Courageous Discipleship

At its heart, stewardship is an understanding that everything we are and everything we have — including our financial resources — comes from God. We give back by taking some of what God has given us and returning it to use for God’s work in the world, and we thank God by sharing our blessings, offering them to the service of others and advancement of God’s kingdom. 

With care and attention, Bishop Mariann, diocesan staff, and the volunteers who serve on our various financial committees steward the resources of the diocese. As we continue to adjust to post-pandemic realities, so too have we taken steps to respond to and anticipate the financial needs of the diocese both today and long-term. In 2023, after much prayerful discernment, we closed two funding programs (The Hunger Fund and Congregational Growth Grants) and sunsetted the Financial Resources Committee. In accord with one of our strategic plan objectives, we also developed a stewardship strategy for our facilities and finances. And in the fall, Diocesan Council called for the convening of a committee to study congregational stewardship and diocesan support.  

Diocesan Convention
Annual Giving Campaign Toolkit
Strategic Plan quarterly check-in

Finance Committee

The Finance Committee is responsible for preparing and monitoring the annual operating budget of the diocese. It makes recommendations to Bishop Mariann and the Standing Committee concerning requests for sales or encumbrances of real property and separate congregations.

In 2023, the Finance Committee continued to track the ongoing financial impact of the pandemic on the diocesan budget to suggest adjustments as necessary. The committee started drafting a budget for 2024 over the summer and committee chair Joseph Alcock presented this preliminary version during the fall Regional Gatherings.

After many faithful years of service on the committee, Stephen Gibson stepped down after the 2023 Annual Convention and Joseph Alcock took over as the new chair.

Watch the report on the diocesan budget from the 2024 Diocesan Convention
Watch the treasurer’s report from the 2024 Diocesan Convention

Stewardship Strategy for Parish Facilities and Finances

As part of the diocesan strategic plan, and specifically the initiative to revitalize churches to grow the Jesus movement, the diocese set a goal to “develop a stewardship strategy for our facilities and finances so that parishes are not constrained by building concerns.”

In 2023, the Rev. Andrew Walter, Canon to the Ordinary and Chief Operating Officer, led the work of developing a Stewardship Strategy for Parish Facilities and Finances with input from leaders around the church and real property professionals. In the fall, an initial draft of the strategy was circulated to Diocesan Council and focused on the three ways to transform a church building from a liability into an asset: increasing rental income, redeveloping church property, and selling the building/property. Canon Andrew made a presentation about the Stewardship Strategy at the 2024 Diocesan Convention.

Watch Canon Andrew’s presentation | Read the text of Canon Andrew’s presentation

Financial Resources Committee

After several years of faithful work, it was discerned that the Financial Resources Committee had reached the end of its natural lifecycle. Convened before the adoption of the diocesan strategic plan, its core mission—to strengthen the financial capacity and ministry of congregations in the Diocese of Washington—is now deeply embedded in our revitalization initiatives.

Two important legacies of the Financial Resources Committee will continue in 2024: the popular Annual Giving Campaign Toolkit and individual consultations and support for parish stewardship campaigns.

Diocesan Grants and Scholarships

The diocese administers a range of life- and ministry-changing grants and scholarships to our leaders, congregations, and wider communities. We give thanks to the many volunteer committee chairs and members who take great care in carrying out this important fiduciary responsibility. Below, we report the actions and disbursements of each fund in 2023.

  • Angus Dun Fellowship Fund
    • This fund supports continuing education for canonically resident clergy
    • 8 individuals were each awarded $1,000 grants
  • Clergy Children Scholarships
    • More formally known as Claggett Fund Grants, these scholarships are available to help cover the cost of education from grade school through college for the children of canonically resident clergy
    • 11 families received a total of $42,000 in grants
  • St. Mary’s County Scholarship Fund
    • This Fund was established in 1980 to provide scholarship assistance to students of African-American heritage and residents of St. Mary’s County who are in pursuit of a degree in an accredited college/university or certification in a post secondary educational progra
    • $13,000 in scholarships were awarded to 15 students

In 2023, we closed two funding programs, the long-running Hunger Fund and Congregational Growth Grants.

The Hunger Fund Committee discerned that because a fundamental shift has occurred in how feeding ministries function within the diocese, the older model of support was no longer fruitful. Active from 1976-2023, the Hunger Fund provided over $1.3 million to various food pantries and feeding ministries between 1986-2022. We are grateful to all the many volunteers who helped make the Hunger Fund an important part of our diocesan life and we give special thanks to Lee Mericle, the Hunger Fund Committee’s longtime chair.

Congregational Growth Grants were intended to help congregations explore new ways to grow and meet the needs of a changing world. Over the course of seven years, nearly a million dollars funded over 100 projects at 53 parishes throughout the diocese and a number of inter-church and regional collaborations. The decision to sunset the growth grants was not easy and our hope is that they will one day be reinstated. For now, diocesan leadership has discerned that the decrease in congregational giving combined with a reduction in the annual draw of the Soper Fund, as recommended by both the Investment Committee and Finance Committee, and the need to keep a balanced diocesan budget require this decision.

  • In the Congregational Growth Grants final cycle in the spring of 2023, $101,307.50 in grants were awarded to 19 parishes, many of which focused on technology and communication assistance, the design and development of ways for parishes to love their neighbors, and ways to grow and strengthen people’s faith, especially young people