Just Launched: An Instructed Eucharist with Furman Buchanan

A priest blesses the bread and the wine in preparation for Holy Communion.

We have just launched An Instructed Eucharist with Furman Buchanan For Individuals and For Groups.

Some Episcopalians have been attending Episcopal liturgies since before they can remember. These are people who knew how to respond when someone said “May the Lord be with you!” before they knew how to spell their own names. Others are new to the church and wish to learn more about the rich Episcopal liturgy that they attend week by week.

Our newest class is appropriate for both groups. In this class, the Rev. Furman Buchanan, rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Greenville, SC. and author of the book Gifts of God For the People of God: Exploring Worship in the Episcopal Church, explains how we celebrate the Eucharist. He discusses what elements we include, why we structure them the way we do, and what it means to celebrate each of these parts of the liturgy. New Episcopalians can benefit from a better understanding of the liturgy. There’s a lot of substance to the Eucharist, and rich history and theology behind it. It can help people new to the liturgy appreciate it to have someone explain the importance of each element of the service.

Long-term Episcopalians can benefit from renewing their acquaintance with the Eucharist; from bringing new eyes to a service they know by heart. Episcopalians who are extremely familiar with the liturgy can begin to worship by rote. The proclamation in the Nicene Creed that we worship the “creator of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen” is both powerful and poetic enough that it seems impossible to say it without thinking about it — but any long-term Episcopalian can tell you that it’s quite possible to make this statement with your mind on your lunch. These worshipers can benefit from new eyes, new information, and a renewed relationship with this liturgy.

We hope that you will join the Rev. Buchanan and classmates from around the world in learning more about the Episcopal liturgy. For a preview of the course, click here.

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Just Launched: Involving Children in Worship with Angela Nelson

The Finding of the Savior in the Temple – William Holman Hunt, 1860

We just launched Involving Children in Worship with Angela Nelson For Individuals and For Groups

We hear a lot about children in the New Testament, and they’re often portrayed (a) annoying adults and (b) being right about Jesus. Chronologically, it all starts with Jesus himself. In Luke 2, Mary goes out of her mind with worry when Jesus as a child wanders away from the caravan and they find him in the temple in Jerusalem after three days of searching. “What were you doing?” Mary asks him. “We were scared out of our minds!” Jesus shrugs and says essentially, “I thought you knew where I’d be.” This is what happens when the Son of God goes through his adolescent phase.

When Jesus turns over the tables of the moneylenders in the temple and heals people, Matthew tells us that the chief priests knew where to find him because the children were “crying out in the temple, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David.'” The gospel in this case doesn’t go into detail, but we can picture it: money scattered everywhere; newly uncaged sacrificial doves fluttering around; everyone yelling. Of course the kids are there. Where else would they be? They’re cheering on the person who had made all the trouble, bellowing that he’s the Messiah, and generally making the noise and chaos more noisy and chaotic. Any parent might sympathize a little with the chief priests and scribes when, as Matthew tells us, “they became angry” and started yelling.

Jesus with the Children — Pieter van Lint, 1800s.

A child just assumes that Jesus can feed 5,000 people with his lunch — and he’s right. Children keep bugging the apostles to get Jesus’ attention when they’re busy — and Jesus scolds them and calls for the kids to come on over. The gospels consistently tell stories of adults seeing children as accessories to the main event — and Jesus treating them as worthy of attention.

In some ways, relations between children and adults haven’t changed much over 2000 years. And, just as it happened the with the apostles, while the adults in church are busy trying to herd the cats and keep things orderly, the gospel keeps welcoming children, with all their chaos, to the table. Churches sometimes look on children, particularly young children, with a suspicious eye, as if they were unexploded grenades that might go off during important moments in the liturgy. Such churches might proclaim, “Suffer the little children to come unto the nursery, where they will be given goldfish crackers and kept out of the way while the grown-ups worship.”

In this class, Angela Nelson, Minister of Christian Education at The Church of the Holy Family in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, explains why children’s ministries, including the nursery, should be treated as central to church life and worship rather than as peripheral. She discusses reasons that children’s voices and talents should be made part of the daily life of worship in the church. She offers practical suggestions for ways in which adults may welcome the role of children and youth in church as central to the main event — as important, as worthy of respect as any other Christians.

This course is ideal for people who work with children in church, people who work with the liturgy in church, and parents or guardians who want to involve children in worship. For a preview of the course, please click here.

Just Launched: Holy Grounds — The Surprising Connections Between Coffee and Faith with Tim Schenck

We just launched Holy Grounds: The Surprising Connections Between Coffee and Faith with Tim Schenck For Individuals and For Groups.

In Ethiopia, coffee drinking is an hour-long ritual. In Turkey, they say that coffee should be “as black as hell, as strong as death and as sweet as love.” Espresso drinks are ubiquitous in Italy. The Vietnamese serve iced coffee with thick, sweet condensed milk. Debates about the difference between Mexican cafe con leche, French cafe au lait (which is often made with espresso in France), and Italian cafe latte abound, but it’s safe to say that across all these countries, people like espresso served with hot, foamed milk. In Hong Kong, coffee is served mixed with milk tea. Brazil produces the most coffee in the world, but Scandinavians drink it most.

Coffee, in short, is common everywhere and impacts people’s day-to-day lives all over the world. It can be fancy and expensive or basic and affordable, served in big mugs or tiny cups, drunk on the go or savored slowly, but in its various forms, it tops most lists (along with tea and beer) of the most-consumed beverages in the world.

Because we use it so much, both in our culture and in our churches, it’s only fitting that coffee shopas Christians, we examine this drink in our midst. What is its role in our social lives?  Are we using coffee in wholesome and meaningful ways? Do we savor it as part of God’s creation? What consideration do we give to the ways that coffee is made and processed in terms of how we relate to God’s creation and to one another?

In this class, the Rev. Tim Schenck — priest, author, Lent Madness creator, and blogger — takes us on a journey examining the origins and rituals of coffee preparation and consumption. He discusses the early Christian response to coffee and ways in which how we choose to prepare and drink coffee can affect our spiritual lives. He also discusses our responsibility as Christians to consider how our consumption of coffee affects people’s lives across the world.

This class is ideal for people seeking spirituality in their day-to-day lives, people interested in social justice and consumer culture, and, of course, people who love coffee. For a preview, please click here.

Just Launched: Walk in Love, a 5-Course Curriculum with Scott Gunn and Melody Shobe

We’ve just launched our new Walk in Love Curriculum: five courses taught by the Rev. Scott Gunn and the Rev. Melody Shobe. Based on their book Walk in Love, Scott and Melody cover basic Episcopal beliefs and practices in these courses: the sacraments, daily prayer and the liturgical calendar, core beliefs, the nature of the church itself, and exploring Christian life through the lens of the Holy Trinity. Each course is available in versions formatted for individual study and for group learning. Courses may be taken as part of the full curriculum or on their own.

This curriculum is ideal for people who are new to or curious about the Episcopal Church. It covers the uniquely Episcopalian approach to different central aspects of the faith. The courses are also good for people who want to go back and re-explore the basics — the big questions. How do we know what God wants from us? How do we think about the mystery of the Holy Trinity? What exactly happens when we are baptized? Scott and Melody address these great questions in ways that are accessible to people who are new to the church while offering food for thought to Christians who want to revisit these central tenets of the faith.

Here are brief descriptions of the themes and ideas that Scott and Melody cover in each course:

Walk in Love 1: The Sacramental Journey For Individuals and For Groups
In this course, Scott and Melody over an overview of the Episcopal Church interpretation of the Christian faith and discuss the sacraments in terms of what they are and how we understand their role in our lives as Christians. Their four 5-minute video presentations in this course include:

  • The Anglican Way of Christianity
  • The New Life of Grace
  • A Wonderful Sacrament
  • Grow in Grace

Here’s a link to a course preview.

Walk in Love 2: Marking Time For Individuals and For Groups
Scott and Melody cover ways in which Episcopalians think about time in this class — on a daily basis, in our prayers, and throughout the liturgical year. They also consider the beginning and ending of human life cycles through the lens of the burial office in The Book of Common Prayer. Video presentations include:

  • The Daily Office
  • The Liturgical Year
  • Holy Week and Easter
  • The Burial Office

Here’s a link to a course preview.

Walk in Love 3: Basic Beliefs For Individuals and For Groups
The basics may be similar: scripture, tradition, practice, etc., but Anglicans take particular, nuanced approaches to these fundamental elements of Christianity. Scott an Melody unpack the Anglican approach to  in these four insightful video presentations:

  • Gathered in Unity (The Creeds)
  • Written for Our Learning (The Bible)
  • Continually Given to Good Works (Salvation and Grace)
  • Accept and Fulfill our Petitions (Prayer)

Here’s a link to a course preview.

Walk in Love 4: The Church For Individuals and For Groups
Scott and Melody examine the church in this class: who we are, what we do, how we are organized, and how we connect to one another across time and space. Video presentations include:

  • That Wonderful and Sacred Mystery (The Church)
  • Defend Your Church (Structure and Governance)
  • A Great Cloud of Witnesses (The Communion of Saints)
  • The Work You Give Us to Do (Vocation)

Here’s a link to a course preview.

Walk in Love 5: The Trinitarian Life For Individuals and For Groups
In this final class of the Walk in Love curriculum, Scott and Melody examine the Christian life through the lenses of the trinity. How do we know ourselves as Christians through our encounters with God the Father, with God the Son, and with God the Holy  Spirit? Videos will cover the following subjects:

  • Grateful Enjoyment (God the Father and Creation Care)
  • Wonderfully Restored (God the Son and Incarnation)
  • Strengthened for Your Service (God the Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts)
  • Proclaim to All People ( Spiritual Practices, Knowing Your Story, Telling Your Story)

Here’s a link to a course preview.

We hope that these courses offer you a sense of the Episcopal approach to the central aspects of the Christian faith — and that you enjoy them and grow through your work with them.

 

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Launching Next Week: Our Walk In Love Curriculum

We are excited to announce that on February 11, we will be launching Walk in Love, our new 5-course curriculum led by the Rev. Scott Gunn and the Rev. Melody Shobe.

walk in love bookBased on their award-winning book Walk in Love, Scott and Melody have created a curriculum of five online courses designed to cover the core beliefs and practices of the Episcopal Church. The curriculum is ideal for new Episcopalians, for people who want to learn more about the church and its practices, and for long-time Episcopalians who would like a fresh perspective on the church’s basic tenets and practices.

We offer two versions of each course, one formatted for individual learning and one formatted for group learning. Each course takes approximately 45 minutes and includes introductory materials, short videos, discussion questions, resource suggestions, and other materials. Students can take the courses at their own pace, and the courses require no special software or equipment. When the five courses are complete, students become eligible for a ChurchNext Certificate in Episcopal Basics. Students may also choose to take particular courses from the curriculum if they prefer not to engage the entire five courses.

Here are brief descriptions of the themes and ideas Scott and Melody cover in each course:

Walk in Love 1: The Sacramental Journey For Individuals and For Groups
In this course, Scott and Melody over an overview of the Episcopal Church interpretation of the Christian faith and discuss the sacraments in terms of what they are and how we understand their role in our lives as Christians. Their four 5-minute video presentations in this course include:

  • The Anglican Way of Christianity
  • The New Life of Grace
  • A Wonderful Sacrament
  • Grow in Grace

Here’s a link to a course preview.

Walk in Love 2: Marking Time For Individuals and For Groups
Scott and Melody cover ways in which Episcopalians think about time in this class — on a daily basis, in our prayers, and throughout the liturgical year. They also consider the beginning and ending of human life cycles through the lens of the burial office in The Book of Common Prayer. Video presentations include:

  • The Daily Office
  • The Liturgical Year
  • Holy Week and Easter
  • The Burial Office

Here’s a link to a course preview.

Walk in Love 3: Basic Beliefs For Individuals and For Groups
The basics may be similar: scripture, tradition, practice, etc., but Anglicans take particular, nuanced approaches to these fundamental elements of Christianity. Scott an Melody unpack the Anglican approach to  in these four insightful video presentations:

  • Gathered in Unity (The Creeds)
  • Written for Our Learning (The Bible)
  • Continually Given to Good Works (Salvation and Grace)
  • Accept and Fulfill our Petitions (Prayer)

Here’s a link to a course preview.

Walk in Love 4: The Church For Individuals and For Groups
Scott and Melody examine the church in this class: who we are, what we do, how we are organized, and how we connect to one another across time and space. Video presentations include:

  • That Wonderful and Sacred Mystery (The Church)
  • Defend Your Church (Structure and Governance)
  • A Great Cloud of Witnesses (The Communion of Saints)
  • The Work You Give Us to Do (Vocation)

Here’s a link to a course preview.

Walk in Love 5: The Trinitarian Life For Individuals and For Groups
In this final class of the Walk in Love curriculum, Scott and Melody examine the Christian life through the lenses of the trinity. How do we know ourselves as Christians through our encounters with God the Father, with God the Son, and with God the Holy  Spirit? Videos will cover the following subjects:

  • Grateful Enjoyment (God the Father and Creation Care)
  • Wonderfully Restored (God the Son and Incarnation)
  • Strengthened for Your Service (God the Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts)
  • Proclaim to All People ( Spiritual Practices, Knowing Your Story, Telling Your Story)

Here’s a link to a course preview.

Subscribing congregations and individuals may take these courses for free with their subscriptions. For non-subscribers, the classes cost $10 each for the For Individuals classes and $15 each for the For Groups classes.

We hope that these classes enrich your exploration of the Episcopal Church’s basic beliefs and practices.

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Introducing Romans, a Live Class with Jay Sidebotham Starts Tomorrow

jay sidebothamRegister now for Introducing Romans, a live online class with Jay Sidebotham. It starts tomorrow at 8 p.m. and lasts for an hour. It will meet for eight consecutive Wednesdays. This class supports the Good Book Club Epiphany reading initiative focusing on Paul’s letter to the Romans.

This class will offer an opportunity for Episcopalians to reflect on one of the books in the New Testament that has had the greatest impact on the church. The longest of Paul’s letters, Romans offers a sweeping vision of Paul’s theology, with a focus on grace that comes to all people. The letter includes rigorous recognition that we all contend with powers that bind us; that a new life of freedom is available in the good news of Jesus Christ. The letter to the Romans has had transformative influence on the church at critical moments in our history. It’s exciting to see what might happen to the Episcopal Church as we prayerfully reflect on its message this Epiphany season.

paul romans 1

We hope you will join the many students who have already signed up to read the Book of Romans with Jay. Please email help@churchnext.tv if you have any questions.

Congregational subscribers and facilitators, please note: live online courses like this one will not work properly if you simply add them to your church’s school as you would add our pre-recorded classes. Your parishioners CAN, however, gain free access to the course due to your congregational membership. Please email help@churchnext.tv or liz@churchnext.tv to learn how to give your parishioners free access to this course. The process is not difficult, and we will respond quickly to your email.

Image: Fragment of a fourth-century manuscript copy of the Letter to the Romans showing Romans 1:1-7. 

 

 

 

Just Launched: How to Play…Like God with Christine Sine

WNC Lights.jpg

We just launched How to Play…Like God with Christine Sine For Individuals and For Groups.

Although we think of play as an activity limited to children, Christine Sine argues that play characterizes healthy lives from infancy to adulthood. Play is an essential element in our mental and physical health — and, she argues, play allows Christians to connect with and imitate a playful God.

It can be hard to connect the notion of play with the same Alpha-and-Omega God who says things like, “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of bondage. You shall have no other Gods before me” (Exodus 20:2). Yet Christine argues that God does play and that in playing, we can become closer to God. Adult play can be spiritual play: being with God in the moment and accepting God’s being with us in a way that would not have been possible otherwise. When we play, we surrender. The end result is not something we can craft.

This kind of play can happen on an individual level and on the level of a church community. For example, every year, The Washington National Cathedral holds a Seeing Deeper Week . In 2018, this week included a sound and light show, yoga in the nave, an indoor community-building carnival, and a “cosmic liturgy,” which the website describes as “a rave in the nave (but without the drugs).” This kind of creative, playful approach to liturgy is an example of spiritual play that might happen in groups. On an individual level, spiritual play can run the gamut from taking a nature walk with a child to praying according to the lectio divina model. We can reach the goal of freeing the mind and being joyfully present to the glory of God through many different methods of play.

We hope this class helps you to engage in play as a mental and spiritual gift — for adults and children alike. For a preview of the class, please click here.