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

Church revitalization is one of the three key areas of focus in our diocesan strategic plan — and 2021 saw a tremendous amount of progress toward our year two objective for this priority: engaging all congregations in the diocese with health assessments & revitalization strategies, including the implementation of the Tending Our Soil Thriving Congregations initiative.

Canon Anne-Marie Jeffery and Rev Tim Johnson with St. Andrew's College Park congregation
Parish Vitality Wheel
Clergy of North Montgomery region meeting with Bishop Chilton


Together, this year we:

  • Onboarded The Rev. Canon Anne-Marie Jeffery to serve as Canon for Congregational Vitality
  • Passed the Canon for Diocesan Stewardship and Parish Viability at the Special Convention held in April (also known as “Canon 54”)
  • Implemented Canon 54 for the first time by parish leadership request
  • Created a pastoral approach to walking with congregations through the Canon 54 process
  • Conducted 58 parish check-ins over the summer
  • Developed and held warden and vestry trainings through the School for Christian Faith and Leadership
  • Restructured the Parish Transitions process
  • Partnered with the Diocese of Maryland and the Claggett Center to provide camp for our rising generations and retreat opportunities to our leaders and parish members
  • Launched the first cohort of the Tending Our Soil Thriving Congregations Initiative with 12 participating congregations
  • Called The Rev. Lisa Barrowclough as our first Dean of Chaplains
  • Reconvened the Parish Vitality Working Group
  • Expanded the dialogue about the Vital Signs of Parish Health with various offerings, including an evening of Sharing Vital Stories


First introduced in 2020, the Vital Signs of Parish Health were forged in response to the question: How do we grow?

After much discernment and discussion with leaders across the diocese, the answer became clear: We grow by being attentive to the areas that make a healthy church.

As much as we might wish, we know there is no “magic wand” for revitalization, no single event that will cause people to start coming to a parish. Instead, it takes consistent work in the areas named by our diocesan community:

  • Compelling Mission & Vision
  • Clear Path of Discipleship
  • Faithful Financial Practices
  • Inspiring & Capable Leadership
  • Welcome & Connecting Ministries
  • Uplifting & Inviting Worship
  • Blessing Our Community

In 2021, the Vital Signs of Parish Health became increasingly foundational to our work with congregations — they are becoming part of our diocesan language. We will continue using the Vital Signs for the foreseeable future and incorporate them into all of our revitalization work.

  • The Vital Signs are integral in the Tending Our Soil Thriving Congregations Initiative
  • Congregations now work through the Vital Signs as part of a revamped clergy transition process to help identify what is needed in new clergy leadership
  • Leaders at 31 of the 58 parishes that participated in the parish check-in process this summer have either attended a Vital Signs-related School offering or used the Vital Signs during vestry discussions

Implementing a church revitalization strategy that leads to healthy, thriving congregations throughout the Diocese of Washington and reverses the trends of decline is one of the three key priorities of our diocesan strategic plan.


Part of our commitment to congregational vitality is to strengthen relationships, foster collaborative efforts between congregations and provide a greater diocesan presence in each region of the diocese. Regional deans serve as a point of connection, not only between diocesan staff and the regions, but within the leadership of the regions themselves. 2021 was the first full year of service with the regional dean structure fully in place.

This year, our regional deans:

  • Met regularly with both diocesan staff and regional leaders
  • Played a critical role in planning the fall Clergy Conference
  • Helped set the agenda and served as hosts for the online regional gatherings in the October and November
  • Were an integral communications link within regions and around the diocese
  • Convened over 65 monthly meetings with regional parish clergy

In addition:

  • The Rev. Richard Wall agreed to serve as co-dean of the Central DC region when the Rev. Rondesia Jarrett-Schell accepted a call to serve as interim rector at St. Stephen and the Incarnation
  • The Rev. Lisa Barrowclough was commissioned to serve as our inaugural Dean of Chaplains


In 2022, we will expand best practices for the Vital Signs of Parish Health with offerings from the School for Christian Faith and Leadership and in our work with individual congregations, as we lay the groundwork to address another key priority in our diocesan strategic plan: 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.”