The EDOW Environmental Network

For several years, the EDOW Environmental Network has worked on environmental issues that are enjoying new visibility due to the country’s increasing concerns about climate change and Pope Francis’ recent encyclical on the importance of environmental stewardship. 

From promoting a campaign to give up plastic for Lent to raising awareness about climate change, the Network has been actively promoting greener lifestyles and workplaces.

Network leader Carol Janus recently described some of its activities. “We work with Greater Washington Interfaith Power and Light (GWIPL) to get word out about signing up for clean energy. Also we cooperate with Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake when they have grants and programs for water-related projects.

“In 2012, we cooperated with the Palestine-Israel Advocacy Group at Cathedral to present a program on Just Water, presented by Gidon Bromberg of Friends of Earth, Middle East (FOEME). The program informed people about the pollution and water problems in the Middle East and how FOEME is working to get Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians to cooperatively work on solutions.

“In 2013, we worked with Blessed Earth and National Wildlife Federation to distribute over a hundred tree seedlings after a sermon by Matthew Sleeth on the importance of trees for our survival.

“In 2014, we worked with Refugees International, GWIPL and St. Alban’s parish to present a symposium, Caring for Creation in a Changing Climate, that attracted over a hundred people.

“This year, we worked with DC Environmental Film Festival (DCEFF) and GWIPL to host a screening of Wisdom to Survive followed by a panel discussion. Again, we hosted a hundred attendees. We are hoping to continue to collaborate with DCEFF and screen environmental films in the future. We also have DVDs licensed to present in public venues on climate change (Wisdom to Survive) and plastic use and pollution (Bag It!) that can be shared with churches.”

Interested in becoming involved? Join the EDOW Environmental Network Group on Facebook or contact Carol Janus at

In Remembrance: Richard Hewlett

Memorial services will be held at St. John’s Episcopal Church Norwood Parish, 6701 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase, MD 20815 on Friday, September 25, 2015, at 11 a.m. Burial will be in Toledo, Ohio. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. John’s Episcopal Church Norwood Parish, the Washington National Cathedral, or a charity of choice.

Richard Hewlett was an extraordinary man who made many valuable contributions to the Church. A faithful member of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Norwood, Richard served as the senior warden and parish archivist for many years.

In 1977, three years before his retirement from the Atomic Energy Commission, Richard was contacted by Canon Charles Perry to make a complete inventory of all of the historical records of the Diocese. Nights and Saturdays he went through closets and shelves in Church House, discerning which were and were not archival materials.

In 1978, he was appointed as the historiographer of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, a role which expanded to include the Washington National Cathedral in 1980, where he established the Cathedral archives in the mid-1980s. Richard and his volunteers organized copious amounts of records and photographs and processed them for reference and storage, using a database designed by Richard. 

In 1993, the Diocesan and Cathedral archives were moved to their current home, on the fourth floor of the Administration Building, in a space he designed.

In 2003 he was installed as an honorary canon of the Cathedral in recognition of his exceptional voluntary leadership. 

Richard was a prolific writer. HIs works included published books on the life of Jessie Ball DuPont and the first Bishop of Washington, Henry Yates Satterlee, and on the creation of the Cathedral. He also penned innumerable journal articles for the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church, as well as A Guide for Parish Archives (now titled Archives for Congregations), which was so popular that it went into a second edition.  

Richard also served on the board of the National Episcopal Historians and Archivists.

Even as a young boy, history had an impact on Richard. He met Babe Ruth at spring training and traveled as a Boy Scout in Nazi Germany after an international Jamboree. 

Richard had a distinguished career as the Historian of the Atomic Energy Commission, where he promoted the cataloging and preservation of the public records of the agency. His first of three volumes of the Commission’s history was honored as a runner up for the 1963 Pulitzer Prize. While employed there he discovered, in a locked safe hidden under a basement stairwell, the Bush-Conant files relating to the creation of the atomic bomb, one of the most important document bases for any history of the Manhattan Project.

Even after he became Historiographer Emeritus in 2006, Richard continued his Tuesday and Thursday commitment to the Archives at the National Cathedral.  Whether communicating with an overseas scholar, or an interviewing graduate student (such as I was), or a church member with a box of old records, Richard was genial, professional, and faithful to his church.

Read the Washington Post obituary

From Capitol Hill to Damascus, Congregations Are Caring for Creation

Environmental groups, parish task forces and determined individuals across the Diocese of Washington are taking action in varied ways to help preserve the environment for future generations. 

Congregations are looking at reducing their energy consumption and waste from Sunday coffee hour and parish suppers and picnics. They are finding ways to use their properties to protect and restore natural resources and working to raise awareness about environmental challenges and their impact on our life on this planet. 

Harnessing the energy of the sun at Christ Church, Capitol Hill

Solar energy in this relatively sunny part of the world makes sense and the Rev. Cara Spaccaelli at Christ Church, Capitol Hill says it can reduce energy costs. Solar panels are saving Christ Church around $1,000 a year. “The best part,” she says, “is that three church families got solar in their homes after seeing the church go through the process.” Spacaelli is available to talk with other congregations interested in going solar.

Becoming a greener parish at Grace Church, Silver Spring

At Grace Church, Silver Spring, the Green Team grew out of work begun by the stewardship committee. Working with GreenFaith, an interfaith coalition for the environment, they are working to become a GreenFaith certified parish. Grace has reduced paper usage and now uses washable cups at coffee hour. The parish purchases electricity through a cooperative, and is switching to energy efficient lighting. Just like Christ Church Capitol Hill, Grace finds itself saving on energy costs.

Recycling and composting at St. Columba’s, DC

In northwest Washington, St. Columba’s is feeding close to five hundred people and ending up with only a one-pound bag of trash. Zero waste is a current focus for the parish’s Environment Committee. 

“For two years, we have worked with groups hosting church events to minimize waste,” says Nicole Holstein, the committee’s co-chair. “This means helping them in the planning phase to incorporate re-usable items wherever possible, and then sourcing only recyclable and compostable items.” 

Environment Committee volunteers assist at events, helping attendees to sort their waste into the right wash bins, recycling containers and compost buckets. The committee gladly consults with church groups interested in “zero-waste” events. 

Protecting Pollinators at St. Anne’s Damascus

St. Anne’s Damascus, is exploring ways to be better stewards of their 13 acres bordering a Montgomery County agricultural reserve. The parish is working toward using some of its land to convert to solar power, but in the meantime, it has set aside two acres for a monarch butterfly waystation.

Led by parishioner Geri Drymalski, the church’s Sacred Grounds Ministry is restoring the meadow on those two acres, removing trees and seedlings and seeding it with native plants like milkweed that attract monarchs and other pollinators. 

St. Anne’s youth have helped too, filling clayballs with the seeds used for planting. “With so much development going on around us, we feel it’s important to make a statement and do what we can to protect our resources,” says Lee Davis, St. Anne’s rector. “This is an easy way to do that in a short time frame.” 

Saving energy at St. James, Potomac

St. James, Potomac is also making sound use of its property. “We’ve established a large rain garden, fully funded by grants and rebates, and a comprehensive lighting retrofit that is saving substantial energy and money for the parish,” says Scott Harris, the parish’s earth stewardship coordinator. 

Lowering carbon emissions at Ascencion, Gaithersburg

Ascension, Gaithersburg has also recently finished upgrading all interior and exterior lighting on its campus with LEDs. LED lighting is 80% – 95% more efficient than incandescent and fluourescent lighting, and last much longer, resulting in fewer carbon emissions.

Reducing waste pollution at Church House

The message that environmental stewardship is a diocesan priority will be reinforced at every meeting at Church House. “When you come to a meeting … expect to be offered a glass of water, not a bottle,” writes Bishop Mariann Budde in her blog this week. “Look for healthier, less packaged food when coming for a meeting. In the coming year, we will join with all institutions on the Cathedral Close in efforts to reduce our carbon footprint.” 

And because no Episcopal initiative is complete without the proper prayers, the Rev. Debbie Brewin-Wilson of St. Thomas Church, Croom, has written a Eucharistic Prayer for Creation that Bishop Budde has authorized for use in the diocese. It is available on the diocesan website.

Susan Elliott is a freelance writer and editor. She is a member of St. Columba’s, DC, where she was communications director from 1986-2007. Since leaving that position, she’s been learning about the church beyond St. Columba’s, working on projects for the Episcopal Church Foundation, Forward Movement, RenewalWorks, and other church organizations and parishes.

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month at the Episcopal Diocese of Washington 

Today marks the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15) and it seems like a buen tiempo to talk about the wonderful work of the Latino Ministry in the Diocese!

At present, there are six Latino congregations in the Diocese serving approximately 750 Latino parishioners –- 

  • Iglesia San Juan (St. John’s in NW Washington, DC)
  • Iglesia San Esteban Misa Alegría (St. Stephen and the Incarnation in NW Washington, DC)
  • Iglesia San Albano (St. Alban’s in NW Washington, DC)
  • Iglesia San Mateo (St. Matthew’s in Hyattsville, MD)
  • Iglesia Nuestro Salvador (Our Savior in Silver Spring, MD)
  • Iglesia Ascención (Ascension in Gaithersburg, MD) 

Latino Ministry Snapshot

More than 800,000 Latinos (about 10% of the population) live in the diverse DC metropolitan area, where 1 out of 7 people was born outside of the United States. Nearly one third hail from El Salvador, with other large numbers born in Mexico and Guatemala.

The population of Latino Episcopalians is also growing, with fast-growing congregations in Nevada, Oregon, and the Washington, DC area.

Diocese Latino Transitional Minister Sarabeth Goodwin comments, “Our six Spanish-language congregations are vibrant and diverse, providing a spiritual community for people of many countries. We worship from the Book of Common Prayer. Our liturgy is familiar; our music is lively and our worship is joy-filled. Our congregations are maturing in our understanding of the Episcopal Church and we proudly embrace our Latino Episcopal identity. More and more of us are becoming bilingual and most of our children are English dominant. We are beginning to take our places on vestry and as delegates to Diocesan and General Conventions. We invite you to join us in worship and mission.” 

Hispanic Heritage Month Events in the Diocese

Several congregations are holding special events for Hispanic Heritage Month —

  • Iglesia Ascencion (Ascension in Gaithersburg, MD) is celebrating Mexican and Central American Independence days with the Eucharist and a celebration afterwards, featuring food from Latino countries on Sunday, September 20 at 11 am.
  • Iglesia San Mateo (St. Matthew’s in Hyattsville, MD) is celebrating St. Matthew’s Day with a bilingual mass on Sunday, September 20 at 11 am. Stay for a fiesta with live music, D.J., children’s games and activities, and food from Latino countries,
  • Iglesia Nuestro Salvador (Our Savior in Silver Spring) is holding a mass and fiesta in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month on Sunday, October 11 at 1 pm.
  • Iglesia San Juan (St. John’s DC) will have a booth at “Fiesta DC” to promote San Juan and other Latino Episcopal congregations in the Diocese. Fiesta DC takes place Sunday, September 20th, 11 am – 7 pm on Pennsylvania Avenue, NW between 9th and 14th Streets in DC. Visit

Learn More

To stay up-to-date with the latest news from the Latino Ministry, visit the website or contact Sarabeth Goodwin, Transitional Latino Minister, at the Diocese (202) 537-6441

Pope Francis creates a climate for change

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof

Psalm 24:1

This summer I read Pope Francis’ Encyclical, Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home. I am a member of the pope’s intended audience, as are you. “Faced as we are with global environmental deterioration,” he says, “I wish to address every person living on this planet.”

Pope Francis has earned our collective trust with demonstrated concern for all who call planet earth their home. He speaks with honesty, breadth of knowledge, and deep compassion of how we must change in order to protect the earth upon which our lives depend. No one else can inspire as Pope Francis does, in large measure because he lives as he believes, wholeheartedly and with great love.

Laudato Si isn’t an easy read, but it can change your life. It certainly changed mine.

Francis summarizes in heartbreaking detail the state of the planet: pollution, waste, and our throwaway culture; climate change and its impact; the scarcity of water; the loss of biodiversity, the decline in the quality of human life; the breakdown of society, and global inequality.

In Francis’ view, everything is connected, but in particular, he asks us to see the relationship between the state of the planet and the plight of the poor. “A true ecological approach always become a social approach, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor,” he writes.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women concurs: “As leaders gather to discuss global climate change, a woman in Guatemala will struggle to feed her family from a farm plot that produces less each season,” she writes. “A mother in Ethiopia will make the difficult choice to take her daughter out of school to help in the task of gathering water, which requires more and more time with each passing year. A pregnant woman in Bangladesh will worry about what will happen to her and her children if the floods come when it is her time to deliver.”

“These women, and millions around the world, are on the frontlines of climate change. The impacts of shifting temperatures, erratic rainfall and extreme weather events touch their lives in direct and profound ways.”

While we may not yet feel the impact of climate change as directly, we are the ones with greatest capacity to bring about needed change. Francis laments our indifference and lack of urgency. “We continue to tolerate that some consider themselves more human than others, as if they had been born with greater rights,” he writes.

I was particularly convicted by Francis’ words on the impact of our throwaway culture and his call for a new lifestyle. Both personally and professionally, I live a globally lavish lifestyle and I participate in the throwaway culture, mostly for the sake of convenience. Part of my personal response to Laudate Si is to seek greater simplicity, and to change my habits of consumption away from items that are used and then thrown away.

Inspired by the encyclical, we are making modest changes in diocesan life and ministry. When you come to a meeting at Church House, expect to be offered a glass of water, not a bottle. Look for healthier, less packaged food when coming for a meeting. In the coming year, we will join with all institutions on the Cathedral Close in efforts to reduce our carbon footprint.

These are humble steps. How well I know that, as Francis writes, “Self improvement on the part of individuals will not by itself remedy the extremely complex situation facing our world today. The ecological conversation needed to bring about lasting change is a community conversion.”

Others in the Episcopal Church have led the way in that community-wide conversion effort and I give thanks to God for their example. We are so pleased to highlight some of our congregational initiatives, so that we learn and draw inspiration from one another.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, a passionate environmentalist, will speak at Coming Together in Faith on Climate, an interfaith gathering at Washington National Cathedral next Thursday. The list of speakers for this gathering is impressive, and you are welcome to attend in person or to watch the livestream online. That same group of speakers will gather Friday morning to watch Pope Francis, via livestream, as he addresses the United Nations.

While Francis believes that we have precious little time to waste, he does not lose hope in God or in our capacity as human beings to change our world for the better. “The Creator does not abandon us,” he writes. “Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home.” Citing the biblical narrative he exclaims, “All it takes is one good person to restore hope!”

Who among us does not want to be among those who restore hope for all who live on the earth today and for all who will receive the wondrous gift of our island home tomorrow?