Tending Our Soil: New Coaches for 2022

Tending Our Soil: New Coaches for 2022

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10: 24-25

Coaching is a proven technique to effect fruitful and lasting systemic change. The verses above from Hebrews ground our commitment to incorporating trained coaches who support and encourage the work of leadership teams from each participating congregation in the Tending Our Soil Thriving Congregations initiative. Coaching conversations provide space for each team to identify learnings, expand possibilities, name action items, experiment, gain support, and build accountability.

We are pleased to announce that Benjamin Bynum, Carolyn Carr-Ragland, the Rev. Sheila McJilton, The Rev. Dr. Anna Olson, and the Rev. Sara Thorne have accepted the invitation to serve as coaches for the Tending Our Soil initiative. We invite you to pray for them and read more about them below.

If you have questions about Tending Our Soil, contact the Rev. Jenifer Gamber, Director of the initiative.

Benjamin Bynum headshot


Benjamin (he/him/his) is a leadership coach and organizational development consultant. Based in Washington, DC, Benjamin has worked in Africa and Asia with USAID, the State Department, various US agencies, the UN, international schools, and multiple non-profit organizations.

In The Episcopal Church and Anglican Church in Southern Africa, Benjamin has served as an HIV/AIDS fieldworker and educator, an executive director of a literacy-focused non-profit on the diocesan staff, a youth minister, a deputy to General Convention, and a summer camp director and counselor.

Benjamin holds a MA in Leadership and Organizational Development, and a BA in Psychology, Education, and Religion, and a leadership coaching certification. He enjoys paddleboarding, beekeeping, hiking, baseball, reading, and going on adventures.


Carolyn Ragland is a graduate of the Leadership Coaching Program at Georgetown University and is accredited at the PCC level. Coaching is a second career for her after working for many years at international development organizations in Washington, DC. Carolyn is a longtime member of St. James’s Episcopal Church in Potomac, MD. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a dual Masters in Business Administration and Public Policy.

Carolyn is an active member of the Robert Carr Fund (robertcarrfund.org) devoted to funding civil society initiatives around the world. She is a proud mother, daughter, friend, and an Episcopalian who loves traveling, reading, yoga, and poetry.

Carolyn Carr-Ragland
The Rev. Dr. Sheila McJilton


Sheila McJilton recently “retired” after serving as rector of St. Philip’s in Laurel for over 14 years. Throughout her ministry, she has led vestry retreats and Mutual Ministry Reviews, and mentored at least ten seminarians and interns. In 2021, she completed the Fundamentals course on professional Coaching with the Co-Active Training Institute, affiliated with the International Coaching Federation.

Currently, she is on an EDOW team, guided by the Rev. Canon Robert Phillips, to help congregations in search transitions. In June, she also completed the professional coach training with the Holmes Coaching Group, which equips her to partner with Tending Our Soil parishes in the diocese. Sheila intends to continue coach training, so that she can coach both groups and individuals in the church and business world. She hopes to help people live more fully into their God-given potential.

Sheila is pictured near St. Columba’s Bay in Scotland, as a pilgrim on a challenging hike: a fitting exercise for any person of faith!


Anna Olson is a graduate of Union Theological Seminary and Stanford University. She serves as pastor to Misión Buen Pastor (formerly Misa Magdalena) and interim Rector of Good Shepherd Parish, in Silver Spring.

Ordained in 2000, Anna has served four bilingual, urban congregations prior to Buen Pastor and Good Shepherd, all in the Diocese of Los Angeles: St. Mary’s, Koreatown; St. Luke’s, Long Beach; Trinity, East Hollywood; and Holy Faith, Inglewood. She has also worked in international human rights, interfaith economic justice advocacy, and union organizing.

She is the author of Claiming Resurrection in the Dying Church: Freedom Beyond Survival (Westminster John Knox, 2016). She lives in Wheaton, MD, with two other humans, three cats, and a big dog.

The Rev. Dr. Anna Olson
The Rev. Sara Thorne


Ordained in November 2020 following the Deacon School formation process in the Diocese of Washington, Sara Thorne serves as a deacon at Christ Church Kensington with a call to bring the world’s needs to the church and guide the church out of its buildings to meet those needs.

Sara holds a B.A. in Intercultural Studies from Trinity College and an M.A. from Michigan State University my M.A. Sara was a member of St. Alban’s DC for over 30 years where she served on the vestry, headed the Vestry/Transformational Grants program, led Lenten study groups, served on a search committee, led Annual Giving, and mentored Education for Ministry. Her most fulfilling service was on the founding Governing Board of the Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys in Congress Heights, DC. She currently serves on the Board of Grace Episcopal Day School.

Sara and her husband, John, have four adult children and six grandchildren. She enjoys Cape Cod Bay beaches, Cathedral bells (listening, not ringing), and cooking for family and friends.

Task Force on Black Ministries Application

We are now accepting applications for members of the Task Force on Black Ministries.  The deadline for submitting your application is 5:00 p.m. on  Friday, February 25 2022.

The work of the Task Force on Black Ministries is to study the revitalization of Black Churches in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. This includes looking at strategies specifically needed to ensure vitality of Black Churches in the Diocese of Washington, and specific resources needed to make these strategies successful. The Task Force will examine issues such as racism and its impact on the vitality of Black Churches. Members will be from historically Black churches or churches who have a significant Black membership. There will also be representation from the Union of Black Episcopalians, DC Chapter. The Task Force will make recommendations to the Diocesan Council to enhance, revitalize, and empower Black churches and Black parishioners in the Diocese of Washington by September 1, 2022.
Clergy or Lay?(Required)

2022 Diocesan Convention Survey

Thank you to all who attended the 127th Annual Meeting of the Convention of the Diocese of Washington. We’re grateful for your participation. Please take a few minutes to complete this Convention survey to further facilitate the work before us.

Welcome to the 127th annual convention of the Diocese of Washington








2022 Diocesan Convention Survey

Step 1 of 6

What was your reason for attending Convention?(Required)

Equity and Justice Midyear Update

My name is Hazel Monae and I am honored to serve as the Missioner for Equity & Justice at the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. 

God is a word that means anything beyond self; beyond ego. If theology is what I believe about God, then it must be that what I believe about God must go beyond my experiences alone. I’m speaking as someone who is a relentless follower of Jesus Christ and is in love with Jesus’ vision for how we ought to be in the world–workers and strivers for justice. 

Justice means centering historically marginalized communities to ensure their thriving & healing from generations of injustice. A justice framework can move us from a reactive posture to a more powerful, proactive and even preventative approach. This understanding of justice is not just a wish. Even in my short time in this Diocese, I have seen so much potential for this vision to be made manifest. 

  • I see the vision in the revamped Prison Ministry Team that’s working to build a multi-layered approach to restoring human dignity. 
  • I see the vision in the Sanctuary Ministry that’s actively working to support our undocumented siblings. 
  • The vision is nigh in the work of the Reparations Task Force as it seeks to uncover the truth about our past and to repair the breach in our present. 
  • The vision is here and now in the Race & Social Justice Committee’s work to train us all in the important work of anti-racism. 

These are just small glimpses into the myriad ways that your parishes, regions and this diocese are manifesting a lived theology of justice and preparing us for what’s ahead. In the next 90 days we will…

  • Continue to tell the truth about racism through the launching of an Anti-Racism 101 Curriculum and ongoing Sacred Ground circles throughout the Diocese.
  • Pursue Congregational and Diocesan History Projects for the work of Reparations.
  • Create toolkits for individuals and parishes to engage Racial Equity conversations and practices.
  • Discern priorities for future work of equity & justice.

May we continue to respond to God’s promise made in Amos–of justice that rolls like a mighty river and righteousness that runs like an ever-flowing stream. I’m encouraged. I’m excited. I’m ready. Thank you all for being on this journey. I look forward to our work together.

Hazel Monae (she/her)
Missioner for Equity and Justice

The Experience of Parish Transition

The experience of parish transition spans a wide and vast emotional spectrum. Currently in the diocese, there are 20+ parishes in active transition (i.e. parishes that do not have a “settled” priest). Some parishes are positioned very well to absorb the effects of clergy leadership changes. But other parishes may not be as well positioned to weather the winds of such changes. For these parishes, transition is fraught with anxiety and frustration further exacerbated with a sense of urgency to get back to normal.

While the winds of clergy leadership change may be daunting, they need not be debilitating. Transition provides exciting opportunities for growth and healing, especially through reflecting upon the identity of the parish. What has been the identity of the parish in the past? What is the current identity of the parish? What is the identity that God is calling the parish to develop and live into? Truly, if the experience of parish transition is embraced with an openness to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the experience can weave a richness of texture within the fabric of parish identity that may have never been imagined!

The experience of parish transition also provides an opportunity for not only nurturing healthy relationships, but also healing broken and fractured relationships. Community Counselor, Christine Langley-Obaugh suggests that, “We repeat what we don’t repair,” implying that any and all elephants in the room need to be acknowledged and managed if there is to be any movement towards healthy relationship development. Normalizing dysfunctional behavior further develops a dysfunctional parish DNA that, if not addressed, can lead to a toxic environment that is far from life giving, but rather anxiety producing. Addressing these elephants in the room can breed healing and ultimately stimulate personal growth in new and profound ways.

Again, the experience of parish transition can be daunting, but it does not need to become debilitating. During this Pentecost season, if your parish is currently experiencing transition, invite the winds of the Holy Spirit to blow upon you guiding you towards spaces of exploring your identity and developing healthy relationships with God, others, and self.

The Rev. Dr. Robert Phillips
Canon for Leadership Development and Congregational Care



2019 Fall Congregational Growth Grants Awarded

Fall Grants Awarded

During the November meeting, Diocesan Council awarded seven congregational grants totaling $91,850 in six diocesan regions.

In Central DC, the Church of the Epiphany will continue to enhance their justice work through The Epiphany Power Hour, a free social justice conversation series taking place every Thursday. The Power Hour was born out of Epiphany’s long history of befriending the poor, coupled with the community organizing experience of our rector, the Reverend Glenna Huber.

In North DC, Trinity, DC will concentrate its efforts on revitalization through focused attention on a Family Ministry initiative. It is designed to expand and grow their commitment to the Jesus Movement through an intentional outreach effort into their surrounding neighborhood to attract families and head of households who are in the age range of 30-45 and their children.

In South DC, St. Augustine’s will be able to embark on the work of the Unstuck Group.

In Southern Maryland, two parishes received grants: Christ Church, La Plata and Christ Church, Wayside will expand on their HeartSongs open-mic program they implemented in the Spring and will offer a fresh expression Sunday evening worship service.  St. Paul’s, Piney will partner with area elementary school through relationship-based outreach that will be rooted in one of the parish’s four core values of bringing God’s hope, healing, and fellowship to their community.

In Central Montgomery County, St. Mary Magdalene will expand and support their music program between both English and Spanish speaking congregations as music is a vital part of worship in a multicultural community.

In North Montgomery County, St. Anne’s will embark on creating a fresh expression of worship that uses the information gained  using MissionInsite and Experian Mosaic lifestyle categories that were more likely to respond to a unique experience and message of God.