La diócesis recibe el premio de CARECEN por su Ministerio de la Esperanza

La diócesis recibe el premio de CARECEN por su Ministerio de la Esperanza

Bishop Mariann holding the Saul Solorzano Justice Award from CARECEN
Missioner Mildred Briones Reyes, CARECEN Exec. Director Abel Nuñez, Bishop Mariann
The delegation from EDOW at the awards banquet with Bishop Mariann on stage
“…Fui extranjero y me recibieron”.
Mateo 25:35

Cuando los autobuses llenos de migrantes cansados y hambrientos comenzaron a llegar al área metropolitana de Washington este verano, nuestras congregaciones, con la compasión que las caracteriza, respondieron rápidamente. Nuestra gente instaló centros de acogida en los salones parroquiales y en las naves, puso en contacto a personas y familias con los servicios sociales, proporcionó atención médica, localizó refugios y distribuyó ropa, zapatos y artículos de aseo a las personas, muchas de las cuales llegaron con muy pocos o ningún recurso. Juntos, como diócesis, alimentamos sus cuerpos y cuidamos sus almas.

El 27 de octubre, la Obispa Mariann y una delegación de líderes laicos y clero asistieron a la 41ª celebración anual de CARECEN para aceptar el Premio a la Justicia Saúl Solórzano, en nombre de la Diócesis Episcopal de Washington, otorgado en reconocimiento a esta importante labor.

Desde 1981, la misión de CARECEN ha sido fomentar el desarrollo integral de la población latina en el área de DC. El premio reconoce los logros de una organización sobresaliente que ha demostrado un trabajo distinguido y esfuerzos incansables para promover los derechos y la dignidad de los inmigrantes.

Nos sentimos profundamente honrados por este reconocimiento. Hacemos este trabajo y seguiremos haciéndolo – porque, como cristianos, Dios nos llama a acoger al extranjero. De hecho, Dios nos pide que amemos a nuestro prójimo como a nosotros mismos.

Si desea participar en este Ministerio de la Esperanza, por favor, póngase en contacto con la Rvda. Carol Coonrod y Elizabeth Terry en Santo Tomás, Dupont Circle o con el Rvdo. Vidal Rivas y Fátima Vásquez en San Mateo, Hyattsville.

The delegation from EDOW
A poster of CARECEN's 41st anniversary awards banquet
Bishop Mariann accepts the award on behalf of the diocese
Why Church Planting? Why Now? New Faith Communities in EDOW

Why Church Planting? Why Now? New Faith Communities in EDOW

The Rev. Canon Anne-Marie Jeffery welcomes particpants to Church Planting workshop
Why church planting, why now, new faith communities in the Diocese of Washington
A group studies what growing younger but diocesan neighborhoods have no Episcopal representation

“…So that we may become a spiritual home for our children and grandchildren.”
Diocesan Strategic Plan 

As people gathered by region and special interest cohort in 2019 to begin listening to where the Holy Spirit was guiding the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, one conviction rose again and again: we had to make an intentional effort to serve the needs of our youth and young adults so that we could become a spiritual home for our children and grandchildren. When the time came, the team tasked with drafting our Diocesan Strategic Plan molded that belief into a goal: to launch or relaunch three worshiping communities focused on rising generations.

In part, this goal emerged from the recognition that the average age of nearly all our congregations is significantly higher than that of their surrounding neighborhoods, Bishop Mariann shared in her address to Diocesan Convention this past January. “It is clear,” she said, “that the churches with the greatest success in growing young are those that make reaching rising generations their top priority.” In her address, the bishop issued an invitation to individuals interested in joining this effort.

Nearly every congregation in the diocese wants to be a spiritual home for rising generations and we are committed to providing resources and opportunities for that important work. The new faith communities initiative, however, asks different questions. Where in our growing population of young adults is The Episcopal Church underrepresented or not present at all? Where might God be calling us to offer something new? Whose spiritual needs are not being met?

In June, diocesan staff began working with experienced church planters from ACS Technologies–the company behind the powerful demographics tool MissionInsite–to help us discover what communities hold the greatest promise for new worshiping communities and dig into the specific context of each area under consideration.

Chuck Salter and Emily Reece–our ACS Technologies partners–prepared an extensive demographic report that identified regions with high and growing concentrations of young people. After prayerful deliberation, diocesan staff ultimately discerned four potential areas:

    1. Bowie, MD
    2. Downtown Silver Spring, MD
    3. Brookland/NoMa, DC
    4. LaPlata/Waldorf, MD

In late October, Emily and Chuck were on the ground visiting churches in these four areas exploring the possibility of partnership. The site visits were followed by a workshop on Saturday, October 29 for those who responded to Bishop Mariann’s call to be part of this work along with members of the congregations in the targeted areas and diocesan staff.

During our time together, we learned that it is likely that these new faith communities will not be the “bricks and mortar” based communities we are accustomed to, but they will need the support and input of existing nearby communities. We also learned that relationship building is essential for planting new faith communities. It is only by being in relationship with the people where we want to plant that we can know their needs and how to engage them.

At the end of the workshop, participants were invited to take their next step, from praying for this vital work to committing to being part of the initiative. I will repeat that invitation here. Please pray for us as we take our next faithful steps in growing younger as a diocese and please contact me if you’d like to take part.

Creator God, we seek to find new ways to share your message of love beyond the walls of our church buildings and ask you to send us leaders who are called to this work. Plant the gospel in their hearts and empower them with the Spirit, that they may see and hear the people they are sent to reach. Grant them joy, wisdom, and freedom in the midst of challenges; give them enough fruit for encouragement; laughter and humility to soften their hearts, refreshment for sanity; grace to support their teams; and resources to minimize their stress. In all things encourage them with your constant presence and knowledge of your love through Jesus who is our guide.

The Rev. Anne-Marie Jeffery
Canon for Congregational Vitality

Church Planting workshop participants study demographic data
A group of three intently studying MissionInsite demographics
Bishop Mariann speaks to Church Planting workshop participants
Diocese Receives Award from CARECEN for Ministry of Hope

Diocese Receives Award from CARECEN for Ministry of Hope

The delegation from EDOW
Bishop Mariann holding the Saul Solorzano Justice Award from CARECEN
Missioner Mildred Briones Reyes, CARECEN Exec. Director Abel Nuñez, Bishop Mariann

“…I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.”
Matthew 25:35

When buses filled with tired and hungry migrants began arriving in the Washington Metro area this summer, our congregations, with characteristic compassion, were quick to respond. Our people set up welcome centers in parish halls and naves, connected individuals and families to social services, provided medical care, located shelter, and distributed clothing, shoes and toiletries to people, many of whom arrived with very few resources or none at all. Together, as a diocese, we fed their bodies and cared for their souls.

On October 27th, Bishop Mariann and a delegation of lay and ordained leaders attended the 41st annual celebration of CARECEN to accept the Saúl Solórzano Justice Award on behalf of the Episocpal Diocese of Washington, given in recognition of this important work.

Since 1981, CARECEN’s mission has been to foster the comprehensive development of the Latino population in the DC area. The award recognizes the accomplishments of an outstanding organization that has demonstrated distinguished work, and tireless efforts to promote the rights and dignity for immigrants.

We are deeply honored by this recognition. We do this work–and will continue to–because as Christians, God calls on us to welcome the stranger. In fact, God requires us to love our neighbors as ourselves.

If you would like to get involved in this Ministry of Hope, please contact the Rev. Carol Coonrod and Elizabeth Terry at St. Thomas’, Dupont Circle or the Rev. Vidal Rivas and Fatima Vasquez at St. Matthew’s/San Mateo, Hyattsville.

A poster of CARECEN's 41st anniversary awards banquet
Bishop Mariann accepts the award on behalf of the diocese
The delegation from EDOW at the awards banquet with Bishop Mariann on stage
Questions of Faith

Questions of Faith

Now I see through a mirror, dimly.
I Corinthians 13:12

Do you have a question of faith that you’d like to ask a bishop?

Here is your chance. Email me your questions here. I’ll collect them, look for common themes, and address the ones that surface with greatest frequency in my writings and sermons over the next few months.

I don’t promise to have definitive answers, or that my answers, should I have them, are correct. But what I know is this: a life of faith invites us to consider the greatest mysteries and the deepest questions. Pondering those questions together is one of the blessings of Christian community. To paraphrase the poet Rilke, often we are meant to live our questions until, by grace, we are led either to the answers we seek or a greater appreciation of all that is beyond our knowing.

Members of the 20s/30s group of St Alban’s Parish in Washington, DC are my inspiration for this invitation. On a recent Sunday afternoon, they invited me to spend a few hours with them to discuss The Way of Love, the spiritual practices of a Jesus-centered life introduced to The Episcopal Church a few years ago, about which I had written a book, Receiving Jesus.

After a thoughtful conversation on the first of those practices, turning–to pause, listen, and choose to follow Jesus–we took a break. Not sure where to take the discussion next, I asked the group if they had anything that they’d like to ask me. I phrased it somewhat lightly, not wanting to put undue pressure on anyone to come up with a question.

Immediately a member of the group raised their hand and asked, “How do you know that you are loved by God?”

I took a breath, and told the truth, that even for someone whose job it is to have a relationship with God, there’s a difference between knowing something in my head and feeling it in my heart. Intellectually, I affirm and believe that God loves all human beings completely and unconditionally. But actually feeling God’s love for myself comes in fleeting moments. It sometimes happens when I am at the end of my rope or stretched beyond my capacities. It can happen when I’m sitting quietly in my prayer chair or driving in my car. I often feel God’s love through the love and acceptance of another person. But there are other times when I don’t feel God’s love, or I question it, or know for certain that I don’t deserve it. So when the experience of feeling God’s love comes round again, it’s an amazing grace every time.

Another member raised her hand. “Can you tell us of a time when it was really hard for you to forgive someone?”

Another breath. Such poignant questions.

I began by stating the obvious, that forgiveness for the deeper wounds is hard. It takes time and is often experienced more as a gift than something we accomplish on our own. In situations where there was a power differential, that is, when those who hurt us abused their power over us, it’s necessary to reset the balance first. In other words, we have to establish our power and put in place the kind of boundaries that prevent abuse from happening again. We also need to heal, a process that includes growing large enough inside so that our identity is no longer defined by the wound we’ve incurred. Forgiveness, in my experience, flows from that larger identity, not from the wound itself.

Then I told them about my relationship with my father, a man who did not know how to love well. Moreover, for many years, his life was a mess. Thus, without awareness, he did a lot of damage to those close to him. As a teenager and young adult, I had as little to do with him as possible and defined myself apart from him. But the wounds I sustained were real, and they affected other relationships in my life.

Years passed that included therapy and other avenues of healing. Then someone whom I respected asked me to consider what it would look like to have the best possible relationship with my father, while fully recognizing his limitations. It was an intriguing thought, and I realized that I was ready. So began my gradual re-entry into my father’s life. While I grieved the father he could never be, I discovered that I was able to be in a relationship with the father he was. By accepting him, my capacity to love, and to forgive, grew. In turn, I could receive his love. And I was there when he took his final breath, and could assure him that love awaited him on the other side.

Perhaps all forgiveness begins with acceptance of another person’s humanity, I suggested to the group. We agreed that boundaries are important, as is enough self-love to recognize wounds for what they are. Self-awareness is also essential, and the experience of being forgiven ourselves for the hurtful things we’ve done that we regret. And sometimes forgiveness isn’t possible for us, at least not yet.

The young adults also shared stories from their lives, and our conversation was rich, insightful, and faith-affirming. That’s what I pray will result from receiving and responding to your questions–conversations across the diocese that help us build one another up, and take the next faithful step in our journeys of faith.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Preguntas sobre la fe

Preguntas sobre la fe

Ahora vemos mediante un espejo, borrosamente.
1 Corintios 13:12

¿Tienes una pregunta de fe que te gustaría hacerle a un obispo?

Esta es tu oportunidad. Envíame tus preguntas por correo electrónico. Las recopilaré, buscaré temas comunes y abordaré las que aparezcan con mayor frecuencia en mis escritos y sermones durante los próximos meses.

No prometo tener respuestas definitivas, o que mis respuestas, si las tengo, sean correctas. Pero lo que sé es esto: una vida de fe nos invita a considerar los mayores misterios y las preguntas más profundas. Reflexionar juntos sobre esas preguntas es una de las bendiciones de la comunidad cristiana. Parafraseando al poeta Rilke, a menudo estamos destinados a vivir nuestras preguntas hasta que, por gracia, somos conducidos a las respuestas que buscamos o a una mayor apreciación de todo lo que está más allá de nuestro conocimiento.

Los miembros del grupo de los 20-30 años de la parroquia de San Albano en Washington, DC, son mi inspiración para esta invitación. En una reciente tarde de domingo, me invitaron a pasar unas horas con ellos para hablar de El Camino del Amor, las prácticas espirituales de una vida centrada en Jesús introducidas en la Iglesia Episcopal hace unos años, sobre las que había escrito un libro, Recibiendo a Jesús.

Después de una conversación reflexiva sobre la primera de esas prácticas, la de cambiar, la de detenerse, escuchar y decidir seguir a Jesús, hicimos una pausa. Sin estar segura de hacia dónde dirigir la discusión, pregunté al grupo si tenían algo que quisieran preguntarme. Lo expresé con cierta ligereza, sin querer presionar a nadie para que formulara una pregunta. Inmediatamente, un miembro del grupo levantó la mano y preguntó: “¿Cómo sabes que eres amada por Dios?”.

Tomé un respiro y dije la verdad, que incluso para alguien cuyo trabajo es tener una relación con Dios, hay una diferencia entre saber algo en mi cabeza y sentirlo en mi corazón. Intelectualmente, afirmo y creo que Dios ama a todos los seres humanos completa e incondicionalmente. Pero sentir realmente el amor de Dios por mí misma llega en momentos fugaces. A veces ocurre cuando estoy al límite de mis fuerzas o cuando me siento más allá de mis capacidades. Puede ocurrir cuando estoy sentada tranquilamente en mi sillón de oración o conduciendo mi coche. A menudo siento el amor de Dios a través del amor y la aceptación de otra persona. Pero hay otras veces en las que no siento el amor de Dios, o lo cuestiono, o sé con certeza que no lo merezco. Así que cuando la experiencia de sentir el amor de Dios vuelve a aparecer, es una gracia increíble cada vez.

Otro miembro levantó la mano. “¿Puedes contarnos alguna vez en la que te haya resultado realmente difícil perdonar a alguien?”

Otra respiración. ¡Qué preguntas tan conmovedoras!

Comencé diciendo lo obvio, que el perdón de las heridas más profundas es difícil. Lleva tiempo y a menudo se experimenta más como un regalo que como algo que logramos por nosotros mismos. En situaciones en las que hubo una diferencia de poder, es decir, cuando quienes nos hirieron abusaron de su poder sobre nosotros, es necesario restablecer primero el equilibrio. En otras palabras, tenemos que establecer nuestro poder y poner el tipo de límites que impidan que el abuso se repita. También necesitamos sanar, un proceso que incluye crecer lo suficiente por dentro para que nuestra identidad ya no esté definida por la herida que hemos sufrido. El perdón, según mi experiencia, surge de esa identidad más amplia, no de la propia herida.

Entonces les hablé de mi relación con mi padre, un hombre que no sabía amar bien. Además, durante muchos años, su vida fue un desastre. Así, sin ser consciente, hizo mucho daño a sus allegados. De adolescente y de joven, me relacioné lo menos posible con él y me crecí en mi identidad alejándome de él. Pero las heridas que sufrí fueron reales y afectaron otras relaciones de mi vida.

Pasaron años que incluyeron terapia y otras vías de sanación. Entonces, alguien a quien respetaba me pidió que considerara cómo sería tener la mejor relación posible con mi padre, reconociendo plenamente sus limitaciones. Era un pensamiento intrigante, y me di cuenta de que estaba preparada. Así comenzó mi reincorporación gradual a la vida de mi padre. Mientras lloraba por el padre que nunca pudo ser, descubrí que podía tener una relación con el padre que él era. Al aceptarlo, mi capacidad de amar y de perdonar creció. A su vez, pude recibir su amor. Y estuve allí cuando dio su último suspiro, y pude asegurarle que el amor le esperaba al otro lado.

Quizás todo perdón comienza con la aceptación de la humanidad de otra persona, sugerí al grupo. Estuvimos de acuerdo en que los límites son importantes, así como el amor propio suficiente para reconocer las heridas por lo que son. El autoconocimiento también es esencial, así como la experiencia de ser perdonados por las cosas hirientes que hemos hecho y de las que nos arrepentimos. Y a veces el perdón no es posible para nosotros, al menos no todavía.

Los jóvenes adultos también compartieron historias de sus vidas, y nuestra conversación fue rica, perspicaz y de afirmación de la fe. Eso es lo que ruego que resulte de recibir y responder a sus preguntas: conversaciones en toda la diócesis que nos ayuden a edificarnos unos a otros y a dar el siguiente paso fiel en nuestro camino de fe.

Quedo a la espera de escucharlos.

Faith Formation and Development Report

Faith Formation and Development Report

Young clergy gathered at EDOW's 2022 fall clergy conferenceI have served as the diocesan Missioner for Faith Formation and Development for almost 9 months, during which I have learned about the joys, challenges, and realities of formation ministry in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington as we seek to support rising generations.

Here’s what has my attention:

Formation Ministry at the Parish – Our diocese is blessed with formation leaders who serve rising generations within their congregations. These parish leaders come together quarterly to connect, share ideas, and encourage one another in the faith. Recent gatherings include an Advent and Christmas formation planning meeting and an upcoming overnight retreat at the Claggett Center.

Episcopal Schools – Episcopal Schools provide meaningful formation for rising generations. Many Episcopal Schools in the diocese have chaplains that support the spiritual formation of their students. One of my goals is to strengthen the relationship between chaplains and the diocese through attending and helping with chapel services, offering open office hours for chaplains and being a resource to support their ministry.

Campus Ministry – The diocese is no longer engaged in the traditional chaplaincy model at our colleges and universities. We are working to reimagine what meaningful, vibrant and consistent ministry could look like through the possibility of partnering with congregations near campuses. If you would like to be a part of this conversation, please contact me.

Young Adults & Young Clergy – As we emerge from the pandemic, young adults are eager to form connections. Some congregations have seen an uptick in young adult participation. To support parishes with young adults, I have connected with their young adult leadership and offered a young adult retreat on discernment. Similarly, our younger clergy in the diocese are eager for community, too. In order to build relationships and strengthen their ministries young clergy met on Zoom in the spring and gathered together in person at Clergy Conference this week.

Growing Young Cohort – As part of our commitment to rising generations, the diocese has partnered with the Fuller Youth Institute to launch a ten-month journey dedicated to Growing Young. Eight congregations kick-off this important work with a two-day Summit the last weekend of October. The cohort will research, discern, and do the important work it takes to ensure their parishes are places of welcome for rising generations.

Supporting these life-giving ministries fills me with joy! I know that the Holy Spirit is moving in us and among us and I am grateful to be a part of it. Moving from parish to diocesan ministry has been an exciting learning curve. I look forward to strengthening and deepening our collective faith formation and development.

To learn more about diocesan efforts to support rising generations, contact me by email. To stay up-to-date on formation offerings in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, sign up to receive Faith Formation News, an online publication delivered to your inbox the second Tuesday of each month.

The Rev. Amanda Akes-Cardwell
Missioner for Faith Formation and Development