convention to debate and vote on a proposed “Canon for Diocesan Stewardship and Parish Viability.” After several hours of considered debate and passage of several amendments, the Convention voted  overwhelmingly to adopt the new canon. 

The canon’s purpose, as stated on the EDOW website, is “to strengthen the Body of Christ in the Diocese of Washington by helping support and revitalize all communities of faith, ensuring that they have the necessary capacity to achieve spiritual and financial health.” It includes standards of health, governance and viability. The canon grants Diocesan Council the authority to initiate a Health and Viability Assessment of a parish at the request of the Bishop, Standing Committee,  a member of Diocesan Council, or the Rector or Vestry of a parish. 

You can read the canon in its entirety and the full summary on the Special Convention page of the EDOW website. 

Bishop Mariann has asked the Rev. Dr. Robert Phillips, Canon for Leadership Development and Congregational Care, to lead the effort to develop a pastoral approach to inform future implementation efforts of the new canon. His first tasks will be to establish a small advisory team and to consult with other dioceses and church leaders about their implementation strategies. Canon Phillips and the advisory team will make their first report to Diocesan Council in June. 

Category: News

Convención Especial Aprueba el Canon Propuesto

April 29, 2021

El sábado 17 de abril, la Diócesis Episcopal de Washington convocó una Convención Especial para debatir y votar sobre una propuesta de "Canon para la Administración Diocesana y la Viabilidad Parroquial". Después de varias horas de debate y aprobación de varias enmiendas, la Convención votó abrumadoramente a favor de adoptar el nuevo canon.

El propósito del canon, como se indica en el sitio web de la EDOW, es “fortalecer el cuerpo de Cristo en la Diócesis de Washington ayudando a apoyar y revitalizar todas las comunidades de fe, asegurando que tengan la capacidad necesaria para lograr la salud espiritual y financiera”. Incluye normas de salud, gobernanza y viabilidad. El canon otorga al Consejo Diocesano la autoridad para iniciar una Evaluación de Salud y viabilidad de una parroquia a petición de la/el Obispa/o, Comité Permanente, un miembro del Consejo Diocesano, o el/la Rector/a o la Junta Parroquial de la parroquia.

Puede leer el canon en su totalidad y el resumen completo en la página de la Convención Especial del sitio web de EDOW.

La Obispa Mariann ha pedido al Reverendo Dr. Robert Phillips, Canónigo para el Desarrollo de Liderazgo y la Atención Congregacional, que dirija el esfuerzo para desarrollar un enfoque pastoral para informar los esfuerzos futuros de implementación del nuevo canon. Sus primeras tareas serán establecer un pequeño equipo asesor y consultar con otras diócesis y líderes de la iglesia sobre sus estrategias de implementación. El Canónigo Phillips y el equipo asesor harán su primer informe al Consejo Diocesano en junio.

Category: News

2021 Holy Week Collaborations in the Diocese

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.
Category: News

Welcome Emily Snowden to Diocesan Staff

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.” 

Category: News

A Quick Q & A About the Vital Signs of Parish Health Teaching Tuesday series

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. 

Categories: News, Events