Good Book Club to start 2022 with Exodus

Start the new year with a renewed spiritual practice of reading God’s Word. Forward Movement, with support from partners from around the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion, will celebrate the time of Epiphany with a new round of the Good Book Club by reading the first half of the Book of Exodus.

Exodus recounts the journey of the Israelites from slavery to freedom. We hear the great stories of Moses, from his discovery by Pharaoh’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.

The full schedule, including the list of daily readings is available at www.goodbookclub.org.

Sign up to receive updates on Exodus.

Joining the Good Book Club is easy: Open your Bible and start reading!

For those looking for more structure, a plethora of resources from Forward Movement and partners will be available in Fall 2021 to help individuals, small groups, and churches take part in this church-wide initiative.

This is the sixth series of the initiative to encourage scripture engagement, led by Forward Movement. Past partners include the United Thank Offering, Episcopal Migration Ministries, Episcopal Church Foundation, The Living Church, Forma, GrowChristians.org, ChurchNext, the Episcopal Church’s communication, digital, and evangelism ministries, the Hive, Invite Welcome Connect, the Consortium of Endowed Parishes, Montreal Diocesan Theological College, Episcopal Asset Map, Building Faith, RenewalWorks, and the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast. If your organization is interested in being a partner and developing resources for the Good Book Club, please contact Richelle Thompson at rthompson@forwardmovement.org.

For archived reading lists and resources from the past five series, please visit the Good Book Club website. There you will find helpful tools and inspiration to run your own Bible study while awaiting Epiphany 2022. Past series included the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts (2018), the Book of Romans (2019), the Gospels of John and Matthew (2020), and the Gospel of Mark (early 2021).

Forward Movement is a ministry of the Episcopal Church that inspires disciples and empowers evangelists. With offices in Cincinnati, Ohio, Forward Movement has been serving the Episcopal Church since 1935 by producing resources such as Forward Day by Day, books, apps, pamphlets, conferences, courses, and more. Visit www.goodbookclub.org to learn more.

Forward Today: Thinking about the post-pandemic church

Dear friends in Christ,

I’ve been thinking a lot about what church might be like when we emerge from this time of pandemic. Of course, we aren’t going wake up one morning and everything’s “back to normal.” First, ending this strange time will happen gradually, by fits and starts, over time. It might be months or longer. Second, I don’t think we want to go back to “normal” because that would imply everything was fine.

Instead of thinking about getting “back to normal”, I hope we’ll talk about post-pandemic life. We have a mandate for change unlike any other in our lifetimes. What do we treasure about our churches and our world that we want to sustain? What are the things we can finally let go of? Where should we be looking for change?

My colleagues at RenewalWorks recently published a wonderful blog post, “Now What? 5 Spiritual Growth Strategies for the New Normal”. There are some solid, practical tips on how your church might take stock of its spiritual well-being, along with some recommendations for how to nurture spiritual growth.

It has been too easy to forget why churches exist. There are a lot of good things churches do, but the fundamental reason Jesus commissioned us is to make disciples. So maybe this is the perfect time to figure out where we excel and where we need to improve.

In the RenewalWorks best practices, pastoring the community is an important part of our life together. This practice invites us to get to know the communities around our churches and to find ways to serve the needs of the community. In some ways, Episcopalians are often quite good at this work. But in other ways, we have room for growth. I very much hope we will use the lens of anti-racism to scrutinize our work in communities and our churches themselves. Do our churches reflect the diversity of people in our area?

It’s not just the post-pandemic world we need to talk about, but the post-Christendom world. Most people in our society simply don’t know Jesus. How will they learn about him if we don’t practice evangelism? Let’s try to do better at sharing the amazing news of God in Jesus Christ with our neighbors.

If you need a fresh dose of inspiration, I invite you to visit 50days.org, which I wrote about last week, too. I’m writing reflections every day of the Easter season to remind us all of the joy and wonder that is made possible by Christ’s resurrection. You can visit the site daily or sign up for emails.

Let us at Forward Movement know if there are ways we can support your church in the post-pandemic world. We have some ideas, but we’d love to hear from you.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

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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!

 


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50 Days | Celebrating Easter with Daily Reflections

Forward Today: 50 Days of Hope, Joy, and Reflection

Dear friends in Christ,

Happy Easter to you! I’ve celebrated Holy Week and Easter all over the world, and I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited to celebrate Easter Day than this year.

After what seemed like an endless Lent and an interminable winter (at least here in Cincinnati), I was greatly heartened by the glorious spring day and the thrill of gathering with people outdoors to offer Easter praise, sing our favorite resurrection hymns, and shout some joyous alleluias.

Despite my joy, I must also acknowledge this year’s Easter wasn’t the one we might have hoped for. We couldn’t be inside a packed church. The music was a bit different from usual. Elbow bumps had to replace hugs.

Still, we cannot deny Easter joy coming forth any more than a large stone could contain Jesus from emerging from his tomb.

For several years, Forward Movement has offered Eastertide reflections on a blog called 50 Days. This year, instead of inviting a company of bloggers, I decided to write 50 reflections myself. Partly this was because in a complicated time of pandemic, doing this simply seemed better.

But also, I must confess, I thought it might be good for my soul to write 50 reflections on Easter. Turns out I was right. Diving deep into Easter has been just what I needed to help me re-center my life as we start to imagine what it might be like in a post-pandemic world.

So, friends, I invite you to join me over on 50 Days for Easter reflections. We’re just getting started! You can sign up for daily emails on that website, if you like.

May Easter joy fill your heart and your life. And may it spill over in those around you as you proclaim Good News and share Christ’s love.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

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Image: Pixabay


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!

 


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Job Opening: Development Assistant

DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANT 

Position Description
Forward Movement seeks a part-time Development Assistant to help manage our fundraising and connect with donors. The Development Assistant will work with the Director of Development and Mission Engagement and other Forward Movement staff to support the donation process. We seek a people-focused individual with attention to detail. The ideal candidate will understand the importance of data maintenance, generosity, creativity, and thankfulness. Part-time, 15 hours per week. Hours are flexible, Preference for someone who can work in the Cincinnati office.

Inspiring disciples and empowering evangelists worldwide every day, Forward Movement produces excellent, innovative resources to encourage spiritual growth in individuals and congregations for more than eighty years. Our flagship offering is Forward Day by Day, a quarterly devotional with a circulation of 300,000. Forward Movement is a non-profit ministry of The Episcopal Church and is in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Key Responsibilities and Tasks

  • Process customer gifts, thank-you letters, and emails.
  • Prepare donation reports for mailings and analysis.
  • Communicate with donors by phone, email, and letter.
  • Contribute to team effort by accomplishing related results as needed.
  • Collaborate with marketing on development-related communication.
  • Maintain security of donor information.

 

Skills/Qualifications: Data Entry and Maintenance, Donor-focused Fundraising Concepts, Quality Focus, Problem Solving, Documentation Skills, Listening, Phone Skills, Resolving Conflict, Analyzing Information.

The successful applicant will be knowledgeable about The Episcopal Church. Must be comfortable working in a faith-based environment. Prior experience or training in spreadsheets and word processing, data entry and maintenance, and general computer savviness are highly desirable. English language fluency is required. Spanish language fluency is desirable.

Forward Movement hires without regard to race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, marital status, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disabilities, or age.

Email cover letter and resume to tjones@forwardmovement by May 1, 2021.

 

Forward Today: Getting to the center

Dear friends in Christ,

This week we get to the center of the Gospel. Over the course of Holy Week, we enter into the Paschal Mystery: the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In this action, God has acted to redeem the cosmos and to offer salvation to all people.

Once again, most of us find ourselves exiled from our familiar liturgies and habits in Holy Week. We are unable to gather as we are accustomed. I for one grieve the fact that we cannot celebrate the glorious liturgies of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Eve from our prayer book with churches full of people.

And, yet, we know that Christ’s self-offering on the cross and his resurrection are still true, whether or not we are able to mark those events in our churches in the usual manner.

If you are a member of a church, I encourage you to take part in whatever is being offered in your church, online or (if you are able to safely attend) in person. If your church is not offering liturgies this year, there are plenty of options online. Pray for your clergy. They have been knocked out of sorts by all this, and they yearn for the depth of Holy Week as much as anyone.

If you are a clergy person, I hope you won’t be beating yourself up too much. Every priest or deacon I have spoken to feels like they aren’t doing enough, even though none of us knows what “enough” means. It is enough to offer what we can, given all the limits of the pandemic and people’s exhaustion.

I hope everyone can find some peace, mercy, and hope in the coming days through our observance of the Three Holy Days and the Easter season.

If nothing else, perhaps this year affords us the opportunity to read the accounts of the passion and resurrection of Jesus in the Gospels with special fervor. Read one or more of Matthew 26-28, Mark 14-16, Luke 22-24, or John 18-20.

This week, whether through liturgies with our community, through our own prayer, or in the pages of scripture, may we all join with Mary Magdalene and say, “I have seen the Lord.”

Blessings to you all in the coming days.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

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Image: Russian icon from the 1500s, depicting the Crucifixion. National Museum, Stockholm.


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!

 


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Forward Today: Pour your grace into our hearts

Dear friends in Christ,

Tomorrow is March 25, the day on which the church celebrates the Annunciation of Our Lord Jesus Christ to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It might seem strange to ponder the mystery and joy of the incarnation right smack dab in the middle of Lent, but such is the nature of keeping a feast that happens exactly nine months before Christmas!

If you’re feeling the doldrums of Lent, here’s some good news. The Annunciation is a Major Feast day, and by tradition, one’s Lenten fast is set aside to celebrate boundless joy! In church, we use white vestments tomorrow, and even sing the Gloria in excelsis. (No allel**a though, still!)

The collect for this feast day is one of my favorites:

Pour your grace into our hearts, O Lord, that we who have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought to the glory of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

I don’t know about you, but asking for a bit of grace to pour into my heart seems very much needed right about now. It’s been a rough year! As we stand on the verge of Holy Week, I also love the reminder that it is by the passion and death of Jesus Christ that our salvation is accomplished and Easter joy made possible.

The gift of God dwelling among us in the person of Jesus Christ is incomparable. In our suffering and trials, we know that God is never far from us. What a timely reminder.

Blessings to you on the eve of this most joyous feast!

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

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Image: Annunciation Icon National Museum Belgrade


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!

 


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Last minute ideas for Easter

Easter Sunday is only 13 days away! We have book club ideas, reading for individuals and families, a colorable calendar to follow the 50 days of Easter, downloadable resources, and more formation tools to inspire you and your congregation.

Shipping notice: Order soon to get your materials in time, and be sure to select a shipping option based off your delivery needs. Due to ongoing postal delays that are out of our control we recommend calling for any rush shipping information and charges. Call 800-543-1813 Monday-Friday, 8:00 am to 4:30pm ET and one of our helpful customer service team members to walk through options with you.

 


 

Alleluia! 50 Days and 50 Ways to Celebrate Easter

Easter is more than a day—it’s a season! Unbury the alleluias and shout with joy, celebrating the risen Christ.

Illustrated by award-winning cartoonist Jay Sidebotham, this calendar poster invites spiritual reflection and is a wonderful companion for the Easter season. This poster is just right for hanging on the wall or keeping on a table for daily coloring. Share these with your congregation, youth group, friends, and family, and keep them on hand for coloring fun.

Buy now!

Print your copies locally! Can’t wait for shipping on this calendar? Check out the downloadable version for printing at your local print shop! *Please note this digital download product is Copyright 2021 Forward Movement and only licensed for local printing, and not for any other distribution method. All applicable copyright laws apply. Print as many as you’d like, but the contents may not be shared through other channels, such as email/social media, or any other distribution channel.

 


 

Celebrating the 50 Days of Easter

Celebrating 50 Days of EasterThe fifty days of Easter offer an opportunity to practice living as a resurrected people- and then to take that practice into the rest of the church year.

In this pamphlet author Nancy Hopkins-Greene explores ways let go of fear, cultivate signs of new life, read the Bible, bring new life to others, and invite God into your questions.

Pamphlets come in packs of 10 and make great additions to care packages!

Buy Now!

 


 

Easter and Holy Week Infographic Bundle

This downloadable series is comprised of five compelling visuals that explain much of the history, traditions, and practices surrounding Holy Week and Easter in the Anglican tradition of Christianity. Created by designer and Episcopal priest Chris Corbin, these infographics provide a contemporary way to engage and teach people of all ages about their faith.

The Easter & Holy Week Evangelism Bundle includes Holy Week, The Triduum, The Way of the Cross, Easter, and Pentecost, and is intended for print and digital distribution.

You’ll receive a download link to the high resolution PDF, JPEG, and PNG versions of each infographic; suitable for printing in-house, taking to a local print shop, sharing on your website or social media channels, and/or incorporating into a publication. Files print nicely on standard ledger paper (11” x 17”) or could be taken to a local print shop to be made into posters.

Download now!

 


 

50 Day Bible Challenge Series

The Way Of Love Bible ChallengeYou and your community can easily take a deep dive into one of the four Gospels, the Book of Acts, or see how scripture connects with the Way of Love practices.

Our 50 Day Bible Challenge books are perfect for the Easter season, with daily scripture, meditations, and prayers written by dynamic spiritual leaders from across the United States and around the world.

These titles, edited by the Rev. Marek Zabriskie, are part of The Bible Challenge, a global initiative to encourage daily engagement with scripture and an exploration of the Word of God.

Explore 50 Day Bible Challenge books now!

 


 

Explore Bible stories from the inside out, with the Bible Spy Series!
Perfect for children and families!

The Spy On Noah's ArkFrom author Lindsay Hardin Freeman, The Spy on Noah’s Ark and The Spy at Jacob’s Ladder bring the Bible to life, with collections of popular stories told from the inside out. Each page is 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. For ages 7-12. Perfect for emerging readers as well as for adults and children to read along together.

Buy one or the set!

 


 

Take a personal spiritual journey with My Way of Love, powered by RenewalWorks

My Way of LoveMy Way of Love, powered by RenewalWorks is a personal guide for the spiritual journey, providing coaching to help individuals grow along the seven practices for Jesus-centered life: turn, learn, pray, worship, bless, go, and rest. It begins with a brief online survey which assesses where you are in your spiritual life.

Created in partnership with the Office of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, this online assessment and coaching tool provides tips for improving your own spiritual journey, based on research from hundreds of thousands of Christians.

You can complete the initial assessment and stop there, or sign up for an eight-week series of emails that will offer some suggestions, coaching for how you can grow spiritually, and ways you can go deeper in love of God and neighbor.

Get started now!

 


 

Explore our interactive eCatalog for more ideas!

2021 Spring and Summer eCatalogOur online catalog provides many more ideas for individuals, families, and congregations.

Watch videos from our authors, browse our online courses from ChurchNext (our online learning platform), and learn about subscription options to Forward Day by Day, our iconic daily devotional.

View our interactive eCatalog here!

 

 

Forward Today: We wish to see Jesus

Dear friends in Christ,

This Sunday’s Gospel tells us about a time when some people approached the disciples and said to Philip, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” The people were Greeks, among those who most certainly didn’t know Jesus. I love the direct, in-your-face aspect of this quote. They know what they want, and they ask for it.

I love talking with seekers, those who are looking for a church home. So often they tell me they are looking to meet Jesus Christ. This is the whole reason they come to church (whether “coming to church” is in person or online). There is very little peer pressure for anyone to attend church these days, so if a person darkens the door of a church, they are looking for something. Most likely they could echo the Greeks’ words, “We wish to see Jesus.”

Wouldn’t it be great if every church showed forth Jesus and his saving love every Sunday reliably? My sense is that sometimes we get into a maintenance rut, and people begin to think of church as the place where they find constancy and comfort in a chaotic time. While I have nothing against constancy, especially if we’re talking about the steadfast love of God, I do think we miss the mark if we don’t keep our eyes fixed on the transforming love of Jesus.

It’s not uncommon for pulpits to have the Greeks’ words written on the preaching desk. It’s a good reminder to preachers: stay on topic! Don’t forget to talk about Jesus!

Maybe we need to write out those words on our pews, in our entry ways, in our parish halls, in our zoom meetings, in our newsletters, and everywhere else. Let us never forget the point.

When people arrive at our churches, they are likely looking for something. “We wish to see Jesus.” Let’s make sure they meet him.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

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Image: Tim Schenck


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!

 


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Forward Today: Suffering and hope

Dear friends in Christ,

Today’s daily office readings bring us this gem from Romans 5.

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.

There’s been a lot of suffering in the last year. Just about a year ago, “normal” life began to shut down as the pandemic loomed large. In that time, millions have died. Livelihoods have been destroyed. Familiar patterns have been disrupted.

St. Paul was speaking about suffering for the faith. Not all suffering is edifying. Sometimes suffering is just straight-up misery, and there’s been plenty of that in the pandemic time.

But I do wonder if we might look at our lives and at our church to see what we can learn from this time. Can this time of suffering produce endurance, character, and hope?

In the “before times” I think the church had too often lost sight of our fundamental mission to make disciples. It was easy to be places of comfort rather than challenge, of maintenance rather than mission, of good feelings rather than Gospel.

As we begin to look toward a post-pandemic time, I hope we take stock of our sufferings but also of our hopes. Can we use our newfound technology skills to reach more people? Can we appreciate those things we had taken for granted? Can we sharpen our focus so that we see ourselves, above all else, as communities of disciples who make disciples?

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…

Order your Easter Calendar | Forward Movement

Contemplative Knitting | ChurchNext

My Way of Love | The Episcopal Church and RenewalWorks

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Forward Today: Remember, rest

Dear friends in Christ,

This coming Sunday, we’ll hear the Ten Commandments as the first lesson in church. And, at least in the church I’m serving on Sundays, we hear those commandments recited at the start of the liturgy every Sunday in Lent.

I love hearing this succinct set of laws that tell us how to live as God’s people. There are commandments to honor God and to honor other people.

It always strikes me that right up there with “do not murder” and “do not steal” is this one:

Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. For six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work.

As a culture, I think we’re pretty good at ignoring that one. We feel like we need to stay productive all the time. There’s always a to-do list. Emails and notifications are always waiting.

But when God set out to boil down the ways to live to just ten laws, the commandment to rest was included. That suggests it’s pretty important.

To rest is a completely counter-cultural idea, and that’s why we need to do it. Resting means that we believe there’s something more important than what we accomplish. Resting means that we can simply bask in the glory of God’s love for us and all creation.

When Bishop Michael Curry introduced the Episcopal Church to the Way of Love, he identified seven spiritual practices that are essential for following Jesus. Rest is one of the seven, and I have a chapter with concrete advice on how to rest for busy people in my latest book, The Way of Love: A Practical Guide to Following Jesus.

I know rest is a struggle for me, and, looking around, I know I’m not alone. But it is God’s will for us, and God knows what is best for us. I hope we can all slow down and rest, for God’s sake and ours.

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!

 


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