From the Rector's Desk
The Rev. Ledlie I. Laughlin
Rector, St. Columba's Episcopal Church, Washington, DC
Dear Ones,
I am very glad to tell you that Ms. Cami Caudill will be joining our staff as Missioner for Community Engagement effective April 30. In this new role (and new position), Cami will provide leadership and support for our current outreach, community engagement, and justice ministries. With her leadership we will launch our initiative to partner with others to end family homelessness in the District. 

We don’t yet know the scope of the hardship that will follow in the wake of
Covid-19, but we know the needs will be great, and we know that as followers of Jesus Christ we are called to do what we are able. Cami and I have already discussed the need to be ready to adapt our response and engagement according to the shifting landscape. Beginning this new ministry at this particular point in time affirms St. Columba’s priority “as a beacon of God’s justice and love, to embrace our city and the world, leading through acts of service… to live out Christ’s first commandment and to share the good news of God’s love.”

Serving most recently as Chief Program Officer for the Fuel Fund of Maryland (that supports those impoverished at risk of losing their utilities), Cami has worked as a high school teacher with “at risk” student body, teacher-trainer for Teach for America, and national trainer for the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). Originally from Arizona, Cami earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees (Educational Leadership and Administration) from Northern Arizona University, before coming east to Washington and Baltimore.

The Search Committee (Kelly Crabtree, Alix Guerrier, Bill Jensen, Lauralyn Lee, and Kris Moore, chair) and I were immediately drawn to Cami’s mix of deep personal commitment, strategic, organizational, and project-planning skills, and effective communication. While serving on the vestry of her home parish in Waldorf, MD, Cami embodied a role as bridge builder. Given the level of polarized political climate in southern Maryland and a community that is challenging themselves to broaden their world view, she was able to engage in real, direct and courageous conversations with her church family. Being attentive to people’s differing self-interest, she helped the congregation bring into the open and address different social concerns, such as the opioid crisis and the housing crisis on their doorstep. This capacity to build relationships that bridge differences will be essential to St. Columba’s future engagement and partnerships.

Cami writes:
"My grandmother grew up in extreme poverty. She and her 10 brothers and sisters, and single mom lived on a back porch for two years. She learned which flowers were edible, and how to sew dresses from flour sacks that her neighbors threw away. One of the only places of refuge that she had was church. She found a home, hope and joy in her local parish and in her relationship with God. Today she is 94 years old, and looks back at those memories and laughs--as though she is recounting someone else’s story as she sits in her plush recliner, with a cup of hot tea in her hand and a blanket in her lap.

Poverty is a cycle--a vicious cycle. Research suggests that it takes three generations to break the cycle of poverty. I have been blessed to be able to focus my professional life on helping people to break that cycle--to claim stake in being the second or third generation of change. I am the third generation, and I, too, have found a home, hope and joy in the good news and light of God’s love proclaimed at my local parish, and in my continued spiritual growth and relationship with God and his people. 

Noting the courageous work that this community of Love has done in the past, I am beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to work with you to do just that. Together we will question the difference between equality and equity, and how we can empower those who are in most need, thereby bolstering the community as a whole. We will share the light of Christ, and strengthen our connection with God and each other as we work together, as one body, "... to embrace our city and the world, leading through acts of service ... to live out Christ’s first commandment and to share the good news of God’s love.

I am so looking forward to meeting you! Please stay safe, be well, and find joy as we work together to get to the other side."

While it may be a while before some of us get to meet face to face, please join me in welcoming Cami to St. Columba’s!

The Rev. Ledlie I. Laughlin, Rector