The 80th General Convention Virtual Binder

The 80th General Convention Virtual Binder

The 80th General Convention of The Episcopal Church will convene in Baltimore this summer to consider a wide range of important matters facing the Church. The General Convention deputation from the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, led by the Rev. Glenna Huber, will attend in order to listen to debate, track and advocate for or against the various resolutions, bringing our collective voice to the process of tending the soil of the wider Church, considering issues ranging from prayer book revision, advocating for social justice, considering budgetary issues, the future of the Church’s mission, just to name a few topics on which we will deliberate. The work we will do in this process will have a broad impact on The Episcopal Church, and every person has an opportunity to make their voices known, even if they aren’t on our Deputation to General Convention.

Though the General Convention (GENCON) is scheduled to begin July 5, much of the preliminary work is already underway. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the various legislative committees of the General Convention are meeting now to deliberate on various amendments that Deputies, Dioceses, Bishops, and Interim Bodies have submitted to it for consideration. Your diocesan deputation invites you to follow along with resolutions as they are submitted on the publicly accessible Virtual Binder.

The Virtual Binder contains both the texts of each proposed resolution that has been assigned to a Legislative Committee and the explanation submitted by the proposer(s) on the resolution. Resolutions are lettered by the individual or organization submitting them. “A” resolutions are submitted by the Interim Bodies of the Church such as the standing committees ordered by the Church’s canons or by temporary task forces established by General Convention. “B” resolutions are submitted by Bishops. “C” resolutions are submitted by Dioceses, such as ours, which has sent several resolutions for the consideration of the next GENCON. Finally, “D” resolutions are submitted by individual deputies, with 2 additional deputy endorsements.

Currently, the only resolutions that are in the Virtual Binder are those assigned to committees. Resolutions will continue to be added to the Virtual Binder in the coming months as they are submitted and referred to the appropriate committee. Those interested should periodically check the Virtual Binder to see what new resolutions have been filed.

If you have a particular interest in certain resolutions, you may wish to follow the calendar of Legislative Committee Hearings that are listed in the Virtual Binder. The Virtual Binder lists when the committees will meet and what resolutions will be considered at these meetings. Any person–not just a Deputy, Alternate, or Bishop–may participate in these hearings as either an observer or, when the hearing is marked as an “open hearing”, to testify and give remarks on the resolution(s). Please note that you must sign up no less than 2 days prior to the legislative committee meeting to get the link to observe or participate in the hearing. You can submit a request to observe/speak at a hearing through this form.

Given the virtual nature of most of our committee meetings, there is unprecedented opportunity for members of the Church to have a greater say and/or observe the legislative committee process. Your deputation encourages anyone with a strong interest in one or more resolutions to keep tabs on the Virtual Binder as we continue to move closer to the General Convention.

If you have any questions about finding resolutions, or any questions about the General Convention, please do not hesitate to contact our Deputation’s Chair, the Rev. Glenna Huber.

Please keep EDOW’s deputation in your prayers as we tend to the soil of the Church at the upcoming General Convention in Baltimore.

The 80th General Convention of The Episcopal Church is scheduled to take place this summer in Baltimore, Maryland from July 5 – 14.

Safe Church, Safe Communities Has Launched!

Safe Church, Safe Communities Has Launched!

Kids at Camp EDOW form a circle

Kids at camp working together to form a circle of connection

In our Baptismal covenant, we promise to seek and serve Christ in all persons and respect the dignity of every human being. Safeguarding God’s Children, Safeguarding God’s People and Safeguarding Online were used for nearly two decades to train staff and volunteers how to create safe spaces and programs while recognizing signs of inappropriate behavior and abuse and responding appropriately. Following the 2017 General Convention, the Task Force to Develop Model Sexual Harrassment Policies and Safe Church Training worked diligently to lead a modernization of content and course offerings reflective of our needs today.

The updated resources are part of The Episcopal Church’s Safe Church, Safe Communities online learning program offered through Praesidium Academy. This platform is easy to use and designed so that each parish oversees usage. A Manager is designated by parish leadership to add Learners (parish staff and volunteers) and monitor completion of required training. Another benefit is that Learners may take courses when it is convenient without leaving home. For now, all training is done online.

If your parish hasn’t identified someone to be a Manager, please do so. Kathleen Hall will work with her/him/they to get started. The Rev. Amanda Akes-Cardwell, Missioner for Faith Formation and Development, assumes leadership of Diocesan Safe Church training and resources for those working with children and youth this summer. Kathleen will work with those serving adults.

Parishes, Dioceses and The Episcopal Church are working together to keep this Baptismal promise. Bronwyn Skov, recently hired Safe Church Manager, will lead Safe Church, Safe Communities efforts nationally as a member of the Presiding Bishop’s staff. An important next step is the release of new train-the-trainer materials and accompanying training. We anticipate this will happen in 2022 and will keep you posted on progress towards the resumption of in-person training. Check the Safe Church page on the EDOW website for updates.

Have questions? Contact Kathleen Hall, Director of Human Resources and Administration

The Power of Prayer (Stations)

The Power of Prayer (Stations)

What’s that one smell that always brings a memory flooding back to your mind? For me, the smell of warm velour triggers the smell of my grandmother’s 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera on a warm day. My sister and I spent many Saturday afternoons riding to minor league baseball games in that car, often accompanied by a Snickers ice cream bar. Though my grandmother passed nearly 20 years ago, this memory lives on in me, so much so that we served Snickers ice cream bars at my ordination reception!

Why am I writing about this very specific memory? Well, because our senses play a huge role in how we worship. Worship is an inherently incarnational experience. We show up in our physical bodies to participate in a physical gathering (when it’s safe to do so), yet in many ways, worship can also sometimes feel simply observational. Our bodies are there, but are we connecting with the Spirit through our senses? Through different modes of learning? Using different materials?

One way to foster a connection with the Spirit through our senses is by incorporating prayer stations into the worship experience.

Prayer stations are five-minute prayer activities designed to help the worshiper engage differently. Prayer stations invite you to touch, taste, feel, smell, and reflect using your whole self. Instead of sitting in a pew, you might be walking around a labyrinth. Instead of kneeling for a prayer, you might be filling a jar with sand as you pray for people suffering the effects of climate change. Instead of hearing the scripture read, you might be making a collage of what you hear the scripture inviting you to do. Each station draws you nearer to God in new and embodied ways.

Here you can find a folder full of prayer stations that correspond to the five practices along the Diocese of Washington’s Path of Discipleship: pray, learn, serve, give, share.

The beauty of prayer stations is their versatility. They can be configured for an intergenerational worship or you can create a small kit to give homebound members so they can set up their own station at home. However you choose to use prayer stations, we pray they might draw you nearer to God.

The Rev. Emily Snowden
Project Coordinator for the School for Christian Faith and Leadership & Tending Our Soil Thriving Congregations Initiative

Three Parish Partnership Settles Afghan Refugee Family

Three Parish Partnership Settles Afghan Refugee Family

Volunteers help furnish an apartment for an Afghan refugee family

Some of the volunteers from All Souls, DC, St. John’s, Lafayette Square and St. Mary’s, Arlington, helping to furnish an apartment for an Afghan refugee family

After a month of preparation and hard work, a cross-city and cross diocese partnership welcomed an Afghan refugee family on February 16th. All Souls and St. John’s Lafayette Square from the Diocese of Washington and St. Mary’s in Arlington from the Diocese of Virginia joined together to settle an Afghan father and mother and their three small children into a three-bedroom apartment the churches have rented and furnished for the family.

While the parishes all have past experience supporting refugees, leadership in each parish liked the idea of a partnership approach, given the amount of ongoing support the family will require–from language, education, and self-development resources to health and human services, to legal, financial, and other assistance–to be successful.

Embry Howell, who leads the work at All Souls and sought out partners, said “All Souls had successfully partnered with two DC parishes in 2016 to support an Afghan family, so we wanted to replicate that success. We were delighted to find such amazing and willing partners in St. John’s and St. Mary’s.”

Dana Martin, Senior Warden at St. Mary’s agreed, saying, “We liked the idea of adding this to the other ministries in our parish. It’s remarkable how well the partnership is working. Back in my corporate days I’d call it synergy. Now I think it’s better to call it the Holy Spirit.”

Gay and Bob Pasley, longtime stalwarts at St. John’s whose college friendship with Embry led to the parishes’ connection agreed. “We’re so happy to share all we’ve learned over the years. Each parish brings a lot to the table.” Jessica Sanchez of the same parish added, “St. John’s had a whole storage locker stuffed with items we were able to use to furnish the apartment.”

Patty Hammond of St. Mary’s shared that it’s been fun to see how every member of the “Tri Parish Refugee Support Circle” as it’s called, has brought their own skills to the table, hers being her former life as a teacher and her connection to Episcopal Migration Ministries.

Interim Rector at All Souls Parish, the Rev. Dr. Julianne Buenting, stated her support for the project this way: “I’m just as thrilled about how this encourages our own spiritual transformation at All Souls as I am about our following the biblical imperative to welcome the stranger. The Holy Family was once a refugee family. We need to remember that.”

Messy Truths

Messy Truths

On February 19th, 2012, ten years ago, almost to the day, I stepped into the pulpit of Calvary Episcopal Church in Washington, DC as its rector for the first time.

The moment was fraught with the tensions and troubles of race. Calvary is one among the District’s few remaining historically Black congregations. Throughout their hundred year plus history, they’d always had a Black rector, a history they were justifiably proud of. I was their first white pastor, and only the second white clergyperson to serve there in any capacity.

Calvary is a congregation with deep roots in its neighborhood, a neighborhood that struggled to rebuild in the wake of the riots following Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968, and the governmental under-resourcing that followed. In 2012, the H Street Corridor was just beginning to see an infusion of new capital that would transform it completely. Much of that money has gone toward accommodating newly arrived white residents and white-owned businesses, fueling a demographic shift that has moved the neighborhood from majority Black in 2021, to what is either now, or very soon to be, majority white.

Exactly one week later, on February 26, 2012, George Zimmerman would lynch Trayvon Martin. Outrage over that crime would galvanize a new push in this nation’s four hundred year long struggle for Black liberation.

That was the subtext of our first Sunday together, but while the contrasts and contradictions were particularly vivid in that moment, the reality is that the history and ongoing legacy of white supremacy impacts every last relationship in this nation, especially (but not only) those that take place across lines of race.

We aren’t always good at acknowledging that reality. But we must face its truth, as Jesus taught: “Know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

Calvary has tried to tell that truth. Sometimes in uncomfortable conversations. Always in our shared labor to make a change.

Following Michael Brown’s murder in 2014, Calvary convened a discussion between police and community leaders about Police-Communuty relations. The Rev. Gayle Fisher-Stewart, our associate pastor at the time, launched The Center for the Study of Faith and Justice at Calvary to continue these conversations.

We formed a partnership with the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) to push for reform. We hosted Kojo Nmandi, The Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas and the community historian Dr. Jocelyn Imani to offer educational and evocational opportunities for racial justice discipleship formation. We partnered with the Washington Interfaith Network (WIN) to push for affordable housing, and with Sanctuary DMV and ICE Out of DC to push for immigrant safety and rights in the city. Our leaders helped launch “Survive And Thrive,” an initiative of the Union of Black Episcopalians to cooperatively strengthen and revitalize the historically and predominantly Black congregations of the Diocese. A racial justice reading group we convened grew and transformed into The Reparations Task Force of the Diocese, which is now working to help the Diocese toward reckoning with and making restitution on the benefit it has derived from white supremacy. We’ve marched and written letters. Throughout it all, we’ve continued our ministries of feeding, mentoring and support to the neighborhood we love.

None of these efforts is new. They are of one cloth with Calvary’s rich century-old tapestry of witness: against white supremacy, and for the Gospel.

And all of that history is complicated, troubling and messy. White supremacy hasn’t left any of us with clean pictures. We get things wrong. We get complacent. We show our rough and growing edges.

Speaking personally, I continue to stumble over the tracks of white supremacy in my own thinking. And still, the threads of God’s liberating grace are visible throughout my journey.

These are the messy truths each of our congregations must learn to tell. Not so that we can understand the story of white supremacy, but so that we can find a way forward to free ourselves from it. As the man said: “Know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

The Rev. Peter Jarrett-Schell, rector, Calvary Episcopal Church and author of Seeing My Skin: A Story of Wrestling with Whiteness

Creation of Task Force of Black Ministries by EDOW 127th Convention

Creation of Task Force of Black Ministries by EDOW 127th Convention

On January 29 the Convention of the Diocese of Washington approved a resolution establishing a Task Force on Black Ministries. Task force members will be appointed by the Diocesan Council from congregations that are historically Black or have a predominately Black membership and will also include a representative from the Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE).

The Task Force on Black Ministries is charged with the priorities of looking at past injustices and recommending strategies and the resources needed to make Black parishes viable in the diocese. The sponsors of this resolution thought it was critical to enhance the vitality of Black parishes. According to an article in the Philadelphia Tribune, 75 percent of Black priests come from Black parishes. Black parish vitality is critical to ensure the representation of Black clergy in the diocese. The Task Force on Black Ministries will examine practices and models in evangelism, worship, and mission that would be more conducive to Black parish revitalization from the Black church perspective.

​This task force will open opportunities for Black parishes throughout the diocese to collaborate and strategize together about how best to live out mission and ministry in the 21st century of the Jesus Movement. The task force will report its recommendations to the Diocese of Washington in September of 2022.

Task Force on Black Ministries Application (submission deadline is 5:00 p.m., Friday, February 25.)

The Rev. Antonio Baxter
Deacon, Church of the Atonement, DC