Tag Archives: Forward Today

Forward Today: Union of Black Episcopalian’s 50th Anniversary

Dear friends in Christ,

This time last week, my husband David and I were in Nassau, Bahamas. No, we weren’t on vacation—we attended the 50th annual conference of the Union of Black Episcopalians or UBE. Growing up, I thought everyone knew what UBE was. Now, I realize that many in the church have never heard of it, or don’t see why it’s still relevant. Let me share a little about UBE, and why it is essential to The Episcopal Church.

UBE’s primary goal is to teach black people how the governance of the church works—notably, General Convention. Black deputies get lots of support from UBE leadership. UBE is a place for black clergy and laypersons to gather for workshops, panel discussions, and plenary sessions about topics relevant to us in today’s worship community. UBE offers a space for us to worship together with the music of our elders and ancestors. The Union provides a welcoming environment for anyone in the black Episcopal community and those who work in it.

UBE was fuel for my family and became our vacation each summer. As a black girl growing up in the 1970s and 80s, I loved going to UBE. The other regular attendees became family—some, quite literally. David and I met 37 years ago at Chatham College in Pittsburgh when I was 14, and married twelve years later. Mentors, teachers, and spiritual guides surrounded me as I grew from an awkward, shy teenager into an awkward, shy adult. I carry their lessons with me today and impart them to others. Honestly, I owe my life as I know it to UBE.

Photos from UBE, including Miriam McKenney, the Presiding Bishop Curry

 

This 50th-anniversary conference was my first conference in many years, and I’m happy to say that the spirit of UBE is unchanged. I saw lots of new faces and many old family friends. At the Forward Movement exhibit table, I met new clergy and seminarians, longtime readers of Forward Day by Day, and several aspiring writers. You may have heard about the worship service last Monday evening at Christ Church Cathedral with Bishop Curry—it was phenomenal. I felt so uplifted and refueled—just like when I attended as a youth years ago.

The church is better when all of our voices are heard, and I’m proud to be an Episcopalian at a time when we care very seriously about diversity in The Episcopal Church. But even if we realize true ethnic equality, there will be a need and a place for UBE. Thanks be to God for all of the leaders of UBE past and present. Congratulations, Union of Black Episcopalians, for 50 years of ministry! We’re proud to be your partner as you enter your next 50 years.

Peace,
Miriam

Miriam McKenney serves as Development Director of Forward Movement.

Photos: Junkanoo welcome; Miriam at UBE, age 12; Miriam, David, and the Atlantic; The Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, Canon to the Presiding Bishop; The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry; Rev. K. Coleman, Rev. S. Mcvean-Brown, Dr. S. Montes


Today’s Flash Sale: Faith with a Twist: A 30-Day Journey into Christian Yoga

Faith with a Twist cover

Faith with a Twist: A 30-Day Journey into Christian Yoga seeks to bridge the gap between spiritual-but-not-religious by blending the ancient church’s wisdom and the spiritual practice of yoga. All too often attempts to blend yoga and Christianity have failed to do justice to both traditions — often sacrificing the wisdom of one tradition for the other. Faith with a Twist connects the traditional eight limbs of yoga with the church’s understanding and emphasis on living a holy life. This approach creates a unique blend of spiritual practices and religious wisdom that are perfect for the yoga novice and the experienced practitioner alike.

Normal: $16 | Today: $12

Forward Today: Rest and renewal

Dear friends in Christ,

Maybe you’re not like me, and your summer has seemed long and luxurious, with plenty of time for rest and renewal. But I’m guessing most of you feel the same way as I do: bewildered by the rapid turn of the calendar, with the beginning of school and the church’s program year just around the corner.

Like many folks, the staff at Forward Movement spent the spring and early summer vigorously preparing for General Convention. We wanted to share several new resources with you, the leaders of the church. And, by the grace of God and lots of hard work, we were able to showcase a slew of new resources, from ChurchNext to Mary Parmer’s book about the fabulous ministry of Invite Welcome Connect. But one of our new resources offered an important lesson to us.

Woman doing yoga

A week before General Convention, Forward Movement held a “day of refreshment.” We began with a lovely breakfast and conversation. After our daily prayer time, some stayed in their chairs while others rolled out yoga mats in the hallway. For twenty minutes, we followed the prayers and reflections from one of our new books, Faith with a Twist: A 30-Day Journey into Christian Yoga written by Episcopal priest Hillary D. Raining and yoga instructor Amy Nobles Dolan. I’m not a regular at yoga classes, but this brief respite of quiet reflection and gentle stretches reminded me of the importance of rest and renewal.

God calls us to times of rest-mandates it, actually, in the Ten Commandments, and we see its significance throughout scripture, from the story of creation to the number of times Jesus withdraws to the wilderness to pray. As we move into August, I pray that you find (or make) time for rest. The ancient wisdom of Christianity and the ancient spiritual practice of yoga teaches that Sabbath-keeping helps us maintain balance in the midst of competing demands and more importantly, draws us closer to God.
The divine in me honors the divine in you.
Namaste.

Richelle

Richelle Thompson serves as deputy director and managing editor of Forward Movement. 


Today’s Flash Sale: The Spy on Jacob’s Ladder

Jacob's LadderHave you ever wondered what stories stones might tell or whether a fishing boat can be friends with a faithful sailor? In the kingdom of God, every single thing has a story to tell and a song to sing-donkeys, sewing needles, secret caves, and water jugs! From the author who introduced you to The Spy on Noah’s Ark, this collection of stories, told from the inside out, are sure to stir up your heart and mind as you read along, meeting old friends and making new ones. You are invited to be a spy too at some of the most beloved stories of the Bible, placing yourself as participant and witness to God’s unfolding and unfailing grace and love.

Normal: $12 | Today: $9

Forward Today: Living the way of love

Dear friends in Christ,

Like many other church leaders, I have just returned from General Convention full of memories, knowledge, and inspiration. Each person will have a unique experience, with favorite moments from the convention. Mine came during the opening worship service, when our Presiding Bishop preached a fiery sermon about God’s love. That’s not new, of course. But there was something new.

Bishop Curry has invited us all to take on spiritual practices so that we are spiritually vital followers of Jesus who have some Good News to share with others. Since he became Presiding Bishop, Bishop Curry has been calling us to be evangelists. To be effective evangelists, we have to live transformed lives, and that’s where the Way of Love comes in.

Bishop Curry preaching

[At the end of Eucharist of the 79th General Convention in Austin, Texas,
 Presiding Bishop Michael Curry blesses the hundreds of participants.
Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service]

We are called to seven practices:
TURN: Pause, listen, and choose to follow Jesus
LEARN: Reflect on Scripture each day, especially on Jesus’ life and teachings
PRAY: Dwell intentionally with God daily
WORSHIP: Gather in community weekly to thank, praise, and dwell with God
BLESS: Share faith and unselfishly give and serve
GO: Cross boundaries, listen deeply, and live like Jesus
REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration

You can learn more at episcopalchurch.org/wayoflove. If you are looking for resources to support your journey, Forward Movement is one of many partners with a set of resources to help you. You can see what Forward Movement offers at our website, forwardmovement.org/wayoflove.

I plan to work on these myself, and I hope you’ll join me in answering the call of our Presiding Bishop. Of course, Bishop Curry is really reminding us of the call from our Savior and Lord, as Jesus invites us to a new life abounding in grace.

Yours faithfully,
Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 


Today’s Flash Sale: Note to Self: Creating Your Guide to a More Spiritual Life

Note to SelfDiscover what God has written onto your heart. What do you want for your life? Who do you want to be in your life, and how do you want to live? We humans need reminders, and when it comes to making a consistent effort to be better people, it’s important to have constant reminders. A “Rule of Life” is an ancient method for building soul memory, and offering reminders to ourselves of the person we hope to be-it is a practice of training your mind and soul to be kind and good.

Creating your own rule of life is grace that only you can offer to yourself, helping remind you to live the life you desire, and the life God wishes for you. Join author and Episcopal priest Charles LaFond as he guides you through the wisdom, creation, and application of your own Rule of Life.

Normal: $18 | Today: $13.50

Forward Today: The inspiration of General Convention

Dear friends in Christ,

I write to you from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas. If you’ve been following the news, you know that church leaders – lay leaders, bishops, priests, and deacons – have been making important decisions affecting our common life as Episcopalians.

Please allow me to share a few personal highlights:

  • It is always wonderful to see long-time friends and meet new friends.
  • On Sunday, several hundred of us prayed outside a detention center. Our aim was to witness to God’s gracious love, but also to let the women held inside know that they are remembered.
  • In the exhibit hall, at the Forward Movement booth, I’ve had lots of good conversations with people from around the world. I’ve heard inspiring stories of how people are using Forward Movement products, but I’ve also learned about resources people would like to see.
  • My work at Forward Movement is only one hat I’ve been wearing. As an elected deputy to the General Convention, I’ve been working alongside more than 800 other deputies to deliberate on almost 500 resolutions that have been submitted for consideration.
  • Our church is filled with people of good humor. I’ve especially enjoyed the  gc79pigeon twitter parody account. It’s always good when we Episcopalians can laugh, especially when we can laugh about ourselves.

 

[We come in love Presiding Bishop Michael Curry told a crowd of more than 1000 gathered in prayer at the T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Taylor Texas. Photo: Frank Logue, Episcopal News Service.]

But there is one thing that stands out for me. Here at General Convention, nearly every person is deeply in love with the Episcopal Church. We have many competing ideas of how we want our church to look and to act. And yet our conversations have been remarkably charitable and generous. Passionate arguments have been made. But there has also been the silence of contemplation and listening. It’s encouraging to see this here, and I hope we might discuss this more both in our society and at home in our local congregations.

If you are an Episcopalian, ask your bishop and deputies about their experience here. What inspired them? What surprised them? And if you have been following along from home, what can you learn from this convention?

Yours faithfully,
Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 


Today’s Flash Sale: Inwardly Digest

Scholar Derek Olsen explores liturgical spirituality and how the prayer book serves as a repository of Christian wisdom and spiritual practice stretching back to the beginnings of the Christian movement. Focusing on three key elements-the Calendar, the Daily Office, and the Eucharist-he discusses the spiritual principles behind them and provides clear, practical, easy-to-follow explanations of the services. These patterns of life laid out in The Book of Common Prayer serve as a guide to the spiritual life, so that we might connect back to the God who calls each of us by name and that we might love as God loves us.

Normal: $22 | Today: $16.50

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: 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.

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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!

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Forward Today: Springtime gratitude is not just for spring

In the new Forward Today, Scott reflects on spring, and asks: What keeps you from constant amazement?


Dear friends in Christ,

Spring is here. Technically, it’s been spring for several weeks, but at least in the part of the country where I live, we’re just now enjoying what might be called spring weather. The sky is blue, the flowers are blooming, people are outdoors more, and it’s the season of picnics.

 

For some reason, I’m especially grateful this year. Maybe it’s an usually long winter. Perhaps it’s the chaos of world news contrasted with the simple beauty of flowers. Whatever it is, I’m filled with gratitude for the goodness and beauty of creation. The thing is, two weeks ago, the world was just as amazing. But I wasn’t in a place to appreciate nature quite as much. I wonder what life would be like if my heart and mind were always open to the wonders of nature, to the beauty of creation?
 
And it’s the same for our neighbors, isn’t it? Do you ever meet someone and think, this person is amazing! It’s such a blessing to hear from this new person I’ve just met! The thing is, there’s an amazing person lurking inside everyone we meet. The question is whether or not our hearts and minds are open.
 
Today I’m praying for the grace and the wisdom to be amazed. It’s never a question of whether amazement is around. The question is always whether I’m open to seeing it.
 
What about you? Are you grateful for springtime? Are you grateful for the things you see and the people you meet? What keeps you from constant amazement?

 

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


Today’s featured sale item is Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book. Just $21 today only, and a great gift idea!

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Forward Today: Let’s celebrate Saint Mark the Evangelist

In the new Forward Today, Scott suggests a way to honor St. Mark: simply read his whole gospel.


Dear friends in Christ,

Today is the feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist. This is a major feast, a red-letter day! We remember and celebrate the author of the Gospel of Mark. You can read about Saint Mark and the fascinating history of how the church has remembered him over on Wikipedia. The story of his relics would make a great Hollywood movie.

 But that’s not my point today. I want to encourage you to celebrate this day in a particular way. For one thing, your local church may be offering Holy Eucharist for Saint Mark’s Day. Churches are, after all, meant to observe all the major feasts. Beyond that, there’s a simpler way to honor this evangelist. We can read the Gospel he wrote.

A lion on St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice. Photo: Scott Gunn

Mark is the shortest of the four gospels. You can read it in about an hour, maybe less. My friend from seminary, Bert Marshall, goes on the road reciting the entire gospel. On a sabbatical several years ago, Bert memorized the entire gospel. He travels to churches and tells the story, in one sitting. Having experienced this, I can tell you it’s gripping. Mark’s writing is compact; there is a high degree of urgency. Bert tells the story in a way that makes it seem like he is simply telling the story, and that’s the point of the gospel. We tell the story.

You don’t need a guest to come and read the gospel out loud. You could gather everyone in your home and read the gospel, out loud or silently. It’s a quick read. And it’s a wonderful way to savor the power of Jesus’ life, ministry, passion, death, and resurrection.

So, today, let us honor Saint Mark the evangelist as we read the great gift he has offered us in writing a gospel.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


Today’s featured sale item is all-ages coloring book Pathways of Faith.

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