Courageous Discipleship

We are a diocese bravely stepping up to uncover, understand, reckon with, and act to dismantle racism within ourselves, our faith communities, the diocese and our localities. In 2023, we wove this commitment even more deeply into every aspect of diocesan life from the resources we created to the events we carried out to the leadership training we undertook to the stories we shared. We approach our efforts through this intentional lens of equity and justice so that all of our work may be infused with the purpose of the Holy Spirit. Yet in our strategic plan work, it remains helpful and important to name specific goals and actions tied inextricably to equity and justice.

In 2023, our equity and justice strategic plan objectives were:

  • To continue supporting diocesan-wide engagement on the work of reparations, including the formation of a Committee on Diocesan Reparations as approved by Convention, and encourage parishes to participate in education and conversation, particularly around their own history.
  • To support and amplify congregational initiatives to care for creation, and identify two diocesan-wide goals, including tree planting and preservation, so as to encourage broad engagement and collective impact.
  • To work with the regional deans and diocesan deacons to foster collaborative efforts in the work of equity and justice, according to the concerns and issues of the different regions, and measure our success in areas of common concern, including food insecurity, long-term support of migrants and refugees, the need for affordable housing, and gun violence prevention.
  • To collaborate with diocesan leaders to identify 3 courses related to equity and justice initiatives in the diocese, and offer them through the School for Christian Faith and Leadership.
Feeding the Hungry
Saplings for Sacraments
The Rev. Gayle Fisher-Stewart

Diocesan Reparations

At Diocesan Convention in January, we passed a resolution that established the Committee on Diocesan Reparations. The committee is formed of the Policy Working Group and the Education Working Group. The Policy Working Group is tasked with investigating and recommending policies and other measures to support the redress, healing and atonement of the diocese’s historical involvement in anti-Black racism. The Education Work Group is focused on educating, encouraging, and supporting the diocese in its reparations work, while also making preparations to implement the recommendations of the Policy Working Group. The committee will submit its recommendations as a resolution for consideration at the 2025 Diocesan Convention.

In addition to holding regular meetings and conducting research into the reparations work of other dioceses, institutions, and localities, in 2023 the committee:

Creation Care

The Diocese’s Creation Care Committee works to promote and assist parishes with environmental sustainability and responsibility in our faith communities and neighborhoods.

As part of this undertaking in 2023, the Creation Care Committee:

  • Discerned a call for the diocese to take part in the Communion Forest initiative
  • Submitted the “On Planting Trees to Celebrate Special Occasion” resolution at Diocesan Convention which passed (also known as “Saplings for Sacraments”)
  • Staffed a booth at the Episcopal Youth Event in Baltimore to connect with others across The Episcopal Church dedicated to the work of caring for Creation
  • Visited Anacostia Community Museum to collectively learn about links between Creation Care and Black women’s environmental activism in the District historically and the latter’s significance for community wellness and vitality
  • Urged diocesan faith communities to observe the Season of Creation whose 2023 theme was “Let Justice and Peace Flow”
  • Assisted parishes in adopting the use of solar power
    • “Three Episcopal parishes are featured in the Montgomery County Green Bank’s online case studies for their planned solar installations. The projects are not yet complete, but you can see visualizations on the Green Bank’s website. The three are St. Mark’s, Fairland (Silver Spring), St. Nicholas’, Germantown, and St. Peter’, Poolesville. The projects were the result of a collaboration of the Green Bank with Interfaith Power & Light (DC-MD-NoVA) and the Creation Care Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. The new systems will have a total design capacity of 187.15 kilowatts – enough to power 30 average U.S. homes (R. Detchon, EDOW Environmental Network Newsletter).

Read a report on Diocesan Creation Care Progress in 2023.

In addition, the diocesan social media team ran a Creation Care campaign to coincide with Earth Day in April and looked for ways to leverage a message of Creation Care awareness and action throughout the year.

Collaborative Equity and Justice Ministry

The diocese believes that by drawing on the gifts of all God’s people, together we can serve Christ and live Jesus’ Way of Love. In this spirit of collaboration, our diocese continued to advocate on behalf of and work alongside the vulnerable peoples in our communities.

Food insecurity

Though the Diocesan Hunger Fund officially wound down its decades’ long ministry at the beginning of 2023, our diocesan commitment to feeding the hungry remains resolute. Many congregations are partnering with aid organizations for greater impact in their communities. We share a small sampling with you here:

Immigrant and Refugee Support

Under the leadership of the Rev. Nancy Stockbridge, the Refugee Response Team continues to be an active, dedicated group in the diocese working to effect change on many fronts. Among other initiatives, 2023 saw members of the team:

  • Exploring long-term strategies for resettlement support as newly arrived migrants are being evicted from hotel shelters by the Office of Migrant Services (DC)
  • Continuing mutual aid work—including but not limited to donations, supply canvassing, and direct support
  • Meeting regularly on Zoom to share resources, action opportunities, coordinate responses, and hear testimonies from a variety of voices involved in immigrant and refugee support

Interested in learning more? Sign up for the EDOW Refugee Ministry Listserv

This summer saw parishes collaborating on a summer camp for immigrant children—a true example of the Holy Spirit at work in our diocese.

Gun Violence Prevention Efforts

In 2023, Missioner for Equity and Justice Rudy Logan invested in relationship and capacity building to grow and enhance the impact of gun violence prevention efforts in the diocese.

  • Thrive Under 25 Messaging Summit (collaborated with disproportionately impacted residents, legal experts, violence interrupters, credible messengers and faith leaders to craft a collective message aimed at stop and frisk-like public safety measures, punitive responses to intra-communal harm and youth incarceration)
  • Connecting with South DC Leaders and the Washington Interfaith Network (Capacity building and advocacy)
  • Bishops United Against Gun Violence (partnering with South DC clergy and faith leaders)
  • Relationship and capacity building with Washington Interfaith Network

Equity and Justice and and the School for Christian Faith and Leadership

Much of 2023 was taken up by a search for a new director for the School for Christian Faith and Leadership, ending with the acceptance by the Rev. Anna Olson to serve in the position in September. Nonetheless, the School offered two cohorts of the seven-week antiracism course, Confronting Racial Injustice via the Way of Love, taught by Dr. Enid LaGesse and Dr. Jayne Osgood, as well as a workshop on talking to children about racism. Additionally, the 2022 pre-convention event on reparations was adapted as an on-demand resource available on the School’s website and the School Director and Missioner for Equity and Justice produced the first episodes of a pilot series, “Meeting the Moment,” which addresses current issues from theological and community engagement perspectives.

Initial conversations began in the fall on ways to work strategically with equity and justice-focused committees of the Diocese, including the committees on Black Church Ministries, Diocesan Reparations, and Creation Care to create relevant and timely materials and courses for congregations and individuals. Work is underway to adapt Tending Our Soil modules beyond their initial white, urban/suburban, program-sized framework so that they may be more readily used by the full diversity of the congregations. We’ve also begun identifying resources specifically tailored to the needs of our Spanish-speaking congregations.

Courageous Discipleship, Equity and Justice in 2024

We will support the Committee on Diocesan Reparations, assisting both the Education Working Group as it engages the diocese in education and conversation, and the Policy Working Group as they prepare to submit recommendations to the diocese as required by Diocesan Convention.

We will identify equity and justice champions among the deacons and work with the deacons and regional deans to foster collective engagement in areas of common concern, such as creation care, care for migrants and gun violence prevention.

We will work with the Creation Care Committee to identify opportunities for collaboration in community efforts around tree planting, food security and climate justice advocacy.

We will develop equity and justice resources through the School for Christian Faith and Leadership, particularly focused on providing both theological context and opportunities for action around pressing issues in the communities served by our diocese.