I am confident of this, that the One who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.
At a joint meeting of Diocesan Council and Standing Committee on October 8, both leadership bodies unanimously approved a strategic plan for the diocese. Then Diocesan Council, with Standing Committee approval, voted to approve a funding proposal that allows us to begin the implementation process right away. You can read the strategic plan here.
The joint meeting was a decisive moment, one of many on this journey. Moderator of Diocesan Council, the Rev. Melana Nelson-Amaker writes,
When more than 30 people–Bishop, elected leaders, diocesan officers and senior staff–gathered that night, we knew our agenda was both critical and ambitious. Work by hundreds of people over several months was before us. So were the hopes, dreams and direction of EDOW for the next five years. Yet, after taking time to ground ourselves in scripture and prayer; hearing the vision freshly articulated by Bishop Mariann; and being led in fruitful discussion by our consultant, Ms. Lauralyn Lee, the work went surprisingly smoothly. When it came time to vote, we proved to be peaceful of heart and of one mind. I believe that our new strategic plan has a means of being of practical help to every single congregation in the diocese; and that our mission, relationships and effectiveness will be strengthened by it.
President of the Standing Committee, the Rev. Dr. Sheila McJilton, writes:
The Standing Committee has been part of several conversations about our diocesan strategic plan. Much thoughtful, prayerful,and lively conversation occurred around this plan. When the Standing Committee met last week with Diocesan Council, we listened to updates, had more reflective conversation, then Bishop Mariann asked if Standing Committee needed to gather separately to discuss moving this Strategic Plan forward. I looked around the table, gauging the reactions of Standing Committee members. Not one of them needed to huddle separately. It felt like a Holy Spirit moment in the room. Unanimous vote of both bodies! Hard work has been done. More hard work lies ahead. Yet you cannot get where you are going if you don’t have a destination. We have a plan. As a leader in this amazing diocese, I look forward to helping make that plan a reality.
My heart is filled with gratitude to God and all who have walked this journey. To those who attended one of 12 discovery sessions and those who helped facilitate them; to those who attended the two-day strategic planning retreat to craft the first draft and the many who provided thoughtful feedback to help strengthen it; to the members of the diocesan staff who have devoted countless hours to this work and to our consultants; to the leadership bodies and above all, to all who have prayed and helped imagine God’s preferred future for us all–thank you.
We wouldn’t be here without you.
Let me remind you why we undertook this work. During my sabbatical in 2018, I spent time in prayer reflecting on my first 7 years as your bishop and asking God what kind of bishop the Diocese of Washington needed now. What I heard was that the time had come to engage you, the people of the diocese, in a collective process to clarify our mission, a vision for the immediate future, and strategic goals to accomplish that vision.
There is some urgency to this work. For while there is good and fruitful ministry taking place across the diocese, as a whole, we are not making measurable progress in addressing the fundamental issue of membership plateau and decline that works against every creative endeavor we attempt.
At the heart of the strategic planning process was this question: how can we invest the considerable resources of the diocese where they might bear the greatest fruit in service to Christ and His mission? We were blessed that over 500 people from across the diocese helped us to answer that question.
In the next few months, our work is to lay the foundations for the first year of plan implementation, which we will launch at Diocesan Convention. Over the next few weeks, I’ll write with greater specificity about these foundations, which will include regional staffing, gathering of resources, and the creation of three leadership teams, drawing on the gifts and passions of our people. If you have suggestions or questions as we move toward implementation, or if you would like to get involved in this early stage, please feel free to email me.
At the end of last week’s meeting, we gathered around a piano and sang a spiritual: Guide our feet, Lord, while we run this race. Hold our hands, Lord. . . Stand by us, Lord, because we don’t want to run this race in vain. I felt the power of our prayer and collective awareness of our dependence on God’s guidance and grace as we move forward. May the One who has begun this good work among us help us see it through to completion.