Festive Eucharist with the Rev. Shaneequa Brokenleg

Festive Eucharist with the Rev. Shaneequa Brokenleg

The final class of the Tending Our Soil Thriving Congregations Initiative will kick off in the sanctuary at St. Luke’s, DC at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 16 with a festive Eucharist with Bishop Budde presiding and the Rev. Shaneequa Brokenleg preaching. Our liturgy for the day will include prayers and songs written by Rev. Brokenleg.

The Rev. Shaneequa Brokenleg joined the presiding bishop’s staff in January 2020 as the staff officer for racial reconciliation in the Office of Reconciliation, Justice, and Creation Care. In this role she partners with parishes and dioceses across the country to train and teach the Becoming Beloved Community curriculum.

An epidemiologist in her previous career, Rev. Brokenleg’s call to priesthood offered an opportunity to unite her professional and spiritual life. She is a member of the Lakota tribe and is a Winkte, a sacred healer. Her current work on racial reconciliation draws on her skills and approaches she used on reservations and in native communities, partnering to bring tools and resources, while listening deeply to the needs of the community.

We are thrilled to welcome Rev. Brokenleg to the diocese as she preaches a message sure to inspire us all. Please join us!

Read more about the TOS Class of 2023 here.

Tending Our Soil Kickoff w/ The Rev. Shaneequa Brokenleg

Tending Our Soil Kickoff w/ The Rev. Shaneequa Brokenleg

The Tending Our Soil Class of 2023 kicks off with a festive Eucharist at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 16 at St. Luke’s, DC, with the Rev. Shaneequa Brokenleg, Staff Officer for Racial Reconciliation at The Episcopal Church, preaching, and Bishop Mariann presiding. All are welcome to attend!

Learn more about the Rev. Shaneequa Brokenleg
Learn more about the Tending Our Soil Class of 2023

Meet the Congregations of Year Three – Tending Our Soil

Meet the Congregations of Year Three – Tending Our Soil

We are excited to announce the participating congregations for the third and final class of Tending Our Soil: All Souls (DC), Christ Church (Chaptico, MD), Grace (Georgetown), St. Luke’s (DC), and St. Philip’s (Laurel, MD). The Class of 2023 joins the other two classes to make for a total of 27 congregations in journeying through a process that seeks to cultivate the changed soil of our congregations so that God’s love might grow in our time and place.

The Class of 2023 kicks off with a festive Eucharist at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 16 at St. Luke’s, DC, with the Rev. Shaneequa Brokenleg, Staff Officer for Racial Reconciliation at The Episcopal Church, preaching, and Bishop Mariann presiding. All are welcome to attend!

We invite you to read the brief biographies of the congregations below to get to know the Tending Our Soil Class of 2023:


All Souls, DC

Rector: Currently in transition

All Souls was founded in 1911, as a mission church of St. Alban’s; our building, originally built in 1914, has grown through the years, including by the addition of an administration wing in 1951 and an accessible addition with an elevator in 2015. Our liturgical style can be summed up in our tagline, “Traditional Worship, Progressive Thinking.” Our congregants appreciate solemn, profound worship experiences. We used a form of Rite I for many years but have more recently worshiped using Rite II. We also offer individual healing prayers led by lay ministers each month and a convivial coffee hour each Sunday.

All Souls uses a volunteer choir with paid section leaders. We supplement Anglican hymns with American church music; we also lift up spirituals and gospel music in particular both as a sign of our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and because we love the art forms. Outreach is an important component of life at All Souls, and our endowment fund enables us to develop ministries beyond what is possible through our annual operating funds. We make outreach grants to projects and organizations that demonstrate alignment with some aspect of our mission, and that offer opportunities for our parishioners to participate in their work.

Significant recent outreach projects have included support for a parish in Cuba, as well as participation in a multi-parish group helping to settle refugee families from Afghanistan. Parishioners volunteer at a number of local organizations, like Christ House and Samaritan Ministry. We also host outside groups, including a Scouts BSA troop for girls, Axios, and Front Runners. We are now in the midst of replacing the roof of our main church building as well as its HVAC system; in addition, after an interim period, our Vestry has begun the search for a new Rector.


Christ Church, Chaptico

Rector: The Reverend Peter Ackerman

Christ Church (Chaptico) was established in the 1700s, by people who have been a part of this area since the 1600s. Francis Scott Key’s grandfather was the lead architect in the building of the worship space, and some of the Key family is buried in a columbarium in the historic cemetery that surrounds the church. During the War of 1812, when ships were able to dock right outside of the parish, the British took over the church and made it into a stable. The congregation rebuilt after that, into what stands today. The building has been labeled a historic one, and history buffs travel to visit the space and grounds. In addition to the historic church building, up the street from the church is the office and parish hall, and a rectory.

The congregation is fluid and faithful. With post-Covid and a new rector, we are still finding our new normal in identity. Many parishioners are people with homes in the area, often retirees, and many who still live on family property that has been here since the church was established. Though pastoral in size, the parish retains the positive aspects found in a family identity. Because the parish is in a rural area, their history has had the congregation living out its identity as a neighborhood parish and worship space.

At this time of our history, we look to be a vital member of our community, known as “the church that does…?” Facing the same diminishing numbers and finances that most parishes encounter, our hope is that Christ Church will continue to be a place where gathered worshippers place God above the machinations of the world.


Grace Church, Georgetown

Rector: The Rev. David Wacaster

Grace Church is the only religious institution in lower Georgetown. As such, outreach to the community, particularly lower Georgetown, is a vital ministry of Grace Church. Grace Church houses and supports the Georgetown Ministry Center (GMC), an outreach program to the unhoused and disenfranchised of the community. The GMC drop-in center provides private counseling space as well as a shower and a washer and dryer for use by GMC guests and clients. Grace Church also provides a spiritual refuge for everyone living and working in the Georgetown area regardless of their religious affiliation. Visitors to Grace find a warm welcome, wonderful music, a heartfelt faith, and a beautiful greenspace open to the public.


St. Luke’s, DC

Rector: The Rev. Kim Turner Baker

The year 2023 marks the 150th anniversary of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. For many years after St. Luke’s was founded, it was one of the leading historically Black churches in Washington, DC in civil rights, Black liberation, education and economic equity, and social justice reform.

St. Luke’s, the first separate Black Episcopal Church in the District of Columbia, was organized in 1873 by the Reverend Dr. Alexander Crummell. After the Civil War, an increased interest in The Episcopal Church became apparent among the people of color in the District of Columbia. From 1873 to 1879, the original congregation of St. Luke’s was part of St. Mary’s colored mission. St. Mary’s Chapel was started by St. John’s Church in 1867 and remained under its supervision and support until May 1927, when it became a separate Parish.

Less than a year after beginning work in Washington, Dr. Crummell reported having more than 50 communicants and three Sunday services. These worshipers immediately supported his idea to build a significant independent church. By August 1875, the members, Rector, and friends in the Diocese had raised funds to purchase three lots on 15th Street N.W. Mr. Calvin T.S. Brent, the first Black architect of the District of Columbia, was engaged to draw the plans for the church.

The Bishop of Maryland laid the cornerstone on November 9, 1876. On Thanksgiving Day, November 1879 the members of St. Luke’s celebrated the first service in their new church. In this year of celebration and introspection, we, the present members of St. Luke’s, recommit ourselves to being more like our forefathers and mothers and living into our legacy to shake things up and get into some “Good Trouble;” and to develop allies, deepen networks, and work to end injustice however and wherever it manifests.


St. Philip’s, Laurel

Priest-in-Charge: The Rev. Robert Bunker

St. Philip’s Parish was founded in 1848. The 175 year-celebration will occur in fall, 2023, under the leadership of the Rev. Robert Bunker. The historic parish has struggled and flourished in its life cycle. Under the leadership of the late +Jane Holmes Dixon (1986-1992), and in a context of a growing Laurel population, the parish grew; key ministries began: Laurel Advocacy & Referral services, a Community Thanksgiving Dinner, and Camp St. Philips (a week-long summer day camp for children and youth)—all with an outreach view in the community. With some changes, all these outreach ministries continue today. In the past three years, a new seasonal food outreach ministry for local families began under lay leaders, garnered huge parish support, and grew into a monthly Food Pantry, run out of the “Little Chapel” (a small building on the back of the property) that had previously been long unused by the parish.

In the past thirty-seven years, St. Philip’s grew from a primarily white congregation to a diverse one. Although there have been historical times of conflict, congregants have lived together mostly in peace, with the help of strong clergy/lay leadership, a solid context of worship practice, and intentional prayer within liturgical settings.

The struggles now are with larger context—how to build a new way of doing Church post-Covid, and in a context of highly secular culture. St. Philip’s desire is to hold its long, historic tradition with respect, while building a new vision for future generations.

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).
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!