Just Launched: Introducing Benedictine Spirituality

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Today, we launched Introducing Benedictine Spirituality with Laurel Dahill. St. Benedict of Nursia was born in the fifth century and had such a strong and lasting influence on monastic life that he became known to history as the Father of Monasticism. One reason for his widespread influence was his Rule: regulations guiding day-to-day living which he used to guide the abbeys that he founded so that they could live according to his precepts in his absence.

In this class, the Rev. Laurel Dahill, a priest who lives her life according to Benedict’s Rule, shows modern Christians how we might adapt Benedict’s Rule to guide our day-to-day lives and help us live according to our values. Benedict’s Rule emphasizes stability and rhythm and a wise use of our time, so that we may nourish our minds, bodies, and souls. In our rushed lives, bombarded with news, videos, entertainment, and advertisements as well as many responsibilities, it can be helpful to commit ourselves to living mindfully, to acting purposefully, and to being deliberate in our daily activities.

If you are interested in incorporating prayer into your life, in living mindfully, or in utilizing spiritual practices on a regular basis, you should consider taking Introducing Benedictine Spirituality with Laurel Dahill. Prayer groups, devotional groups, and adult Christian formation groups might profit from investigating Introducing Benedictine Spirituality with Laurel Dahill for Groups.

If you are interested in this course, check out this preview and learn more about it.

Launching today: Three Prayers You’ll Want to Pray with George Donigian

Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.
Soren Kierkegaard

Today we launch a wonderful new course on prayer, Three Prayers You’ll Want to Pray, by Methodist pastor and author George Donigian. In this course, which offers highlights from George’s new book by the same name, we learn more about three prayers from three very

donigiandifferent sources: the full Serenity Prayer (the shorter version of which is familiar from 12-step programs), the Prayer of Dag Hammarksjold, and the Lord’s Prayer, taught to us by Jesus himself.

You’ll find George’s reasons for highlighting these three prayers interesting, and we think you’ll also find that incorporating them — for those same reasons — into your daily prayer life can enrich and deepen your relationship with God. This course is also available in For Groups format, and would make a wonderful devotion and discussion course for small groups.

For more on the course or to register, click here. To learn more about George’s book, click here. And check out George’s blog here.

Prayers You’ll Want to Pray

This Sunday, we’ll be launching Three Prayers You’ll Want to Pray with George Donigian, a delightful and helpful course based on George’s latest book of the same name. In the course and in the book, George speaks about The Lord’s Prayer, the Serenity Prayer, and the Prayer of Dag Hammarskjold, offering them as wonderful examples of challenging, faith-enriching conversation with God. George is a United Methodist pastor in Greenville, South Carolina. His writing builds upon his Armenian heritage, his literary and theological and musical interests and influences, and his perspective on culture and faith.

dagOn his blog, George explains why he wrote the book:

“When I worked in book publishing, one day I found myself considering the different experiences of worship I had during travels. For ten years I spent at least one week a month away from home. No matter where or what kind of worship—whether in South Africa or the US or Germany or Armenia, in interdenominational gatherings or whatever church I visited—we prayed the Lord’s Prayer. It seemed to me that we overlook the Lord’s Prayer as a prayer for unity. It is a prayer common to all Christians and it was given by Jesus in response to a request from his disciples to teach them to pray. So I started reflecting more on that idea and the book grew from that musing.

“My editor describes the book for 20-40-year-olds. I certainly tried to address questions I hear from adults in this age group, especially those in my family. And that’s why I also write a little about my background and experiences. For example, four teenagers attacked me one morning while I was preparing to go running and I got beaten badly. I write about this in the Diplomat’s Prayer. How do you express gratitude or pray, ‘For all that has been—Thanks!’ after that kind of situation? Suddenly a prayer that seems easy becomes a challenge.

“… I’ve heard from 80-year-olds who thanked me for saying what they’d felt intuitively, but had not found in other books. And I’ve heard from those who go across the spectrum of adulthood who have found the book offers them a new sense of the rhythm of daily prayer.”

One of the “three prayers you’ll want to pray” is The Serenity Prayer, familiar to most from 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. George quotes the full version of the prayer and explains why:

“The full version grounds us in the present, reminding us to take life in the same way that Jesus approached life—one day at a time—and without projecting problems into the future or the past. When you read the full version, it’s easy to understand the importance of the prayer to various 12-Step groups.

“But you know the importance of Reinhold Niebuhr, who gave us the Serenity Prayer. Niebuhr taught at seminary when he wrote the prayer, but he began as a pastor in urban ministry. Detroit was a boom town when he was there. I see a number of parallels between Niebuhr’s time and our own and write about that, and these parallels connect all of us more closely with the Serenity Prayer. One of Niebuhr’s other books—based on journals kept during those years in Detroit—is titled Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic. Delightful title and it gives some insight into the character of Niebuhr. And he learned to take it one day at a time.”

We’re excited to offer this sneak peek at George’s book, which is full of wisdom and inspiration for enriching your daily prayer life. Click here to read more from George.

The Big Class with Cornel West: “Called to Common Good: Economic Inequality and What Christians Can Do About It”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Cornel West to Teach Free, Online Course

“CALLED TO COMMON GOOD:

ECONOMIC INEQUALITY AND WHAT CHRISTIANS CAN DO ABOUT IT”


Open to anyone in the world between January 11-21

December 29, 2014, BLOOMFIELD  HILLS, MI – Cornel West, prominent intellectual, author, and cultural critic, will teach an online course on economic inequality that is open to all, from January 11-21.  This is an opportunity to learn about one of the most pervasive problems in the U.S. from one of the most thought-provoking teachers of our time.west

 

The online course derives from the Trinity Institute’s 2015 “Creating Common Good” conference on economic inequality and is offered through ChurchNext, a leader in online Christian education. The class, a series of video lectures and discussions, can be taken anytime between January 11-21. No special software is required. It will take an average learner about 45 minutes to complete. Registration is free and open worldwide beginning today. (Click here for more information or to register.)

 

Dr. Cornel West has often spoken out for justice and equality, specifically what American Christians are called to do about it; the Trinity Institute, a program of Trinity Wall Street, is an annual conference, now in its 44th year, aimed at gathering clerics and intellectuals to discuss matters of deep significance. The upcoming 2015 conference focuses on the often-overwhelming issue of economic inequality. (Click here for more information on the Trinity Institute.)

 

Throughout Called to Common Good, participants are encouraged to think about and discuss economic injustice and moral responsibility. Dr. West explores the problem of inequality, notions of public and private justice, and how communities can effect change. He contends that “no matter how extreme inequalities are, we’ve always got a common humanity,” which is why, he adds, “I cannot be an optimist but I am a prisoner of hope.” During the class, representatives from Trinity Institute will be on hand to respond to discussions.

 

Online learning hub ChurchNext has partnered with Trinity Institute to present Dr. West’s course as well as four other previously-released courses taught by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, educational advocate Nicole Baker Fulgham, evangelical blogger Rachel Held Evans, and Julio Murray, Episcopal bishop of Panama.

 

Called to Common Good is a worldwide online learning course for all who are interested in social justice and the Christian faith and is free, thanks to the support of Trinity Institute, The Episcopal Church, and Forward Movement.

 

Trinity Institute is an annual conference, now in its 44th year, that equips clergy and laypersons for imaginative and catalytic leadership. The conference is sponsored by Trinity Wall Street, an Episcopal parish in New York City. Trinity Institute takes place at Trinity Church in New York City and is streamed at Partner Sites (which are often churches and seminaries) throughout the world. For more information, visit https://www.trinitywallstreet.org/trinity-institute/2015/what’s-ti2015

 

ChurchNext creates online Christian learning experiences that shape disciples. Along with our partners we are devoted to helping people grow in their Christian faith, improve their lives, and better the world. Learn more at http://churchnext.tv

 

First course in the Animate Faith series is now open!

We are thrilled to be presenting the engaging, thought-provoking, and innovative Animate series through ChurchNext. The first course in this three-part series, Animate Faith 1, launches today. This unique program is designed to spur thought, discussion, wondering, pondering, and spiritual growth not by offering answers to some of faith’s most difficult or basic questions but by offering new ways of considering them.animate

Animate Faith 1 features three of the most engaging and sought-after speakers on faith today: Brian McLaren offers his reflections on what we mean when we talk about God, and the various ways people have of imagining, describing, and conceiving of God. Mark Scandrette shakes up our ideas of the way we do church, suggesting that if we truly want to practice Christianity, we need to practice a revolution of love and service like Jesus did. And Lillian Daniels offers wisdom on why we actually do need religion, that though religion is often seen as a dirty word in our culture, spirituality is not enough.

This course is produced in partnership with Augsburg Fortress Publishing, which offers the Animate Faith DVD curriculum as well as facilitator guides and journals for small groups. Click here to find out more.

Stay tuned for the launch of Animate Faith Parts 2 and 3 in the coming weeks.  To register for Animate Faith 1 please click here.

New course: Introducing the Altar Guild

Introducing the Altar Guild is not just an introduction to this vital ministry; it’s a stunning reminder that this often-invisible group makes the worship service beautiful, seamless, even possible: though we may take it for granted, the altar guild makes sure that the altar, the priest, the celebrant, and the Eucharistic elements are present for hinchmanworship and in ideal form.  Serving on an altar guild is a wonderful way to live out, in service, your awareness of God’s love.

In this course Hobey Hinchman, former president of the National Altar Guild Association, walks us through the duties, expectations, origins, and best practices for altar guilds.  Whether you’re a seasoned guild member, a newbie, discerning a call, or perhaps merely interested in learning more about this long-standing ministry, you’ll find much of interest in this course.

Click here to register or for more information.

New course: The Spirituality of Children with Catherine Maresca

“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” ~Luke 18:17

Children have unique experiences and understandings of God, and these understandings change as children grow and develop.  What’s more, the joy and sense of communion that children feel with God can be nurtured and encouraged; in fact, beginning spiritual formation at a very young age can ensure that children grow up with a deep sense of the benevolence and closeness of a loving God.  We as adults can learn — or relearn — a great deal from children’s spirituality.maresca

This course is a fascinating look at how children’s spirituality begins and changes according to identifiable developmental stages.  The research and wisdom that Catherine Maresca collects and shares in these lessons can benefit parents, children’s ministers, and anyone who longs to recapture a childlike joy and connection to God.

Catherine Maresca is the director of the Center for Children and Theology, which publishes resources and research related to the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.

Latest course in our Introducing the Book of Common Prayer series: Crossing Thresholds with Roger Ferlo and Suzann Holding

Crossing Thresholds is an insightful and helpful reminder that life is a journey and that God — and our church — are with us every step of the way.  We are born, perhaps we fall in love, we sin, we get sick, we die, we return to God.  And in all of these, there are powerful words and actions to commemorate, to honor, to recognize, and to invite God’s blessing and presence.ferlo and holding

The Prayer Book serves as an invaluable resource for marking important milestones like baptism, marriage, reconciliation, marriage, sickness, and death – referred to as the ‘Pastoral Offices.’  In this course Roger Ferlo lectures on baptism and matrimony, explaining the theological foundations of these important rites.  Suzann Holding walks us through confession, prayer for the sick, and the practical theology surrounding end of life issues and liturgies.  You’ll leave this course with an enriched understanding of both the purpose and the content of these holy rites.

Click here to register or for more information.

This course is the seventh in an 8-part series called Introducing the Book of Common Prayer. The next course will be launching in the coming weeks, so stay tuned. This series is brought to us by our partners at Bexley Seabury Federation, an Episcopal center for learning and development. Bexley offers online and in-person classes for everyone at its Chicago, IL and Columbus, OH campuses. For more information visit www.bexleyseabury.edu.

Latest Course In Our Introducing the Book of Common Prayer Series: Praying the Collects with Ellen Wondra

When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, they got the Our Father. When people asked the assemblers of The Book of Common Prayer how to pray, they got something nearly as memorable: the Collects.  We are excited to launch the latest course in our series on The Book of Common Prayer:  Praying the Collects is a thoughtful introduction to a meaningful facet of prayer life.

Collects are short prayers and a distinctive part of Anglican worship, liturgy, and theology.  Episcopalians have long subscribed to the conviction of lex orandi, lex credendi or “praying shapes believing.” This means that the way we pray carries great significance.

In this class, scholar, writer, and seminary dean Ellen Wondra helps us understand the wondraCollects, delving into the structure and theology behind these amazing prayers. We will explore:

  • The Purpose and Structure of Collects
  • The Collect of the Day – Part I
  • The Collect of the Day – Part II
  • A Symphony of Collects

Click here to learn more or to register.

This course is the sixth in an 8-part series called Introducing the Book of Common Prayer. The next two courses will be launching in the coming weeks, so stay tuned. This series is brought to us by our partners at Bexley Seabury Federation, an Episcopal center for learning and development. Bexley offers online and in-person classes for everyone at its Chicago, IL and Columbus, OH campuses. For more information visit www.bexleyseabury.edu.

Living A Spirit-Filled Life with Fr. Albert Cutie Touches Hearts

“Fr. Albert hits another home run!” ~Jim F.cutie

“I love his class!”  ~Sara M.

“The course was great. I learned a great deal, mostly about myself. Thank you!” ~Nancy F.

We are thrilled once again with the richness, wisdom, and inspiration of The Big Class, this time taught by Father Albert Cutie on how to make the Holy Spirit part of your everyday life.  Nearly 1,000 people from 21 countries took the course. 14% of those who answered our survey said the course had a major impact on their spiritual lives, and countless snippets of profound insight and grace arose during the discussions:

  • In response to a question about how the Holy Spirit helps us become God’s new Temple, one participant wrote, “We are the place where people are reconciled to God and to each other. It reminds me of the way Jesus connected the gift of the Holy Spirit with the power and responsibility of forgiving sins. In our lives, we can live that powerful promise of forgiveness. We can model the possibility of repentance, of returning to God and knowing that we will be received. We can be icons and signs of reconciliation/healing. We can live in our lives what used to be done in the Temple. In this way of living, heaven and earth touch, and we get a glimpse of God.”
  • In response to a question about what “living in community means to you,” one respondent wrote, “Living in community is so much more than church to me. It means doing my part, wherever I am and allowing others to do theirs. If I am a part of the Body of Christ, I am that wherever I am. I can’t very well leave that part of me at home when I go to the grocery store.”
  • A question about how to define “openness to the Holy Spirit” yielded this comment: “Openness means removing the barriers that we put in place to keep God out because we don’t want to relinquish control.” And another participant wrote, “Openness to me is a matter of mindset — an intentional placing of one’s self on the potter’s wheel and a submission to being formed. In this crazy modern life, the problem is not one of understanding so much as distraction.”

We are so grateful to be able to provide these courses to a worldwide audience for free. A huge thank you to our sponsors, Bexley Seabury, The Episcopal Church, The Episcopal Diocese of Southeast FloridaLogos Bible Software, and Forward Movement.

Now that the worldwide class is complete, the course is open to all for $10 or $15/month for individual subscribers – or if your congregation is a subscriber, you may now add it to your congregation’s online school. Click here for more information or to register for Living a Spirit-Filled Life.