Just Launched: Radical Sending with Demi Prentiss

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Today, we launch Radical Sending with Demi Prentiss For Individuals and For Groups. This class, based on Demi Prentiss’ book Radical Sending: Go to Love and Serve, tells congregations how to focus their parishes’ energy outwards, into the world. Outside in the world is where the real work of Christianity lives.  Our experiences in services in church and in community with one another serve to equip us, nurture us, and prepare us for that work.

In this class, Demi Prentiss covers the concept of radical sending: what it means and what congregations that are called to radical sending tend to do. She discusses the role that congregations play in helping to equip and strengthen one another for the work that we are called to do in the world. She discusses the role of the sending in the Eucharist and its importance for Christians: having been nourished, we are exhorted to go forth to love and serve the Lord. Finally, she discusses ways that Congregations can support one another in our shared work as Christians in the world.

This class is a terrific option for churches that want guidance in shifting their focus as a congregation out into the world and onto the work that we should be doing as individuals in the world. Also, individuals and congregations who liked Stephanie Spellers’ Class Radical Welcoming, or her book Radical Welcome:Embracing God, the Other, and the Spirit of Transformation  might want to investigate this class. The book on which it is based was published as a companion to Spellers’ book, and its themes build on the themes of radical welcome.

For a preview of Radical Sending with Demi Prentiss, please click below.

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Just Launched: Holy Yoga with Allison LaBianca

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If you are interested in pursuing a new type of spiritual discipline, try learning about yoga as a Christian spiritual discipline. Take Holy Yoga with Allison LaBianca For Individuals and For Groups.

In this class, Allison LaBianca, a certified and registered Holy Yoga instructor who has used the discipline to work with trauma victims across the globe, discusses the practice of holy yoga. She discusses the rise of yoga in contemporary Western culture and confronts myths about yoga that concern some Christians. She explains how the practice helps people live out some of the expectations of the Christian life. Finally, she discusses ways in which practitioners of holy yoga adapt the practice as a specifically Christian spiritual discipline.

If you are interested in pursuing a different kind of spiritual discipline, or if you find the idea of practicing yoga as part of your Christian spiritual life, consider taking this class. For a preview, click below.

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Missed Our Series on Building Racial Justice? Don’t Despair.Your Time Has Been Extended.

It’s true. Our free 5-class series on building racial justice originally was going to remain free only through Lent. But the classes have been so popular, and the subject is so central to the current goals of many mainline church congregations that Trinity Institute has generously offered to sponsor us in offering these classes for free through Pentecost.

The five classes in this series are based on Trinity Institute’s 2016 conference Listen for a Change: Sacred Conversations for Racial Justice. The courses include:
Spirituality and Racial Justice with Michael Curry (also available For Groups)
Whiteness and Racial Justice with Kelly Brown Douglas (also available For Groups)
Reparation and Racial Justice with Jennifer Harvey (also available For Groups)
Theology and Racial Justice with J. Kameron Carter (also available For Groups)
Racism and Racial Justice with Eduardo Bonilla-Silva (also available For Groups)

The extended free period will allow congregations time to plan to take these classes in community with one another. Try a series of adult formation offerings on building racial justice, or perhaps interested individuals at your church could meet once every week or month through the next few months and take the classes together that way. Groups outside the church that focus on building social, racial, and economic justice now have time to plan to use them in their work, so please spread the word about them. And of course, anyone what wants to learn on their own about building racial justice who didn’t get a chance to take the classes before may now do so.

Thanks to Trinity Institute for creating this series in partnership with us and for making it possible for us to offer it freely. We hope that the wisdom offered in these classes helps us all to build a better world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Launched:How to Become a Christian with Scott Gunn

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If you or a friend is interested in becoming a Christian or in deepening your commitment to the Christian faith, consider taking our most recent class: How to Become a Christian with Scott Gunn For Individuals and For Groups.

In this class, Scott discusses the journey towards becoming a Christian and practicing the Christian faith. In Lesson One, he discusses why people become Christians — what calls us to Christianity and why our faith enriches our lives. He goes into the ritual of baptism and how it changes our lives and discusses ways in which Christians should actively engage their faith in their daily lives. Finally, Scott discusses ways in which Christians can grow in faith — how to handle setbacks; how to keep focused on our spiritual journeys; how to support others and allow them to support us.

If you would like to learn more about Christianity, recommit to your faith, or offer a friend some sense of what the contemporary Christian journey involves, consider taking this class. If your church has a program that prepares people for baptism or confirmation, consider using our For Groups class as part of that curriculum.

For a preview of the class, please click below.

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Just Launched: Lay Eucharistic Ministry 101

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Calling all lay Eucharistic ministers, or anyone who wants to engage this ministry! We’ve just launched Lay Eucharistic Ministry 101 with Susan Anslow Williams For Individuals and For Groups.

While priests offer bread to communicants, Lay Eucharistic Ministers often administer wine. This class offers training in the practicalities of offering the chalice to communicants, but it also offers a great deal more.

In this class, students learn about the Biblical foundations of the Eucharist and the history of this ritual, particularly in regards to the distribution of the sacred bread and wine. Susan discusses contemporary practices in relation to the Eucharist across congregations, and why Episcopalians prefer to receive the wine from a common chalice. In addition, she offers training in how to administer the wine and tips for avoiding problems, spills, or drips.

If you are a lay Eucharistic minister, if you want to be one, and particularly if you train lay Eucharistic ministers in your church, this is the class for you. For a preview, please click below.

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Bringing the Church Into the Community

On Sunday, we launched My Church Is Not Dying with Greg Garrett For Individuals and For Groups. In this class, Greg emphasizes that mainline churches today need to bring the Church into the larger community rather than expecting the community to come into the church. Some churches have found some exciting ways to bring their worship and ministries into their communities.

Greg emphasizes the popular Ashes To Go movement, for example, in which clergy from many churches take to the streets, offering passersby in the community the opportunity ashes-to-goto receive ashes on Ash Wednesday. This year, some churches extended this ministry into Palm Sunday, offering Palms to Go — palms and cards with blessings on them — in the community.

In hot weather, some churches bring water into the community, distributing cold bottles of water with blessings to people who are hot and thirsty at public events or simply on the street. In his book The Digital Cathedral: Networked Ministry in a Wireless World, Keith Anderson writes about St. Philip’s Cathedral in Atlanta, whose Dean, Sam Candler, flings cold water on the hot runners in the Peachtree Road Race each July, crying blessings to the runners as they pass. The physical blessing of cold water on a hot day combined with the symbolism that the Church associates with water turn these gestures into powerful liturgical acts.

Keith Anderson emphasizes that people who do not subscribe to a particular church nevertheless recognize spirituality. It is important to  incorporate the spiritually important aspects of people’s lives into our ministries.

Pet Blessing

The Rev. Mellot blesses the animals at Lombard Veterinary Hospital. Used with permission.

For example, the Rev. Emily Mellot, pastor at Calvary Episcopal Church in Lombard, Illinois does her annual Blessing of the Pets at Lombard Veterinary Hospital, a local animal hospital, rather than on the church campus. Many people, including some who do not acknowledge any kind of formal religion, recognize great spiritual value in their love of their animals. Emily’s actions extend a powerful blessing to people who probably would not have sought out such blessings in church.

These are only a very few of the many ways in which churches have begun experimenting with bringing liturgy, ministry, and blessing into the community. What ways do the churches in your community use to bring the church into the world? Please comment. We’d love to read/share them.

For a preview of Greg’s class, please click here.

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Just Launched: My Church is Not Dying with Greg Garrett

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Today, we launched My Church is Not Dying with Greg Garrett For Individuals and For Groups.  Much has been made in the media of the decline of mainstream churches in America. Greg Garrett, however, notes that the reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated.

In this class, Greg discusses the reasons for the decline in members of the mainline Christian churches. He examines a paradigm shift that has changed the church’s place in society and notes that the church has not yet adjusted its ways of interacting with the community in response. He calls for a change in the way the American church relates to American culture.

At the same time, he calls for these churches to utilize the great blessings that they have been given — to make sure that we retain and celebrate those aspects of our church communities as we learn new ways of interacting with the culture as a whole.

Greg Garrett is a prolific author and lecturer and an English Professor at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.  He is also a lay preacher in the Episcopal Church. Greg has published many articles and over twenty books, including My Church Is Not Dying, published in April, 2015. He writes “Faithful Citizenship,” a weekly column at Patheos on religion and politics.

For a preview of Greg’s class, please click here.