Courageous Discipleship

Our Diocesan Strategic Plan envisions a future where we draw on the gifts of all God’s people to serve Christ together and live Jesus’s Way of Love. As we enter Year Five of the plan, we lift up our progress while staying mindful of the areas still needing attention. Yet even as we focus much of our efforts on specific strategic plan goals, there is another aspect to our work that is the bedrock supporting the rest – what we might call the everyday, nuts and bolts, work of a diocesan staff.

In this section of the Annual Report, we detail the programs and operations that, while not specifically part of our diocesan strategic plan, are critical elements to the health and vitality of a diocese.

New Diocesan Staff - Clockwise from top left Annemarie Quigley, Emily Blecksmite, the Rev. Rondesia Jarrett-Schell, and the Rev. Anna Olson
Diocesan Latino Ministry leaders
Deacons and soon to be deacons

Bishop’s Office

In addition to leading the diocese through our strategic plan, Bishop Mariann, as a requirement of her Episcopate, performs canonically required official acts each year, including parish visitations, confirmations, ordinations, and installations.

In 2023, Bishop Mariann

  • Conducted 29 parish visitations
  • Confirmed, received, and reaffirmed 331 people from 40 parishes at two confirmation services at Washington National Cathedral and while conducting visitations
  • Ordained the Rev. Yaa Addison, the Rev. Eva Bogino, the Rev. Lara Case Halsey, the Rev. Katherine Miksa, the Rev. Andrew Ogletree, and the Rev. Creamilda Shirley Wuluck-Nortey Yoda, first to the transitional diaconate, and then to the sacred order of priesthood
  • Installed:
    • The Ven. Steve Seely as Archdeacon and Diocesan Liturgist
    • The Rev. David Wacaster as rector of Grace Church, DC
    • The Rev. Vikki Clayton as rector of St. Bartholomew’s
    • The Rev. Kim Baker as rector of St. Luke’s, DC
    • The Rev. Tim Carr as rector of Christ Church, Rockville
    • The Rev. Peter Ackerman as rector of Christ Church, King & Queen Parish
    • The Rev. Robert Bunker, Jr. as rector of St. Philip’s, Laurel
    • The Rev. Bertie Pearson as rector of St. Alban’s Parish
    • The Rev. Andrew Ogletree as rector of St. Patrick’s Church
    • The Rev. Francisco Valle as rector of Church of our Saviour, Hillandale
  • Made herself available to clergy and leaders for pastoral support
  • Convened quarterly sessions with staff to track progress on strategic plan objectives

Diocesan Staff Transitions

Diocesan staff serve to equip and resource the leaders of the diocese as, together, we walk Jesus’ Way of Love. We work diligently to build strong relationships with the people we serve and one another. To support our commitment to a vibrant, collaborative work-environment, each quarter we devote a day to team-building, vision casting, and breaking bread together.

Diocesan staff experienced these transitions in 2023:

  • Amanda Anderson changed positions to serve as the Executive Assistant to the Missioners
  • Emily Blecksmith joined the staff as the Convention and Data Manager
  • Kathleen Hall, Director of Human Resources and Administration, announced her retirement and departs staff after January’s Annual Convention
  • The Rev. Rondesia Jarrett-Schell was hired to serve as the Bowie Church Planter
  • The Rev. Anna B. Olson joined staff as the Director for the School for Christian Faith and Leadership
  • The Rev. David Potter was contracted to provide strategic, short-term support of the School and Young Adult ministry
  • Annemarie Quigley joined staff as the Executive Assistant to the Bishop
  • Kimberly Vaughn departed diocesan staff after 18 years of faithful service
  • The Ven. L. Sue von Rautenkranz retired from staff and was named Archdeacon Emerita

Ordination Process

In 2023, the Rev. Dr. Robert Phillips, Canon for Leadership Development and Congregational Care; the Ven. Steve Seely, Archdeacon and Diocesan Liturgist; and the Rev. Yoimel González Hernández, Dean of the Latino Deacon School, led operations with the Commission on Ministry for the ordination process in the diocese.

Priesthood formation process
  • We have 10 nominees discerning a call to the priesthood
  • 2 people were made candidates for ordination in 2023 and were ordained to the transitional diaconate at Washington National Cathedral on January 13, 2024; God willing and the people consenting, these persons will be ordained to the priesthood this summer
  • 1 individual was made a postulant in the priesthood formation process
  • 6 individuals were ordained first to the transitional diaconate and then to the priesthood: the Rev. Yaa Asantewa Kiara Addison, the Rev. Eva Elena Bogino, the Rev. Lara Rhiannon Case, the Rev. Katherine Elizabeth Miksa, the Rev. Andrew Wingham Ogletree, and the Rev. Creamilda Shirley Wulck-Nortey Yoda
Diaconal formation process
  • 5 people were named postulants
  • There are 6 candidates in the diaconal formation process who began their final year of Deacon School, the last step before applying for ordination
Latino Deacons School
  • The Spanish language 1-year academic curriculum has been fully developed and added to the learning management platform of the School for Christian Faith and Leadership. At this moment the online courses are being reviewed after two cohorts used them in their formation. Other dioceses are now able to use this curriculum. Rev. Yoimel and Archdeacons Sue and Steve have had several meetings with the leadership in dioceses throughout The Episcopal Church interested in using this material.
  • 1 postulant was formed through the Latino Deacons School in 2023 and is right now in the diocesan deacon school, as part of a bilingual and multicultural formation process.
Deacons School
  • All Deacon School coursework and classes are bilingual
  • 6 candidates are participating in Deacon School, our 2-year program in practical formation
  • The 6 deacon candidates completed their social service internships in 2023 and began a 9-month parochial internship serving in parishes throughout the diocese

Clergy and Parish Transitions

Under the leadership of the Rev. Canon Robert Phillips, the diocese assists clergy and parishes in transition, leaning into the opportunity for congregations to examine their parish through the lens of the Vital Signs of Parish Heath.

  • There are currently 29 parishes in transition in the Diocese of Washington
  • 20 priests were called to new ministries:
  • 8 rectors/priests-in-charge/vicars
  • 4 interims
  • 6 associates
  • 2 diocesan staff
  • 20 parishes currently rely on supply and long-term clergy
  • 10 priests participated in Genesis, the diocesan program designed to onboard priests in new calls to better equip them for success. They will complete the program in 2024.
  • 3 parishes undergoing the Canon 54 assessment process

Latino/Hispanic Ministry

There are 5 Spanish-speaking faith communities active in the Diocese of Washington that are providing spiritual homes to people of many countries and cultures. Each in their own context engages with the wider community to support their neighbors who might be experiencing hunger, homelessness, immigration status issues or other challenges. The members of these communities care for the overall well-being of their neighbors physically and spiritually.

After much prayerful discernment, it was decided that Mission Buen Pastor would sunset after five faithful years. This community was hit especially hard by the pandemic and the death of one of its founding lay leaders. An important, if painful, part of faithful church-planting is recognizing when a project has come to the point where it is no longer bearing abundant fruit relative to the investment of human and material resources. We remain hopeful that the seeds that were planted will flourish in due time.

Missioner for Latino/Hispanic Ministry and Diocesean Initiatives Mildred Briones Reyes gathered members from each of our Spanish-speaking faith communities to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. The evening included a time of prayer, convivio (fellowship), and was a time during which we lifted up our diversity, cultures and traditions.

In 2023, we continued to pursue accessibility by ensuring that the Spanish language social media platforms of the diocese reflected both the same content as the English and included content of more specific interest to our Spanish-speaking siblings.

We invite you to follow our Spanish language social media platforms: Facebook | Instagram

Diaconal Ministry

Ordained diaconal ministry has become a cornerstone of collaborative ministry in the Diocese of Washington. In his first full year serving as archdeacon, the Ven. Steve Seely has ably led and pastored our wonderful team of deacons.

Diocesan Liturgies

In addition his work as archdeacon, the Ven. Steve Seely serves as the diocesan liturgist, working collaboratively with colleagues to develop the services that sustain our communal life.

Diocesan liturgies in 2023 included:

  • The Holy Week Clergy Renewal of Vows services
  • The ordination of 6 persons to the transitional diaconate and then priesthood at Washington National Cathedral in January and July respectively.
  • Clergy Days in May and October offering an opportunity for clergy to come together with their bishop and each other for prayer, refreshment and conversation
  • May and November Confirmation services both in the Cathedral to make an adult affirmation of individuals’ baptismal vows.

Business Affairs Office

The Business Affairs Office tends to the financial and human resource needs of daily diocesan life. In 2023, Kathleen Hall, Director of Administration and Human Resources, and Kelly Cooper, Financial Analyst, in collaboration with the Human Resources and Finance committees and supporting staff:

  • Published a Staff Handbook for parishes to use as a “best practices” model for their own contexts
  • Completed the transition of the accounting and accounts payables system to Intacct and Bill.com with the support of Vault Consulting
  • Provided technical support to Maryland parishes renewing their tax exemption status
  • Processed $101,307.50 in congregational growth grants for 19 parish projects

In 2023, Kathleen Hall announced that she would retire after the completion of the 2024 Annual Convention. We are grateful for her many years of faithful service, leadership, and compassionate care.

Communications and Technology

In 2023, diocesan communications were dedicated to telling the story of the diocese and sharing our strategic plan process.

  • We held our first in-person convention post pandemic at Washington National Cathedral
  • In the fall, Director of Communications J. Keely Thrall presented a talk on mission statements at a Tending Our Soil learning lab
  • The diocese continued its partnership with Worship Times to offer a Parish Website Design and Hosting Program for congregations interested maximizing the potential of their digital “front door”
  • John White, owner of Computer and Network Resources, Inc., continued his contractual agreement with the Diocese to provide system and network management, tech support to staff and parishes and management of IT vendor relationships
  • Email newsletters remain key vehicles for communication in the diocese. The diocese regularly sends 4 communications:
    • The Diocesan Bulletin (biweekly)
    • Bishop Mariann’s Reflections (biweekly)
    • School for Christian Faith and Leadership (monthly)
    • Faith Formation News (monthly)
    • Sign up for our newsletters
  • The diocesan social media team worked diligently to provide content in both English and Spanish on our diocesan social media platforms.
  • Our analytics from last year show terrific growth in organic reach, interactions, followers, and page/profile visits on our English platforms and more modest, but still positive growth in Spanish:
    • Facebook (English)
      • Organic Reach — 42% increase from last year (123.2K)
      • Content Interactions — 35% increase from last year (16.4K)
      • Followers — 58% increase from last year (11.3K)
      • Facebook Page Visits — 203% increase from last year. (10.1K)
    • Instagram (English)
      • Organic Reach — 61% increase from last year (3.3K)
      • Content Interactions — 80% increase from last year (10.1K)
      • Followers — 22% increase from last year (1.4K)
      • Instagram Profile Visits — 98% increase from last year (1.6K)
    • Facebook (Spanish)
      • Organic Reach — 91% increase from last year
      • Content Interactions — 34% decrease from last year
      • Followers — 6% increase from last year
      • Facebook Page Visits — 232% increase from last year.
    • Instagram (Spanish)
      • Organic Reach — 12.5% increase from last year
      • Content Interactions — 99% increase from last year
      • Followers — Data unavailable
      • Instagram Profile Visits — 612% increase from last year

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