Be strong and of good courage . . . for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9

Working toward the revitalization of our churches is an integral part of our diocesan strategic plan. As we entered year three at the beginning of 2022, at the top of our list of church revitalization priorities included a commitment to:

Take initial steps toward launching or relaunching three new worshiping communities focused on reaching rising generations and identifying where we will invest strategic leadership and other resources
Establish a working group of leaders from our historic and majority Black congregations to explore strategies for their future sustainability and vitality.
Engage congregations with health assessments and revitalization strategies, including the start of a second cohort of 12 congregations in the Tending Our Soil Thriving Congregations initiative, all congregations experiencing clergy leadership transition, and those seeking diocesan support.

Below, we break down the work we undertook this year toward meeting these objectives and the other ways in which we moved forward in vitality. We also share our Revitalization strategic plan objectives for 2023.

Canon Anne-Marie Jeffery and Rev Tim Johnson with St. Andrew's College Park congregation
Parish Vitality Wheel
Clergy of North Montgomery region meeting with Bishop Chilton


Together, this year we:


  • Convened the Task Force on Black Ministries (read their report to Diocesan Council here)
  • Completed Year One of Tending Our Soil with Cohort 1 comprising 12 congregations
  • Launched Year Two with Cohort 1
  • Launched Cohort 2 with 12 new congregations into Year One of Tending Our Soil 
  • Onboarded the Rev. Amanda Akes-Cardwell as Missioner for Faith Formation and Development
  • Started a Growing Young cohort with 6 congregations where congregations will learn how to prioritize young people in their congregations.
  • Implemented the canon for Diocesan Stewardship and Parish Viability (Canon 54)
    • One parish has completed the process and relaunched as a mission guided by a congregational renewal plan
    • Three more parishes continue the process
  • Conducted 57 parish check-ins over the summer
  • Offered warden and vestry trainings through the School for Christian Faith and Leadership
  • Offered Connecting with the Community workshop, during which participants practiced going out and interacting with people in their neighborhoods, a course designed to enhance the vital signs of Welcoming & Connecting and Blessing Our Community 
  • Offered camp opportunities for children and families through our partnership with the Claggett Center and the Diocese of Maryland
  • Partnered with ACS Technologies to identify 4 areas in the diocese to explore planting new faith communities for rising generations (Bowie, MD; Brookland/NoMa, DC; La Plata/Waldorf, MD; and Silver Spring, MD). 
  • Cosponsored with the LOGOS Poetry Collective, “An Evening of Spiritual Nourishment Through Encounters with Poetry” event to connect with rising generations in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, DC
  • Offered Upside Down: Preaching Easter Reversal in a Hybrid World in partnership with the Episcopal Preaching Foundation 
  • Held Invite+Welcome+Connect workshop featuring Mary Parmer to identify practical steps for congregational renewal 
  • Offered a workshop led by ACS Technologies on starting new faith communities for those who feel called to this work as well as those from parishes in the 4 identified areas. 
  • Promoted the Rev. Emily Snowden to Missioner for Church Revitalization to better reflect her enhanced portfolio.


Part of our commitment to congregational vitality is to strengthen relationships, foster collaborative efforts between congregations, and provide a greater diocesan presence in each region of the diocese. 

Regional deans serve as a point of connection between diocesan staff and the regions and within the leadership of the regions themselves. 

This year, our regional deans:

  • Met regularly with both diocesan staff and regional leaders
  • Convened monthly meetings with regional parish clergy
  • Reviewed the dean position description with an eye to revising it to better align with the realities of the work
  • Were more constructively integrated into the parish transitions process 
  • Helped set the agenda and served as hosts for the online regional gatherings in October and November
  • Served as an integral communications link within regions and around the diocese


Dean transitions:

  • The Rev. Meredith Heffner of St. James’, Potomac began serving as dean of the Central Montgomery region in July 2022
  • The Rev. Joan Beilstein of Ascension, Silver Spring began serving as dean of the South Montgomery Region in August 2022. 


Our work in the area of Church Revitalization in the coming year will build upon the rich foundation laid over the first three years of our strategic plan. 

In 2023, we will:  

Continue to engage congregations with revitalization strategies, including the start of a third cohort of up to 12 congregations in Tending Our Soil, all congregations experiencing clergy leadership transition, and those seeking diocesan support.

Take the next steps toward launching or relaunching three new worshiping communities by identifying the first two geographical areas in which to start and determining the staff, teams, finances and other resources needed to begin.

Establish a Committee on Black Ministries whose purpose is to implement revitalization strategies specifically designed for historically Black or majority Black congregations, assign a senior staff member and support the Committee in providing resources to congregations.

Take the initial steps to develop a stewardship strategy for our facilities and finances by identifying partners who can help us assess the burden facing parishes and think of ways to alleviate the constraints of building concerns.