Congratulations Tending Our Soil Class of 2021!

by | May 23, 2024

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”
Isaiah 43:19

In this, the season of convocations, commencements, and matriculations, we are delighted to lift up one of particular interest to the Episcopal Diocese of Washington: the graduation of the Tending Our Soil Class of 2021.

As part of our diocesan strategic plan to revitalize our churches to grow the Jesus Movement, the Diocese of Washington received a grant from the Lilly Endowment in 2020 to develop a Thriving Congregations Initiative. Our initiative, called Tending Our Soil, invited congregations into an intentional three-year process of reconnecting with their identity, discerning their mission and vision, and launching new/renewed ministries. In the fall of 2021, we welcomed our first class of 12 congregations to this process.

Over the last three years, the congregations in the Class of 2021 met monthly in their teams, attended quarterly learning labs, explored their neighborhoods, and developed strategic plans and new ministries. Some revamped their welcome ministry, some redesigned their narthex, others revisioned ministries to meet the needs of their neighborhoods, and others developed the leadership capacity of their members. These parishes were dedicated to tending their soil while also carrying on the rest of their church’s ministry. Please join us in commending their faith-filled exploration, experimentation, and hard work.

The graduating class included parishes from all corners of the Diocese. We are honored to recognize the following congregations:

    • Ascension, Silver Spring
    • Christ Church, La Plata and Christ Church, Wayside
    • Christ Church + Washington Parish
    • Good Shepherd, Silver Spring
    • St. Dunstan’s, Bethesda
    • St. John’s, Beltsville
    • St. John’s, Olney
    • St. Matthews, Hyattsville
    • St. Nicholas, Darnestown
    • St. Paul’s, K St.
    • St. Timothy’s, DC
    • Transfiguration, Silver Spring

We celebrated the Class of 2021 on May 11 at Washington National Cathedral with a delicious lunch, followed by Lego Serious Play with the Rev. Dr. Gayle Fisher-Stewart, speeches by the Rev. Jenifer Gamber (former TOS Project Director), Bishop Mariann, and our coaches. The Rev. Canon Anne-Marie Jeffrey presented survey results showing just how transformational the TOS program has been for our congregations. We concluded the day with the presentation of certificates for each of our congregations.

Congratulations to the Class of 2021!

The Tending Our Soil revitalization initiative continues with the Classes of 2022 and 2023 proceeding on their own three-year paths. We invite your prayers for their work in the coming year.