Diocesan Staff Transitions

by | Sep 6, 2023

As we begin the programmatic year, it is with great pleasure that we introduce three new staff members to the diocesan team.
The Rev. Anna B. Olson, Director for the School for Christian Faith and Leadership

Director for the School for Christian Faith and Leadership

The Rev. Anna B. Olson will serve as our new Director for the School for Christian Faith and Leadership. Anna is a priest of our diocese with more than two decades of congregational leadership experience. She brings strength, experience, and training in communications, fundraising, and transition ministry. She is bilingual in English and Spanish and has lived and served in neighborhoods and congregations that include most of the major ethnic and cultural communities also found in the Diocese of Washington.

The Director of the School for Christian Faith and Leadership will lead the school into this post pandemic time, continuing to seek out how best to provide educational and spiritual resources that cultivate the spiritual health and vitality of leaders and congregations.

“It will be my pleasure and privilege,” Anna shares, “to steward a vision for how to equip the people of God in the Diocese of Washington for ministry that is creative, adaptive, joyful, inclusive and expansive.”

“I’m thrilled that Anna will be the one to help us take the School for Christian Faith and Leadership to the next level of its life as an excellent, helpful resource for faith exploration, discipleship and leadership support in our congregations,” Bishop Mariann adds. “She comes to us with expertise, energy, curiosity, and a deep love for Christ and Christian community.”

The funding for Anna’s position comes from the Corten Education Fund, a generous bequest to the Diocese of Washington dedicated to support Christian formation. We are blessed by the resources to invest in the spiritual growth and leadership capacity of our people.

The Rev. Rondesia Jarrett-Schell, Bowie Church Planter

Bowie Church Planter

For the past 18 months, diocesan leaders have been laying the groundwork on our Strategic Plan goal to launch or relaunch up to three worshiping communities focused on rising generations so that we become a spiritual home for our children and grandchildren. Through our research into area demographics, Bowie was identified as a location with great potential to create a multi-racial congregation for rising generations, with Black leadership, to match the demographics of Prince George’s County. .

During this season of preparation, it soon became clear that without a leader dedicated to this work full time, our efforts in Bowie would not move forward. It is with this realization in mind that we have taken the big step of hiring the Rev. Rondesia Jarrett-Schell to be our church planter in the Bowie, MD area. The Diocesan Council voted to approve funding for the church planter position and modest programmatic support for two years, using money from the sale of real estate assets that many years ago was set aside for planting new congregations.

Rondesia is a longstanding priest of the diocese, with strong community organizing skills and a deep spirituality. She lives in Bowie and cares deeply about the community. During the pandemic, she spent intentional time getting to know the people in her neighborhood and as a result, has a sense that there is a real opportunity for successfully developing a new Episcopal faith community. Rondesia is also a trained facilitator of the Kaleidoscope Institute, and is at ease in varied cultural contexts.

Rondesia says, “I am excited to share the word of God, the love of God, and to be an instrument of God’s peace in Bowie – a community I know and love. There is a tremendous opportunity to grow our branch of the Jesus movement in this place. I am eager for the challenge.”

“I am looking forward to working with Rondesia on this initiative,” the Rev. Dr. Anne-Marie Jeffery, canon for congregational vitality, shares. “I have been doing some of the initial exploratory work and I believe with her passion for serving God and her deep listening to the Spirit that Rondesia will catch the imagination of the people of Bowie and gather them to form a new faith community rooted in the Episcopal tradition.”

Emily Blecksmith, Convention and Data Manager

Convention and Data Manager

Emily Blecksmith joins diocesan staff as the Convention and Data Manager. Emily brings extensive knowledge of The Episcopal Church and proven administrative skills to the job. Most recently, she served as administrator at St. Andrew’s Parish in Arlington. Prior to that, Emily worked in positions in the Presbyterian Church and in a number of medical and higher education offices. Those who worked with her describe her as a fast learner and a service-oriented teammate.

The Convention and Data Manager is your contact for vestry election results, parochial report information, regional gathering questions and Convention registration information. We look forward to introducing you to Emily at Regional Gatherings this fall.