Toward Repentance and Reparations in the Diocese of Washington

Toward Repentance and Reparations in the Diocese of Washington

Taking the next faithful step, the Diocesan Convention overwhelmingly passed a resolution of commitment–toward repentance and reparations for the Diocese of Washington’s “long, complicated history of participation in, and benefit from, anti-Black racism.”

The resolution is an important marker on a lengthy journey, stating our intention to continue educating ourselves about past and present harms done, and a commitment to make repair.

As our working definition of reparations states:

Reparations is the spiritual and material process to remember, restore, reconcile and make amends for historical and continuing wrongs against humanity that can never be singularly reducible to monetary terms, but must include a substantial investment and surrender of resources.

The Reparations Committee will consist of two working groups–one focused on continuing the work of education; the other addressing matters of policy and practice. We are now accepting applications from those members of the diocese who would like to be considered for this important work.

Read the Resolution as Amended on the Diocesan Convention webpage.

Submit an application to serve on the Reparations Committee.

Summer Camp Registration is Open!

Summer Camp Registration is Open!

Registration for summer camp at the Claggett Center is now open! Claggett offers week-long, residential, camp programs for youth completing 2nd grade to recently-graduated high school seniors. Whether climbing high on the ropes course or diving deep at the pool, there’s something for everyone at Camp Claggett. Campers are sure to create new friendships and renew old ones year after year. Camp is grounded in Scripture and tradition, and encourages campers and staff to use their whole selves as ways to explore the Christian Story. Summer Camps at Claggett are Christian formation ministries of the Episcopal Dioceses of Maryland and Washington.

To learn more and to register visit the Summer Camps at Claggett page of the Claggett Center website.

Diocesan Hunger Fund to Sunset

Diocesan Hunger Fund to Sunset

Since its inception in 1976, the Diocesan Hunger Fund has provided grants to programs that address food insecurity within the geographical area of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. The money for those grants has come from contributions made to the Hunger Fund from congregations and individuals across the diocese. For many years, the Hunger Fund served as one of EDOW’s primary outreach ministries. Yet over time, financial support for the Hunger Fund by churches and community members has dwindled–while the number of church-based food pantries and meal programs has increased, as our congregations strive to be a blessing to their communities. The realization of this fundamental shift in how feeding ministries function within the diocese sparked a period of evaluation for the Hunger Fund Committee. After much discernment, discussion, and consultation with Bishop Mariann, members of committee have come to the hard decision to dissolve this arm of ministry in the diocese.

Although figures from 1976 through 1985 are not available, in the 37 years from 1986 through June of 2022 we are thankful to report that $1,304.848.00 was provided to various programs. During its 46 years of existence, the Hunger Fund Committee of the Diocese worked diligently to help organizations in our diocese that provide direct aid to hungry people, a ministry only possible due to the contributions of churches and individuals of the diocese. Contributions came in many forms, from monetary donations to the gift of people’s time and effort, including the many volunteers who organized hunger walks and other activities at the church, region, and diocesan level; those who served on the committee over the years; and diocesan staff who supported the Committee’s efforts.

As the Hunger Fund winds down operations, we share here a list of some of the programs the Fund has supported over the years. Please consider redirecting your food security support to one of these ministries.

We believe there remains significant need to alleviate hunger in our area. We are grateful that our collective commitment to ending hunger holds strong in these new and continuing expressions of ministry.

Lee Mericle,
Chair, Diocesan Hunger Fund

Planting a Greener Tomorrow, Today

Planting a Greener Tomorrow, Today

At Diocesan Convention in January 2022, Bishop Mariann commissioned a Task Force to promote Creation Care as part of our Diocesan strategic plan and justice work. Throughout the past year, members of the Task Force introduced ourselves to parish leaders, prepared a Creation Care Parish Engagement report, and assisted a number of parishes with adopting solar. As we continued our work to promote and assist with environmental sustainability and responsibility in our faith communities and neighborhoods, the Task Force discerned a call for the Diocese to take part in the Communion Forest initiative.

The Task Force sought members to represent our diversity across the diocese, and will continue to recruit people passionate about Creation Care. Task Force member Teresa Hobgood of Epiphany, D.C. said, “Deacon Mary Sebold invited me to join the Task Force in March 2022. Whether it’s identifying Creation Care initiatives in our Diocese, building excitement around installing solar panels, or sharing information on such topics as community gardens, zero waste and veganism, the breadth of knowledge, enthusiasm and output among Task Force members is vast. While our faith communities may not look the same, we all share a common interest in caring for God’s creation in all its beauty.”

The Task Force discerned that the Diocese should join the Communion Forest after Bishop Mariann returned from the 2022 Lambeth Conference excited about this new initiative.
The Communion Forest is a global call to action in response to biodiversity loss, human suffering, economic instability, and social inequity. This project will inspire our parishes to develop ministries that protect and restore local habitat, and encourage parishes to love and pray for all God’s creation.

Task Force members Abbott McCartney and Joanne Hutton of St. John’s, Lafayette Square, are sponsoring a resolution at the upcoming 2023 Diocesan Convention to invite parishes to plant and care for trees to commemorate birthdays, baptisms, confirmations, weddings, and in honor of loved ones. They point out, “Because the Diocese of Washington is geographically diverse, our churches need flexibility to adapt Creation Care ministries to their unique local conditions. While we share a common home in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed area with two beautiful river systems, our diocese is comprised of a range of urban, suburban, and rural parishes with quite different local conditions.”

The Task Force is ready to assist parishes with expertise on particular topics, including native tree planting, solar energy projects, creation care speakers, and liturgical resources. Another Task Force member, Diane Coon, of St. Paul’s Piney, Waldorf, called the Communion Forest “an exciting venture that gives individual congregations opportunities to follow their hearts, feeding birds and animals under great pressure from city and suburban encroachment, planting fruit trees and bushes to supplement existing food banks with fresh produce, and mitigating the world’s most devastating losses of trees, forests and wildlife.”

Earlier in 2022, Task Force members talked with representatives in 78 parishes about their Creation Care practices, spirituality, and goals. Churches have taken practical steps including zero waste efforts, improved energy efficiency, environmentally-responsible new care for their grounds, Creation Care education, and outdoor activities. Sixteen parishes in Montgomery County partnered with Interfaith Power & Light and the Montgomery County Green Bank to investigate whether they were right for solar panels in terms of roof type, tree cover, and other factors. Task Force member Reid Detchon of St. Columba’s reports that “four parishes will get across the finish line this year and more in 2023, led by St. Peter’s, Poolesville and St. Mark’s, Fairland. They’ll save money on their electricity bills for the next twenty years at no upfront cost to them!” Diane Coon is helping parishes in Southern Maryland deal with barriers to solar panels related to their historic status.

The Task Force welcomes new members and is eager to help parishes deepen their engagement with Creation Care. Contact the Creation Care Task Force.

We look forward to helping the diocese plant a greener tomorrow, today.

The Creation Care Task Force

Story Circles

Story Circles

by the Rev. Dr. Kate Heichler

On an Advent Sunday [in 2021], a chunk of the congregation at Christ Church in La Plata gathered for our first parish lunch since the pandemic. Over chili and cornbread, we welcomed first-time visitors and longtime members, all there to share and tell the “Story of Christ Church” as part of the Tending Our Soil thriving congregations initiative. Two longtime parishioners, who came to the church at the ages of 0 and 5, respectively, took us through a timeline of the past 25 years. Then we moved the tables, circled up the chairs – with room for the big screen showing Zoom participants – and began a Story Circle.

Starting with “Once upon a time, in 1683, in Port Tobacco, a group of settlers decided they wanted an Anglican Church…” each person in turn took up the story, adding their part, all prefaced by a time reference: “Roughly 350 years after that, my family and I saw the rainbow-colored wind sock in front of Christ and thought, ‘I’d like to try that church.’” And “About 14 years before that, my wife and I moved to La Plata and found Christ Church, and two years later I was confirmed as an Episcopalian,” and “Two years ago I attended a HeartSongs Open Mic night here and Rev. Kate asked me, “How do you bring light into the world.” (She did? Yikes!)

As we went around the circle, a story emerged of a church in which many have found a welcoming home, sometimes after painful times elsewhere; of a sanctuary and worship in which many feel the presence of the Holy Spirit; of active and creative outreach; and warm fellowship. This exercise is to help us craft a succinct “Story of Christ Church” that people can easily tell others. It is one of the ways Tending Our Soil invites us to turn over our soil and aerate it, letting in light and air, making room for planting seeds that will bear abundant fruit of transformation in our community. The next step will be to learn the “Story of Our Neighborhood” – to better know the fields in which we are called to plant those seeds of gospel life.

Tending Our Soil is a rich opportunity for Christ Church in La Plata and our sister church, Christ Church Wayside, to get our hands dirty in our missional gardens. Over the course of three years it will help us to focus our mission, strengthen our lay leadership and ministry teams, and make a transforming impact in our regions. We are poised for growth, ready to pivot to where the Spirit shows openings.

We are living a story God has been writing since the beginning of time and invites us to add our chapters; a story of sorrow and joy, stuckness and movement, despair and hope. Above all it is a story of Jesus and how we make him known. God has written the end to that story already. We just get to live it out.