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June 10, 2024 News

ECF Announces the 2024 Fellows

The Episcopal Church Foundation is excited to announce the three individuals named to the 2024 Fellows class – Ian Lasch, Beckett Leclaire and Diana Moreland. These innovative and emerging leaders are pairing their expertise with their passion to make a positive impact on the Episcopal Church and beyond.

As ECF’s longest running program, the Fellowship Partners Program has been supporting entrepreneurial leaders since 1964. Initially started to support academics with intentions to teach in seminaries, the Fellowship has expanded over the years to lift up emerging academic and ministry leaders who seek to impact the wider Church. ECF is proud to partner with our 2024 Fellows and is excited to journey with them as they shape the Episcopal Church of the future. To view a list of all ECF Fellows, click here.

ECF President Donald Romanik, extending his congratulations to the 2024 Fellows, said, "For 60 years, ECF's Fellowship Partners Program has supported emerging and aspiring leaders across the Church. In ECF’s 75th year, our 2024 Fellows continue the tradition of pursuing important, innovative and potentially transformational academic and ministry initiatives. We look forward to partnering with these exceptional individuals."

The three recipients’ projects show a Church that is engaged in a changing world. The 2024 Fellows are: exploring the topics of autism and theology, engaging with rural and marginalized communities, and deepening rural congregational development. Read more about the 2024 Fellows and their projects below.

Ian Lasch is an autistic Episcopal priest who serves as rector of St. Francis of the Islands Episcopal Church in Savannah, Georgia. He is also a PhD student at the University of Aberdeen’s Centre for Autism and Theology. His dissertation seeks to challenge our conceptions of what it means to bear the imago Dei, the image of God, and how we might see the imago in autistic people and autistic experiences, not only to value and appreciate them more fully, but to come to a fuller understanding of God. Ian takes great joy in living out the priestly vocation to serve as “pastor, priest, and teacher.” He is married to Loren (also an Episcopal priest serving as the Canon to the Ordinary for the Diocese of Georgia) and together they have two young neurodivergent sons.

The Reverend Beckett Leclaire is a vocational deacon in the soon-to-be Episcopal Diocese of the Great Lakes, where he serves as the Ministry Developer for the AuSable Inclusion Center, a New Episcopal Community serving folks marginalized based on their gender, sexuality, and/or socioeconomic status in rural northern Michigan. He also serves as the coordinator for Holy Hikes Great Lakes, an eco-spirituality focused hiking ministry. Recently, he concluded his service as a regional youth missioner for the Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan and as a member of the bi-diocesan Building Bridges Steering Committee, which shepherded collective discernment leading to the Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan voting in March 2024 to create one, new diocese.

Like many LGBTQ+ youth in rural areas, Deacon Beck encountered almost exclusively anti-LGBTQ+ and xenophobic sentiment in his local faith communities as a young person, leading him to explore other religious perspectives outside the church. In 2007, he experienced a profound moment of conversion guided by the Holy Spirit when he felt compelled to enter an Episcopal church and heard a lay preacher express an LGBTQ+ inclusive vision of the Kingdom of God and a distillation of the social gospel. Sixteen years later, he was ordained a deacon to take that very same message outside the walls of the church.

As an ECF Fellow, Deacon Beck dreams of encouraging rural faith communities to see themselves as the vital centers of evangelism and outreach they are, particularly to those who suffer from isolation and marginalization. Through his work at the AuSable Inclusion Center, he will be developing tools and resources which can be implemented in other communities. For more information about the AuSable Inclusion Center, visit

Diana Moreland is the Director of Christian Formation at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Virginia Beach. She became an Episcopalian at 11 and has had numerous jobs in the Episcopal church. Along with her connection with the Episcopal church, she has been associated with many rural congregations across North America. Her experience with these congregations and her time on the Standing Commission on Small Congregations for the Episcopal Church led to her passion for rural congregational vitality. In the midst of the Christian call to bring the Good News to the ends of the earth and our call as Christians to fight against injustice and to lift up the marginalized, Diana has seen a need for the Church to reach out to these rural congregations that have been forgotten as an essential step in the Churches work. She has also seen the need inside the Episcopal church for an alternative way of measuring health that does not leave vital congregations behind. Diana hopes that her work as a PhD student and beyond will help to address these critical problems.

The application process for the 2025 ECF Fellowship will open in November 2024. Complete information about the ECF Fellowship Partners Program can be found on ECF's website.

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