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
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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*

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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.

Forward Today: Is the Gospel political?

Dear friends in Christ,

I’ve been pondering the Gospel and politics this week. Two things have happened to get me thinking.

First, the Archbishop of Canterbury last week criticized sharply corporate greed and increasing economic disparity. You can read a bit about what he said in the Washington Post. Naturally, there was a fierce response from those who said Archbishop Justin Welby should stick to religion and avoid politics.

Second, several people have contacted me about the author of this month’s meditations in Forward Day by Day, saying that the author is “too political” and that our devotions should “stick to religion.”

Here’s the challenge for us, especially those of us who are United States Christians. We do live in a time of increasing partisanship and social fracture. It’s tempting to look for some quieter spaces into which we might retreat from the ever-louder cacophony of talking heads and yelling politicians. It might seem, to some, that church should be such a place of refuge.

Meeting Jesus on the Margins

Alas, the Gospel will not permit us to avoid issues that our culture has labeled as political. The scriptural witness is clear, for example, that we must welcome strangers. We must care for the poor. We must decry those who would label some as sinners unworthy of our love and care. We must share our wealth. And so on.

To take up these topics is not to inject politics into religion. To take up these topics is the very essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Now, one can make the claim, with some support, that partisanship is to be eschewed in the church. I agree with this. We won’t be publishing meditations about tax brackets or mechanisms for funding health care or precise immigration quotas. These are all things that reasonable Christians can and should disagree about.

However, we at Forward Movement will continue to engage fundamental issues — including economic inequality, racism, sexism, and violence, to name a few – because they are key issues not just for civil society but for Christians.

The Gospel isn’t Republican or Democratic or Labour or Conservative or Green or any other party. But the Gospel demands that we work for a world in which justice, mercy, and grace reign supreme. Thanks be to God.

Yours faithfully,

 

 

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


Today’s Flash Sale: Broken

BrokenBefore Jesus broke the bread, he blessed it.

In the age of social media, where our lives are curated to show only our best and most beautiful selves, it is easy to believe we are the only ones who are broken. But we are not alone. We are all broken and in need of God’s blessing. No one has it all together; no person is perfect.

In essays both humorous and achingly vulnerable, author Ryan Casey Waller urges us to join him in pouring out our brokenness, not just to God but to each other. Waller takes us through the trials of following Jesus during seasons of doubt and disbelief, anger, shame, and even hate, but always brings us back to the amazing news that Jesus blessed the bread before he broke it.

Through Jesus, our brokenness is blessed, our wounds healed, and our hearts made whole.

Regular: $18
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Q&A: Mary Parmer, Director of Invite Welcome Connect

Invite Welcome ConnectMary Parmer serves as director of Invite Welcome Connect, a transformational ministry housed at the Beecken Center in the School of Theology, University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. Mary is the past director of the Gathering of Leaders, a national leadership gathering of young Episcopal clergy.

How did the concept of Invite Welcome Connect form and develop?
The concept for the ministry of Invite Welcome Connect was born out of my 10 year experience as director of evangelism and adult ministry at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Beaumont, Texas, and then was further developed through the Newcomer Ministry Project of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. Invite Welcome Connect is a ministry based on scripture, theology, and experience.

What is your favorite story that has come out of Invite Welcome Connect?
So many amazing stories have come out of Invite Welcome Connect—it would be impossible to say which is my favorite! Invite Welcome Connect has changed my heart, and It was a game-changing moment for our congregation as the fire of the gospel caught us and changed our lives forever. One woman shared that she might never have left the church 30 years ago, had she only heard the message of Invite Welcome Connect. I am humbled and blessed by all these stories—and all the ones yet to be told.

How do you see the book being used?
I pray the book will be used first as a tool for encouragement, giving people hope as they read of the transformation of individual lives and congregations of those who have implemented Invite Welcome Connect. The book includes a Getting Started Guide for those interested in implementing the ministry, and it could also serve as a check-in for those who are currently implementing the ministry.

What is your ultimate goal for this program and book?
My ultimate goal is that the ministry of Invite Welcome Connect will change the narrative of the Episcopal Church to move from maintenance to mission. For our congregations to thrive, spiritually and numerically, we need to equip and empower individuals and congregations to cultivate intentional practices of evangelism, hospitality, and connectedness rooted in the gospel imperative to Go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19).

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced on this journey?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced on this journey is intensely personal; balancing my personal and working lives, essentially holding down two jobs as Gathering of Leaders director and creating/nurturing the ministry of Invite Welcome Connect.

What’s your favorite prayer?
Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the
Serenity to accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can
And Wisdom to know the difference.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers and participants?
Although earlier I named my ultimate goal for the ministry and book, another more personal goal is that individuals who read the book will have the courage to discern the gifts God has placed within them, tapping into the imaginative creative mind God gives them, and then saying Yes to God’s call in their lives.

Forward Today: Holy Cross Day

Dear friends in Christ,

This Friday, we celebrate Holy Cross Day. For much of Christian history, the cross on which Jesus died has been a source of shame. The very idea that our Lord and Savior would be executed by the state seems like a defeat in our culture of success and might. The shocking event of Jesus’ crucifixion is just as jarring today as it was some 2,000 years ago.

I’ve had the great privilege of visiting Jerusalem several times. Each time, I spent some time in prayer in Calvary Chapel in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This is the traditional site of Jesus’ crucifixion. Archeologists can’t prove that Jesus died in this spot, but all the archeological evidence lines up in support of the possibility.

It always seems a bit jarring to me that the site of Jesus’ death is so…shiny. It’s radiant with candles. It’s surrounded by polished metal. The walls and the floor are marble. It all looks almost…festive.

Chapel

How are we to reckon the horror of a painful death with the radiant chapel? Maybe we can find the key in one of the prefaces for our Eucharistic prayers in the Book of Common Prayer (page 379): “For our sins he was lifted high upon the cross, that he might draw the whole world to himself; and, by his suffering and death, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who put their trust in him.”

The cross is the instrument of our salvation whereon Jesus freely gave himself for us and for our salvation. The cross is where we can celebrate God’s triumph over death and all the worst evil the world can muster. On the cross, Jesus reigned as Lord of Love.

This Friday, let us all celebrate Holy Cross Day. Let us keep the cross not as mere adornment, but as the center of our faith and life. Behold the wood of the cross on which hung the Savior of the World. Come, let us worship.

Yours faithfully,

 

 

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Photo source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottgunn/14136115257/in/album-72157644951849962/


Today’s Flash Sale: A Journey through Acts

Journey Through ActsThe Book of Acts shares the story of the birth of the Christian church, connecting the earliest followers of Jesus to Christians 2,000 years later. On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit breathes new life into followers of “The Way,” the community of Jesus’ disciples, and empowers them to share the Good News of God in Christ. Join the journey through Acts and follow in the footsteps of the apostles Peter and Paul and many others such as Barnabas and Lydia, all bearing witness to Jesus’ saving grace. Featuring fifty days of scripture and reflections by spiritual leaders from around the world, A Journey Through Acts is part of a series of 50 Day Bible studies and is an extension of The Bible Challenge, a global initiative to encourage daily engagement with the Word of God.

Q & A: Claude Payne, author of Reclaiming Christianity

Reclaiming Christianity Claude E. Payne served as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas and as rector of one of the largest Episcopal churches in the country. Reclaiming Christianity builds upon his vision for for the church to be mission-minded–to look outward to serve and share rather than focus inward. He is co-author of the best-selling book, Reclaiming the Great Commission.


How did the idea for Reclaiming Christianity develop?
Christianity has been in decline for half a century. My book exposes its root causes as inadequate understanding of how faith is transmitted and secondly, how internal conflict over theology and explosive issues has pitted the faithful against each other, undermining Christian integrity and degrading mission. The idea for the book stems from finding ways to turn decline into huge opportunity.

What is your hope for this book?
My hope is that churches and Christians will reclaim an evangelical vision of equipping seekers spiritually for a life-long pilgrimage in faith that leads into eternity, and that this spiritual nurture will inspire them to reach outward to bring health to the degrading aspects of life. An expansion of this vision includes a way of biblical interpretation based on love that will enable Christians who bitterly oppose each other to live into a kind of holy mutual respect. The highest vision is that it will contribute to the development of a better world.

What was your favorite part of writing this book?
Examining spirituality and how it is nurtured. Christianity is caught and then explained on the basis of inherited tradition. The growth of those who claim to be spiritual but not religious documents the reality of spiritual hunger in society and how Christians of strong faith don’t fully comprehend how to transmit that faith to others, including their own children. Christians possess spiritual treasure, deposited in their souls, that continues to grow throughout life. Modern society, including the church, privatizes this strong faith, suppressing its power because it isn’t shared. Identifying this treasure of the soul and fortifying it through sharing it at the congregational level in Christian Formation has been an especially joyful endeavor for me.

What would you do if you felt stuck?
Wait, pray, and continue to wrestle. Essentially I wait upon the Lord.

What is your favorite prayer? 
The Prayer Book prayer used for Fridays: Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and of peace. 

My guess is that this won’t be the favorite of many. I cherish it because it tells me growth and fulfillment come through my struggles, especially those upon which I rely on divine help. It is the way of Jesus and the way of life.

Where did you do most of your writing?
At my desk at home. I am “retired,” actually a misnomer, for clergy vows are for life.

Where did you draw your inspiration from?
Christ, and through a whole host of others throughout life. My wife is foremost among these. Then I have been inspired through personal participation among clergy groups in the United States and Canada, and in congregational Christian formation, about how effectively the models described in my book have worked. I have witnessed the joy it brings.

What else would you like readers to know?
My book is offered in love, especially as it challenges ways to look at authority and current practice. I want the book to be a useful tool that stimulates, inspires, and challenges others to live into a fuller and more fruitful Christian life.

Forward Today: Time for learning

Dear friends in Christ,

In many parts of the world, this is a time of year when schools resume. Whether or not you have children at your house, you may well be noticing the energy of study and learning all around. I always love this season.

This is a natural time to embrace learning about our faith. I’ve written about this before, but I think it’s a message worth repeating.

Is your church offering classes for the autumn? Can you sign up for a class somewhere else? Maybe you’ll commit to reading a book or even watching videos on a certain subject. We at Forward Movement have lots of books and other resources, but there are lots of other options too.Church Next

I’m excited to be teaching a course in The Wednesday Night Bible Study offered by our own ChurchNext. You can take the course I’m co-teaching with Melody Shobe. We’re talking about heresy, doctrine, and the Bible. Or you can study evangelism in the Bible with Marcus Halley, or the Bible and racial justice with Kelly Brown Douglas. Each one is a six-week course offered online on Wednesday nights.

But there are loads of options. If you’re not sure where to start, talk with your priest or with another experienced Christian. Whatever you do, I encourage you to join the spirit of the season and recommit to Christian learning.

Yours faithfully,

 

 

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


Today’s Flash Sale: Reclaiming Christianity

Reclaiming ChristianityIn a world hungry for the hope of Jesus, Episcopal Bishop Claude E. Payne offers a roadmap for individuals and churches to seek and establish rich spiritual lives and to connect deeply with God and our neighbors. Too often, spirituality is privatized and kept under wraps, not to be talked about in public circles. But Payne encourages us to reclaim our faith in the public square, in our communities, and with our family and friends. After nearly five decades in ordained ministry, Payne writes that he has never been more optimistic about the future of Christianity.

Across the country, Payne has witnessed people and congregations full of energy and compassion, committed to a life-giving, dynamic faith. In Reclaiming Christianity, Payne presents a practical and comprehensive model for sharing this faith with our neighbors and communities and encouraging all to seek a deeper connection with each other and with the Divine.

Regular: $15
Today Only: $11.25*

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