See–I am doing a new thing.
Isaiah 43:19

Inspiring every person to grow in faith and equipping our leaders to lead well comprise another of the three key areas of focus in our diocesan strategic plan. We met our year two objective — to expand the School for Christian Faith and Leadership and strengthen its foundations — while also developing and launching other important diocesan initiatives.

The Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers preaching at the first Tending Our Soil learning lab
Confirmands and clergy at Washington National Cathedral


To inspire, equip, connect, and empower the people of God for life and leadership.
– Mission statement of the School for Christian Faith and Leadership

Leading up to the School for Christian Faith and Leadership’s official “hard launch” in September of this year, diocesan staff and members of the School’s Advisory Board, under the leadership of Dr. Jordan Rippy, spent much of their time building a foundation for long-term success.

Since the beginning of 2021, we:

  • Onboarded The Rev. Emily Snowden as Program Coordinator for both the School for Christian Faith and Leadership and the Tending Our Soil Thriving Congregations initiative
  • Developed a learning hub that houses the School’s assets in an easy to use online platform
  • Offered over 60 courses, both live and on demand
  • Served over 2,000 students with over 1,000 course registrations
  • Invited more than 20 subject matter experts from inside the diocese to lead courses
  • Created practical, self-guided toolkits for parish leaders like Vestry 101 (en español) and the Warden Training Toolbox

To more accurately reflect her leadership, The Rev. Jenifer Gamber was promoted to Director of the School for Christian Faith and Leadership and the Tending Our Soil Thriving Congregations initiative.

The School in 2022

Next year, the School will continue developing its offerings, focusing on “growing young” and “201 level” courses. We will also expand resources for our Latino congregations. Explore the offerings of the School at www.school.edow.org.


One of the seven Vital Signs of Parish Health is a “Clear Path of Discipleship.” In order to help our congregations strengthen their offerings in this area, earlier this year, The Rev. Jenifer Gamber convened a group of leaders to spend time exploring and refining what elements are needed in order to make a path of discipleship that can grow and adapt to wherever a person is at in their stage of life and spirituality.

From this work, we developed:


To support the Path of Discipleship, the School developed Discover-Embrace-Become, a formation series that helps newcomers and long-time members alike grow with faith and features videos of congregational leaders telling their faith stories. The series can be used to prepare people for sacramental commitments of baptism and confirmation.


To cultivate the changed soil of our diocese so that God’s love might grow in our time and place.
– Mission statement of the Tending Our Soil Thriving Congregations Initiative

In the fall of 2020, the Episcopal Diocese of Washington received a 5-year grant of $1,000,000 from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish the Tending Our Soil Thriving Congregations Initiative.

Through this initiative:

  • Up to 36 congregations will gather in peer-to-peer learning cohorts
  • The diocese will train 12 coaches to accompany congregations in the process
  • Congregations will clarify mission and innovate toward greater health

In this launch year,

  • 4 members of the diocese, both clergy and lay, completed training to become coaches for participating congregations
  • 12 congregations from 7 regions began peer learning cohorts, the start of a three-year journey of learning and reimagining Chrisitan practices to meet a changing culture
  • The peer cohorts attended the first 2 of 4 quarterly learning labs in Year 1: Mission and Vision, a year of listening for what God is up to in our congregations and neighborhoods
  • Cohort congregations took assessments to learn about their readiness to grow
  • Cohort congregations are reconnecting with their histories and reaching out to their community neighbors
  • Resources crafted for the Tending Our Soil initiative are available for every congregation

Tending Our Soil in 2022
In the coming year, the Tending Our Soil initiative will continue following its mission.

  • Congregations are invited to apply for the second peer cohort. Applications open January 1 and the deadline to apply is March 1, 2022
  • Up to 12 congregations will be selected and begin preparations to start in June
  • 4 new coaches will be trained to accompany the second peer cohort congregations
  • The first cohort will wrap up their Year One work and begin Year Two: Plan and Equip the Vision

To draw people to Jesus and embody his love for the world by equipping faith communities,
promoting spiritual growth, and striving for justice.