Christian Formation Leaders Retreat

Christian Formation Leaders Retreat

Image of the labyrinth at Claggett CenterSupporting faith formation leaders is part of my ministry as the Missioner for Faith Formation and Development. Since joining the bishop’s staff six months ago, one of my priorities has been to meet with Christian educators and formation leaders working with children and youth. These conversations informed me about how our leaders are doing and what the landscape of formation ministry for rising generations looks like in our diocese.

When asked what they need right now, leaders responded. “I yearn to feel connected,” one leader said. “I want to learn from my colleagues,” another shared. Other sentiments included a desire to hear what’s happening in the diocese and to learn how folks are engaged in formation ministry as we emerge from the pandemic. Others spoke of just needing a break. “I just want some rest,” a colleague said, “this stuff is hard.”

It is hard. Even before the pandemic, rhythms of life were changing for many of our families. In this climate, the traditional models of Sunday School and Youth Group aren’t always as life-giving as they were in the past. This means that Christian formation leaders, whose ministry is to help form young people as Christians, are shifting their ministerial approach. That takes energy, creativity, and trust in the Holy Spirit.

Communities of support – colleagues in ministry – also help. One of my goals is to create spaces where these communities of colleagues can flourish and feed one another. To this end, the diocese is sponsoring an in-person retreat for formation leaders who work with children and/or youth. Held at the Claggett Center Friday and Saturday, November 4 & 5, the retreat is an opportunity for formation leaders to connect, pray, engage, and refresh. There will be ample time for community building as well as personal retreat space. Participants will stay in private rooms at the Christiane Inn and have access to the center’s beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces, including walking trails and a labyrinth.

Retreat registration opens Thursday, September 1 through the School for Christian Faith and Leadership. Any formation leader in the diocese working with children and/or youth is welcome to participate, but please note that attendance is limited to 20 participants and registration will close once all spots are full. The retreat costs $50 and covers all your expenses for the event. I hope you will join us and be refreshed.

For more information about the retreat or other opportunities to connect with formation leaders, contact The Rev. Amanda Akes-Cardwell.

Renewal of Vows and Blessing of Oils

Renewal of Vows and Blessing of Oils

The Episcopal Church has four orders: the laity, deacons, priests, and bishops. People entering each order take vows unique to that order. For the laity, these vows are first taken at Baptism and are renewed at a Service of Confirmation. For those entering the diaconate, priesthood, or episcopate, the vows are taken at a Service of Ordination. An episcopate is the office or term of office for a bishop.

Each year, most dioceses of The Episcopal Church gather their clergy during Holy Week for a Eucharistic liturgy that includes the prayers and promises of the renewal of their vows and the blessing of two oils.

The Episcopal Diocese of Washington is unusual in that we offer the opportunity for members of all four orders to recommit to their vows during this service – called, appropriately enough – the Renewal of Vows and Blessing of Oils. Bishop Mariann invites all who wish – laity, deacons, priests, (and bishops!) – to participate in a Renewal of Vows and Blessing of Oils service.

The Renewal of Vows and Blessing of Oils service has roots dating back to 200 AD and was a part of the liturgical reforms of the 1960s and 1970s. At one time the custom was to hold the service on Maundy Thursday, but for practical reasons in more recent times, the service now usually occurs earlier in Holy Week.

Two oils are blessed during the service. One, oleum sacrum or Chrism oil, is used for baptism, and may only be blessed by a bishop in our practice. The other is oleum infirmorum or oil for the sick. Oleum infirmorum is used for anointing those who are ill or near death. This oil may be blessed by a priest, but traditionally is done by a bishop.

In some dioceses, though not in this one, a third oil – called sacrum catechumenocum – may be blessed and used to anoint those entering the Catechumenant. The Catechumenant is a time of instruction on the faith for adults prior to baptism.

The Ven. L. Sue von Rautenkranz
Archdeacon Emerita

Summer R & R List – Diocesan Staff Recommendations

If you have some spare time this summer, but find your what-to-try list either empty or running amok, check out our curated list of things to read, listen to, watch, and game. Your diocesan staff offers up a bit of everything — from the heartwarming (Ted Lasso) to the thought-provoking (Jesus and John Wayne) to the blood-pumping (Soca 2021 Latest Hits). There’s sure to be something here to help you catch up on your much needed R & R. 

What we’re watching

Ted Lasso (AppleTV, season 1 available, season 2 starts July 23)
Mare of Eastown (HBO Max)
In the Heights (Hurry! Leaves HBO Max July 11)
Mythic Quest (Apple TV)
Workin’ Moms (Netflix)
Special (Netflix)
Death in Paradise (Netflix)
Messiah (Netflix)
Hamilton (Disney+) then the original 1776 (Amazon Prime or iTunes)
The Summer Olympics (NBC and NBC affiliated channels)
Schitt’s Creek (Netflix)
Loki (Disney+)
Great British Baking Show (Netflix)
Peaky Blinders (Seasons 1-5 on Netflix)

what we’re watching, second inning: Can’t forget baseball!

The Natural
A League of Their Own
Bull Durham
For the Love of the Game
The Rookie
The Babe

What we’re reading


Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace – Anne Lamont
Think Again – Adam Grant
Digital Minimalism – Cal Newport
Jesus and John Wayne – Kristin Kobes Du Mez
Dear Church – Lenny Duncan
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent – Isabel Wilkerson
Looking for God in Messy Places – Jake Owensby
Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time – Marcus Borg


My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry – Fredrik Backman
Anxious People – Fredrik Backman
The Testaments: A Novel – Margaret Atwood
The Book of Longings – Sue Monk Kidd
The Girl With the Stars in Her Eyes – Xio Axelrod
A Grain of Wheat – Ngugi wa Thiong’o

What we’re listening to


Masego (Youtube)
Rising Appalachia (Youtube)
Jon Batiste (Youtube)
Why Don’t We Go to Italy,  I Am a Town and Down at the Twist and Shout – Mary Chapin Carpenter (All Spotify)
Sounds of Summer (with Slightly Stoopid) – The Movement (Spotify)
Todo se transforma – Jorge Drexler
Palm Beach – Vicente Garcia
Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison


Ruthie Foster’s Let it Burn (esp. 1st track Welcome Home)
Strunz and Farrah’s Americas 

Spotify Playlists

In the Heights
Soca 2021 Latest Hits 
90s Country Music 
Jazz Guitar Classics 
Mozart Summer Classical 
Swirlyfoot’s EDM Favs 
Swirlyfoot’s Acapella Favs 
Swirlyfoot’s Fav Jazz Covers 
Swirlyfoot’s Disney Favs 
Billy Joel
Harry Chapin
Jim Croce
Cat Stevens
Sunshine Reggae
Uplifting Soul Classics


Unlocking Us with Brené Brown 
Under the Influence with Jo Piazza 
Smartless with Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett

Audio books

Game of Thrones (series) – George R.R. Martin
The Vorkosigan Saga (series) – Lois McMaster Bujold
Dating Makes Perfect – Pintip Dunn 

What we’re gaming

Animal Crossing New Horizons (Rev. Todd’s Nintendo friend code is SW-8240-3424-0441!)
Dadish, in which a dad (who’s also a radish) must defeat various obstacles and fast food villains to regather his angsty and scattered radish children. 

Celebrating Black History Month Around the Diocese

Celebrating Black History Month Around the Diocese

Young musicians from East of the River Steelband at the recent More Jesus, More Love revival service

In honor of Black History Month, a number of parishes in the Diocese of Washington will host events and services uplifting the contributions and culture of African-Americans in U.S. society and our local communities. From a play about Rosa Parks to a celebration of Gospel music to an exploration of the role race has played in the Episcopal Church,  you’re invited to participate. 

  • The D.C. Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians and St. Andrew’s, College Park  invite you to a Commemoration of the life and legacy of Absalom Jones, the first African American ordained priest in the Episcopal Church on Sunday, February 9 at 3:00 p.m. at St. Andrew’s (map) Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde, celebrant; the Rev. Absalom Jones (Dr. Anthony Alexander), preacher. Clergy are asked to vest, process, and wear festive stoles. 
  • St. Augustine’s, DC  (map) will host leaders from Virginia Theological Seminary, Empower DC, and Howard University for three discussions (February 9, 16, and 23) highlighting Black History. Come hear about Verna Dozier, the Rev. Alexander Crummel, and African-Americans and the Vote. All are welcome.  Learn more

  • St. Thomas’, Upper Marlboro (map) celebrates Black History Month with a Celebration of Gospel Music on Sunday, February 23 at 11:30 a.m. The history of Gospel Music from African Spirituals to today’s modern Gospel will be featured through dance, poetry reading and gospel choir singing. 
  • The center of many African-American family gatherings is sharing food. the Episcopal Church Women of Church of the Atonement, DC (map) invite you to join them as they share their favorite Traditional Soul Cuisine in celebration of Black History Month on Sunday, February 23 at 11:30 a.m. Wearing Afrocentric attire is strongly encouraged.
  • The D.C. Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians invites you to explore the role race has played in the Episcopal Church. The Rev. Vincent P. Harris will facilitate a conversation on Saturday, February 29 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. at St. Luke’s, DC (mapLearn more and register for this free discussion
 Is your church planning a service or event celebrating Black History month? Let us know


Go Witness Build: Dusk 2 Dawn Youth Overnight

Go Witness Build: Dusk 2 Dawn Youth Overnight

Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry dropped in at the youth overnight, one of the many events that made up the More Jesus, More Love revival weekend. The theme — Go. Witness. Build. — was inspired by the Way of Love, the Episcopal Church’s rule of life. 

Bishop Mariann listens in on one of the small group discussions. 

Hanging out between sessions. The overnight took place at the Bishop Walker School.

Selfie with the PB? Yes, please! 

Deepening friendships while deepening faith. More Jesus and more love in action. 

Reflecting on lessons learned and next steps. What are YOU called to do?