Forward Today: Putting our faith and trust in God

Note: As we continue to pray for healing for the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, this weekly message will feature guest writers from the Forward Movement staff and board of directors.

Miriam McKenney, Hannah Wilder, and Scott Gunn at the Episcopal Communicators conference in 2014.

We were finishing lunch at our Airbnb. I was much more excited than the rest of my family to go to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts. I always visited there when we were in Connecticut to visit my in-laws. Just as we were leaving, I got a call to join an emergency meeting where I learned that Scott Gunn, Forward Movement’s executive director, was seriously ill in Singapore. Tears rush up as I type these words, just as they did at that moment, along with shock, dread, worry, and fear. I don’t remember much else about that first meeting except those feelings. 

Our plans to go to the museum faded as I sat on the couch, unable to move or make sense of my thoughts. Finally, I decided to work on Odyssey, our magazine for donors and friends of Forward Movement. We’ve been moving through the Way of Love spiritual practices, and our next issue is on worship. I opened my copy of Scott’s book The Way of Love Practical Guide to read the worship chapter and decide which part to excerpt for the magazine.

Here is where trusting that God knows exactly what we need comes in. I had no idea that I needed to read what Scott had to say about worship—something he loves to do. He starts the chapter with this story:

When I was a younger adult, I was a bit of a spiritual nomad. I spent several years looking to make sense of the Christian faith. My wandering was all very cerebral. Then one evening, I entered a church with a liturgy that was ceremonially rich and ornate. All of my mental circuit breakers were blown—in a very good way. No one rationalized what happened in Holy Communion. Instead, people genuflected in awe at the majestic presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. There was glorious music and the scent of incense, and all of this was happening in a stunning space. I glimpsed heaven. I was swept along into a realm that was much larger than my imagining. I was with people whose physical postures and actions manifested a sacrificial worship of God in Jesus Christ.  

Tears continued to stream down my face as I copied and pasted the salient parts of the chapter for Odyssey. I realized it was not me but God who guided me to the words and thoughts of my boss, colleague, friend, and brother in Christ. I can’t say I felt better, but I did feel calm and peace enveloping me. I felt trust where I’d felt fear. I rooted myself in a constant stream of prayer for all of it. I allowed my mind and heart to travel down paths I didn’t want to travel because I knew I had a way back. Spirit would not leave me. Jesus was near.  

Working with Scott for the last eleven years has changed my spiritual life. Those who know us might be surprised to hear me give him credit for that—but it’s true. Growing up as a priest’s daughter did not guarantee a close relationship with Jesus or even an understanding of who Jesus really was. Spending time reading scripture, practicing spiritual practices, and even knowing it’s essential to do those things is due to Scott’s relentless call to all of us to get closer to God. That he continues to heal and will eventually journey back to us is something we can praise God for, saying: 

O God of heavenly powers, by the might of your command you drive away from our bodies all sickness and all infirmity: Be present in your goodness with your servant Scott, that his weakness may be banished and his strength restored; and that, his health being renewed, he may bless your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Thank you for your prayers for Scott, Sherilyn, and the staff and board of directors of Forward Movement. I know that Scott’s healing and your prayers are intertwined. As our board chair Kate Wesch said last week, prayer is crucial for Scott and all who care for him. You are in our prayers, and we thank God for you.


Miriam McKenney is Forward Movement’s Director of Development and Mission Engagement. 

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