Federal Ministries moves offices to D.C.

August 6, 2009

The Office of the Bishop Suffragan for Federal Ministries is relocating to Washington, D.C. from the Episcopal Church Center in New York.

Federal Ministries operates chaplaincies in three areas: military, veterans' administration and federal prisons.

"D.C. is the crossroads of the federal world; [the move] puts us in a much better position to address issues that come up in those three worlds, as well as see our chaplains more often. Most of them get stationed in the D.C. area periodically, or attend meetings there," said the Rev. Gerald J. Blackburn, director for federal chaplaincies and executive officer to the bishop suffragan.

The move to the Federal Ministries' office is more than two years in the making, Blackburn added.

Bishop Suffragan for Chaplaincies George E. Packard travelled to Washington, D.C., August 6 to coordinate the move to the United Methodist Center on Capital Hill, the same building from which the Office of Government Relations operates, Blackburn said.

In an email to staff, Packard said: "I have always wanted to relocate the office because of the easier access to the federal populations we serve, and frankly, it saves money since our people are either assigned or visit here regularly. Also, most other denominational headquarters for federal work are sited nearby."

In May, Packard, the fifth suffragan bishop for chaplaincies, announced he would retire May 31, 2010. Blackburn also plans to retire in 2010, he said.

The office is scheduled to officially open in September. Terry Foster, office coordinator, and Meghan Ritchie, communications specialist, will continue to work in the church center, supporting other ministries.