Forward Today: Being good neighbors

Dear friends in Christ,

The hate-fueled violence at Tree of Life synagogue last Saturday was, of course, horrifying. Eleven people died and others were wounded at the hands of a man driven by hatred and fear.

What are we Christians to do? Of course, we should pray. Our life begins, continues, and ends in prayer. But here we are called to do more. We must be good neighbors.

I have a friend who was rector of a parish with a decades-long friendship with a nearby synagogue. They had an annual pulpit exchange. They stayed in touch with one another. They shared some activities together. And once or twice each year, they prayed together. If either community had ever experienced a crisis, they had a long relationship on which to build a response and to provide support. I admire places with these enduring friendships.

Group of people
Sure, we can show up at rallies and prayer vigils. We should absolutely do that. But being a good neighbor is more than that. Is your church a good neighbor to others in your community? Too many of our congregations are inward-looking. Our world—and our Gospel—demand that we change our posture.

Get to know those who live near your church. Get to know Muslims, Jews, and people of other faiths. Ask community leaders what your community’s needs are. Consider learning about and practicing asset-based community development.

Our world needs good neighbors. And we all need each other. Let’s all agree to respond to the crises we see, but let us also resolve to begin today on our journey of being better neighbors.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


Today’s Flash Sale: Morning Resolve

Morning ResolveThis unique devotional book for personal or small group discipleship and spiritual formation utilizes this daily prayer to guide readers as they examine and meditate on a portion of the prayer each week and examine and employ spiritual disciplines. Ultimately, the intentional crafting of a simple, sincere, and serene life is a spiritual discipline, too. Morning Resolve will guide readers into the spiritual practices that bear good fruit for a grace-filled life. Published by Cascade Books.

Regular: $23
Today: $17.25*

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time

Forward Today: For an election, let us pray

Dear friends,

Most readers of this weekly email will be residents in the USA. This nation is preparing for an important midterm election in a few days. Even for readers in other countries, it’s an important moment, as the relationship of the USA to many other nations will be affected by the outcome.

I want to ask everyone to do three things as we head toward the election.

First, if you are eligible to vote, I very much hope you will vote. This is an important part of exercising our civic responsibility, and it is certainly one key way we Christians carry out our work of following Jesus in civil society. You can learn more about the issues, voting locations, and so on at vote.org.

Second, become engaged in the issues. There are plenty of ways in which reasonable and faithful Christians can disagree on politics and party. But there are other ways in which every Christian might find themselves united. Governments almost never care for the most vulnerable people in society. That’s true of any party, and it’s incumbent on us Christians to look out for, to speak up for, and to stand alongside those who might otherwise be forgotten.

Season of Prayer Graphic

Third, I urge you to pray. Sometimes people draw a distinction between prayer and action. I am here to tell you that prayer is action. Prayer changes hearts and lives. Prayer may result in changes that are scarcely imaginable. Prayer may prompt us to engage in other actions. Above all, prayer helps us attend to our relationship with Almighty God, and this reminds us of who we are.

Forward Movement is offering daily prayer suggestions on Facebook and Twitter. Follow us there. Perhaps you’ll offer the prayer we have suggested for each day up through the election. And maybe you’ll share those prayers with your friends on social media. Through prayer, all things are possible, because we know that with God, all things are possible. Let us pray.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


Today’s Flash Sale: The Path

The PathWalk in the footsteps of faithful men and women who have done their best to follow God’s call. The Path is the story of the Bible, excerpted from the New Revised Standard Version so that it is clear and easy to read. Follow the path of God’s love all the way from the beginning to the end, from Adam’s creation to John’s revelation.

With informative trail signs to help you see how each piece of the narrative fits together, The Path is an experience unlike any other: an amazing 360-degree overview of the vast, sweeping story of God’s extraordinary love for ordinary people. Join us on this epic adventure, a journey through the Bible to grow closer to God.

Regular: $22
Today Only: $16.50*

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Forward Today: Creating a culture of discipleship

Dear friends in Christ,

I’m sending this from Charlotte, where people from across the church have gathered for the fifth annual Discipleship Matters conference hosted by Forward Movement. Our reason for gathering is to help lay and clergy leaders create a culture of discipleship in their congregations.

It’s important work. Too many of our churches are barely-living museums or societies of preservation. The highest values in such places include surviving as an institution, avoiding conflict, continuing familiar customs, and providing positive feelings. While they don’t sound bad, when you take them together the picture is antithetical to the Gospel.

The Gospel demands sacrifice and risk. The Gospel privileges the call of Jesus Christ over our own personal preferences or even safety. The Gospel is about bold action, not vague feelings.

So what does this look like in a church? Churches that prioritize discipleship – making followers of Jesus Christ – are places where worship, prayer, and study are prized. This is not to avoid the world’s needs, but rather to anchor us and to remind us of our calling as Christians. Churches that value discipleship teach generosity, humility, and listening for God’s still, small voice.

Discipleship is not a church growth program, but it turns out that churches where discipleship matters are places that tend to be thriving and growing in measurable ways.

Intrigued? Visit the Forward Movement Facebook page for news and video highlights of the conference. It may take us a day or two to get them uploaded. Ask around, and find a nearby church were discipleship is the thing. Visit, learn, and see what might work in your church.

If you are blessed to be in a church where there’s already a culture of discipleship, thank your lay and clergy leaders for making this a priority. Consider sharing what you love about the journey of following Jesus with friends and even folks at other churches. Let’s create a wave of discipleship.

Making disciples is, without doubt, the most important thing our church does. Let’s keep at it, shall we?

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


Today’s Flash Sale: Hour by Hour

Hour by HourPray without ceasing with this compact edition of the Daily Office complete with prayers and psalms for one week. This beautiful little book, excerpted from The Book of Common Prayer, will enable anyone to say the hours every day: Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Compline. Perfect for prayer and worship at all times and in all places. Hour by Hour is a thoughtful gift – the cover is deluxe soft leather, and it’s packaged in a small white gift box.

Regular: $20
Today Only: $15*

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time

 

 

 

Season of Prayer

candleForward Movement is calling Episcopalians and all others to join with us in A Season of Prayer: For a Mid-term Election. This is a two-week period in which we will pray each day with a particular intention for this time in our national life and a collect from The Book of Common Prayer.

This time of prayer begins Sunday, October 21, and continues through the day after the election. Join us on Forward Movement’s social media channels (Facebook or Twitter) in offering or sharing each day’s prayer. These resources are available in English and Spanish and can also be used as a bulletin insert for the Sundays of Oct. 21 and 28 and Nov. 4. Please encourage your congregation and your friends to get involved.

At a time when nearly everyone agrees that we are being consumed by fear and division, this is a prayerful, intentional opportunity to change the conversation. While we will certainly differ in our politics, we can surely join together in prayer. We hope you will join in this season of prayer.

Prayerfully,
Your sisters and brothers at Forward Movement


Bulletin Inserts / Encartes para boletines

Week 1 / Semana 1 
Week 2 / Semana 2
Week 3 / Semana 3 

Forward Today: The Way of Love

Dear friends in Christ,

If you read Episcopal Church news much, you’ve heard that Bishop Michael Curry, our Presiding Bishop, has been talking about the Way of Love. You might think of this as the spiritual practices that make the Jesus Movement come to life in our lives and in our church.

The idea behind the Way of Love is pretty simple. There are seven steps: Turn, Learn, Pray, Worship, Bless, Go, and Rest. We begin by turning—or repenting—toward Jesus. And then we anchor our lives in study, prayer, and worship so that we might be bearers of God’s blessings to the world.If you want to learn a bit more about the Way of Love, you can visit www.episcopalchurch.org/wayoflove. There’s a fantastic three-minute video there where the Presiding Bishop sets out what it is and why it matters. We at Forward Movement have also created a web page with information about the Way of Love and some of our resources that connect to these practices.

If seven steps seems like too many, maybe start with two simple daily practices. Read a bit of scripture every day, and spend a few moments in prayer. I guarantee you, if you do this for a while, your heart will change. There’s nothing gimmicky about the Way of Love. These are ancient and biblical ways to follow our savior, Jesus Christ.

Our world is desperate for words and deeds of hope. If we can become people of the Way of Love, we can bear tidings and acts of hope.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


Today’s Flash Sale: What Are You Waiting For?

What are you waiting for?Get in line. Take a number. Count down the days. We spend so much of our lives waiting: waiting for a new job or a well-deserved vacation; for love or an apology; for test results or cures to kick in; for things to stabilize or to get shaken up. At no other time of the year may the theme of waiting feel so poignant than the season of Advent.

This year, while waiting for things mundane to things sublime, embark on a seasonal journey with daily meditations that will work on your soul to bring a richer quality and depth to your waiting. These reflections are perfect for individual use and are affordably priced to share with your entire congregation.

Regular: $5
Today Only: $3.75*

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Way of Love Resources

Dear friends,

Way of Love Brochure Forward Movement has been working closely with Stephanie Spellers and the whole team at the Presiding Bishop’s office, as well as other partners, on Way of Love materials.

We are happy to share that you can now pre-order printed Way of Love tri-fold brochures and wallet cards in English or Spanish. These are the same products that were handed out at General Convention. We’re selling them in bundles of 50.

You can see Way of Love resources from Forward Movement, including these new printed materials, on our website.

way of love wallet cardThe new printed materials are available on our website:
Way of Love Wallet Cards ($10 for 50 cards)
Way of Love Tri-fold ($12 for 50 brochures)
El camino del amor – Tarjetita ($10 for 50 cards)
El camino del amor – Folleto ($12 for 50 brochures)

We also still have Way of Love pop sockets for your phone:
Way of Love Blue Aluminum Pop Socket
Way of Love PopSocket – White with Clip 

All proceeds from the Way of Love PopSockets support our ministry, which allows us to send Forward Day by Day and other resources to those in prison, in the hospital, or serving in the military.

For those of you who prefer to print your own Way of Love materials rather than purchase bundles of printed material, you can find both the brochures and wallet cards on the Episcopal Church website.

It’s a delight to work with other leaders in the church to promote practices for a Jesus-centered life. I hope you will find materials from the Episcopal Church, from Forward Movement, and from many other partners to be helpful.

Peace,
Scott+

Forward Today: A hospital for sinners

Dear friends in Christ,

The daily office Gospel reading for today has given me a much-needed reminder. From Luke 5, “Jesus answered, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.'”

There are lots of ways to think about our church and its purpose. I often think of us as a community of disciples. Sometimes we might like to think of the church as a refuge. For most of us, church is a holy place we visit to worship God and to be nourished by the sacraments. But one of my favorite images of the church is a hospital for sinners.

Sainte-Chapelle

As I mentioned last week, we are all sinners and we all need saving. A medical hospital saves lives, and a church is a hospital that saves souls. To be clear, Jesus Christ is the one who saves souls, but it is in the church where we are reminded to repent and to follow our Savior.

It’s tempting in our divided age to cast aside people who we don’t like. But we Christians are nurses in the hospital for souls. Our task is to love our neighbors. Our task is to invite people into a relationship with Jesus.

I am grateful that Jesus loves and redeems me, despite all my sins. And as I look around, I see lots of people who are potentially, like me, patients in the hospital for sinners.

Let us all give thanks that our God reaches out to the lost, for we are all lost at times. And let us all look for the lost, the least, and the last. For they are the special concern of Jesus Christ.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Icon from Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, via flickr.


Today’s Flash Sale: A Journey with Luke

Journey with LukeA masterful storyteller with the compassion of a physician, Luke paints a picture of Jesus as healer, full of mercy, forgiveness, and love. The Gospel of Luke features the lovely Magnificat, Mary’s love song to God, and the nativity story heard in Christmas pageants around the world. Luke includes three parables not heard in any other gospel: the prodigal son, the good Samaritan, and the unjust judge. Luke, also believed to be the author of the book of Acts, emphasizes prayer as central to the life of faith.

Join the journey with Luke with fifty days of scripture readings, meditations, and prayers written by dynamic spiritual leaders from around the world. A Journey with Luke is part of a series of fifty-day Bible studies and is an extension of The Bible Challenge, a global initiative to encourage daily engagement with the Word of God.

Regular: $15
Today Only: $11.25*

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time

Forward Today: We’re all sinners

Dear friends in Christ,

Last week I wrote about politics and the Gospel. Among the mostly positive responses I received, I noticed that a number of readers said something along the lines of “Thank you for saying this. I’m tired of THOSE PEOPLE not getting it right.”

I feel this way too, sometimes. But in my better moments I remember that Jesus warned us about naming other people as sinners. Of course, Jesus wanted us to remember that we are ALL sinners. We all need redemption.

Candles

One thing that all Christians seem to have in common is that we like to talk about other people’s sins. It’s certainly a lot easier than talking about our own sins.

By all means, we should name evil when we see it. We should name injustice. We should work to defeat evil, injustice, oppression, and fear.

It’s worth remembering that, for Christians, “good people” and “bad people” are not meaningful categories. We are all good in that God made us all in God’s own image. That is true for every person in every nation on earth. We are all bad in that we are all sinners. We all do terrible things. That is true for every person on every nation on earth.

So next time you think of how those people have sinned, remember that you have sinned too. I ask you to pray for me too, a sinner. And let us all give thanks to God that we have a redeemer who can free us from the tyranny of sin. Jesus Christ stands ready to welcome all who turn to him.

Yours faithfully,

 

 

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Photo: https://www.flickr.com/search/?user_id=24172274%40N00&view_all=1&text=candle


Today’s Flash Sale: For the Beauty of the Earth

For the Beauty of the EarthGod saw every living thing that was made, and indeed, it was very good. -Genesis 1:31.

Dance along with the wind of God, be bathed in the primal waters, and look with awe and wonder on the myriad creatures God has made. Spend a day, a week, a month, or the whole year basking in the wonder of both fruit and flower, night and day, and everything thing that creeps upon the good earth. You are part and parcel of the very good creation God has made.

Join watercolor artist Kathrin Burleson and diverse voices from across The Episcopal Church in exploring the wonders of Creation and the beauty of the Creator. Burleson’s Creation-inspired watercolors offer inspiring visualizations that enhance the book’s 365 daily meditations, written by authors across the church and across the country.

Regular: $20
Today Only: $15*

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time

Q&A: Acts to Action Editors

Acts to ActionSusan Brown Snook and Adam Trambley are the editors of Acts to Action, a Forward Movement publication focusing on Acts Chapter 8 and evangelism in a changing world. Susan serves as canon to the ordinary for church growth and development in the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma and Adam is the rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Sharon, Pennsylvania. Contributors include Joseph Alsay, Carrie Boren Headington, Frank Logue, Brendan O’Sullivan-Hale, Steve Pankey, and Holli Powell, and is framed by reflections from church leaders Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows and Gay Clark Jennings.

How did the idea for this book develop?
Susan: Adam and I, and a number of the authors in the book, have been inspired by the 8th chapter of Acts for quite a while. In fact, we are leaders in a group called the Acts 8 Movement, which is dedicated to mission, prayer, and evangelism in the Episcopal Church. We want to help our church proclaim the gospel in creative, courageous, innovative ways to people who have never heard it in any effective way. As we considered ways to help the church think through innovative ways of proclaiming the gospel in a time when many people have no connection to church or Christian faith at all, we realized that Acts Chapter 8 had some compelling things to say about church mission. The four stories contained within this chapter show the apostles struggling with many of the same issues our church struggles with today. So we gathered a group of people to help us explore those issues for the twenty-first century.

How do you see the book being used?
Adam: Acts to Action is designed to be read both by individuals and by groups, including church leadership groups. Each chapter has two sets of questions. The first are for reflection and discussion, and the second are for action. The action steps are small, concrete ways that implement the Scriptural insights. My hope is that people will read each chapter, spend some time reflecting on it by themselves or in a group, and then take the action steps. These steps can help people and churches live into Acts 8-style evangelism that should bear good fruit.

What is your hope for this book?
Susan: We hope that vestries, small groups, and individual Christians across the church read the book, discuss the discussion questions, and find inspiration for their own ministries. So many churches are working to discover how God is calling them to change, grow, and reach new people in a new era. We hope this book provides ideas and insights that spark new approaches to Christ’s mission in the church.

What inspires you most about Acts Chapter 8?
Adam: The most inspiring piece of Acts Chapter 8 is the assurance that God is bringing new life out of even the most difficult situations. Even if everything seems like an unmitigated disaster to me, I can be assured that God is weaving everything together in amazing ways. God’s imagination is far beyond my own…who knows what beauty God is unfolding?

Susan: Christians in Acts Chapter 8 find themselves in a world where everything has changed and they need to find new ways of practicing their faith – and they go out into the world and proclaim the good news of Jesus. We believe that the Episcopal Church is in a similar situation….For churches to proclaim the gospel in today’s world, we need to find active ways of proclaiming the gospel, going out into our communities and our world and talking to people about Jesus, rather than waiting for the people to come to us. We used Acts 8 as our inspiration in this book, because it leads to many insights about church mission in a time when the church needs to change the way it approaches its mission.

Do you have any stories that you feel deeply embody Acts Chapter 8?
Adam: My current congregation is having an important Acts 8 Moment right now. Over the past year, we have lost about a third of our choir due to graduations, deaths, and job relocations. Instead of limiting ourselves to pleas for more singers in the parish newsletter, we really thought about how we could use this need for more choir voices as an opportunity to reach people beyond our walls. After a number of discussions with people in the community, we are piloting a musical scholars program this year. We have nine high school students who will be receiving scholarships to attend choir rehearsals, sing in worship, and participate in an hour of Christian education and formation each week tailored to their needs. Some of the applications we received have talked about a long-standing desire to be part of a church. Our hope is that their scholarships will allow these young people to break down the barriers to attendance and deepen their life of faith.

Susan: In my diocesan position, I have been working with a vestry of a small Episcopal church in a midsize town to put some of these principles into action. They went out into their community and interviewed a number of the community leaders about the issues facing the town and how their church could help. One leader was the manager of a Boys and Girls Club across the street from the church. The manager suggested that the church could play a role in helping the children develop faith and character. The church is now taking 25-30 children one afternoon a week for a couple of hours, giving them snacks, mentoring, tutoring, fun, and a time of learning about the Bible.

Forward Movement Board of Directors appointments

Forward Movement

Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry has appointed new members to the board of directors for Forward Movement.

Ms. Anne Rudacille Schmidt, who is currently serving as chair of the board, was appointed to a second three-year term. New appointments were made for the Rt. Rev. Daniel G. P. Gutiérrez, bishop of Pennsylvania; Mr. Jamie McMahon, advancement director at Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh; and the Rev. Canon Susan Brown Snook, canon for church growth and development, Diocese of Oklahoma. A two-year term is being filled with the appointment of the Rev. Canon Jean Beniste, canon for Latino Ministry, Christ Church Cathedral, Indianapolis.

“I am thrilled that such gifted and passionate disciples of Jesus Christ are willing to serve on our board,” said the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, executive director of Forward Movement. “This is a critical time of transition in our church, and as Forward Movement seeks to serve a changing church in a changing world, stellar board leadership is more important than ever.”

Forward Movement’s board consists of twelve members appointed by the Presiding Bishop upon recommendation by the board’s nominating committee, as well as a secretary, a treasurer, and the Bishop of Southern Ohio. Responsible for guiding the vision and mission of Forward Movement, the board oversees the organization’s work and budget of just over $3 million annually.

Schmidt said, “I am grateful to continue serving on the board, as we work to ensure that Forward Movement is carrying on its excellent ministry of inspiring disciples and empowering evangelists.”

Forward Movement is known widely for its flagship publication, Forward Day by Day. It also offers books, curricula, conferences, websites, apps, and other online resources. With offices in Cincinnati, Forward Movement’s staff employs about 25 people. Learn more at www.forwardmovement.org.