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

Programs and Operations

Bishop Mariann and diocesan staff devote much of our time to facilitating the work of the diocese--and we don’t do this alone. This year, we have been especially grateful to collaborate with diocesan committees, our leadership bodies, our new regional deans, and congregational leaders. Together, we are the eyes, hands, feet and body of Christ, and together, we are listening to where God is calling us so we may experience God’s preferred future for us. 

  • Valuing healthy, ongoing dialogue with our parish leaders, diocesan staff has conducted over 335 parish consultations in 2020. 
  • Recognizing the crucial importance of steady oversight, we’ve convened both regular monthly meetings of Diocesan Council and Standing Committee and special sessions when circumstances dictated a rapid response.
  • Desiring to support exhausted parish clergy, we created a seven-week post-Easter preaching rota.
  • Understanding the need to grow our toolbox in order to better serve you in an era of online engagement and church dispersed, each staff member has undergone training to advance their skills.
  • Keenly aware of the extraordinary turmoil this year has placed each and every one of us in, your bishops and diocesan staff have held you in constant prayer.

 

Bishop’s Office

Though constrained by the restrictions brought on by the pandemic, Bishop Mariann was able to conduct the acts required of her episcopate by canon. 

  • In the initial months of the pandemic, Bishop Mariann temporarily shifted focus away from her Sunday visitation schedule to diocesan-wide crisis management and used the Washington National Cathedral as the platform to address the diocese as a whole.  
  • After a pandemic-induced hiatus, the bishop visited 17 of parishes, always meeting with the parish vestry as part of her official visit.
  • Bishop Mariann confirmed, received, and reaffirmed 62 people from 11 parishes at two confirmation services at Washington National Cathedral in October (one outside and one inside).
  • Bishop Mariann ordained 2 people to the sacred order of priests and 9 people to the sacred order of deacons.  
  • The bishop will ordain 3 people to the transitional diaconate on December 5. 
  • Bishop Mariann installed 2 rectors (The Rev. Ricardo Sheppard, Church of the Atonement, DC, and the Rev. Richard Weinberg, St. Margaret’s, DC).
  • The bishop will install 2 Canons and 1 Archdeacon at Washington National Cathedral on December 3.

 

Ordination Process 

As in all other aspects of diocesan life, the pandemic affected our ordination process. The Rev. Dr. Robert Phillips, Canon for Leadership Development and Congregational Care; the Ven. Sue von Rautenkranz, Archdeacon and Diocesan Liturgist; and the Rev. Yoimel González Hernández, Dean of the Latino Deacons’ School, worked diligently to mitigate the impact of the disruption on the formation of our next generation of ordained leaders. 

Priesthood formation process

  • We accepted 4 new people into the priesthood formation process.
  • There are 5 postulants in the process, studying at 4 different seminaries.
  • We held 1 priesthood ordination service at St. Paul’s, K Street on 6/13.
  • We will hold 1 transitional deacon ordination service at St. Paul’s, K Street on 12/5 for 3 persons.

Diaconal formation process

  • 25 people attended an informational workshop in October to learn more about hearing the call of diaconal ministry.
  • We expect to have between 3-5 new nominees enter the process for the diaconate.
  • There are 11 postulants in the process.
  • 9 people were ordained on 11/14 at Washington National Cathedral.

Latino Deacons’ School

  • We are continuing to develop a Spanish-language version of our Deacons’ School that will not only allow us to form greater numbers of Spanish speaking deacons, but to share this tool with the wider Church providing much needed access and equity for our Latino brothers and sisters.
  • We have 3 postulants being formed through the Latino Deacons’ School.
  • 5 attendees at the October diaconal informational workshop were from Spanish-speaking congregations.

 

Clergy Transitions

Canon Robert Phillips continues to guide congregations and clergy through leadership transitions.

  • 11 number of parishes will have experienced a change in clergy leadership in 2020. 
  • 18 priests were called to new parish ministries

    • 8 rectors/priests-in-charge
    • 4 interims
    • 6 assistants/associates
  • 13 priests participated in Genesis 2020-2021, the diocesan program designed to onboard priests in new calls to better equip them for success. 10 priests completed Genesis 2019-2020. 

 

Latino Ministry

Latino communities have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, yet our Latino congregations quickly got to work feeding the hungry--with some now distributing up to 650+ boxes of food per week.

Other diocesan initiatives in Latino Ministry this year included:

  • The launch of the Latino Deacons’ School.
  • An increased commitment to translation and interpretation of regular communications, most especially of Bishop Mariann’s reflections and letters to diocesan parish leadership.
  • Interviewed all seven Latino Missioners in response to the impact of the pandemic and how they have adjusted to online worship, published on YouTube and Facebook.
  • In December, Latino Ministry will host an online Posada, an Advent celebration of hospitality symbolizing Mary and Joseph’s long, frustrating search for a place to stay where Jesus could be born.
  • In October, we highlighted Latino Ministry in the Diocesan Bulletin newsletter.

 

Regional Deans

In the brief time since the 10 regional deans were commissioned at Dicoesan Convention in January, the regional dean structure has shown great promise. The deans serve as a  point of connection, not only between diocesan staff and the regions, but within the leadership of the regions themselves. The deans have: 

  • Been a key communication link in the regions and around the Diocese.
  • Convened over 60 monthly meetings with regional parish clergy.
  • Brought parish wardens together in some regions to discuss common challenges and shared opportunities.  
  • Served as hosts for the fall online regional gatherings. 

 

Diaconal Ministry

The pandemic has reinforced our conviction that deacons are an essential part of our diocesan ministry. 

  • With their help, diocesan staff was able to identify families and individuals with food insecurities and other needs and assist them for grants from our COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.
  • Many deacons are engaged with food pantries, feeding programs, and supplying schools with resources for students.
  • Other deacons are deeply involved in advocacy efforts around homelessness, immigrant and refugee rights, and voter registration. 
  • In September, we highlighted the ministry of deacons in the Diocesan Bulletin newsletter. 

 

Diocesan Liturgies 

The Ven. Sue von Rautenkranz not only serves as archdeacon of the diocese, directing the formation and placement of deacons, she is also the diocesan liturgist. We give thanks for her steady hand in the development of the services that fueled our communal life this year. 

  • January: Convention Eucharist, which offers a spiritual opening for the business of the diocese.
  • January: More Jesus, More Love revival Eucharist, the largest diocesan gathering in our history, filled with joy and hope for moving forward in our strategic plan.
  • Two ordinations to the priesthood combining in-person attendance and live-streaming in compliance with social distancing requirements (the Rev. Savannah Ponder, serving at St. John’s, Lafayette Square and the Rev. Kevin Antonio Smallwood, serving at Grace, Silver Spring).
  • May: Clergy Renewal of Vows services, our first online gathering of clergy for prayer and renewal of ministry
  • August: Diocesan-wide service at WNC, allowed for many rectors to take their first Sunday off in 6 months
  • September: Clergy retreats, offering an opportunity for clergy to come together with their bishop and each other for prayer, refreshment and conversation.
  • October: Confirmation services both in the Cathedral and the All Hallows Amphitheater, provided an opportunity for persons to make an adult affirmation of their baptismal vows.
  • November: diaconal ordination at Washington National Cathedral increased diaconal ministry in the diocese to 28 active deacons serving in 32 congregations.
  • December: transitional deacon ordination, at St. Paul’s, K Street will move 3 seminarians into their next phase of ministry toward the priesthood.

 

Youth and Young Adult Ministry

Youths and Young Adults are an integral part of our diocesan community and increasingly adding their voices and wisdom to how we enact our strategic priorities. 

Youth

  • As part of the More Jesus, More Love revival weekend, diocesan youth participated in Dusk 2 Dawn II held at the Bishop Walker School for Boys. The theme, building on The Way of Love,  was Go, Witness, and Build and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was the featured speaker to 119 youths
  • In conjunction with the National Day of Unplugging, during Lent, the diocese invited youth to enter into a sacred space where they could unplug, unwind, and do things other than using today’s technology, electronics, and social media
  • In November/December, we will gather youth leaders for peer to peer conversations to help us envision youth ministry in our diocese 

Young Adults

  • As part of the More Jesus, More Love revival weekend, Young Adults gathered at the newly reopened St. Thomas’, DC for a Q&A and Eucharist with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry; 120 people attended
  • Responding to the pandemic, the Rev. Todd Thomas, Missioner for Revitalization and Young Adult Ministry began gathering young adults online for Sunday night compline and Monday night Bible study and providing support for other diocesan young adult groups meeting online
  • Rev. Thomas has provided support for Campus Ministers, including moving American University‘s Tuesday night evening prayer online and launching a confirmation class for the university’s young adults 
  • On June 18, diocesan staff supported a group of young adult facilitators in planning and leading a town hall at Washington National Cathedral with Bishop Mariann and a panel of young adults to discuss anti-racism 

 

Operations

Business Affairs Office

In addition to attending to the financial and human resource needs of daily diocesan life, our business affairs office has played a significant role in our crisis response to the pandemic. Kathleen Hall, Director of Administration and Human Resources, and Kelly Cooper, Financial Analyst, in collaboration with the Human Resources and Finance committees and supporting staff have:  

  • Assisted 14 parishes in securing clergy pension assessment waivers. 
  • Distributed $120,000 to families, food banks, and feeding programs under the auspices of the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.
  • Provided 10 parishes with over $160,000 in assistance to maintain staffing and operations.
  • Researched safe church operations, hosted information sessions and shared best practices in the context of the pandemic.
  • Monitored legislation and guided churches through the PPP and CARES Act loan application processes.

Technology, Communications, and Data Management

In many respects, the pandemic has been a trend accelerator, pushing both individuals and institutions to adopt new technologies far more quickly than we might have under normal circumstances. Diocesan staff has responded by doing our best to equip our leaders with the tools and skills they need to thrive in an online environment. Since March, we have: 

  • Offered 10 online classes/trainings, including worship and technology, a series on using Realm for reaching new members, managing, hybrid worship attendance, and managing volunteers, holding parish annual meetings, and online giving.
  • Collected resources into a robust resource hub that, among other things, included information about the Federal Government’s CARES Act loans for parishes, guidelines for holding online worship, and a use of church facilities policy in one easy to access location. 
  • Offered a primer on essential communications strategies, followed by a four-session course on effective communications.
  • Launched a new look and layout for The Bulletin newsletter to help us better communicate our diocesan good news.
  • Conducted a webinar on completing annual parochial reports.
  • Negotiated lower cost online giving platform for congregations.
  • Created an online worship calendar for congregations.
  • Created analytical reports on community demographics and psychographics for congregations.
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