Tag Archives: scott gunn

An update about the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn

Dear friends in Christ,

The power of prayer is never to be underestimated. God is present in our waiting, in our worry, and in our joy. Today, we get to share profound joy and gladness with you.

We are thrilled to announce that our executive director, the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, has made significant progress in his healing over the past few days. His medical team report that all signs are pointing toward a full and complete recovery.

His doctors expect that he will be able to travel home from Singapore in four to six weeks. While he may be released from the hospital before then, he will need to continue his rehabilitation on an outpatient basis before doctors can recommend long-distance travel.

Scott’s wife, the Rev. Sherilyn Pearce, will remain with him in Singapore through his rehabilitation and recovery. During this time, we ask that you refrain from calling, texting, or emailing so that they may devote their energy entirely to Scott’s health and the extraordinary medical and therapeutic resources that are supporting his miraculous progress. They both experience the power of your prayers each day.

We will continue to update you as information is available. The staff and board of directors of Forward Movement appreciate your support and ask for your continued prayers for Scott, Sherilyn, and his medical team.

Let us pray.

O Lord, your compassions never fail and your mercies are new every morning: We give you thanks for giving our brother Scott both relief from pain and hope of health renewed. Continue in him, we pray, the good work you have begun; that he, daily increasing in bodily strength, and rejoicing in your goodness, may so order his life and conduct that he may always think and do those things that please you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP p. 460)

 In faith and peace,

The Rev. Kate Wesch
Board Chair

 

 

Forward Today: Curb appeal

Dear friends in Christ,

About a year ago, my spouse and I bought a new house. We spent months looking for just the right home for us. Our real estate agent would sometimes talk with us about “curb appeal.” What does the house look like as you drive by?

Some houses have lots of curb appeal. And others might not have so much curb appeal but they still look great on the inside. House buyers might never find their way into a great house if there isn’t enough curb appeal.

It’s not all that different for churches. When people are looking for a new church home, they might drive by to see what your church looks like from the outside. Others might just be driving by and notice that your church looks well-tended and active, or unkempt and stagnant. Church seekers might never find their way into a great church if there isn’t enough curb appeal.

I mention all this because summer is a great time to look over your church for its curb appeal. Is the lawn tidy? Is the landscaping neat? Does it look like this is a place where things are happening?

These things do not need to be expensive. Simple things (perhaps a splash of paint here and a snip of the shrub trimmers there) might make a huge difference. Does your church building have a sign out front? Does that sign look great? Does it offer an inviting message?

And if people might have trouble finding their way to your church, you might consider an Episcopal church sign. Forward Movement recently became the official purveyor of church signs, and we’d love to help you reach new people with the Gospel.

When I was a parish priest, we found that inviting groups of people to come work on the church’s “curb appeal” was a fun way to connect people with one another. Maybe you’ll find the same thing.

If you think your church looks great, send me a photo! If you have an Episcopal Church sign, send me a photo of that. I’m always glad to see how we’re doing on curb appeal, because I’m always glad to know how we’re doing at making disciples.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


More from our ministry:

Refreshment for lay leaders this summer: Revive small-group series

From ChurchNext: How to Be a Godparent

From Grow Christians: Staying Connected over the Summer Months

Use code GC2022 to save 10% on the Forward Movement website throughout July!

Forward Today: Giving thanks for our church

Dear friends in Christ,

As I write this, I am on a plane on my way home from the 80th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, where I was honored to serve in the House of Deputies. Normally, I would have spent some time in a Forward Movement booth in the exhibit hall, too, but the convention was downsized and shortened this year due to the pandemic.

I’m still mulling over the results of convention. We acted on over 400 resolutions. If you’re curious what all happened, you can read a quick summary of the convention over on the Episcopal News Service. And I was one of the photographers for Deputy News, and I posted some snaps on my Flickr album.

A couple of quick thoughts come to mind. I wish we spent more time and energy considering how our church can more fully carry out the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations. We need to do this not because our churches are in decline, but because the Good News of Jesus Christ can transform lives and change the world.

There was plenty of Good News at the convention, however. I always marvel at our democratic process for making decisions as a church. Lay people are essential—and involved—at all levels of church governance, along with bishops, priests, and deacons. In our deliberations, there was careful listening even when we disagreed.

It was a joy to be together, even for a brief time, with people who are united in their passion to make our church better. Our vision of what “better” looks like might differ, but each person is there because they love the church and the Lord Jesus.

Sometimes people say General Convention is disconnected from the lives of our congregations. If you only look at the content of some of the resolutions, that might seem true. But General Convention manifests something essential about our identity as Episcopalians: we believe that the Holy Spirit still works in the church, and we believe that lay people, bishops, priests, and deacons together discern where the Spirit is calling us to go. That charism is true at the churchwide level, at the diocesan level, and in our congregations.

Let us give thanks for the Spirit’s work. And let us pray for the grace and courage to be even more open to the winds of the Spirit and the winds of change.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


More from our ministry:

From the RenewalWorks blog: Living a day at a time

Now available for pre-order: Vital Signs of Faith

New from ChurchNext: The Gospel of Luke

Use code GC2022 to save 10% on the Forward Movement website throughout July!

Forward Today: Of courage and grace

Dear friends in Christ,

Tomorrow I leave for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Originally scheduled for the summer of 2021, the pandemic has forced us first to postpone and now to shorten and simplify the convention. Instead of the usual two-week gathering of voting deputies, bishops, exhibitors, youth, young adults, Episcopal Church Women, and visitors, we are limited to four days of just those who will be deliberating on legislation for our church.

Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg / Episcopal News Service

The General Convention is a sometimes unwieldy but truly lovely part of our church. It’s not hard to criticize its excess, but it’s also important to recognize what it shows us about our church. At this gathering, lay people, bishops, priests, and deacons all work together to deliberate. Our church involves lay people at all levels of governance. The gathering will be live streamed for all to watch, and you will witness the careful procedure that is followed to protect the democratic nature of the work.

You can follow along online at the General Convention media hub, and if you’re bored, you can read some of the 412 resolutions that will be considered. But more than that, I hope you will pray for this gathering. Deputies and bishops will be voting on resolutions concerning racial healing and justice, our liturgies, discipleship and evangelism, and many other matters. Pray that we have the courage to follow the Spirit’s will in all things. Pray that we know God’s grace in our lives and in our beloved church.

And those of us who are gathered will need grace of other kinds, too. The necessary precautions to keep us safe during the pandemic are sensible, but they will be challenging. Many of our usual patterns have been upended, as we all have to learn new ways of doing things. Some of what is planned will doubtless unfold in ways that were not planned. We’ll need grace to forgive, to laugh, to apologize, and to be open to new ways.

Isn’t that like the whole church though? General Convention is, in many ways, a microcosm for all our churches, big and small. So much has been disrupted by two years of the pandemic. We grieve those who have died and all the things we have lost. And yet there is also a blessing in disruption. We are necessarily focused on what is most important. We are knocked out of our complacency. We are forced to consider how the church of 2022 can bear the Good News of Jesus Christ in a world that desperately needs to know God’s grace and mercy.

Pray for those who gather in Baltimore.

Almighty and everliving God, source of all wisdom and understanding, be present with those who take counsel in the General Convention for the renewal and mission of your Church. Teach us in all things to seek first your honor 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.

If you’re going to be there, please say hello. You can find me during legislative sessions in the House of Deputies or outside when the convention is on break.

Yours faithfully,
Scott Gunn's signature

P.S. Forward Movement doesn’t have a booth in the exhibit hall this time, but we’re still offering a discount for General Convention shopping. You can use code GC2022 on our website or for phone orders to save 10% throughout the month of July.


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Pre-order today: The Book of Common Prayer – Gift Edition

Forward Today: The peace of Christ

Dear friends in Christ,

It’s been a difficult few weeks for the world and for the United States. We’ve seen earthquakes, gun violence, political upheaval, wars, and the ongoing global pandemic. It wouldn’t be difficult to lose hope at a time like this.

How can we stay hopeful? What are we to do?

Image from the catacomb of Domitilla shows one of the oldest known images of Jesus Christ as the good shepherd / Wikimedia Commons

I find the Gospels helpful in difficult times. There I am reminded that even Christ’s disciples—people who knew Jesus and saw his works—didn’t have the answers and sometimes lost their way. Jesus again and again had to redirect his followers. Sometimes he cajoled them. Sometimes he taught them. Sometimes he showed them signs and wonders. Always, he loved them.

If we lose our way, we are never alone. The Spirit abides with us. But what about all those times we can’t even see the Spirit at work in the world and in our own hearts?

Thanks be to God we have the church. Christ’s body, the church, is our haven and our sustenance. We can be nourished as we hear God’s word spoken to us. We can be sustained as we receive the sacraments. We can inspired as we listen to others bear witness to the grace and mercy of God at work in their lives.

I am not suggesting that we should flee the world and hide out inside our stained glass windows. I am not suggesting that the Gospel magically remedies the injustice and violence of the world. But the fact is that we who follow Jesus need to be reminded that he is the way, the truth, and the life. We need to remember that we are beloved of God, and that we are called to love others as he first loved us.

You and I don’t have to save the world. Jesus has done that. Our task is to give thanks for God’s love for us and to manifest that love in word and deed. I can’t say that we will make everything right in this world, but I can say with every fiber of my being that, in the end, love wins. Easter shows us that.

So what shall we do now?

We can offer compassion. Console those who suffer. Speak up for the voiceless. Give of our substance to those who have less. Name evil when we see it. Love our enemies. Pray for the needs of the world. And above all bear witness to God’s grace and mercy.

I might also add that righteous anger is holy, as the scriptures remind us. Righteous anger is not anger at our own suffering, but rather rage on behalf of the poor, the vulnerable, the widow, the orphan, and all those in great need. God sides with the meek not the mighty, and it’s just fine for God’s people to remind everyone of that.

In these times, I beseech you to spend time with other Christians. Worship on the Lord’s Day. Go to a Bible study. Pray with a friend. That’s how we keep our compass when the world seems to spin out of control.

We can’t make peace, but we can find Christ’s peace even in the midst of the storm.

The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be amongst you, and remain with you always. Amen.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


More from our ministry:

New course from ChurchNext: Organizing for Justice

From Grow Christians: Preparing and Trusting with John the Baptist

Pray with us every day at prayer.forwardmovement.org

Forward Today: We are never alone

Dear friends in Christ,

This coming Sunday is Trinity Sunday, our annual opportunity to celebrate the revelation of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It’s tempting to try and use this day to explain the Trinity, but perhaps it’s better to use this day to sing rousing hymns in praise of the Trinity.

Image of the Holy Trinity from Church of Debra Berhan Selassie, Gondar, Ethiopia / Wikimedia Commons

With all the violence, division, fear, and chaos of our time, it might be easy for us to conclude that delving into the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is irrelevant. Sometimes people say things such as, “people are more important than doctrine.” But this is an impoverished view of both the task of theology and the work of loving others.

Doctrine helps us know who God is and how God wants us to live. Doctrine helps me understand our fallen world and the need for a Redeemer. Doctrine challenges me to love those whom I might prefer to ignore.

The doctrine of the Holy Trinity shows us that God has loved us from the beginning of all things, having made this universe in which we live. Jesus Christ is the exact imprint of his Father’s very being, showing us everything we need to see about how God loves us and calls us to transformation. The Holy Spirit is the Father’s gift to us, as promised by Jesus Christ, and that same Spirit is our guide, our companion, and our teacher.

Though I love a good flowchart, the Holy Trinity is best perhaps understood has God’s eternal love for creation and for each one of us. Sure, there is a lifetime of wisdom and inspiration to be gained by studying the relationship among the persons of the Holy Trinity. But while we study and learn, we can also bask in the glory of God and delight in the astounding, unearned gift of God’s love for us.

You see, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is not irrelevant to the challenges of our world and of our lives. When I begin to grasp the wondrous mystery of the Holy Trinity, I begin to grasp that God never abandons us, never leaves us alone. And we see that God’s desire is for a world that is filled with justice, mercy, hope, and grace. With the power of the Holy Spirit, we are empowered to proclaim God’s grace and mercy in a world that yearns for a word of hope.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


More from our ministry:

From the Grow Christians archives: Celebrating God Being All Things
Explore Episcopal doctrines: Walk In Love

Forward Today: Come, Holy Spirit

We hope you enjoy this reprise of Scott’s Forward Today reflection on the Day of Pentecost from 2018.

Dear friends in Christ,

This Sunday, we will celebrate the awe-full (as in full of awe) Day of Pentecost. Consider what it might have been like for those disciples. They saw tongues of fire. They heard people from other nations speaking in their own languages. It’s no wonder some bystanders wondered if people had been drinking too much.

By Хомелка [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
I worry that in our zeal to make Pentecost the capstone of the Easter season – to turn it into a big party – we have missed the awe of the day. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against parties, and I’m grateful for our realization that Easter is a season of 50 days. But I wonder, on this feast of the Holy Spirit’s descent, if we pay enough attention to the Holy Spirit.

Too often, I hear people saying, “The Holy Spirit was here” when things have gone their way or when an experience was delightful. And perhaps the Spirit was there. But a cursory glance at the scriptures suggests the Holy Spirit’s arrival is not always about warm, fuzzy feelings.

Sometimes the Holy Spirit pushes people to act boldly for the cause of the Gospel. I mean, to do things that risk life and limb. Sometimes the Holy Spirit convicts people of their sins, and the fruit of an encounter with the Spirit is repentance. The whole book of Acts is filled with stories of the Spirit’s power leading the church to open itself to the world around.

What do you think would happen if the Holy Spirit descended afresh on our church? Would we hear new things from those who are different from us? Would we be pushed in new, astonishing directions?

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


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Pre-order the new book on the life of the spirit: Vital Signs of Faith

Forward Today: Caring for God’s creation

Dear friends in Christ,

Last Friday was Earth Day. An annual reminder of the need to protect this beautiful world in which we live is a good thing. We do even better to keep a constant focus on our environment and our attitudes toward God’s creation.

Surely there can be little debate that human activity has sometimes harmed our world. Forests are shrinking. Pollution increases. Garbage litters our oceans. The climate is changing.

What are we to do?

  • We can always begin and end in prayer. Prayer helps our relationship with God, and that may in turn teach us to be more grateful for all the gifts God has given, including our amazing planet.
  • Advocate for public policies that protect the environment and discourage polluters.
  • Support businesses and organizations that are friendly to the environment.
  • Reduce our own consumption of goods and energy.

As a church, there are several steps we can take:

  • Choose green energy providers and reduce energy consumption in our churches.
  • Build carbon offsets into budgets.
  • Provide electric vehicle chargers and bike racks.
  • Pray for and teach about our relationship with creation regularly.
  • Study the scriptures. Forward Movement has just published the Creation Care Bible Challenge, which is ideal for individual devotion or group study.

At Forward Movement, we have switched to recycled paper where possible. We are looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint. My personal hope is that we can become carbon neutral in a short time.

Let us give thanks for this amazing world and for all the plants and creatures who live with us. And let us seek to leave the world in better shape than when we inherited it.

What can you do to protect God’s creation? What is your church doing?

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


More from our ministry:

From Grow Christians: The Challenge of Earth Day

From the archives: Easter in the Compost Bin

Pray with the Earth for “daily bread” in Bold to Say

Forward Today: May we show forth

Dear friends in Christ,

Thanks be to God we have a whole season to celebrate with joy the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s just too much to fit into one day. So for fifty days we can bask in the glow of resurrection light as we seek to understand how this gift changes our lives and our hopes.

Every day of this first week of Easter is a major feast day according to our prayer book. That means each day has its own assigned lessons and its own collect. I love several of them, but tomorrow’s collect really struck me as I was writing this message.

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Isn’t that lovely? In Christ’s suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension, God has established a new covenant. And we who follow Jesus should show in our lives what we believe!

How are our lives changed by the reality of the resurrection of Jesus? What does it matter that God has decisively acted in our world to defeat sin, evil, and death? In this sometimes chaotic world of ours, can Easter joy help us to be bearers of mercy and grace? These are questions we might grapple with in this Easter season.

We spend a lot of energy on our Lenten disciplines, rightly so! But Easter disciplines might also help us live as people who follow a risen Lord. Easter disciplines might include prayer, thanksgiving, sharing, proclamation, worship, or whatever helps you grow into the full stature of Christ.

Forward Movement is here to walk with you through the fifty days of Easter. You can read daily reflections at 50days.org. These are short reflections written by a group of folks, many of whom write for Grow Christians. The blog features Easter music on Monday, throwbacks to ancient writings on Thursdays, and lovely reflections on Easter joy the other days of the week.

You can get an ebook or paper copy (Forward Movement or Amazon) of my latest book, Easter Triumph, Easter Joy: Meditations for the Fifth Days of Eastertide. You can cultivate a habit of daily prayer with extra alleluias on our free prayer site. You can read the Book of Acts or meditate daily on one of the great Easter icons.

Whatever you do, I hope you and I will not go back to “business as usual” now that we’ve celebrated Easter Day. The world can never go back to business as usual now that death is defeated! Let us spend the next 47 days exploring the joy and transformation of Easter.

Blessings to you all. Alleluia, Christ is risen!

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


More from our ministry:

Easter at Grow Christians: Every Last Thing Is a Season

Spend 50 days exploring scripture: The Way of Love Bible Challenge

Easter at ChurchNext: Finding the Resurrected Jesus

Forward Today: Gather in vigil and prayer

Dear friends in Christ,

On Saturday evening, many churches will have gathered to celebrate on Easter Eve. The celebrant begins the service in darkness by saying, “Dear friends in Christ: On this most holy night, in which our Lord Jesus passed over from death to life, the Church invites her members, dispersed throughout the world, to gather in vigil and prayer.”

The whole of Holy Week could be seen as a gathering in vigil in prayer. At this most holy time, we spend time remembering God’s great love for us as shown forth in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

“Study for Crucifixion” (1947) by Graham Sutherland — in the Vatican Museums.

While we tend to love others when it feels convenient and good to us, we recall how Jesus taught us to love others as he loved us: completely and sacrificial. Instead of turning away from the cross, we spend time gazing at it. And we then we revel in the utter and shocking victory of God’s victory over fear, sin, and death.

I hope you will join me in spending lots of time in church this week. Though we are dispersed throughout the world, we will be together in hearing God’s promises to us. We will share in the drama and awe of the ancient liturgies of the church. We will meet Jesus in the scriptures and sacraments. And we will find our hearts gladdened with the good news that no person and no place is beyond God’s redemptive love.

Blessings to you.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


More from our ministry:

From the Grow Christians archives: Talking about the Cross with Young Children 
Find the right prayer for the right time: Prayers for All Occasions
Pray through Holy Week with us at prayer.forwardmovement.org