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

Bishop Mariann and diocesan staff devote much of our time to facilitating the work of the diocese. We couldn’t do this alone and give thanks for all the regional deans, leadership bodies, committee members and congregational leaders who help us in equipping faith communities, promoting spiritual growth and striving for justice. With you, we are creating a diocese that draws on the gifts of all God’s people to serve Christ together and live Jesus’ Way of Love.

In this section of the Annual Report, we share the areas of our everyday ministry that, while not specifically part of our diocesan strategic plan, are nevertheless essential components for a healthy, vibrant diocese.

Diocesan staff development day at St. Paul's K Street learning about the Enneagram
Catherine Ballinger, Douglas Kirby, and Hope Christiansen with Canon Robert Phillips at their priesthood ordination at Washington National Cathedral in June
Rosa Briones, candidate in the diaconal process


In 2021, Bishop Mariann

  • Presided over the diocese’s first ever virtual Annual Convention in January and the Special Convention in April
  • Conducted 35 parish visitations
  • Confirmed, received, and reaffirmed 206 people from 28 parishes at two confirmation services at Washington National Cathedral and while conducting visitations
  • Ordained the Rev. Catherine Ballinger, the Rev. Hope Christiansen, and the Rev. Douglas Kirby to the sacred order of priests in June
  • Ordained 2 people to the priesthood on behalf of other dioceses (The Rev. Ryan Wiksell and The Rev. Christopher Phillips)
  • Installed the Rev. Canon Michele V. Hagans as a Diocesan Canon Emerita on November 30
  • Installed The Rev. Lisa Ahuja as rector of St. Thomas, DC, The Rev. Javier Garcia Ocampo as rector of Ascension, Gaithersburg, and The Rev. Todd Thomas as rector of St. Timothy’s, DC
  • Along with senior staff, met with the wardens of the diocese during two online sessions in September
  • Made herself available to clergy and leaders for pastoral support
  • Convened quarterly sessions with staff to track progress on strategic plan objectives


Though 2021 saw both planned and unexpected transition on diocesan staff, our investment in developing clear, intentional job descriptions meant that we were able to recruit and hire exceptional talent to join our efforts to become a diocese that draws people to Jesus and embodies his love for the world.

This year, we bid farewell to diocesan staff members:

  • The Rev. Canon Paula E. Clark, who was elected bishop of Chicago in the fall of 2020
  • The Rev. Sarabeth Goodwin, who retired after nearly 7 years as Latino missioner
  • Ms. Cheryl Daves Wilburn, who retired after nearly a half-century of serving the diocese
  • The Rev. Todd Thomas, who answered the call to become rector of St. Timothy’s over the summer
  • Bishop Chilton Knudsen, who answered the call to serve as assisting bishop in Chicago during Bishop-elect Paula’s recovery
  • The Rev. Canon Michele Hagans, who retired after serving as canon for ministry initiatives

And welcomed new staff members:

  • Amanda Anderson, who serves as Executive Assistant to Bishop Mariann
  • The Rev. Emily Snowden, who serves as the Program Coordinator for the School for Christian Faith and Leadership and the Tending Our Soil Thriving Congregations Initiative.
  • Hazel Monae, who serves as the Missioner for Equity and Justice
  • Allen Fitzpatrick, who serves as the Executive Assistant to the Canons.
  • The Rev. Canon Anne-Marie Jeffery, who serves as the Canon for Congregational Vitality.

We also made strategic shifts to the internal structure of the staff, naming:

  • The Rev. Canon Andrew Walter as Canon to the Ordinary and Chief Operating Officer
  • Mildred Briones Reyes as Missioner for Latino/Hispanic Ministries & Diocesan Initiatives
  • The Rev. Jenifer Gamber as Director of the School for Christian Faith and Leadership and the Tending Our Soil Thriving Congregations Initiative

As part of our commitment to maintaining a healthy, vibrant work environment, diocesan staff holds quarterly retreats. In the spring, our friends at the Unstuck Group led us through a teambuilding exercise. In September, we met as a full staff in-person for the first time with all the new staff in place to learn about the Enneagram.


The Rev. Dr. Robert Phillips, Canon for Leadership Development and Congregational Care; the Ven. Sue von Rautenkranz, Archdeacon and Diocesan Liturgist; and the Rev. Yoimel González Hernández, Dean of the Latino Deacons’ School, lead operations with the Commission on Ministry for the ordination process in the diocese.

Priesthood Formation Process

  • We accepted 1 individual into the priesthood formation process
  • There are 7 postulants in the process, studying at 4 seminaries
  • We ordained 3 individuals into the priesthood
  • We will hold a transitional deacon ordination service at Washington National Cathedral on January 13 for 2 persons; God willing and the people consenting these 2 persons will be ordained to the priesthood on July 23

Diaconal formation process

  • 6 people were made postulants
  • 10 people were made candidates; God willing and the people consenting, they will be ordained in the fall of 2022
  • The next Workshop Day on the Diaconate will occur in the fall of 2022

Latino Deacons School

  • The Spanish language 1-year academic curriculum has been fully developed
  • We are in the process of loading this curriculum into the School for Christian Faith and Leadership’s learning management system so that we may broaden access not only to our students, but those in other dioceses
  • We reported to the Province III Synod that this curriculum is available beginning January 2022, and we have contacted all archdeacons and deacon formation leaders that their students could begin taking courses at that time
  • 1 postulant will be formed through the Latino Deacons School beginning in January 2022

Deacons School

  • All Deacons School coursework and classes are bilingual
  • 10 candidates are participating in Deacons School, our 18-month program in practical formation
  • All 10 candidates have completed their social service internships and are currently in the middle of their parish interships


Early in 2021, Canon Robert Phillips led a team through revisioning how clergy and parish transitions are handled in the diocese that includes, among other additions, the opportunity for congregations to examine their parish through the lens of the Vital Signs of Parish Heath.

  • 21 parishes will have experienced a change in clergy leadership in 2021
  • 16 priests were called to new parish ministries (5 rectors/PIC, 6 interims, 5 associates)
  • 11 priests participated in Genesis 2021-2022, the diocesan program designed to onboard priests in new calls to better equip them for success. 13 priests completed Genesis 2020-2021
  • Upon the conclusion of 2021, there are 34 parishes in “active transition” (i.e. parishes with an Interim Rector, Priest-in-Charge, or Supply/Long-term Supply)


Mildred Briones Reyes was named Missioner for Latino/Hispanic Ministries and Diocesan Initiatives upon the retirement of The Rev. Sarabeth Goodwin. Among Mildred’s first objectives for Latino/Hispanic Ministry in the diocese is increasing access to diocesan resources in Spanish.

Other diocesan initiatives in Latino/Hispanic Ministry this year included:

  • Building relationships with leaders and engaging in conversations about opportunities for growth and vitality in our Latino faith communities
  • Growing participation in and support for Washington National Cathedral Sanctuary Ministry and their advocacy work
  • Members of the Sanctuary Ministry participated in the Fast for a Path to Citizenship in June
  • Supporting parish leaders who wish to explore the development of Latino/Hispanic Ministry in their congregations
  • In September, we highlighted Latino Ministry in the Diocesan Bulletin newsletter which included a reflection on faith by Mildred (en español | in English)

In 2022, Latino/Hispanic Ministry in the diocese will focus on:

  • Convening a Latino/Hispanic Ministry advisory council
  • Equipping Latino/Hispanic leaders with resources and tools for skill development, awareness building, spiritual growth and faith formation
  • Identifying and developing strategies to engage with critical Equity and Justice issues affecting Latino/Hispanic communities throughout the Diocese


While the pandemic reinforced our conviction that deacons are an essential part of our diocesan ministry, this year has seen a blossoming of their leadership in the diocese. We are grateful for their service among and beside us, and for the leadership of The Ven. Sue L. von Rautenkranz, archdeacon, who directs the formation and placement of deacons in the diocese.

  • Many of our deacons remained engaged in a variety of food pantries and feeding programs around the diocese; most significantly in response to communities that continue to be heavily impacted by the pandemic
  • Deacons are leading the Afghan refugee response efforts in the diocese through the Afghan Refugee Response Team
  • Other deacons are deeply involved in advocacy efforts around homelessness, immigrant and refugee rights, returning citizen, and voter registration
  • Deacons Steve Seely, Terri Murphy, Antonio Baxter, Anne Derse, Ethan Bishop-Henchman, and Archdeacon Sue L. von Rautenkranz contributed articles to the October 14 edition of the Diocesan Bulletin highlighting diaconal ministry in the diocese


The Ven. Sue von Rautenkranz serves as archdeacon of the diocese and also as the diocesan liturgist. We give thanks for her hard work in the development of the services that sustained our communal life this year.

  • Worship at January’s virtual Convention and April’s virtual Special Convention
  • Spring Clergy Renewal of Vows services
  • The ordination of 3 persons to the priesthood at Washington National Cathedral (the Rev. Catherine Ballinger, the Rev. Hope Christiansen, and the Rev. Douglas Kirby, combining in-person attendance and live-streaming in compliance with social distancing requirements
  • August Diocesan-wide service at Washington National Cathedral
  • September farewell service for Bishop Chilton Knudsen
  • October Clergy Conference offering an opportunity for clergy to come together with their bishop and each other for prayer, refreshment and conversation
  • May and October Confirmation services both in the Cathedral and the All Hallows Amphitheater, provided an opportunity for persons to make an adult affirmation of their baptismal vows
  • Installation service for the Rev. Todd Thomas, as rector of St. Timothy’s, DC in October
  • Installation of the Rev. Canon Michele V. Hagans as Canon Emerita of the Diocese in November


Diocesan staff convened youth ministry leaders several times throughout the year for fellowship and mutual support. Through the School for Christian Faith and Leadership, we developed both a Path of Discipleship and supporting resources (Find the Path of Discipleship app in the Apple App Store or on Google Play, discussion cards for different ages, and a suite of downloadable posters with examples of the practices, the diocese). In the late fall, we launched the search for a new Missioner for Faith Formation and look forward to calling someone soon.

And out of the belief that transformational and formational experiences are essential to the faith development of adults, young adults, and youth, the Dioceses of Washington and Maryland agreed to an historic cooperative relationship for camping and conference ministries located at the Claggett Center.


The Business Affairs Office tends to the financial and human resource needs of daily diocesan life. In 2021, 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 have:

  • Assisted parish leaders in the transition to Praesidium Academy for Safe Church courses
  • Supported over 150 retired clergy and their spouses through the change in health benefits plans
  • Distributed $85,000 to families, food banks, and feeding programs under the auspices of the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund
  • Processed $145,000 in congregational growth grants and parish assistance grants for 15 parishes
  • Conducted in-depth review of 18 parish audits or financial statements submitted to the Diocese


2021 marked a number of “firsts” for the diocese in the realm of communications and technology.

  • In January, we held our first virtual Annual Convention, then followed it in April with a virtual Special Convention
  • Leading up to Convention, we held our first online hearings to discuss resolutions
  • We debuted our first phone app (Path of Discipleship, available on Apple App Store | Google Play)
  • We debuted a robust learning management system capable of handle offerings from the School for Christian Faith and Leadership and growing with us as the School evolves

While not a “first” for the diocese, we also undertook a complete renewal of the diocesan website to better align it with our current mission priorities and leverage the advances in technology that have occurred since we last refreshed.

Finally, under the rubric of “internal” communications, communications manager Keely Thrall prepared a content strategy for diocesan communications, a crisis communications plan, and is working with a small team to punch up our diocesan social media presence (We invite you to follow us on Instagram and Facebook).