A Compelling Mission and Vision At Work at St. Margaret’s, DC

A Compelling Mission and Vision At Work at St. Margaret’s, DC

A Compelling Mission & Vision at Work at St. Margaret’s DCWhile “A Compelling Mission & Vision” is just one of seven vital signs identified by our Diocese [as areas that contribute to a healthy, growing church], I would argue that it’s the most important. A compelling mission and vision are the roots from which all the other vital signs grow.

The Diocesan Vital Signs resources suggest that a parish’s mission and vision are “vital” when they are stated clearly, when all of a parish’s ministries are aligned to that mission and vision, and when the mission and vision are supported by all levels of ministry leadership.

The way we’ve approached this work at St. Margaret’s is by articulating a clear, concise, and relatively permanent purpose statement, and a longer, specific, and measurable five-year vision statement. Both were a result of a strategic planning process, which we undertook in 2019 through engagement with the Unstuck Group.

Our purpose statement is in essence our mission: an articulation of why we exist. For us, it was useful to articulate this through the lens of our neighborhood’s demographics and the new people we hoped to reach. Of course, it also is informed by and resonates with those who are already part of our faith community.

St. Margaret’s purpose statement is:

St. Margaret’s is a warm place to renew faith in God, care for one another, and thrive in a diverse, LGBTQIA-affirming, and inclusive community.

Our vision statement is future-oriented–an articulation of where we’re going. And we’re not talking about 100 years from now–just five. After five years have passed, the intention is to repeat the process, recasting a new vision for the next five years. Year by year, the vision statement serves as a roadmap for our ministries and a filter for our priorities.

To discern our vision, we prayed, asking the question, “What is God’s preferred future for St. Margaret’s?” The resulting statement is our faithful answer.

St. Margaret’s vision statement begins: “Drawing on the diversity of our people and their gifts, with God’s help we will grow spiritually and numerically over the next five years by…”

We then list three overall “buckets,” each of which are action-oriented. In other words, they’re gerund verbs–each an articulation of how we aim to grow.

St. Margaret’s vision states that we seek to grow by:

    • Inspiring every person to experience the love of God in Christ;
    • Educating disciples of Christ and equipping people to put their faith in action;
    • Growing generosity and neighborliness.

Under each of these three areas, we then list three specific objectives we hope to accomplish. Under the first, “Inspiring every person to experience the love of God in Christ,” we list goals related to worship; hospitality and newcomers; and sacramental commitments. We also track various metrics related to each objective. For example, under the second, “Educating disciples and equipping them to put their faith in action,” we measure parish engagement. That is, what percentage of our active members are engaged in formation programs, are serving regularly as worship leaders, or are volunteering through our outreach programs. By 2026, we’re shooting for the lofty goal of 100% engagement.

Similar to the process the Diocese is following with its strategic plan, St. Margaret’s Vestry meets annually to set three priorities for the year, informed by our self-assessment of the gaps between our vision’s objectives and where we currently are. Setting these priorities has arguably been one of the most challenging aspects of this work. Now that we have an energizing vision of where we want to go, it’s hard to slow down and acknowledge that we can’t accomplish everything in just one year. We’re constantly reminding one another, “This is a five-year vision–not a one-year sprint.”

You can check out St. Margaret’s full Purpose and Vision here.

For any parish considering the work of strategic planning and visioning, I highly commend you to make it a priority. For us at St. Margaret’s, it has been a vital, clarifying, and energizing tool, which has helped us align our purpose and calling with our day-to-day, year-by-year activities and resources. To God be the glory.

The Rev. Richard Weiberg
Rector, St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, DC

In the coming months, we will continue to highlight parishes in the Diocese that exemplify each of the Parish Vital Signs through a story they share about their ministry. Read the series launch article

Tending Our Soil: Congregations and Coaches Selected for Year Three

Tending Our Soil: Congregations and Coaches Selected for Year Three

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11

We are pleased to announce the 5 congregations that have accepted the invitation to join the third and final cohort of the diocese’s Tending Our Soil Thriving Congregations Initiative.

    • Christ Church, Chaptico
    • Grace Church, Georgetown
    • All Souls, DC
    • St. Philip’s, Laurel
    • St. Luke’s, DC

Made possible by a $1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment, Tending Our Soil is a three-year commitment that leads congregations through a process of deep reflection, strategic goal setting, and experimentation. Congregations clarify their mission and vision, listen to where the Holy Spirit is calling them, and grow in their understanding of how best to contribute to the flourishing of their communities and the world.

As with the first two classes in the Tending Our Soil initiative, coaches will accompany the final class on their journey of congregational revitalization. The coaching process provides space for each parish team to identify learnings, expand possibilities, name action items, experiment, gain support, and build accountability. We are pleased to announce that Anne Tomkinson and Lanita Whitehurst have accepted the invitation to serve as coaches for the Tending Our Soil initiative.

We invite you to pray for the congregations and coaches of the Class of 2023.

If you have questions about Tending Our Soil, contact the Rev. Emily Snowden, Missioner for Church Revitalization


The Coaches

Anne Tomkinson, Tending Our Soil Coach, Class of 2023
Anne Tomkinson is a certified coach with nearly 20 years in People Operations with a focus on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism. Her work includes transforming organizational culture, leadership coaching, public speaking, and designing, implementing, and facilitating learning for organizations, boards and leadership teams to bring an equity lens to systems and processes. Anne believes that when individuals experience liberation, organizations flourish.
Lanita Whitehurst, Tending Our Soil Coach, Class of 2023
Lanita Whitehurst has lived in downtown Silver Spring with her family since 2001. She and her family have been members of Grace Episcopal Church since 2006. Lanita has worked for more than 20 years in the nonprofit sector in a variety of capacities including project manager, community organizer, facilitator, coach, and fundraiser. Currently, she serves as a Senior Organizer for IMPACT Silver Spring, a local organization whose mission is promoting racial and economic equity and justice in Montgomery County. At Grace Episcopal Church, she served several years as a Sunday School teacher and Acolyte Adviser; and is an active member of Wade in the Water, Grace’s racial justice ministry. Lanita holds a B.A. in English from North Carolina State University and has completed 60 hours of coach-approach training approved by the International Coach Federation (ICF).
Committee on Diocesan Reparations – Members Announced

Committee on Diocesan Reparations – Members Announced

The Diocese is taking its next steps towards addressing its historical involvement in anti-Black racism. Following the passage of the resolution Towards Repentance and Reparations at the 2023 Diocesan Convention, the application process to serve on the Committee on Diocesan Reparations began. After a period of discernment and collective engagement, Bishop Mariann has made initial appointments. The Committee will have two working groups, the Policy Working Group and the Education Working Group. We extend a special thank you to all who applied.

The Policy Working Group, co-chaired by the Rev. Glenna Huber and Ms. Erika Gilmore, will investigate and make recommendations concerning policies and other measures to support the redress, healing and atonement regarding the Diocese historical involvement in anti-Black racism. The Education Working Group, chaired by Ms. Aungelic Nelson, will educate, encourage and support the Diocese in its Reparations work while also preparing for, and carrying out, the recommendations of the Policy Working Group as developed, and when delivered. Mr. Rudy Logan, Missioner for Equity and Justice, will serve as the staff liaison to the committee.

We are thrilled to share the names of those who will serve on the Committee on Diocesan Reparations below.

Members of the Committee Diocesan Reparations

Policy Working Group:
The Rev. Glenna Huber, Epiphany DC, Central DC (Committee Chair)
Ms. Erika Gilmore, St. George’s DC, Central DC (Assistant Chair)
Mr. Anton Vanterpool, St. Alban’s, North DC
Mr. George Economy, St. John’s Georgetown, Central DC
Ms. Embry Martin Howell, All Souls DC, North DC
The Rev. Antonio J. Baxter, Atonement, South DC
Ms. Andrea Pringle, St. Luke’s Bethesda
The Rev. Melanie Mullen, Advisory Member

Education Working Group:
Ms. Aungelic Nelson, St. George’s DC, Central DC (Committee Chair)
Ms. Antoinette Schooler, Washington National Cathedral, North DC
The Rev. Peter Jarett-Schell, Calvary, North DC
Mr. Franklin Robinson, St. Thomas’, Prince George’s County, Southern Maryland
Ms. Cathy O’Donnell, St. John’s, Bethesda, South Montgomery
Ms. Caroline Klam, Church of the Epiphany, Central DC
Ms. Susan Schulken, Grace Silver Spring, South Montgomery
Ms. Karen May, St. George’s DC, Central DC
The Rev. Gayle Fisher-Stewart
Ms. Gabby Whitehurst, Grace Silver Spring, South Montgomery
The Rev. Creamilda Shirley Yoda, Ascension Church Silver Spring, South Montgomery

Ex Officio Members:
The Rev. Maria Kane, Standing Committee President
The Rev. Kristen Hawley, Diocesan Council Moderator
Mr. Jonathan Nicholas, Treasurer
The Rev. Andrew Walter, Canon to the Ordinary/Chief Operating Officer
Mr. John Van De Weert, Chancellor

Staff Liaison:
Mr. Rudy Logan, Missioner for Equity and Justice

Tending Our Soil Thriving Congregations Initiative: What We’ve Learned So Far

Tending Our Soil Thriving Congregations Initiative: What We’ve Learned So Far

The Tending Our Soil Thriving Congregations Initiative takes congregations through a 3-year process in listening, discernment and studying. Each congregation refreshes their mission and vision then defines strategic goals designed to increase the vitality of their church. The work is done by congregational teams supported by monthly coaching, teaching through four Learning Labs per year, community learning in congregational cohorts, and tools such as vitality surveys and demographic study. The initiative is in its second year of five. Twelve congregations are finishing their second year, ten more their first and five more are about to start this fall. The initiative is made possible by a $1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment.

We expect that by the end of the grant period, a significant number of congregations will have increased their health and vitality, and that they will be equipped with the tools needed to adapt and pivot to the changing environments around them, and, from this work, have an increased capacity to focus more fully on being followers of Jesus Christ.

In the first year, congregational cohorts wrestle with important questions to help them refresh their mission and vision. Who are we? How are we doing? Who are our neighbors? To answer these questions, parishes work with some of the following tools and resources: the seven Vital Signs of Parish Health, MissionInsite demographic data, the Readiness 360 survey for Congregational Vitality, the Path of Discipleship, 90-day micro strategies, and Invite-Welcome-Connect.

In year two, the cohorts build on what they learned, informed by the various assessments and their new knowledge of their communities to craft strategic goals. During this year, speakers for the Learning Labs are chosen based on the strategic goals identified by each congregational cohort to help them deepen their understanding and broaden their horizons in the areas in which they are working. For the class of 2021, this included Growing Young with Jake Mulder and Sustaining Digital Ministry with Ryan Panzer.

Year three offers time for further discernment, trial and error, and a structure for getting over any lingering stuck points a congregational team may be experiencing. This year is about pulling it all together, and empowering the congregations to take the next steps in living out their strategic goals and move towards long-term sustainability.

What We’ve Learned So Far

As we approach the end of the second year of the Tending Our Soil grant cycle, we’re grateful to report on many important learnings.

  • Based on the success of using trained coaches to walk with congregational cohorts through the Tending Our Soil process, we strongly believe in the potential benefit of creating a culture of coaching in our diocese to help congregations to continue moving forward in response to God’s call.
  • By creating the curriculum for Tending Our Soil exclusively “in house”, we’ve been able to stay flexible to meet the goals of this initiative, and to adapt and update the curriculum as we learn from our successes and failures.
  • Even parishes that may not yet have a “fully developed” story of success are sensing a positive change, with some reporting growth in members and others excited that, for the first time, they are beginning to move out beyond their church walls.
  • Congregations are growing more skilled in developing stronger strategic plan processes as a result of their work on the 90-day microstrategies.
  • At least three congregations are working on re-developing their welcome space both physically and electronically based on what they’ve learned through Tending Our Soil.
  • Building from the popularity of cohort conversations during the Learning Labs, when three parishes and their coach have dedicated time to share and reflect, we’ve shaped the third year of initiative so that we will use this format as one of the main components for learning.
What’s Next

Though the initiative will continue another three years, it is not too soon to look toward the future. A crucial part of Tending Our Soil’s legacy rests in the modules that were created to lead the second group of congregations through their first year. We expect these modules will allow the most successful aspects of the Learning Labs to be used by all of our congregations in years to come. In the next few weeks we will announce the participating congregations and coaches of the final class of the Tending Our Soil initiative.

Participating Congregations

Class of 2021
Ascension, Silver Spring
Christ Churches – LaPlata and Wayside
Christ Church Washington Parish
Good Shepherd, Silver Spring
St. Dunstan’s, Bethesda
St. John’s, Beltsville
St. John’s, Olney
St. Matthew’s/San Mateo, Hyattsville
St. Nicholas’, Germantown
St. Paul’s K Street
St. Timothy’s, DC
Transfiguration, Silver Spring

Class of 2022
Ascension, Gaithersburg St. Anne’s, Damascus
Christ Church, Durham St. John’s, Georgetown
Epiphany, Forestville St. Luke’s, Brighton
Grace, Silver Spring St. Mark’s, Fairland
Our Saviour, Hillandale St. Monica and St. James, DC

Class of 2023
Coming soon!

Celebrate Pride with EDOW

Celebrate Pride with EDOW

Last June, several EDOW parishes united behind the diocesan banner and marched together at the Capital Pride Parade. While EDOW congregations have a long history of participating in pride events, this was the first time the diocese organized an official contingent.

Everyone who participated in the parade has a story of what doing so meant to them. The most powerful story I experienced centers on two pre-teen girls from one of the more rural areas of our diocese. One of the girls’ parents reached out to me to share that her daughter wanted to attend a Pride parade. She had been asking about it for over six months. When the parent discovered that the diocese planned to march in the parade, she decided to sign the family up to participate. She expressed her love for our church that she described as affirming and where there is no question that her daughter is not only accepted but embraced.

That embrace is why we celebrate Pride and participate in activities like the parade. As a diocese, and as the church, we want to reflect God’s all loving embrace for the LGBTQIA+ community. We want to celebrate the variety of human expression that God created and loves. Celebrating Pride means that we honor the spectrum of human sexualities and genders. It means that we believe God blesses us with diversity and that it is very good. In a world where religious communities are not always a welcoming or safe place for the LGBTQIA+ community, we celebrate Pride because we believe that our church is better because of our LGBTQIA+ siblings.

Join us in celebrating Pride! Come march with us, show your love and embrace, which is a reflection of God’s. This year’s Pride Parade is on Saturday, June 10. All interested congregations and Episcopal communities are invited to unite under the diocesan banner and march together. All EDOW marchers should plan to meet at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church (1514 15th St. NW, Washington, DC) at 1:45 PM for a brief prayer and instructions before heading to the parade staging area together.

If you and/or your community are interested in joining the diocesan contingent to walk in the Parade, complete this Google form to let us know.

Contact the Rev. Amanda Akes-Cardwell with questions or for more information.