Forward Today: One faith, one Lord, one baptism

Dear friends in Christ,

When we start our baptismal services, we profess our baptismal faith: “There is one Body and one Spirit; there is one hope in God’s call to us; one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism; one God and Father of all.” It’s easy to say this, but it can be hard to live out the reality that we in the church are united by baptism into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our bonds are indissoluble, even if sometimes that’s hard to see.

I thought about this the last few days while I was in Vancouver, British Columbia to represent Forward Movement at the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada. We were there to display some of our wares in the exhibit hall, but during the times when our table was quiet, I sat in the observer gallery to watch General Synod do its work.

Of course, I found lots of differences, large and small, between the way General Synod works and the way General Convention works in the Episcopal Church. The scale is smaller in Canada, so there’s a more intimate feel. The orders of bishops, clergy, and laity all sit together, so that shapes the conversation—in mostly good ways, I thought. In some ways there is more formality (adding the Primate as “Your Grace”), but mostly there’s less attention paid to procedural formality.

More than differences, I noticed many similarities. In both Canada and the US, the church is contending with the end of Christendom and the decline of the church’s privileged place in society. Both Canadian Anglicans and the Episcopal Church are trying to sort out how to stay anchored in tradition while adapting for the needs of today’s world. In Canada as in the Episcopal Church, we’re talking about discipleship more—and not just talking, but putting discipleship into practice.

What impressed me most of all though about General Synod is the strong desire, professed by nearly every speaker, to be together in one church. So often, I’ve experienced people who are ready to cast off those with whom they disagree, or I’ve heard people talk about how they’ll leave if the church doesn’t go in their preferred direction. Those were rare words, indeed, in Canada. No one shied away from disagreement, but the predominant sense was to find ways to disagree while staying in relationship. I think I could learn something here, and perhaps many others could too.

When I went the church on Sunday morning, I heard a wonderful sermon by Mother Lucy Price at St. James’ Church in Vancouver. Mother Price mentioned that the newly elected Primate in Canada is fond of quoting Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Nothing General Synod does or doesn’t do separates us from God’s love. Nothing General Convention does or doesn’t do separates us from God’s love. The church can surely hurt people—and for that, it must repent. But our baptism has united us in Christ Jesus, and that can’t be taken away. Good words to remember.

I’m grateful for a renewed sense of unity through fellowship and worship with Canadian siblings in Christ. And I’m eager to find ways to help our church and our world see that there is one Body and one Spirit; there is one hope in God’s call to us.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Image by Scott Gunn: Opening Eucharist, General Synod 2019, at Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, BC


Today’s Flash Sale: Walk in Love

Walk in LoveTake 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.

Regular: $22
Today: $16.50

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

Forward Today: Forward Movement visits Canada

Dear friends in Christ,

I am writing this week from Vancouver, BC, where managing editor Richelle Thompson and I will be representing Forward Movement at the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada.

If you are the sort of person who takes an interest in such things, you can get news of what’s happening in the Anglican Journal, the national newspaper of the Anglican Church of Canada. Among other things, delegates will be electing a new Primate (or head) of the Anglican Church of Canada. Much like the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, time will be spent in worship, fellowship, learning, and legislative deliberation. It’s all anchored in prayer and in the presence of Jesus Christ.

Speaking of prayer, I encourage you to pray for the work of our Anglican siblings in Canada. You might like to use the prayer For a Synod from their Book of Alternative Services:

Almighty and everliving God, source of all wisdom and understanding, be present with those who take counsel in Vancouver for the renewal and mission of your Church. Teach us in all things to seek first your honour and glory. Guide us to perceive what is right, and grant us both the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

I arrived yesterday, and I’ve already had a chance to see some friends and meet new friends. It’s remarkable to trade stories and hear about how our ministries are similar or different. One bishop told me about some challenges he faces with polar bears! That’s not what I’m used to thinking about. And yet we are all working to make disciples.

Follow along if that’s of interest to you. There’s a great blessing in learning about the work of those of similar but significantly different traditions. We can support one another. We can learn from one another. We can rejoice together. And we can bear one another’s burdens. Our church is holy, wherever we find it. And that is something for which to give thanks and to praise God.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

P.S…If you are attending General Synod, find our stall in the display area. We’d love to meet you.

Image: WikiCommons, Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver


Today’s Flash Sale: Living Reconciliation

In a world often defined by differences, Christians are called to be reconciled reconcilers. Inspired by the indaba process of deep listening and seeking common ground, this book shares stories of profound reconciliation from around the Anglican Communion. Written by staff of the Anglican Communion Office and with a foreword by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Living Reconciliation explores how reconciliation is at the heart of mission and a guiding principle of scripture.

Regular: $12
Today: $9

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

Forward Today: Thinking about freedom

Dear friends in Christ,

For readers living in the USA, tomorrow is Independence Day. Mostly the holiday seems to be about a day off from work, some outdoor food, and dazzling fireworks displays. If we look a bit deeper, Independence Day celebrates the founding of this nation—and a broad vision of freedom.

Of course, we can’t think about freedom and the founding of the United States without remembering that freedoms were really only for white male property owners. There is tragic irony in the presence of slavery and the poor treatment of Native Americans while leaders talked about “certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”Fireworks

Still, one can see a broad vision of freedom that was—though immensely flawed—ahead of its time. The founders thought a lot about the common good, seeking to fashion a kind of freedom that would benefit all people. Today when we celebrate Independence Day, we tend to focus on freedom as a projection of power and rights. We celebrate the idea that we can do whatever we want, both as people and as a nation.

Christians have a different view of freedom, and we were reminded of this just last Sunday in the epistle, taken from Galatians 5. I like the RSV translation, “For you were called to freedom…only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another.” That is, we who follow Jesus can do whatever we want, but our faith compels us to use our freedom to care for others. Galatians reminds us that, in fact, we Christians do have laws: “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

So this Independence Day, whether you are a resident of the USA or not, perhaps it would be good to reflect on how we—as individuals and as a nation—use our freedom. Do we use our freedom for the good of all? Or do we use our freedom for a privileged few? Are we loyal to Jesus first, or to nationalism? How can we build up a land in which all people are able to flourish as the people God has made them to be?

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


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: $15

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

Forward Today: Are we seeing new life?

Dear friends in Christ,

I spent a couple of days this week catching up with a friend in Rhode Island. One day we went to the sea shore, and I went walking on rocks along the ocean. I love these massive, ancient rocks. As I scrambled up and down the rocks, I was thinking of the great hymn, “I bind unto myself today,” that many of us sang on Trinity Sunday, in which we sing about the “deep salt sea” and “the old, eternal rocks.”

That’s not all I noticed. At first, it looks like the ocean and the grassy shore are teeming with life, while the rocks are barren. But a closer look reveals something amazing.

There is life in between the rocks, and sometimes even in the rocks themselves. Plants shoot forth with verdant energy. Among the harsh gray rocks is the promise of new growth.

I wonder how many other places in our lives look barren at first, but upon closer scrutiny might reveal life and growth? These resilient plants are a living parable of God’s love and life. There is no place where God cannot work in our world and in our lives. So often, it could look like God’s presence is absent from our world. If we keep looking—beyond the harsh rocks and to the cracks and gaps—we might see God’s love and life at work.

Would our world look different if we peered beyond the rocks to see the plants? How might our lives change if we searched for life and growth?

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Photo by Scott Gunn


Today’s Flash Sale: Table Graces AND Family Graces

Table Graces
Praying before meals opens our hearts to an awareness of God, who is the giver of all good things and sustains us in all of our lives. When we pray before meals, we follow the example of Jesus, who prayed with his disciples during The Last Supper.

This booklet contains thirty prayers. It is designed to stand on a tabletop or counter, with the same prayer viewed on both sides to encourage praying together at meals. The prayers can be read together, said quietly, or can be sung.

Regular: $15
Today: $11.25

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

Family Graces
This booklet contains thirty prayers. It is designed to stand on a tabletop or counter, with the same prayer viewed on both sides to encourage praying together at meals. The prayers can be read together, said quietly, or can be sung.

Regular: $15
Today: $11.25

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

Table Grace and Family Graces

Forward Today: Be witnesses

Dear friends in Christ,

Last Saturday, it was my great honor to preach at the ordination of Susan Brown Snook as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego. She chose Luke 24:44-49a as the Gospel reading, and that reading includes this teaching from Jesus, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

ordination

In my sermon, I talked about how we need to take Jesus at his word, and we need to be witnesses.

We need to get serious about evangelism. We need to get serious about not just inviting people into our churches but rather about inviting people to transformed lives. We need to get serious about not just being nice but rather about preaching the forgiveness of sins. We need to get over our reticence to proclaim God’s love in the public square, because when we stay silent, the voices of greed and fear go unchallenged and unanswered.

Evangelism is not the solution to the declining prestige of our church. Indeed, those who would lose their church for the sake of Gospel will save it. Evangelism is not the way to get more members for our committees or to shore up shrinking budgets.

Instead, evangelism happens when we all accept our vocation as followers of Jesus Christ — not just the vocation of priests and deacons and not just the vocation of bishops — but the vocation of all of us whose ministry began in the waters of baptism. Our mandate is to make disciples of all nations — to proclaim the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and to invite everyone to know God’s love in forgiveness and repentance and mercy and grace.

We talk about evangelism quite a bit these days. I hope it’s never reduced to the latest buzzword, but that we’re always witnessing to God’s great love for us and for all people. Jesus is everything. I hope we will always be bold in inviting others to know the transforming grace of Jesus Christ.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


Today’s Flash Sale: The Spy on Noah’s Ark AND The Spy at Jacob’s Ladder

The Spy on Noah’s Ark
Bible stories take on new life with this collection of eyewitness accounts from surprise sources: a dove, a lion, a stallion, and more. Using the ancient and imaginative art of storytelling, this book will delight children of all ages and begs to be read aloud. Adults will also enjoy these stories, and can use them to enrich personal and group Bible study. Discussion questions for children and adults are included at the end of each story, making it the perfect book for a church “On the Same Page” reading group or other intergenerational program. Ages 7-12—Perfect for emerging readers as well as for adults and children to read along together.

Regular: $12
Today: $9

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

The Spy at Jacob’s Ladder
The spy at 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. Ages 7-12—Perfect for emerging readers as well as for adults and children to read along together.

Regular: $12
Today: $9

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

Forward Today: Celebrate the depth and breadth of God’s love for us

Dear friends in Christ,

This Sunday is Trinity Sunday. My hope is that preachers will mostly let the hymns and anthems do the heavy lifting of celebrating the Holy Trinity. Too often when we try to explain something complex in a few minutes, we reduce it in unhelpfully simplistic ways. But there is some glorious poetry that the church has offered over the centuries to praise and to celebrate the mystery of the Holy Trinity.

The lessons this year include a very brief reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans:

Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

It hits many of the high points of God’s Trinitarian salvation of humanity. We read of the Father’s love, the grace of Jesus Christ, and the abiding Spirit. Is that the entirety of the Trinity? Of course not! But it’s not a bad start – and we don’t have to get into weighty metaphysical matters to see the Triune God’s love at work here.

So, this Sunday, celebrate the depth and breadth of God’s love for us – the love of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


Today’s Flash Sale: Slaying Your Goliaths

Slaying Your GoalithsHow can God help you, like David, to overcome seemingly impossible odds? The David and Goliath story offers us spiritual guidance on how to overcome obstacles. Rather than offering “self-help,” the story offers “God-help,” rooted in its history as a story told by people of faith to people of faith. The ancient story of David and Goliath speaks to modern people facing modern problems, offering spiritual guidance and reassurance that God is with us always, even and especially when we face and slay our giants.

Regular: $15
Today: $11.25

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

Q&A with Author Furman Buchanan

In his new book, Gifts of God for the People of God, Episcopal priest and author Furman L. Buchanan uses stories and reflections to explore each element of Holy Eucharist. Accessible to both newcomers and longtime members wishing to gain a deeper understanding of this gift of God.


How did the idea for the book Gifts of God for the People of God develop?
The idea for Gifts of God for the People of God came when I recognized similarly bewildered expressions on the faces of visitors to my congregation that I had when first entering the Episcopal Church years ago. For people unfamiliar with liturgical worship, it can be a confusing experience.

I began writing this book to lead newcomers to liturgical worship step-by-step through the whole service—from the opening sentences to the final dismissal. Yet, in the course of writing it, I recognized an opportunity to use a narrative approach which would make this book just as meaningful for “cradle Episcopalians.”

Using personal as well as biblical stories helps readers relate more personally to the words and actions of the Holy Eucharist. The title sums up the central idea of the book—that the gifts of God are for the people of God to open up, treasure, and share with others.

Gifts of God bookWhat was your favorite part of writing this book?
My favorite part of writing Gifts of God for the People of God was the opportunity to be still and remember some very tender (and also funny) stories from all stages of my life, and then find ways to relate those stories to the words and actions of the Holy Eucharist.

I enjoy making narrative connections that are not always obvious at first. Part of the power of story—from Jesus’ parables to our present day stories—is bringing together ideas in ways that are meaningful and memorable.

What was the most challenging part?
The most challenging part of writing Gifts of God for the People of God was the patience and perseverance it required. I am a writer who is most lucid in the morning hours. However, as the rector of a growing congregation, most of my morning hours are devoted to other important and urgent work. As a result, this book became a labor of love that spanned years, not weeks or months.

What would you do if you felt stuck?
When I felt stuck I would call upon my dear friend who is a Presbyterian pastor and a published author.  We would meet for coffee to discuss my latest challenge.  He was the kind of person every writer needs—a confessor who is tough enough to push us when we get stuck and yet gentle and encouraging enough to fan the flame inside of us that wants to share a meaningful story with the world.

How do you see this book being utilized?
Recognizing how difficult it is to find time to sit and read, I decided to compose short and accessible chapters—portion sizes that are easily digestible for a bedside table-type book. In fact, I believe this book will be most profitable for readers who are willing take it slow and savor the gifts of God they have experienced in their own lives.

Each chapter concludes with two simple invitations: “Reflecting on our story with God” and then “Celebrating our story with God.” The first invitation includes two or three questions to ponder, and the second invitation includes two or three suggested practices a reader might engage as a way of celebrating the gifts and call of God in their life.

By organizing this book with reflection questions and activities, I believe we also have designed a resource that lends itself to being used in small groups and classes. There is an easy-to-follow, 6-week outline on the Forward Movement web site to show potential facilitators a way to organize conversation about Gifts of God for the People of God.

Laptop on deskWhere did you do most of your writing?
Ten years ago, a gifted artist and woodworker in my former congregation invited me to apprentice with him in designing and creating a prayer desk from solid cherry. Sensing I was nearing the end of my first call, he wanted me to have a gifted place to pray and write at my next congregation.

This small, shaker-style desk does not have a single piece of metallic hardware. The construction is elegantly simple. The desk fits perfectly beneath my bedroom window, and it turns out to be the only place I seem able to write a sermon or a book.

Tortoise What would you do or where would you go for inspiration?
One of the passions my wife and I share is travel. We particularly like to research and visit places that require a little more persistence and creativity to navigate. We typically stay in small guest houses and eat at local restaurants where we can attempt to know the local population a little better.

Near the end of my writing Gifts of God for the People of God, we visited two of the Galapagos Islands off the Pacific Coast of Ecuador. This was a particularly inspirational journey as we discovered a miraculous abundance and diversity of topography, as well as bird, reptile, mammal, and marine life.

One afternoon we visited a small farm in the central highlands of Santa Cruz that is also home to enormous tortoises. Here is a picture of us next to the symbol of my slow and steady writing life!

What else would you like readers to know?
I suppose the most important thing I want readers to know is that the biblical story of life with God is continually unfolding around us and within us. We don’t have to literally have our narrative added to the original collection of Holy Scripture in order for it to be authentic and meaningful.

Your story with God is every bit as precious as the stories of those who lived with God when the biblical narrative was being written. So, please value your stories and share them with others.

Newcomers to my congregation receive a welcome letter in which I describe our congregation as a place where we celebrate the gifts of God in worship, discover the gifts of God in learning, and share the gifts of God in service.

For me, this sums up the comprehensive experience of a faithful life—celebrating, discovering, and sharing the Gifts of God for the People of God!


Gifts of God for the People of God is available here.

Flashback Friday: November 15, 1994

Hebrews 10:37 For you have need of endurance, so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised. 

A friend of mine is recovering from a serious injury. She spent months in physical therapy, learning first to stand and sit again, to walk with a walker and then with a cane. She does exercises which are designed to strengthen her muscles; the therapists tell her that her pain will diminish as her muscles strengthen.

And she finds that this is true: slowly but surely, she is getting better. She can now walk long distances, and she has just begun riding a bicycle again. At first, she could not ride the bike up the gentle slope of her driveway. She would have to dismount and walk it up. It was discouraging, not being able to go up such a little hill. She kept trying; she’d go a few yards up before her strength failed. Then a few yards more. Then halfway. Finally one day, she sailed up the drive, ringing her little bicycle bell in triumph.

Nothing comes to us overnight. God calls us to a life of faith, not a life of magic. When we grow in patience and perseverance, we grow spiritually stronger. That which seemed impossible to us at first grows possible as we endure in hopeful fidelity to God’s plan. God does not test us hoping we will fail. God strengthens and encourages us, willing our good.

Forward Today: Summer Reading, Summer Inspiration

Dear friends in Christ,

Regardless of official astronomical arrival, I always shift into summer mode once June arrives. The pace slows down a bit, and the office is quieter as most of our staff enjoys some vacation time here and there.

Long before I served in a ministry that publishes books, I became a fan of summer reading plans. Perhaps in some relaxing spot on vacation, it’s nice to curl up with a book and read for the pleasure of it.Gifts of God book

Of course, we have lots of books—including a few new ones—at Forward Movement. But you can find books from other publishers, too. Or maybe you’ll choose a portion of scripture to read. Whatever you do, I encourage you to read something that might inspire you in this more relaxed time of year.

I’ve got a few books to read myself, including Gifts of God for the People of God, new from Forward Movement. And I’m hoping to read my way through the entire New Testament in a translation that’s fresh for me. What are you reading this summer?

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Open position: Director of Business Operations

DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS OPERATIONS
Listing for Open Position

Forward Movement is seeking a full-time Director of Business Operations to lead the team that delivers products and content to inspire disciples and empower evangelists, as well as supporting our financial management and operational success. The Director of Business Operations will collaborate with Forward Movement staff to support our customers, as well as to lead our finance team. We seek an effective leader who can ensure that our customers continue to receive unsurpassed service and that we are making use of best practices for our operational success and financial management. The ideal candidate will be detail oriented with a solutions-focused approach to challenges along the way. An entrepreneurial and playful spirit is essential.

Key Responsibilities and Tasks

  1. Provides daily direction and communication to the customer service team so that customers receive timely, efficient and knowledgeable service.
  2. Oversees all aspects of royalty payments, including contracts, communication with content creators, and timely payments as specified.
  3. Manages the financial operations team, including finance manager, accounts payable, and accounts receivable. Ensures business processes are in line with appropriate regulations, accounting standards, and best practices.
  1. Provides continual evaluation of processes and procedures. Responsible for suggesting methods to improve area operations, efficiency and service to both internal and external customers.
  2. Provides statistical and performance feedback and coaching to the team.
  3. Writes and administers performance reviews for skill improvement.
  4. Ensures employees have appropriate training and other resources to perform their jobs.
  5. Manages daily and weekly employee schedules, including vacation requests and sick leave.
  6. Responds to and resolves employee relations or discipline issues experienced by team members.
  7. Creates and maintains a high-quality work environment and professional culture so team members are motivated to perform at their highest level.
  8. Perform related work as required.

 

This is a full-time position. Requires work in the Cincinnati office. Some travel will be required. The successful applicant will possess Christian character and be knowledgeable about The Episcopal Church. Prior experience or training in customer service or finance is required. In addition to English language fluency, Spanish or some other language fluency is desirable. Forward Movement hires without regard to race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disabilities, or age.

This position begins work August 1, 2019, while the current position holder retires August 30, allowing some overlap. There is a strong internal candidate for this opening.

Salary will be commensurate with experience. Forward Movement offers a full package of benefits. Email resume and cover letter by June 10, 2019 to Ms. Tania Jones at tjones@forwardmovement.org.

Forward Movement is a non-profit ministry of The Episcopal Church located in Cincinnati, Ohio. Our mission is inspire disciples, empower evangelists.

Forward Movement
412 Sycamore Street ·Cincinnati, OH 45202
www.forwardmovement.org