Behind the Screen interview with Isabel Lynn-Ramos

Hugo Olaiz, Forward Movement Associate Editor for Latino and Hispanic Ministries, recently had a chance to interview Isabel Lynn Ramos, October 2021 author for Forward Day by Day.

Below is an excerpt from their conversation. Click here to listen to their entire conversation (in Spanish) on the Forward Day by Day podcast (episode released on September 30, 2021). 

Where are you from? What’s your profession?
I grew up in Toa Baja, a small town in the north of Puerto Rico. I have a degree in education with an emphasis on elementary school teaching. I later obtained a master’s degree in school administration. I have worked for eight years as a school principal and in the Early Head Start program.

How did you end up writing for Forward Day by Day?
I used to have a notebook where I would write down scriptural passages and my own spiritual meditations. That book ended up in my parents’ home, and in 2017, when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, the house was flooded, and my notebook was lost. I was very saddened. Yet I believe that God intervened: when I learned about Forward Movement’s call for writers, I locked myself in my room and wrote the meditation samples. Only a few days later you called me, inviting me to write about my life experiences. The interactions and encouragement that I received from you and your colleagues have been a wonderful gift. I still can’t believe this is happening!

What would you like people to take away from your meditations?
I wrote about things that I have experienced in my time and place—the good, the bad, and the ugly. I hope and know many people will identify with my experiences.

Tell us briefly about the experiences you had in your neighborhood after Hurricane Maria.
Thousands in Puerto Rico were left homeless and ended up in shelters. People in our neighborhood lost everything. We had no electricity, water, or supplies. So we got organized to help each other. The neighbors set up teams to clean up the mud and debris. We also organized communal meals: on a specific date my mother would cook, then a next-door neighbor, and so forth. We had breakfast, lunch, and dinner together, as if we were a family. And the Episcopal Church did tremendous work all across Puerto Rico, bringing emergency supplies, food, and water; they also spent time encouraging and praying with people.  We grew up as a neighborhood and also as a church.

Is there anything you would like to add?
I’m so grateful to you and the Forward Movement staff! Thank you for trusting this Puerto Rican woman to write these meditations.

Q&A: Rhonda Mawhood Lee, author of Seek and You Will Find

Rhonda Mawhood Lee among the flowers in her back garden.How do we pray? Prayer is an essential part of the Christian life, but it often remains stubbornly mysterious. Rhonda Mawhood Lee, an Episcopal priest, writer, and spiritual director, walks us through the “how” of prayer and many diverse practices of prayer in her new book, Seek and You Will Find. Learn more about Lee and her book in this author Q&A.

How did the idea for this book develop?
A few years ago, I attended a meeting between members of the Society of Scholar Priests and Scott Gunn, executive director of Forward Movement. The facilitator asked Scott what kinds of books he’d like to see members of the SSP write, and one of Scott’s suggestions was a book about how to pray. That resonated with me, because so many Christians have told me they don’t know how to pray, and don’t have anyone to teach them. I love to teach, and I have devoted a lot of time to learning to pray, so I thought I might write such a book. And after a while, I did.

What is your hope for this book?
I hope, first, that it gives the people who read it a sense of God’s great love for them and desire to keep company with them. And then, second, I hope it helps readers see that there are many faithful ways to pray, and maybe feel inspired to try a few. Finally, I hope that by leading people to prayer, the book helps to spread God’s loving, resurrecting power further into the world.

Which of the prayer practices in this book was easiest or most familiar? What about a practice that was particularly difficult or new to you?
Well, I’ve just about given up on ever doing yoga. I mean, I might, one day, but I’m not counting on it. It just doesn’t draw me.

On the whole, though, I appreciate and use a variety of different practices. The Daily Office, contemplative prayer, Ignatian contemplation, the Jesus Prayer, the rosary (more recently), doodling, walking prayers, lectio divina…I do them all at different times, and I’m glad they’re all available to me.

What surprised you the most while writing this book?
The fact that I managed to write it at all, in the midst of the Covid pandemic. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to focus, given everything that was going on in the world, and the heightened level of anxiety that was present in just about every human interaction. But writing the book ended up being something of an oasis. Thanks be to God.

Cocoa Cinnamon CafeWhere do you typically write?
I often write at my favorite coffee shop, Cocoa Cinnamon in Durham, North Carolina. I’m lucky to have space at home to write, both inside and outside on our back porch (which makes a cameo in the book as a place I like to pray). But I can write just about anywhere, including airplanes, public transportation, and public libraries.

What is your favorite prayer?
The psalms. That may not be a fair answer, since there are 150 of them and you asked for a favorite, but the psalms are the prayers I have returned to over and over, in sorrow, in contrition, in joy, and in questioning and seeking. They are my true friends and teachers, and they connect me to spiritual ancestors and to Jewish and Christian siblings today. And to Jesus, who prayed them too.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
I am praying for you. Truly. In intercession and with thanksgiving.


Seek and You Will Find is available on the Forward Movement website. Read a sample or order your copy today.

Forward Today: All things may prosper

Dear friends in Christ,

Painted icon of the Archangel Michael, holding a helmet and spear.Today is one of the great red-letter days in the church calendar, the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels. Sometimes this feast day is called Michaelmas, since we are meant to celebrate Holy Eucharist (the Mass) on this day.

This feast day celebrates not only Saint Michael the Archangel, but all the angels and archangels. Unfortunately, many of us suffer from an impoverished understanding of angels. In a world where we are presented with angels as things to adorn pillows and to appear on cheesy art, we forget that angels are not really sweet baby-like creatures.

The scriptures make it clear that angels are often terrifying. There’s a reason the scriptures tell us that many of their conversations with humans begin with “Be not afraid.” Not only are angels themselves frightening, but they often bring messages from God to humanity that also could be scary.

So what do these somewhat terrifying creatures have to do with us in the year 2021? I for one am profoundly grateful for Saint Michael and the whole company of angels. Michael is a warrior for good, someone who rights wrong and seeks justice.

One of the great hymns for today’s feast day is “Christ the fair glory” (listen to St. Thomas Fifth Avenue singing it). The second verse invokes Saint Michael.

Send thine archangel Michael to our succor; / peace-maker blessed, may he banish from us / striving and hatred, so that for the peaceful / all things may prosper.

There is a battle going on in our world today, good versus evil. If you don’t believe me, look at your favorite news website. Fortunately, angels are warriors for good.

As we say every Sunday, we are joined in our worship with angels and archangels. The heavenly host cares about us and our world, and it isn’t just in worship that angels do their work. Aren’t you glad we have Saint Michael and all the angels interceding on our behalf?

A blessed Michaelmas to one and all.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Image credit: Icon of St. Michael the Archangel. 14th century, Byzantine. Via Wikimedia Commons.


More from our ministry:

Coming next week, on Spirituals and Justice: Face to the Rising Sun

On intercession of the saints and other forms of prayer: Seek and You Will Find

Learn more about angels: Angels of the Bible

Related course from ChurchNext: Meditating on Angels

 

Q&A: Mark Bozzuti-Jones, author of Face to the Rising Sun

Spirituals, songs of abiding faith passed down by African Americans through the centuries, offer a remarkable view of resilience, courage, and love. Formed in the crucible of fire, these songs express the suffering and horror of slavery as well as the love of God and the promise of a better future.

Mark Bozzuti-Jones in a white alb and red stoleAuthor Mark Bozzuti-Jones explores the modern-day lessons of these Spirituals with scripture readings, daily devotions, and questions for reflection. The Rev. Dr. Mark Francisco Bozzuti-Jones is an Episcopal Jamaican priest at Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City. A former Jesuit priest, Mark has missionary experience in Belize, Brazil, and Guyana. He is an avid reader, award-winning author, and speaker, and has taught at elementary and university levels. Explore Fr. Mark’s book and writing process in this author Q&A.


How did the idea for this book develop?
The idea of this book emerged as I witnessed the protests for justice and peace organized by the Black Lives Matter Movement in 2020. I joined many of these protests and could not help but think that protesting for justice has always been part of the African American story and history. The more I observed the marches, the more I thought of the Spirituals as a legacy of protests. For me, the Spirituals entreat this generation to persevere in the struggle for justice. The Spirituals show that the celebration of the Black spirit and the fight for justice are not only spiritual, but psychological, political, and cultural, too.

What is your hope for this book?
I hope this book will inspire African Americans, and everyone who reads it, to keep the faith, to commit to justice and peace, and to support communities that seek justice. I pray that readers will deepen their commitment to their faith and let their voices ring out on behalf of justice. The Spirituals remind us that we are called to be true to who we are; they invite a commitment to justice, peace, liberation, and respect.

Cover of the book "Face to the Rising Sun: Reflections on Spirituals and Justice" by Mark Bozzuti-JonesIs there a spiritual that was particularly memorable or you during your childhood?
“Nobody knows the troubles, I’ve seen; nobody knows but Jesus.” Whenever a human being suffers, God suffers. What we do to the least of our brothers and sisters, we do to Jesus. Jesus knows our suffering, because Jesus also suffered. In his suffering, Jesus remained faithful to God, and that is what the Slaves did. The Spirituals show that the Slaves identified with Jesus and believed that Jesus identified with them. My great epiphany came in realizing that the Slaves saw themselves in “the Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him.”

What about a spiritual that is especially meaningful in your life today?
“We Shall Overcome” holds tremendous meaning in my life today and always will. This affirmation of strength and hope is the Apostles and Nicene Creeds for me. I believe in these words; they fully express my faith – and they make all the difference.

The book includes several original poems that discuss the experience of racism in America today. What was the experience of writing those poems like?
The poetry in this book is one of the ways I dialogue with the Spirituals. When we hear the Spirituals; we are called to “inwardly digest” and give new voices to them. These poems are my attempts to show that the Spirituals live forever, and the Black Lives Matter Movement is integrally connected to the Spirituals, a reflection of their deep longing.

Where do you typically write?
Typically, I write at a desk at home. This desk is close to a window, because I always believe that writing is about looking out into the world.

What was your favorite part of writing this book?
Recalling my experience of growing up in Jamaica was my favorite part of writing this book. Knowing that Jamaicans identify with the Spirituals gives me tremendous comfort and joy. In addition, I loved the way the Scripture selections complemented and deepened their messages.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
I would love folks to know that the Slaves were not only objects or victims but deeply spiritual and faithful people. I would love people to know that the Slaves were well educated and sophisticated in their usage of poetic form to convey the complex realities of trust in the face of oppression, brutality, and all aspects of slavery. I would love people to know that many of the Slaves knew the power of remaining faithful and took their religious beliefs very seriously.


Face to the Rising Sun is available on the Forward Movement website. Read a sample or order your copy today.

Forward Today: Signposts of Autumn

Dear friends in Christ,

Today marks the beginning of autumn. I don’t know about you, but it hardly feels that way to me. Just yesterday we were sweltering with summer weather in Cincinnati. And most of my beloved autumn rituals aren’t happening because of the pandemic.

I’ve spoken with a lot of clergy lately, and it seems like just about every church is out of sorts. Normally, this time of year finds the launch of a program year with new classes and programs and the return of people who may have been away for the summer. There’s often a buzz of positive energy.

My sense is that I’m not alone in feeling that this autumn is strange. Some people might be missing the “usual” activities of this time of year. Others might think too much is happening, and we should step back. And almost everyone I know is tired, exhausted even.

So what are we to do? It’s easy to say that we should let go of our expectations, but it’s hard to live that way.

Perhaps what we can do is find the few signposts of autumn that we enjoy and cling to those. Maybe your church is offering a Bible study this fall again, but it’s online instead of in-person. Is it possible to enjoy it for what it is? There are plenty of other examples.

I’m not here to tell anyone how to feel! But if I can offer encouragement or consolation, I hope I can do that.

You’re not alone if you struggle with life in this moment. And, at the same time, it’s a worthy practice to find positive glimmers of hope.

Now more than ever, I find prayer and scripture study to be incredibly life-sustaining. Perhaps you’ll join your church’s morning prayer group, or read Forward Day by Day, or try out the Forward Movement daily office podcasts.

Blessings to you. We’ll get through this. After all, Jesus has promised to be with us until the end of the age. THAT we can always count on.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


More from our ministry:

From Grow Christians: In the Middle

From Grow Christians: Transforming Our Back to School Fears

From RenewalWorks: Blessed are those who mourn

Spend the program year with Forward Movement: Learn more!

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

 

Spend the year with Forward Movement

Spend the year with Forward Movement calendar GRAPHIC

Explore our offerings for every season of the church year

Each season of the year brings new opportunity to inspire your small group or congregation, or to find that inspiration on your own. We invite you to spend your program year with Forward Movement.

We’ve organized a 12-month path for you and your congregation to follow from fall discipleship courses through summer reading groups.  Take as little or as much as you need for your community.

View this as an interactive booklet:

Spend the year with Forward Movement


Autumn

Autumn provides an excellent opportunity to grow and learn as a community.

It’s the perfect time of year to start one of our free discipleship courses: Exploring the Bible, Practicing Our Faith, or Celebrating the Saints. Each is designed for all-ages and comes with everything you’ll need to run the program, though you can purchase companion books if you’d like. Most content is available in both Spanish and English.

Living Discipleship Courses

Your church might also want to begin RenewalWorks, which helps churches discover and explore their unique characteristics and helps chart a path to focus on the spiritual growth of their community.

Grow Christians LogoLooking for ideas for children and families, or an inspiring community practicing faith? Grow Christians is our community blog focused on families practicing faith at home. With regular posts from a broad community of writers, this group blog inspires generations to come together as they celebrate the presence of God through the Christian year.

This is an excellent season to get your lay leaders refreshed through the Revive program, especially in this time of upheaval. You can run the complete course for the whole program year or do part of it this autumn.

Finally, if you offer a program for new members, you might find Transforming Questions helpful as a free course for new Christians and seekers.

 


Advent

Promise and Praise CoverA season to slow down and reflect on the gift of Jesus in our world, Advent is a powerful time to read a daily devotional with your congregation or small group.

Our newest Advent devotional, Promise & Praise, corresponds with AdventWord, a global community of prayer that invites people to read and respond to a single word each day. The words are drawn from the weekly scripture readings and prayerfully selected as a way to help us ready our hearts and our lives for the coming of the Christ child. Learn more about AdventWord finding a new home at Forward Movement.

2021 Advent CalendarAdvent calendars are a popular way of marking the season. Get your whole church involved with our popular poster Advent calendars, Slow Down! Quiet. It’s Advent.

With illustrations by Jay Sidebotham, these colorable posters suggest ways to mark the days through the Advent season; ideas for prayer, helping others, and being thoughtful about the true meaning of Christmas. They come in packs of 25 for easy bulk ordering for your entire congregation.

The start of the liturgical year is also a great time to introduce people to the habit of daily prayer through the Daily Office. You can pray it with our website or free app, individually or in groups. Visit the App Store or Google Play store to download the Forward Day by Day app.

 


Christmas

We have books and devotionals that make excellent gifts for your loved ones, including gift subscriptions to Forward Day by Day.

As the calendar approaches the New Year, we also ask you to consider donating to our ministry that provides prayer resources to those in need. Click here to learn how you can help.

Twelve Days of Grace is a campaign on social media over the twelve days of the Christmas season to remind us that we’re grateful not just for presents under the tree, but for the gift of God’s love in Jesus Christ and in our own lives. Share your gratitude on social media with hashtag #graceupongrace every day of Christmastide!

 


Epiphany

The Good Book Club LogoWith partners from around the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion, Forward Movement celebrates the Epiphany season with a new round of the Good Book Club. Join people around the world in reading the Book of Exodus using free materials from our partners.

The second book of the Bible, Exodus recounts the journey of the Israelites from slavery to freedom. We hear the great stories of Moses, from his discovery by Pharoah’s daughter on the bank of the river to the burning bush to his presentation of the Ten Commandments. Along the way, we encounter God’s covenant and explore the grand theme of redemption.

This year, we have a bonus time of scripture engagement: the Good Book Club will dive into the first twenty chapters of Exodus from Epiphany, January 6, to Shrove Tuesday, March 1. For those who want to keep reading, we’ll offer a daily reading guide and an overview of the second half of Exodus. That reading period will conclude on Easter.

ChurchNext LogoThe new year may bring a renewed desire to deepen knowledge and spiritual disciplines. Our online courses from ChurchNext bring talented and passionate instructors directly to you. Courses cover a variety of subjects and are available for individuals or groups; from church leadership and finances to personal growth and holy habits, and everything in between.

Looking to take up a practice of daily prayer in the new year? We suggest starting with our website prayer.forwardmovement.org or downloading our app on the App Store or Google Play store. Both the website and app integrate our daily podcasts, making new spiritual practices more accessible than ever.

 


Lent

The Pilgrim Way of Lent CoverLent is a season to refocus our lives on Jesus. Churches might like to encourage their members to read a daily devotional, and Forward Movement has several from which to choose.

New for 2022, we are offering The Pilgrim Way of Lent, meditations by staff of the Washington National Cathedral.

The popular Join the Journey colorable calendar poster will help families remember their Lenten journey at home. Illustrated by Jay Sidebotham, the calendar calls to mind daily activities or reflections. (link coming soon)

Lent is a wonderful time to engage with scripture, and Forward Movement has many courses and books to help. During Lent, the Bible Challenge series might be especially timely. For congregations who traditionally offer Lenten programs, many of these can be adapted to work over the five weeks of Lent, whether your groups are meeting in person or online.

Lent Madness LogoFinally, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention Lent Madness, where online competition meets saintly devotion. Learn about saints, have some fun, and discover how Christ’s light shines through all kinds of people.

 

 


Holy Week

Walk In Love CoverFor those congregations who keep vigil with the Blessed Sacrament on Maundy Thursday, the free Holy Hour devotion could be useful.

If you are teaching about the liturgies and the meaning of Holy Week, Walk in Love: Episcopal Beliefs & Practices has several chapters that will help prepare people for this most important week of the year. The full book walks through the liturgical year, the sacraments of the church, habits of daily prayer, and the teachings of Anglican Christianity.

 


Easter

Easter Sunday might be the biggest Sunday of the year, but it’s also the beginning of a season that lasts 50 days. The 50days.org blog features a reflection every day of the Easter season.

Journey Through ActsLike Lent, Easter is a fitting time to dive into scripture. We hear from the Book of Acts on Sunday mornings, so why not use the A Journey Through Acts: A 50 Day Bible Challenge or Acts to Action?

We have several other 50-day Bible Challenge books, including all four gospels!

 


Season after Pentecost

This long green season sets our minds on flourishing. Grow Christians is blog for families who are raising children in the faith. You can encourage people to read and act on what they read to bring faith into homes.

Revive Logo

Similarly, this is another good time to consider Revive, a program to engage lay leaders and help them thrive.

 


Summer Reading

Book ideasWhy not organize a summer book group? Many of Forward Movement’s books come with reflection questions or free courses.

Check out some suggested titles that work well for individual and group reading.

Some of our books have a companion course from ChurchNext. Speaking of ChurchNext, churches can offer group courses or encourage individual exploration with our online Christian formation by video.

 

Forward Today: You CAN make a difference

Dear friends in Christ,

As I mentioned last week, there’s been a lot of heartbreaking news lately. Images and stories out of Haiti and Afghanistan are challenging. The pandemic continues its deadly spread. How can we respond?

I’ve heard people say, “There’s nothing I can do.” Perhaps it’s true that no one of us can single-handedly solve any of these global problems. But it’s just not true that there’s nothing to do. As I said last week, prayer is always a good act. For those of us who are Episcopalians, there are other concrete steps we and our churches can take.

If, like me, you would like to see a serious commitment to welcome Afghan refugees in the US and other nations, you can take action. For people living in the US, the Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations has a simple way to help you contact your Senators and Representatives. Just fill out a brief form to advocate for action to welcome more refugees.

While you’re on that page, notice the link at the bottom if you’d like to make a financial contribution to Episcopal Migration Ministries to support their work in settling refugees. You and your congregation can also indicate your interest in volunteering to help settle refugees. It’s rewarding work, and I hope you will consider doing this Gospel work.

Earthquake damage in Haiti

The people of Haiti have suffered more than most of us can comprehend. It’s been one disaster after another for more than a century. In response to the recent earthquake, you can donate to Episcopal Relief & Development’s relief work there. As you may know, the Diocese of Haiti is part of the Episcopal Church, so Episcopal Relief & Development has a good network through which to do its work.

If you are concerned about the continued spread of COVID, there are several steps you can take. Episcopal Relief & Development has a COVID relief fund that will be especially important for developing nations where a lack a resources may make vaccine campaigns challenging. The Office of Government Relations has a vaccine toolkit to support your work in encouraging vaccination among those who are hesitant. If you have influence over policy, you can create incentives or requirements for the vaccine in your organization, whether church or secular.

Don’t accept “there’s nothing I can do” as reality. There’s work for you. And there’s work for your church. Jesus commands us to love our neighbors, and our neighbors around the world need our love.

And let us never cease to pray.

Almighty God our heavenly Father, you declare your glory and show forth your handiwork in the heavens and in the earth: Deliver us in our various occupations from the service of self alone, that we may do the work you give us to do in truth and beauty and for the common good; for the sake of him who came among us as one who serves, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Yours faithfully,

 

 

 

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


More from our ministry:

Online Course: Civil Conversations in Uncivil Times with Ray Suarez

From Grow Christians, our family blog: A Summer Morning, Broken Glass and the Bus Stop

Reading suggestion: Book ideas for churches and small groups!