Spiritual Nourishment Through Encounters with Poetry

Spiritual Nourishment Through Encounters with Poetry

“Becoming a church that our children and grandchildren will love to attend…”

As Bishop Mariann reminded us earlier in September, embedded in our diocesan strategic plan is an audacious goal to close the generational gap in our congregations, for all of our faith communities to become compelling places for our children, grandchildren and their peers, inspiring them to live Jesus-centered lives. We believe getting to that place will take time, creativity, and a willingness to try new things–including getting outside of our churches and providing opportunities for people to encounter the sacred. The poetry event we describe below is one such exploration. – The Rev. Canon Anne-Marie Jeffery

This autumn, poetry is coming to Northeast DC as the Episcopal Diocese of Washington welcomes the Rev. Dr. Travis Helms, founder and curator of the LOGOS Poetry Collective, to facilitate a liturgically infused reading at the launch of a new arts-based ministry in Brookland.

Helms launched LOGOS in 2018 with a view towards cultivating a space where persons of all faiths and none could build connections with the divine and each other through shared encounters with poetry. The project later merged with EcoTheo Collective, a nonprofit founded to “celebrate wonder, enliven conversations, and inspire commitments to ecology, spirituality, and art.”

LOGOS first came to DC in November 2021 via the Henry Luce III Center for the Arts & Religion at Wesley Theological Seminary, where EcoTheo board member Dr. Devon Abts serves as Assistant Director and Visiting Assistant Professor. Abts invited Helms to curate a LOGOS reading as the concluding event for the Luce Center’s “Art of Discernment” project, a major study of arts-based theological education funded by the Templeton Religion Trust. Abts worked closely with Helms to plan the event, which saw a huge crowd turn out to Brookland’s City-State Brewery on a dreary Tuesday evening for a reading with acclaimed poets Jericho Brown and Marilyn Nelson.

Inspired by her experience of LOGOS, Abts–a Brookland resident–began to discern a vision for a new missional project designed to foster creative forms of spiritual nourishment in her community. The Diocese has partnered with her to bring this vision to fruition, and it is fitting that the new project should launch with another LOGOS reading.

All are warmly invited to this liturgically infused reading, which will take place at City-State Brewery on Wednesday, October 19 from 7:00–8:30 p.m., and will feature legendary DC poet and activist E. Ethelbert Miller and emerging talent Kirsten Porter.

The event is free of charge, and food as well as libations will be available for purchase.

Investing in Rising Generations

Investing in Rising Generations

“Becoming a church that our children and grandchildren will love to attend…”

Embedded in our diocesan strategic plan is an audacious goal to close the generational gap in our congregations, for all of our faith communities to become compelling places for our children, grandchildren and their peers, inspiring them to live Jesus-centered lives.

One way we are working toward that goal is to ensure the young adults whom we raise up for ordination to the priesthood from our congregations are able to return to the diocese. This often requires a financial and mentoring partnership between congregations that are well-positioned to serve as a rising priest’s first call and the diocese, so that there are adequate resources to support the call for the first two years. For several years, the Diocesan Council has generously provided 2-year matching grants to congregations that can pay at least 50% of the costs for hiring a new clergy person, an investment we plan to continue as we seek to raise up younger leaders.

Photo of David Potter, Bishop Mariann and Catherine Manhardt at priesthood ordination service

Thanks to this partnership, two EDOW-sponsored clergy begin their ordained ministry among us: the Revs. Catherine Manhardt and David Potter.

Both testify to the strong faith formation they received in their home congregations. “I learned how to love God, God’s people, and God’s church through spending my 20s in and around the Episcopal Diocese of Washington,” writes Catherine, “as a parishioner at St. Thomas, Dupont Circle and a staff member at The Church of the Epiphany, DC. Now, I am excited to begin my ministry as a priest in this diocese with the wonderful community at St. James, Potomac! “

The Reverend David Potter serves at the altar on his first Sunday at St. John's, Georgetown

David, who is now serving at St. John’s, Georgetown, writes, “Beginning my priestly ministry in the Diocese of Washington feels like returning home. It is here that I was confirmed and where, as a member of St. Stephen and the Incarnation, I began a formal discernment process for holy orders. After completing seminary this spring and now resettling into the rhythms of life in DC, I’m grateful to participate in the vision and work of our diocese.”

David and Catherine will each focus on key ministry initiatives of their respective congregations, furthering the ministry that God has begun. “I look forward to exploring how God is still at work in our world through supporting St. James’ Mission & Outreach, Care of Creation, and Racial Justice initiatives,” writes Catherine. “I have already felt God’s Spirit present so many times these past few weeks, in worship, in meetings, in Bible study, and in fellowship, and so I begin my time at St. James with great hope for all the ways we will learn and grow together.“

For his part, David will support St. John’s co-sponsored Episcopal Campus Ministry at Georgetown University. “I’m especially excited to cultivate meaningful formation opportunities with students,” he writes. “There is an abundance of opportunity at St. John’s to envision and explore meaningful ways of living out our faith in collaboration with rising generations.”

Both Catherine and David will benefit from the mentorship of seasoned EDOW rectors: the Revs. Meredith Hefner and Gini Gerbasi, respectively. And we pray that with Catherine and David’s gifts and passion, they will further the intergenerational and community ministries of both their congregations and the diocese at large. “In only a short time, Catherine has already brought energy, passion and vision to St. James,” writes Meredith. “Not only is it exciting to share how God has called us, it is energizing to hear Catherine’s ideas and commitment to where we may be called in the future.” “St. John’s is thrilled to partner with EDOW to target our resources more effectively to reach college students and other young adults,” writes Gini. “David is SO gifted, and he has jumped right in, getting a fresh start on the school year. I am impressed already and can’t wait to see what is ahead for us!”

Neither of these new ministries would have been possible without diocesan support and the clarity of our strategic plan. Our ultimate goal is to give all rising clergy from EDOW congregations their first call within the diocese, as we support and equip those whom God is calling into leadership and allow them to continue sharing their gifts and leadership among us.

The Rev. Catherine Manhardt stands