Washington National Cathedral has called the Rev. Jo Nygard Owens, a Presbyterian pastor with a passion for engaging online audiences, as its first-ever Pastor for Digital Ministry. The new position aims to expand the Cathedral’s digital footprint and find new ways to bring the Cathedral’s message of reconciliation and renewal to an increasingly global congregation.
Owens is currently the founder and owner of Vibrant Church Communications, based in Cleveland, Ohio. Ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA), she has spent much of her career serving congregations in her native North Carolina. Since 2021, her agency has helped nurture church growth through online platforms, rebranding campaigns and strategic online outreach.
“Jo is passionate about, and skilled at, connecting people with the good news of the gospel through new and innovative channels,” said the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, dean of Washington National Cathedral. “We’re thrilled that she will bring that same entrepreneurial spirit to the Cathedral to help us launch new digital products, build online communities and shepherd souls with a warm and inviting pastoral touch.”
The Cathedral’s digital footprint was transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic, when the nation turned to the Cathedral for online worship as many churches were forced to close their doors. Three years later, the Cathedral continues to attract as many as 5,000 online worshippers in real time for its main Sunday worship service, and thousands more throughout the week for daily online Morning Prayer. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cathedral worship services and programs have accessed more than 17 million times.
The Cathedral’s online congregation now counts regular worshippers across the country and on nearly every continent, all drawn to the Cathedral as a beacon of hope with powerful preaching, soul-stirring music and an eagerness to engage online audiences.
The new Pastor for Digital Ministry position aims to expand on that growth, and to serve as an innovation laboratory for the wider church. Owens was recruited for the position after a nationwide search and an intensive discovery process that included consultations with experts in church growth, digital strategy and community-building.
“The pandemic really pushed churches out of their comfort zones into new digital spaces, and our ability to do and be the church in this virtual space has only grown,” said the Rev. Jo Nygard Owens. “I am thrilled to join the Cathedral staff as a pastor to the digital congregation, to create spaces for community building and connection, and to provide digital formation opportunities. The Cathedral is a House of Prayer for All People, and I look forward to extending its mission and ministry to all people, no matter where they call home.”
Owens will be one of only a handful of ministers in the country primarily devoted to digital ministry, and will be the first member of the Cathedral clergy to not be based in Washington. She will work closely with Dean Hollerith; Sonia Coman, director of digital engagement; the Rev. Canon Dana Corsello, the canon vicar; and the Rev. Canon Rosemarie Logan Duncan, the canon for worship.
In a sign of Owens’ digital-first portfolio, she will continue to be based in Cleveland, where her husband, BJ, is the dean of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. She will connect virtually with the Cathedral’s online congregation, and will travel to Washington regularly to preach and work with Cathedral leadership to expand the Cathedral’s digital toolbox. She plans to travel the country to host regional gatherings of the Cathedral’s far-flung flock.
Owens holds degrees from the University of Georgia and Columbia Theological Seminary. Prior to starting her own consulting business, she served as Associate Pastor at Hudson Memorial Church in Raleigh, N.C. (2007-2010) and Guilford Park Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, N.C. (2014-2017), and as Communications Director at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Greensboro, N.C. (2011-2013) and First Baptist Church of Greensboro, N.C. (2017-2019).
Kevin Eckstrom, email@example.com; (202) 390-0240
About Washington National Cathedral
Grounded in the reconciling love of Jesus Christ, Washington National Cathedral is a house of prayer for all people, conceived by our founders to serve as a great church for national purposes.