Forward Today: Visit us at General Convention

Dear friends in Christ,

If you are an Episcopalian, you probably already know that General Convention starts this week. This once-every-three-years gathering brings together bishops, other church leaders, and many others from across our church. We are assembled in Austin, Texas this time. If a long church meeting didn’t already guarantee plenty of hot air, the weather will take care of us with plenty of heat. While we are here, we will worship together, deliberate on matters affecting our common life, see new and long-time friends, and learn about the work of organizations and ministries across the church.

Forward Movement Booth

Forward Movement has a booth set up in the exhibit hall, and we’d love to see you! If you are able to come to Austin, please stop by the exhibit hall, say hello to staff and authors, and browse the selection of books and other resources we have available for purchase. If you can’t come to Austin, do check out our website, where we are announcing several new offerings.

Throughout General Convention, until July 14, most Forward Movement products are on sale for 10% off regular price. So, whether you are in Austin or around the globe, enjoy a bargain! If ordering online, use the promo code GC2018 to get your 10% discount.

I bid your prayers for General Convention. Deputies and bishops will be deliberating on important issues for our common life, and it is good to be surrounded by prayer.

O God, the fountain of wisdom, whose will is good and gracious, and whose law is truth: We beseech you so to guide and bless all deputies and bishops, that they may make wise decisions and enact faithful resolutions that please you, to the glory of your Name and the welfare of this Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

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Walk in Love coverToday’s flash sale is one of our newest and most popular titles: Walk in Love: Episcopal Beliefs & Practices 

Take a journey through The Book of Common Prayer, the Christian life, and basic beliefs of our faith, guided by two Episcopal priests–Scott Gunn and Melody Wilson Shobe. Walk through the liturgical year, the sacraments of the church, habits of daily prayer, and the teachings of Anglican Christianity. See how our prayer shapes our belief and our lives and how our beliefs lead us into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

Normal: $22 | Today: $16.50

Forward Today: New opportunities to grow in Christ

Dear friends in Christ,

As I’ve traveled across our church, I’ve learned a great deal about the importance of Christian formation. Of course, we are formed by liturgy, by service to others, by scripture, and by daily prayer. But there is also value in courses. Taking a course about some aspect of our faith can fill our mind’s with the knowledge and the love of God in new ways.

I also know that many of our congregations offer limited possibilities for Christian learning. At Forward Movement, we’re committed to formation, and so that’s why we’ve offered lots of books, website, courses, and other resources. But, still, we’ve been wondering how we can meet the needs of today’s church for Christian learning.

Today I am pleased to say that we are acquiring ChurchNext. You may have seen an announcement about this, but the short version is this: ChurchNext has been offering innovative, high-quality affordable online learning for several years now. Chris Yaw, the founder, is quite a remarkable visionary, and I am thankful that he will be part of the Forward Movement team now, carrying on his excellent work with ChurchNext.

ChurchNext offers over 300 courses that individuals can take any time – courses on scripture, faith, theology, spiritual practices, public policy, and other topics. Congregations can also use the courses in group settings, allowing even the smallest congregations to learn from some of the most widely known experts in Christian faith and life.

Do check out the ChurchNext website: www.churchnext.tv

And if you want to check out ChurchNext, we’re offering a free course July 2-14 from our Presiding Bishop, From Palace to Public Square: The Way of Love. It’s free, so give ChurchNext a try. And stay tuned for more updates about new offerings.

Yours faithfully,

 

 

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

To get weekly reflections from Scott in your inbox, subscribe to Forward Today.


Today’s flash sale is a best-seller: The Path: A Journey Through the Bible

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.
Normal: $22 | Today: $16.50

Forward Movement acquires online learning platform ChurchNext

Online learning company ChurchNext has been acquired by Forward Movement, expanding the organization’s ability to fulfill its mission to inspire disciples and empower evangelists. This gives the 84-year-old ministry of the Episcopal Church a modern digital platform to more effectively help individuals and congregations thrive in their faith, by seeking online learning opportunities at their own pace and targeted to their own needs.

“We know that Christian formation is vital to spiritual growth, and traditional models do not work for many people,” said the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, executive director of Forward Movement. “ChurchNext courses allow people to learn at their own pace, on their own schedule.”

Chris Yaw

“What an opportunity to spread the message of God’s love!” said the Rev. Chris Yaw, ChurchNext founder. “Both organizations will benefit from this acquisition, with existing and future ChurchNext users seeing an enhanced and expanded experience as well. Our vision has always been for every Episcopal parish to have its own online school, and our new home with Forward Movement gets us a step closer to this goal. We’re excited for this next chapter of our ministry.”

ChurchNext offers courses so people can learn at home, and there are also courses for congregations to use in group settings. Yaw said, “With ChurchNext, any church can offer a Sunday morning or midweek class with some of the best teachers and respected experts on a wide variety of topics.”

Gunn added, “ChurchNext has proven to be a reliable, user-friendly delivery vehicle for convenient, affordable, and high-quality discipleship and evangelism materials that benefit congregations and their members. We remind people regularly that Forward Movement is not a publishing company, we’re a discipleship and evangelism ministry, and this step will help us further realize that mission in the 21stCentury.”

 

Based in suburban Detroit, ChurchNext launched in August 2013 with 28 online classes. Since then, more than 25,000 people from 30+ countries have taken one of ChurchNext’s 300+ courses, which have featured instructors like Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Parker Palmer, Phyllis Tickle, Stanley Hauerwas, and Nadia Bolz Weber; just to name a few.

The ChurchNext team will stay on with the organization, including Yaw, as ChurchNext seeks to expand its service to the Episcopal Church and beyond. Look for more announcements of new offerings in the weeks to come.

To celebrate the announcement, ChurchNext has already released a new “Big Class” with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on his new “Way of Love” initiative. The course will be available for FREE to all from July 2-14, coinciding with the 79thGeneral Convention of The Episcopal Church. You can find the course here.

 ChurchNext, a ministry of Forward Movement, creates online Christian learning experiences that shape disciples. Along with our partners, we are devoted to helping people grow in their Christian faith, improve their lives, and better the world. Learn more at www.churchnext.tv

Inspiring disciples and empowering evangelists around the globe every day, Forward Movement has been producing excellent, innovative resources to encourage spiritual growth in individuals and congregations for more than eighty years. Learn more at www.forwardmovement.org

Forward Today: Genuine love and truthful speech

Dear friends in Christ,

Perhaps, like me, you have been disturbed by the news recently. Sometimes it looks like violence is spiraling out of control. Racism and sexism and other forms of discrimination, oppression, and diminishment appear to carry the day. It sure seems like we lack the kind of political leadership we need to change our world for the better.

Amidst all this, the lectionary this coming Sunday brings us an excerpt from St. Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth. His letter is informed by some real experience of hardship and persecution. St. Paul has been imprisoned for his faith. He has persisted “through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger…”

And how does St. Paul tell the church to respond to adversity? The way of Christ’s love is “by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God.”

This does not mean “being nice” or empty “thoughts and prayers.” There is a kind of ferocity in St. Paul’s advice. This comes from a man who sang hymns in prison. He is a person of action. He is a person of constant witness.

What would that look like? Truthful speech could mean naming evil when we see it. Genuine love could mean making the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ real for people. Holiness of spirit could mean seeking justice without resorting to the evils we deplore.

Photo credit: sandinmysuitcase.com

I was struck by news reports out of St. Louis, where our Presbyterian siblings are meeting for their General Assembly. In a worship offering, they raised $47,000 to pay bail for inmates who are imprisoned for non-violent crimes and who cannot afford bail. They are literally freeing prisoners. It doesn’t get more Gospel than that.

St. Paul writes, “See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!” He’s not talking about getting our ticket punched to go to heaven. St. Paul – and the entire Gospel – understands salvation as participation in the abundant, eternal life of God in Jesus Christ. It is salvation, healing, wholeness, and redemption. St. Paul says we shouldn’t wait. Today is the day to work out our salvation.

What will that look like for you? What will it look like for your church? In a couple of weeks, the Episcopal Church will gather for General Convention. What can we do there? Can the Episcopal Church free captives? Can we proclaim the kingdom in ways that change lives? Can we show mercy in a world that is too often focused on score-keeping or even oppression?

Yours faithfully,

 

 

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

To get weekly reflections from Scott in your inbox, subscribe to Forward Today.


Today’s flash sale is a Forward Movement best-seller, with brand new cover art, The Spy on Noah’s Ark, by Lindsay Hardin Freeman.

Best for ages 7-12 — Perfect for emerging readers as well as for adults and children to read along together.

Normal: $12 | Today: $7.50

Forward Today: The harvest has come

Dear friends in Christ,

This Sunday’s Gospel reading brings us the parable of the mustard seed. That will probably get most of the air time in pulpits, because if offers a powerful and compelling image of God’s kingdom. But there’s another bit in the Gospel reading that’s worth paying attention to.

Jesus talks about planting seeds, and he ends with this: “The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” This is one of several times when Jesus uses images to convey urgency in the work at hand.

CC0 Creative Commons / TheDigitalArtist

I’ve been thinking about urgency lately. Our church is spectacularly good at avoiding urgent responses. We are loathe to invite people to know Jesus, though the world clearly yearns for purpose and hope. We are resistant to recast our vision of what congregations should be doing, though the neighborhoods around our churches have clearly changed. Individually, I think many of us procrastinate our own work of spiritual renewal. I know I do.

Jesus is clear. There is a kingdom to proclaim. There are lives to transform. There is a world to save. And Jesus is clear that we followers must be about it urgently.

What keeps us from urgently responding to the call of Jesus Christ? What might our church look like if we saw that the grain is ripe and we got busy gathering in the harvest?

Yours faithfully,

 

 

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


Today’s featured sale item is I Will, With God’s Help.

To get future reflections from Scott in your inbox, subscribe to Forward Today.

Forward Today: Take prayer on vacation

Dear friends in Christ,

We are coming to that time of year when many of us slow down for the summer. If you’re a student, or if you have kids at home, the days seem much different now. Lots of us go on vacation for part of the summer. The pace of life changes.

I want to encourage you to do two things over the summer.

First, when you travel, visit a local church. These can be wonderful opportunities to receive hospitality and to worship in ways that will be both familiar and strange. Maybe you’ll get some good ideas to take back to your home church. You’ll certainly be nourished by the riches of God’s word and sacraments. The Episcopal Asset Map is a great tool to help find a church while you’re out of town.

Family and Table graces

Second, keep praying over the summer. God doesn’t take a vacation from us, so let’s not take a vacation from God. Use the Daily Devotions from Families and Individuals (found in the Book of Common Prayer starting at page 137). There are prayers for morning, noon, evening, and night. At just one page, these are brief prayers that are still filled with depth and beauty.

Another way to nurture a habit of daily prayer in families is to pray at meal time. There are very brief prayers in the Book of Common Prayer at page 835, if you want short prayers that you can memorize. Or you can get copies of Table Graces and Family Graces from Forward Movement. These are table tents, easy to pray whether there are one, two, or ten of you at the table.

Keeping up with our daily prayers helps us in our daily walk as followers of Jesus. Enjoy your summer, and enjoy praying all summer long.

Yours faithfully,

 

 

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


Today’s featured sale items are Table Graces and Family Graces.

To get future reflections from Scott in your inbox, subscribe to Forward Today.

Forward Today: Celebrating joy and justice

In the new Forward Today, Scott reflects on tomorrow’s Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


Dear friends in Christ,

Tomorrow the church celebrates the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, remembering the time when Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth. As St. Luke’s Gospel tells the story (1:39-57), when Mary entered her cousin’s home, Elizabeth said, “For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
 
Even before his birth, the not-yet-born John the Baptist responded to the presence of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. This alone would make the feast day worth commemorating. But we also have the account of Mary’s response to this outburst of joy. She sang the Magnificat.

 

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
 
This hymn of Mary says a great deal about God’s passion for justice. As we reflect on the Visitation, I wonder if we are ready to experience joy? I wonder if our lives reflect God’s desire to lift up the lowly, to feed the hungry, and to show mercy?

 

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


Today’s featured sale item is Walk in Love: Episcopal Beliefs & Practices.

To get future reflections from Scott in your inbox, subscribe to Forward Today.

Forward Today: How will you fall in love with God again?

In the new Forward Today, Scott reflects on Bishop Curry’s powerful sermon on love at last weekend’s Royal Wedding.


Dear friends in Christ,

It seems like everyone is talking about Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon at the royal wedding last weekend. When does a sermon ever become a news story? And yet, Bishop Curry has been on CNN, The Today Show, Good Morning America, and even TMZ to talk about his sermon. Why?
 
Certainly it has to do with Bishop Curry himself, who knows the power of media and who has the charisma to fill an entire room with contagious joy. But it’s more than that. It’s not really about Bishop Curry at all, I think. The reason the world has been captivated is that, last Saturday, some two billion people around the world heard a message of God’s love in Jesus Christ.

 

Other than the spectacle of “one of our own” appearing in surprising places, what does this mean for us? Surely, there’s more to be gained here than a few chuckles from a funny impression of Bishop Curry on Saturday Night Live.
 
It seems to me, we have two big opportunities. The first is to renew our own love of God and our neighbors. How can we once again fall in love with God and then share that love with others? And the second is this: how can we invite other people to know the transforming power of God’s love in Jesus Christ?
 
Not long ago, Forward Movement published a book that Melody Wilson Shobe and I have written. Walk in Love: Episcopal Beliefs & Practices offers one way to explore what a life rooted in love looks like. Our book suggests that knowing and sharing God’s love is rooted in the sacraments, in daily prayer, in service of others, and in sharing the Good News.
 
How will you fall in love with God again? How will you invite someone else to know the transforming power of love?

 

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


Today’s featured sale item is Broken. Just $13.50, today only!

To get future reflections from Scott in your inbox, subscribe to Forward Today.

Discover a life rooted in the power of love

Dear friends in Christ,

On Saturday, the world was captivated by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s powerful sermon at the royal wedding. It’s gone viral, and that’s surely due to his core message. “This way of love is the way of life” and “We were made by a power of love. And our lives were meant and are meant to be lived in that love.”

But what does a live rooted in the love of Jesus Christ look like? Learn how to pray, live, work, and worship in the way of love as you read Walk in Love: Episcopal Beliefs & Practices by Scott Gunn and Melody Wilson Shobe.

 

Take a journey through The Book of Common Prayer, the Christian life, and basic beliefs of our faith, guided by two Episcopal priests. Walk through the liturgical year, the sacraments of the church, habits of daily prayer, and the teachings of Anglican Christianity. See how our prayer shapes our belief and our lives and how our beliefs lead us into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

“Scott Gunn and Melody Wilson Shobe have written another winsome resource for Episcopal newcomers, veterans and everybody in between. Read it if you want to learn the relationship between our prayer, our belief, and our daily life. Read it to get re-rooted in the unique Anglican approach to the Way of Jesus. Just read it.” – The Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, Canon to the Presiding Bishop.

Buy direct from Forward Movement for just $22.

The book includes discussion questions, and bulk pricing is available.

Also available on the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and at the iTunes store.

To get weekly reflections from Scott Gunn in your inbox, subscribe to Forward Today.

A summer reading giveaway

Our summer reading list features some of our most compelling and soul enriching titles of the year. Whether you’re reading poolside, on the bus ride to work, or at the airport, we hope whichever book you choose will add richness to your summer, and to your spiritual life.

During the week of May 21 – 25, we will be hosting a giveaway on our Facebook page, giving away one of these featured titles each day. Follow us on Facebook to participate.

Broken

In his book, Broken, Waller has engaged me like no other Christian book ever has. His work reads like a conversation with a trusted mentor: there is vulnerability, questions asked, hard truth, and sage advice. We all go through seasons of darkness and Waller, with great empathy, reminds us that to be Christian is to admit and even embrace our brokenness and turn to a Lord that loves us anyways.”

-Shannon Tabor, Amazon Review

 

The Social Justice Bible Challenge

Finally we have a book title that speaks directly to the essence of the Bible: The Social Justice Bible Challenge. This book goes a long way in helping those who read it to hear the Word of God and live it. You must give this book to your family and friends.”

-The Reverend Dr. Mark Francisco Bozzuti-Jones, Priest and Director, Core Values and Latin America & Caribbean Relations

 

Walk in Love

The most comprehensive, and comprehensible, guide to Episcopal faith and practice available. A perfect book for new comers, long-time members, and anyone in between.” (Read the entire review here.)

-Adam Trambley, rector at St John’s Episcopal Church, Sharon, PA

 

 

Are We There Yet?

I thought at first that this book would be good for my little Parish. Of course, I had to read it first. I discovered it was medicine for MY soul! Every contributor offered insights, wisdom, and grace. This year it was a pilgrimage just for me (with the wonderful company of the authors). Next year I will be in the company of many of my dearest spiritual friends.”

-Prof Larry, Amazon Review

 

Note to Self

This is a book many of us need. Here is ancient wisdom distilled into contemporary form to give shape and purpose to lives that are often noisy and without boundaries. Charles LaFond gently offers his own experience and the good sense of others to help us discern a better way. We are in his debt.”

-John Pritchard, Retired Bishop of Oxford