Category Archives: Uncategorized

Forward Today: Good News from our land?

Dear friends in Christ,

Last week, I wrote about using money for good. This week I want to say a few words about land.

In the last few days, I ran across an article from The New Yorker, “How a Young Activist Is Helping Pope Francis Battle Climate Change.” I was intrigued for a couple of reasons.

First, I was inspired to learn that one person could single-handedly get the bureaucratic and massive Roman Catholic to change. It’s a good reminder for anyone who ever wonders if one person can make a difference. If she could budge the Roman Catholic church, then it helps me believe one person could budge the Episcopal Church where we need a push to go in new directions.

Second, this article got me thinking about how the Episcopal Church understands and uses all the land and buildings we own. Think about all the churches, rectories, conference centers camps, diocesan offices, church-wide headquarters, seminaries, and more.

Do we understand that all “our” land is a gift from God? How often do we use our land for the good of the world and to the glory of God? Or do we fearfully see land merely as an asset to be protected only for the immediate use of our congregations, dioceses, and organizations?

What if we asked how our land could help combat climate change? Think of wind farms, solar panels, or ecologically informed landscaping. What if we asked how our land might help our communities? Think of community gardens, space for groups to meet, or opportunities to offer restful hospitality and refreshment.

Plainsong Farm vegetables

I’m late to the party. The Rev. Nurya Love Parish and Plainsong Farm have been raising these issues for some time now. If you don’t know about it, check out this innovative ministry that grows good for those in need, teaches about our stewardship of God’s creation, advocates for better land use, and offers young people a residency and transformational experience.

The Episcopal Church’s evangelism office promotes Good News Gardens as a way of growing food for the good of the world. There are other examples.

How is your church or diocese using land? Are there opportunities to share what you have with a world in need? Are there ways you could help combat climate change? Are there ways you could show forth the Good News of God in Jesus Christ by how you inhabit this beautiful world?

Yours faithfully,

 

 

 

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 


More from our ministry:

From Grow Christians: Notes from an Altar Guild Intern

Spend the program year with Forward Movement: Learn more!

Order Advent devotionals early for group study: Promise & Praise: Advent Word Reflections

Forward Today: Investing our money for the good of the world

Dear friends in Christ,

I’ve long been intrigued by ethical ways to use money for the good of the world. Of course, one choice is to make donations to organizations who seek the improvement of the common good.

There are also ways to make money while also using our money for good. For example, ethical investing puts money in companies with ethically sound practices to support those who are doing good in the world. There are funds which make micro-loans to people in developing countries to help them start enterprises that can be sustainable and support their economic improvement; one can invest in these funds and sometimes get a modest return on the investment. We can buy bonds that underwrite green energy projects, and these bonds may generate income like any other bonds.

I’ve been thinking about churches and their wealth recently. Should our goal be to seek the highest possible return? Or should we temper financial gains with moral and ethical interests. Can we do both?

At Forward Movement, we reinvested our modest investment fund a couple of years ago. Before we had a typical balanced portfolio with policies that were primarily oriented around financial return. After considering several options, we put our entire fund in a balanced ESG (environmental, social and governance investing) portfolio of stocks, bonds, and other instruments. This means we hope to do good with our money. By the way, since we made the switch, our financial performance has exceeded our previous benchmarks. (So it doesn’t always have to cost something to do good, though it often will.)

I’m not here to give financial advice. Talk to someone who does finance for a living to get financial advice!

But I am here to raise questions. Can we, as a church, change the world with our wealth? Can we encourage our members to pool their money to change the world?

Imagine if the church offered alternatives to predatory payday lending programs. Imagine if the church created investment funds to support the launch of small businesses by racial minorities and other groups who may not find financial support in our current systems. Imagine if we bought bonds to support transformational infrastructure, sustainable resource development, and green energy. There are many ways we could use our money to change the world.

Any time we want to change the world, we can start in our own hearts. At our house, we began with our retirement investments. We’re nearly done switching all of our money to ethical or socially conscious investing. We give money to the church of course, but also to other organizations doing good.

Are you using your money to change the world for the better? How is your church doing?

Yours faithfully,

 

 

 

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


 

More from our ministry:

Online Course: What Every Vestry Member Needs to Know about Money with The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania

Book ideas for churches and small groups: Learn more!

A book of pray and practice: Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book

Forward Today: A year with Forward Movement

Dear friends in Christ,

This time of year is about the season when congregations normally kick off their program year. New courses and ministries launch. Often, Sunday schools fill up. The pace of summer gives way to a busier time of the autumn.

Of course, this time is anything but normal. The pandemic has forced us all to look at all sorts of practices, and I suspect that in many congregations, everything is up for grabs.

Even though there may be no “normal” my sense is that many congregations are starting some kind of program year, even if it’s quite a bit different from usual. Maybe there are online book groups or Bible Studies. Christian formation for children might look different. The number of offerings might be smaller (or larger) than what is typical.

A collection of Forward Movement books

What is your church doing? There’s no right or wrong answer. Our task in the church is to make disciples, and there are as many ways to do that as there are Christians.

We at Forward Movement are working to support you and your church in this unusual time. We have books and courses suitable for in-person or online study. We offer resources for new members and long-time Episcopalians alike.

At a time when many leaders are struggling to figure out what to do this year, we wanted to make it just a bit easier. So we’ve put together some ideas for living through the whole program year. Please have a look at our website for resources for the fall, for Advent, for Christmas and Epiphany, for Lent, for Easter, and even for next summer.

As always, please contact the friendly folks here at Forward Movement if you have questions or you’re not sure what’s right for your church. We can respond to emails (orders@forwardmovement.org) or phone calls (800-543-1813).

We want to help you make disciples, whatever that looks like in your life and in your church.

Yours faithfully,

 

 

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


More from our ministry:

Online Course: Surviving Moral Injury with David Peters

Listen to our Morning Prayer podcast: A Morning at the Office

Reading suggestion: Walk in Love: Episcopal Beliefs & Practices

 

Book ideas for churches and small groups!

Whether you’re gathering online, in-person, or finding a combination that works for you, Forward Movement has inspiring books for small groups and full congregations to learn and grow together.

Some ideas:

The Path: A Journey Through the Bible

The Way of Love: A Practical Guide to Following Jesus

Gifts of God for the People of God: Exploring Worship in the Episcopal Church

The Way of Love Bible Challenge: A 50 Day Bible Challenge

Walk in Love: Episcopal Beliefs and Practices

Angels of the Bible: Finding Grace, Beauty, and Meaning

The Social Justice Bible Challenge: A 40 Day Bible Challenge

Acts to Action: The New Testament’s Guide to Evangelism and Mission

With Gladness: Answering God’s Call in Our Everyday Lives


Save with bulk pricing

We publish books that we believe the church needs, and we’re always glad when someone buys one and reads it. Many of our titles are available through major online retailers. However, when you purchase directly from Forward Movement, you support our ministry to provide free books and devotionals to inmates, nursing home and hospital patients, and active military personnel.

Plus, it can save you money! Our bulk rates are often the best pricing option for churches and groups.

Example:

The Way of Love: A Practical Guide to Following Jesus
By Scott Gunn

Buying 1-4 copies?
Our price: $15 each
Their price: $15 each

Buying 5+ copies?
Our price: $10 each
Their price: $15 each

 

 

You can always call us at 800-543-1813 or special discounts for very large orders!


Fall is a great time to start a book study. Order soon to ensure timely delivery!

Visit forwardmovement.org or call 800-543-1813 to order.

Forward Day by Day app and website receive major update

Complete overhaul improves user experience and functionality

Forward Movement announces a major update to its popular Forward Day by Day smartphone app, as well as a relaunch of its Daily Prayer website, prayer.forwardmovement.org. The complete overhaul includes a new clean design with simplified navigation, as well as podcast integration and expanded customization settings for users.

Visitors to the Daily Prayer website (prayer.forwardmovement.org) will see the new design immediately, while users of the Forward Day by Day app should automatically receive the update within a few days, depending on their device and settings. The app is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the app has been free to download since early 2021.

The long-awaited upgrade was completed in partnership with the Rev. Greg Johnston of Cambridge, MA, the creator of the popular Venite app, which Forward Movement began sponsoring in 2020.

“We are committed to our mission to inspire disciples and empower evangelists, wherever they are,” said the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, Forward Movement executive director. “This upgrade to our app and website will provide users with an improved user experience, including customizable features and settings, to strengthen a habit of daily prayer and scripture engagement, both known catalysts to a deepening life of faith.”

To assist visitors with bookmarked pages, the existing version of prayer.forwardmovement.org will remain intact for several weeks as users become accustomed to the new website. By late August, pages will redirect to the upgraded site.

The Forward Day by Day app and Daily Prayer website were initially launched in 2012.

Report bugs or problems to tech@forwardmovement.org. We appreciate your help refining this offering!


About Forward Movement

Inspiring disciples and empowering evangelists around the globe every day, Forward Movement has been producing innovative resources to encourage spiritual growth in individuals and congregations since 1935. Best known for the daily devotional Forward Day by Day, Forward Movement also produces books, smart phone apps, pamphlets, conferences, online courses, church leadership resources, and more, in English and Spanish. Visit www.forwardmovement.org or www.venadelante.org to learn more.

New daily email featuring the Spanish edition of Forward Day by Day

Se podrá recibir Adelante día a día en español por email
Será gratuito y empezará en julio

El ministerio Forward Movement se complace en presentar Adelante día a día en español por email. La versión en inglés se viene ofreciendo gratuitamente por email desde 2020.

Los emails gratuitos corresponden a la versión impresa de Adelante día a día, con meditaciones inspirativas basadas en pasajes de la Biblia. Los pasajes corresponden a las lecturas del leccionario tal como aparecen en Leccionario Común Revisado y en el Oficio Diario del Libro de Oración Común de la Iglesia Episcopal.

Hugo Olaiz, editor asociado de recursos latinos/hispanos, declaró: “Estos emails diarios nos darán una gran oportunidad a de incorporar la oración y las escrituras en nuestra vida diaria. Los hábitos espirituales diarios son la clave para profundizar nuestra relación con Jesús, con el prójimo y con nosotros mismos. Estos emails diarios serán una fuerte de inspiración para discípulas y discípulos de todo el mundo”.

Haz clic aquí para suscribirte.

Los envíos diarios comienzan el 1° de julio.


New free daily email will be launched on July 1st

Forward Movement is happy to introduce a free daily email version of Adelante día a día, the Spanish language edition of Forward Day by Day. This new offering joins the English email edition, which was released as a free subscription in 2020.

The email content will reflect the print edition of Adelante día a día, offering inspirational meditations reflecting on a specific Bible passage, chosen from the daily lectionary readings as listed in the Revised Common Lectionary or the Daily Office from the Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer.

“This new daily email offers a great opportunity for Spanish speaking disciples looking for accessible ways to incorporate prayer and scripture into their daily lives,” said Hugo Olaiz, Associate Editor for Latino/Hispanic Ministries. “We know that daily spiritual habits are crucial in deepening our relationships with Jesus, with our neighbors, and with ourselves. We hope this new daily email becomes a source of inspiration for disciples around the world.”

Click here to subscribe to the new daily email.

Email distribution begins on July 1, 2021.

Forward Today: A zeal worthy of his grace

Dear friends in Christ,

This coming Sunday’s epistle offers a compelling invitation from St. Paul. He writes, “See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!” (2 Cor 6:2b).

There’s a reason this epistle is assigned to the Ash Wednesday liturgy. St. Paul is inviting us to repent, pronto. I love how John Chrysostom reads this invitation:

Let us not let the opportunity slip, but rather let us display a zeal worthy of his grace. We press on because we know that the time is both short and opportune. The acceptable time is the time of the gift, the time of grace, when it is decreed that not only will no account of our sins be demanded from us, but that we shall also enjoy abundant blessings, righteousness, sanctification and all the rest.

Sunrise over the mountains

Can you imagine? If we all had a sense of the astounding grace of Jesus Christ, we would want to bear fruit and to share the Good News with those around us.

Do you see how it works? We repent and change our lives not to earn God’s love but in thanksgiving that God loved us first. It’s a life-changing way of seeing the world.

I invite you to bask in grace. And then display a zeal worthy of that grace. Today is the best day to set a new course; to manifest the transforming love of Jesus in our hearts.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

Subscribe to receive Forward Today in your inbox.

*John Chrysostom quote taken from Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 255). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, via Logos software.


More from our ministry:

Read the latest from Grow Christians: Evelyn Underhill and Everyday Mystics, by Sara Erwin

Reading Suggestion: Acts to Action | The New Testament’s Guide to Evangelism and Mission

New ChurchNext Course: My Take on the Trinity with Wayne Jacobsen

 

Forward Today: Making it up as we go along

Dear friends in Christ,

Just yesterday, I had a chance to talk with a priest at a medium-sized church in the middle of the country. I was interested to hear how this church is coming out of the pandemic – what is changing and what is staying constant. The priest was asking me for examples of how similar-sized churches are adapting Christian formation to the needs of today’s church. It was a lively conversation.

This priest told me about some of the vibrant lay-lead pastoral care ministry, the beloved Bible study, and other ways lay leaders and clergy work together to make disciples. It was, for me, inspiring. At one point, I said to her, “I hope you’ll find ways to share the amazing work you’re doing with the wider church. Other congregations could learn from what you’re up to.” She said, “Well, we’re making it up as we go along.”

Making it up as we go along is actually a useful practice. Of course, our faith is eternal and constant. We don’t have to make that up! And we are blessed as Episcopalians with an ancient and comprehensive liturgical tradition that we don’t have to make up. But a lot of parish ministry benefits from a spirit of improvisation.

Interior of a church with stained glass windows

Making it up as we go along could be alternative language for, “We’re adjusting our practices to changing circumstances.” It requires the willingness to try something and fail. It requires a desire to find ways to share our ancient faith for today’s church. It makes us like St. Paul, who sought to “become all things to all people.”

Making it up as we go along doesn’t sound like much, but it is essential in today’s church. We’re emerging from a pandemic. We’re emerging from Christendom. We’re entering into a time when we can’t take anything about the church for granted.

Is your church adapting for our time? Are you discovering new practices that you could share with others? Are you running into roadblocks that others might have figured out? We’re all in this together.

I’ll be checking in with the priest I spoke with in a few months. She’s an amazing leader serving a wonderful church. I can’t wait to hear what they’ve discovered in their efforts to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

Subscribe to receive Forward Today in your inbox.


More from our ministry:

RenewalWorks: Connect: Hybrid Church: A Way Forward, with the Rev. Tim Schenck
Wednesday, June 9 from 7-8pm ET
RenewalWorks: Connect is a monthly online conversation series with Jay Sidebotham, Director of RenewalWorks and other thought-leaders exploring ways to continue the work of spiritual growth. Watch past recordings here.

Reading Suggestion: Gifts of God for the People of God  |  Exploring Worship in the Episcopal Church

New ChurchNext Course: Mary in the Anglican Tradition, with instructor Jeff Queen

 

Forward Today: Summer reading

Dear friends in Christ,

Summer is getting closer, at least for most readers of this email. Lots of websites and organizations offer summer reading lists. This is often a time to relax a bit more, perhaps to dig into a good book.

We at Forward Movement have plenty of books you might like to read. We have a whole catalog of suggestions, but here are just a few ideas for summer reading.

The Way of Love: A Practical Guide to Following Jesus. You’re probably heard a lot about the Way of Love, our Presiding Bishop’s invitation to engage in the seven spiritual practices of turn, learn, pray, worship, bless, go, and rest. I wrote this little book with the assistance of seven lay people who share testimonies about how the practices of the Way of Love have shaped their lives. Bishop Curry was kind enough to write the foreword. It’s a practical guide aimed especially at people who might like to refresh their prayer lives or their efforts at evangelism or any part of our journey as followers of Jesus.

With Gladness: Answering God’s Call in Our Everyday Lives. Christopher Martin wrote this book we just published not long ago. It’s a fresh Benedictine-inspired way to answer the question, “What is God calling me to do today?” Martin believes that sometimes we get hung up on the big questions but miss opportunities to serve God in this moment. There’s also a video course based on the book. You’ll love Christopher, whether you read his book or enjoy his teaching on video.

Gifts of God for the People of God: Exploring Worship in the Episcopal Church by Furman Buchanan explores worship, especially the Eucharist. After a time when many of us were not able to share Holy Communion together, what better time to re-engage our experience of Eucharist. Moving from the first spoken word of the service—blessed—to the last phrase—Thanks be to God—Buchanan explains the theological and scriptural elements of the service, helping newcomers and longtime members alike gain a deeper understanding of this gift of God.

There are plenty of other books on our website. And of course, lots of other publishers have great books, too! Whatever you read, I hope you’ll make good use of a slower time of year to learn and to grow as a follower of Jesus.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

Subscribe to receive Forward Today in your inbox.


Tune in!

Listen to today’s Forward Day by Day reflection on the Forward Day by Day podcast. Find morning prayer on the Morning at the Office podcast and end your day with the Evening at Prayer podcast. Available anywhere you listen!

 


In case you missed it…

Walk in Love | Episcopal Beliefs and Practices

Browse the ChurchNext library | ChurchNext

5 Spiritual Growth Strategies for the New Normal | RenewalWorks

Forward Today: Can we understand the Trinity? Does it matter?

Dear friends in Christ,

I love Trinity Sunday, but I often despair at going to church on this glorious feast day. You might ask, what’s not to love? We get to sing some fantastic hymns! We get one last dose of white vestments before the long, green season coming along. We get to offer our praise of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And therein lies the rub. Too many preachers decide this is the day to explain the mystery of the Holy Trinity in eight minutes or less. It usually doesn’t go well, especially if the preacher decides to use metaphors for the Holy Trinity. This hilarious video explains the problem nicely.

Today is a day to bask in the glory of God. To use this day to delve into theological teaching would be a bit like going to your wedding and then offering a scientific explanation of what might be happening in our brains when we experience love. You see? It’s not a bad activity, but it’s the wrong activity for a moment that should be a celebration.

Can we understand the Holy Trinity? At a basic level, yes. The creeds do a pretty good job of summarizing things. Basic theological teaching, or a study of scripture can unpack how God is revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It’s not the easiest thing in the world, but it’s also not the most complicated. I mean, plenty of people enjoy watching a good cricket match without understanding all the rules! Or, to use a scriptural example, we don’t have to understand where the wind comes from to know that we need to pay attention to the weather forecast (John 3).

On Trinity Sunday, I hope we can simply enjoy the glory and majesty of God. Rather than get out our flowcharts, we do well to belt out the hymns.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea;
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty,
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

P.S. If you can’t sing because of the pandemic, find some good renditions of the hymns on YouTube and have a bit of Hymnal 1982 karaoke at home!

Subscribe to receive Forward Today in your inbox.
Image: Wikimedia


Tune in!

Listen to today’s Forward Day by Day reflection on the Forward Day by Day podcast. Find morning prayer on the Morning at the Office podcast and end your day with the Evening at Prayer podcast. Available anywhere you listen!

 


In case you missed it…

Walk in Love | Episcopal Beliefs and Practices

Browse the ChurchNext library | ChurchNext

5 Spiritual Growth Strategies for the New Normal | RenewalWorks