Spiritual Formation and Leadership Development
The School for Christian Faith and Leadership
To inspire, equip, connect, and empower the people of God for life and leadership.
- Mission statement of the School for Christian Faith and Leadership
In the discovery phase of the strategic planning process, two motifs arose again and again. As a diocese, we needed:
- To inspire every person to grow in faith, and
- To equip our leaders to lead well
From that clarity of purpose came the first measurable objective under the spiritual formation priority of the strategic plan: we would establish the School for Christian Faith and Leadership.
The Rev. Jenifer Gamber, Missioner for the School, officially joined diocesan staff on July 1 and immediately began developing the offerings that would become the core of the School's soft launch in early September.
- The School's inaugural online course, "Welcoming and Belonging in the Digital Sphere"--designed for congregational leaders interested in how to welcome newcomers in the digital age--had 76 participants from the Diocese of Washington and from across the country.
- A total of 18 online offerings were offered in the fall of 2020.
- Topics have included finance, administration, vocational discernment for young adults, evangelism, and spirituality and health.
- We expect to serve over 700 individuals in Fall 2020.
- Over 60 diocesan leaders have contributed to the leadership of the School in 2020.
Under Rev. Gamber's leadership, two working groups have laid foundations for the School going forward:
- One is clarifying the mission, vision, and strategies that will guide the school for the next five years with measurable goals.
- The other is building a path of discipleship for the diocese that will identify five core Christian practices to help individuals take next steps to grow faith, guide congregations in offering programs to support that growth, and inform diocesan resource development.
As we live into this part of the strategic plan, we continue to build resources that will deepen our life of discipleship. Already, you can find Advent resources for your congregation here. Look for a page devoted to Lent soon.
Tending Our Soil: A Thriving Congregations Initiative
In October, The Episcopal Diocese of Washington received a 5-year grant of $1,000,000 from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish a thriving congregations initiative called Tending Our Soil: Thriving in Our Time and Place, which will be launched in the fall of 2021. Through this initiative:
- Up to 36 congregations will gather in peer-to-peer learning cohorts.
- The diocese will train 12 coaches to accompany congregations in the process.
- Congregations will clarify mission and innovate toward greater health.
Our hope is that congregations will be equipped to "engage in a changing world with an enduring faith in Jesus Christ so that more people may know God's love." More information about the Tending Our Soil initiative will be shared with congregations in January. Applications to participate will be available in early February 2021.
Pivoting to 2021
- The soft launch of the School for Christian Faith and Leadership will continue into 2021 with a set of offerings to be announced soon in the areas of vital signs, worship, spiritual practices, and more. You can look forward to an online anti-racism course and a pilot catechumenate program in Easter.
- The Tending Our Soil initiative will begin in earnest in 2021 with informational sessions about the initiative and the application process held in January. Applications to participate in one of the first cohorts will be available February 1, 2021.
- Advisory groups for the School continue their work as they set their attention on the official launch of the School in fall 2021 with a branded learning management system and a growing list of curated resources to the path of discipleship.