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).
In the Spotlight of Your Attention

In the Spotlight of Your Attention

May I speak to you in the name of God, Creator, Liberator, and Spirit. Amen. Please be seated.

How many people do you think fit in this main section of the Cathedral? 500? 600? Think again, it’s more like 8 or 900. Add the transepts and we’re at well over 1,000 people. That’s a lot of people. Now imagine all of those people are teenagers. Imagine what 1,000+ teens sound like – voices raised in song or laughter. Imagine the energy vibrating around you. We’re going to experience that this summer when the Episcopal Youth Event, or as it’s more commonly called, EYE comes to the Diocese of Washington! EYE is a gathering of over 1,000 high school aged Episcopalians that happens every three years. The event location rotates. This summer, the event will take place here at the University of Maryland in College Park.

Over the past nine months, I’ve been part of the EYE planning team. We have met regularly, both in-person and online, to prepare for those 1,000+ teens. At the conclusion of each of our in-person meetings, we worship together and share Holy Communion.

At our last meeting, the priest leading the worship service did something a little different. When it came time for Communion, rather than recite one of the Euchairstic prayers from the Book of Common Prayer, she did something a little more freeform and participatory. She reminded us that when he shared the Last Supper with his friends, Jesus asked them to remember him whenever they ate or drank together. Then, during the Communion prayer, the priest asked us what it was that we remembered and loved about Jesus.

There was silence for a little bit, but slowly and steadily, folks shared. “He cared about outcasts,” someone called out. “He was merciful,” another person said. “He listened,” another shared. He healed the sick. He forgave. At that point, the floodgates opened and people freely shared their remembrances of Jesus. “He showed us how to live. He taught us about God. He cried at the grave of his friend. People were devoted to him. He loved deeply.

That’s just some of what was shared in that circle. It was one of the most powerful Eucharistic experiences I’ve ever had because it recalled who Jesus was, and is, in a palpable way that made him feel somehow more present with us in that moment. So in the spirit of remembering Jesus and feeling his presence, as you take this next step in your faith journey today, I want to ask you, what do you remember about Jesus? What is something that you hold dear about him?

Perhaps another way to ask this question is, what is one of your favorite stories about Jesus? One of my favorite Jesus stories is the Gospel text we just heard proclaimed about Jesus and his encounter with a Canaanite woman. It’s one of my favorites because it depicts Jesus changing his mind. Just like us, he learns and grows and changes in his understanding of God’s call.

The text presents us with an image of Jesus traveling the countryside, as he so often did. Then suddenly, a Canaanite woman interrupts his progress and begs him to cast a demon out of her daughter. The fact that this woman is from Canaan alerts us that she is a Gentile. A Gentile woman asking something of a Jewish male teacher would have been uncommon in Jesus’ society. And Jesus’ response is less than charitable. He ignores her. He stays silent to her cries. The disciples want her gone and Jesus obliges. He dismisses the Canaanite woman and insults her, calling her a dog. Now when you hear “dog” in this context, don’t think of our modern dogs like bichons or labradoodles named Fluffy. In Jesus’ context, dogs weren’t house pets. They were dirty, street scavengers, hunting for scraps. For Jesus to dismiss this woman and call her a dog, well, it doesn’t seem very Jesus-like.

However, we ought not be surprised at ethnic tension in a text from early Christianity. We also should not be surprised to see problematic gender dynamics emerging from an ancient patriarchal culture. Yet, even given these tensions, Jesus’ response feels askew. He essentially refuses to heal this woman’s daughter because she is not Jewish. Some biblical scholars argue this is because at this point in the gospel, Jesus understood his mission as a ministry only to the Jews to the exclusion of non-Jewish people, hence Jesus’ insulting behavior.
The woman however turns Jesus’ insult into a teaching moment for him. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” This logic resonated with Jesus. “Great is your faith,” Jesus tells her and he heals her daughter.

This encounter in the gospel is a turning point for Jesus. Before meeting the Canaanite woman, it is fair to say that Jesus understood his ministry to be limited to his fellow Jews. After this encounter, Jesus’ understanding of God’s mission expanded to include all people. In Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman, we see him move from insulting to embracing, from refusing to consenting, and from withholding to healing.

This episode reveals that even our Lord could learn, change and grow. That is something that I love and remember about him. The God who ordered the cosmos was also capable of change. I love that. It gives me great hope because it allows me permission to also change and grow in my understanding of God, in fact it even encourages it. I love that about Jesus.

What do you love about Jesus? What stories do you treasure and why? What do you remember about him? At the Last Supper Jesus asked his followers to remember him. We do that in a very ritualistic way every time we come together for Communion. And it is important to do so. Because the act of remembering is more than just recalling a fact or distant memory. In Hebrew the word “remember” means to bring to mind, or (and I love this phrase) to hold in the spotlight of your attention. To remember means to hold in the spotlight of your attention.

Jesus didn’t ask his followers to remember him simply out of some sense of nostalgia. He didn’t ask them, or us, to remember him for funsies. He asks us to remember him, so that in remembering – in holding him in the spotlight of our attention – we find strength in and through him to live our lives in a similar way to how he lived his. Those things which we remember about Jesus – his love, compassion, his ability to grow, to show mercy and promote healing, to proclaim the Good News – these are all things that WE strive to live out today in our lives as his followers. It is the work that God calls us to. It is the work that you are signing onto and committing to anew today. And it is work that Jesus will equip you and empower you to do.

In just a few minutes, you will come up here. You will stand before your bishops, your family and friends, and before God, you will claim and affirm your faith. When you do that, I invite you to do it, holding Jesus in the spotlight of your attention. Those things that you remember about him – those things that you love – may he instill them in you, and grow them in you, so that you may be more like him. Growing into the fullness of his grace this day and always. Amen.

The Rev. Amanda A. Akes-Cardwell, Missioner for Faith Formation of Development

Sermon delivered at the Diocesan Service of Confirmation at Washington National Cathedral on Saturday, May 20, 2023.
Watch a recording of the service (sermon begins at 30:05 in the video)

En el Centro de su atención

En el Centro de su atención

Les hablo en nombre de Dios, Creador, Libertador y Espíritu. Amén. Por favor, tomen asiento.

¿Cuántas personas crees que caben en esta sección principal de la Catedral? 500? 600? Piense de nuevo, son más bien 8 o 900. Si añadimos los transeptos, superamos las 1,000 personas. Eso es mucha gente. Ahora imagina que todas esas personas son adolescentes. Imagina cómo suenan más de 1,000 adolescentes: voces que se alzan cantando o riendo. Imagina la energía que vibra a tu alrededor. Vamos a experimentar eso este verano cuando el Evento de la Juventud Episcopal, o como se le llama más comúnmente, EYE llegue a la Diócesis de Washington. EYE es una reunión de más de 1,000 episcopales jóvenes de secundaria que se celebra cada tres años. El lugar del evento va rotando. Este verano, el evento tendrá lugar aquí en la Universidad de Maryland en College Park.

Durante los últimos nueve meses, he formado parte del equipo de planificación de EYE. Nos hemos reunido regularmente, tanto en persona como en línea, para preparar a esos más de 1,000 adolescentes. Al final de cada una de nuestras reuniones presenciales, celebramos juntos el rito litúrgico y compartimos la Sagrada Comunión.

En nuestra última reunión, el sacerdote que dirigía la liturgia hizo algo un poco diferente. Cuando llegó el momento de la Comunión, en lugar de recitar una de las oraciones eucarísticas del Libro de Oración Común, hizo algo un poco más libre y participativo. Nos recordó que, cuando compartió la Última Cena con sus amigos, Jesús les pidió que se acordaran de él siempre que comieran o bebieran juntos. Luego, durante la oración de la Comunión, el sacerdote nos preguntó qué era lo que recordábamos y amábamos de Jesús.

Hubo silencio durante un rato, pero poco a poco la gente fue compartiendo. “Se preocupaba por los marginados”, dijo alguien. “Era misericordioso”, dijo otra persona. “Escuchaba”, dijo otro. Sanaba a los enfermos. Perdonaba”. En ese momento, se abrieron los portones y la gente compartió libremente sus recuerdos de Jesús. “Nos enseñó a vivir. Nos enseñó sobre Dios. Lloró ante la tumba de su amigo. La gente le tenía devoción. Amaba profundamente.

Eso es sólo parte de lo que se compartió en ese círculo. Fue una de las experiencias eucarísticas más poderosas que he tenido, porque recordaba quién era Jesús, y quién es, de una manera palpable que le hizo sentirse de alguna manera más presente con nosotros en ese momento. Así que, con el espíritu de recordar a Jesús y sentir su presencia, al dar hoy el siguiente paso en tu camino de fe, quiero preguntarte: ¿qué recuerdas de Jesús? ¿Qué es lo que más aprecias de él?

Quizá otra forma de hacer esta pregunta sea, ¿cuál es una de tus historias favoritas sobre Jesús? Una de mis historias favoritas de Jesús es el texto del Evangelio que acabamos de oír proclamar sobre Jesús y su encuentro con una mujer Cananea. Es una de mis favoritas porque muestra a Jesús cambiando de opinión. Al igual que nosotros, aprende, crece y cambia en su comprensión de la llamada de Dios.

El texto nos presenta la imagen de Jesús viajando por el campo, como hacía a menudo. De repente, una mujer Cananea interrumpe su camino y le ruega que expulse a un demonio de su hija. El hecho de que esta mujer sea de Canaán nos alerta de que se trata de una gentil. Que una mujer gentil le pidiera algo a un maestro judío no era habitual en la sociedad de Jesús. Y la respuesta de Jesús es poco no compasiva. La ignora. Guarda silencio ante sus gritos. Los discípulos quieren que se vaya, y Jesús accede. Desprecia a la mujer Cananea y la insulta, llamándola perro. Ahora bien, cuando oigas “perro” en este contexto, no pienses en nuestros perros modernos como los bichones o los labradoodles llamados Fluffy. En el contexto de Jesús, los perros no eran animales domésticos. Eran sucios, carroñeros callejeros, a la caza de sobras. Que Jesús despreciara a esta mujer y la llamara perro no parece muy propio de Jesús.

Sin embargo, no debería sorprendernos la tensión étnica en un texto del cristianismo primitivo. Tampoco debería sorprendernos la problemática dinámica de género que emerge de una antigua cultura patriarcal. Sin embargo, incluso teniendo en cuenta estas tensiones, la respuesta de Jesús parece torcida. Básicamente, se niega a sanar a la hija de esta mujer porque no es judía. Algunos biblistas analizan que esto se debe a que, en este punto del Evangelio, Jesús entendía su misión como un ministerio sólo para los judíos, excluyendo a los no judíos, de ahí el comportamiento insultante de Jesús.

La mujer, sin embargo, convierte el insulto de Jesús en un momento de enseñanza para él. “Hasta los perros comen las migajas que caen de la mesa de sus amos”. Esta lógica resuena en Jesús. “Grande es tu fe”, le dice Jesús y sana a su hija.

Este encuentro en el Evangelio es un punto de inflexión para Jesús. Antes de encontrarse con la mujer cananea, es justo decir que Jesús entendía que su ministerio se limitaba a sus compatriotas judíos. Después de este encuentro, la comprensión de Jesús de la misión de Dios se amplió para incluir a todas las personas. En el encuentro de Jesús con la mujer cananea, vemos cómo pasa de insultar a abrazar, de rechazar a consentir y de negar a curar.

Este episodio revela que incluso nuestro Señor podía aprender, cambiar y crecer. Eso es algo que me encanta y que recuerdo de él. El Dios que ordenó el cosmos también era capaz de cambiar. Eso me encanta. Me da mucha esperanza porque me da permiso para cambiar y crecer también en mi comprensión de Dios, de hecho, incluso lo alienta. Me encanta eso de Jesús.

¿Qué te gusta de Jesús? ¿Qué historias atesoras y por qué? ¿Qué recuerdas de él? En la Última Cena, Jesús pidió a sus seguidores que le recordaran. Nosotros lo hacemos de una manera muy ritual cada vez que nos reunimos para la Comunión. Y es importante hacerlo. Porque el acto de recordar es algo más que evocar un hecho o un recuerdo lejano. En hebreo la palabra “recordar” significa traer a la mente, o (y me encanta esta frase) mantener en el centro de tu atención. Recordar significa mantener el centro de tu atención.

Jesús no pidió a sus seguidores que le recordaran simplemente por un sentimiento de nostalgia. No les pidió, ni a ellos ni a nosotros, que le recordáramos por diversión. Nos pide que lo recordemos, para que al recordarlo–al mantenerlo en el centro de nuestra atención–encontremos fuerza en él y a través de él para vivir nuestras vidas de forma similar a como él vivió la suya. Las cosas que recordamos de Jesús–su amor, su compasión, su capacidad de crecer, de mostrar misericordia y promover la sanación, de proclamar la Buena Nueva–son todas ellas cosas que NOSOTROS nos esforzamos por vivir hoy en nuestras vidas como seguidores suyos. Es el trabajo al que Dios nos llama. Es el trabajo que estás firmando y comprometiéndote de nuevo hoy. Y es el trabajo para el que Jesús te equipará y te dará poder.

Dentro de unos minutos, subirás aquí. Estarán ante sus obispos, su familia y amigos, y ante Dios, reclamarán y afirmarán su fe. Cuando lo hagan los invito a hacerlo manteniendo a Jesús en el centro de su atención. Aquellas cosas que recuerdas de él, esas cosas que amas, que él las inculque en ti, y las haga crecer en ti, para que puedas ser más como él. Creciendo en la plenitud de su gracia hoy y siempre. Amén.

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!