Articulating the Via Media

Embracing the mystery requires great (1)

This week, we’re pleased to launch The Episcopal Way, with Stephanie Spellers and Eric Law. If you’ve ever wondered about what makes the Episcopal Church unique, this course is a great place to start, as it’s a foretaste of a project seeking to rearticulate the beliefs and practices of the Episcopal Church. As Spellers says in the first lesson, about every 20 years the Episcopal Church commits to reexamining and defining itself as a church, as part of the Episcopal commitment to the “three-legged stool” of scripture, tradition, and reason, on which Episcopal liturgy and practice are based.

We commend this course to lifelong Episcopalians as well, since we live in a fast-paced and ever-changing culture, in which we need to feel comfortable articulating and sharing our faith tradition. Stephanie and Eric offer a working definition of “the Episcopal Way” as well as some engaging insight on why the Episcopal Church is especially relevant and life-giving in this day and age.

You may also want to take this course in a small group setting, either among newcomers to the church or those in leadership. Either way, you’ll enjoy and appreciate Eric and Stephanie’s engaging, insightful, and interesting discussions, as you think more deeply about this rich faith tradition — and its future.

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Instructor Highlight: Jason Fout

fout_jasonThe Reverend Dr. Jason Fout has shared his research and wisdom with ChurchNext in two courses: as part of our series on The Book of Common Prayer in partnership with Bexley-Seabury, Jason taught us about the history of our professions and beliefs in Creeds and Commitments of the Prayer Book; in a fascinating course called Who Is Jesus? he explored the various ways we might get in touch with who Jesus was and is.

Jason also gave a fascinating talk at this year’s Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes (CEEP) conference on his research and experiences in the Diocese of London, and the ways that Bexley-Seabury and the folks in London have been working to create a “seminary without walls.” Here at ChurchNext, we of course love their mission of deepening Christian formation in innovative ways, unbounded by place or even time.

Jason joined the faculty of Bexley Hall in 2009. Before that, he and his family and lived in the UK for four years, where he was completing his PhD at the University of Cambridge. He is from the Diocese of Chicago and was ordained there in 2001, after having attended seminary at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. His dissertation was on the glory of God and its relation to human agency at Cambridge, under the supervision of Professor David F. Ford and the late Professor Daniel W. Hardy. His research interests include contemporary Anglican theology, as well as the history of Anglican theology and constructive theology in the areas of Christology, political theology and theological anthropology. He also has a growing interest in the practice of Scriptural Reasoning, in urban studies, particularly related to the New Urbanism, and theological readings of the built environment.

He is an avid cook, a keen road cyclist and a longsuffering fan of the Chicago Cubs and English Test Cricket. We’re grateful to have partnered with Jason and look forward to his next project.

TREC 1: Reimagining Church Leadership launches today

TREC stands for Task-Force for Reimaining the Episcopal Church, and we’re excited to help further its mission by offering three courses, the first of which launches today, to spark thought, prayer, reflection, and conversation about the future of the Church.

TREC arose out of a charge by the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church to create a plan for reforming the Church’s structures, governance, and administration. What does that mean? Simply — and complexly — this means that a group of thought leaders is tasked with reimagining and reinvigorating the Episcopal Church so that “we may more faithfully

• Proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
• Teach, baptize and nurture new believers
• Respond to human need by loving service
• Seek to transform unjust structures of society
• Strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.” (more here)

In TREC 1: Reimagining Church Leadership, we hear from three thinkers who have much to offer on the topic of reimagining leadership in the Church: Dwight Zscheile, Associate Professor of Congregational Leadership and Mission at Luther Seminary; Frederica Harris Thompsett, Mary Wolfe Professor of Historical Theology at Episcopal Divinity School; and Winnie Varghese, rector of St. Mark’s in the Bowrey in New York City. We explore Christlike leadership and innovation, our baptismal covenant as it relates to leadership and imagination, and the concept of truth-telling, both by and to our leaders.trec

What’s exciting about this Task Force is that part of its commission is to “gather information and ideas from congregations, dioceses and provinces, and other interested individuals and organizations, including those not often heard from; engage other resources to provide information and guidance, and … invite all these constituencies to be joined in prayer as they engage in this common work of discernment.” Taking part in these ChurchNext courses is one way to engage in this process.

All who are interested in church governance in general, or in the Episcopal Church in particular, will find much of interest and use in these courses. Click here for more information or to register.

Creating Common Good 1 with Bishop Julio Murray now available

We’re pleased to launch the first Creating Common Good course in partnership with Trinity Institute. In Creating Common Good 1: Economic Inequality and Injustice, Bishop Julio Murray addresses the inequalities present in economic systems and how these are signs not only of distorted relationships between human beings, but also between God and God’s creation.

jmurrayWhat is the Church’s role in righting this relationship? How can the Church give voice to those who have found creativity in scarcity? How might the Church model a new way of living — living in contentment with enough?  This course challenges, informs, and inspires us as we seek to address the overwhelming problem of economic injustice in our world.  Click here to register or for more information.

The Rt. Rev. Julio Murray is a popular speaker and preacher. He serves as the Anglican bishop of Panama. He is a featured speaker at Trinity Institute 2015; click here to learn more.

New Course In Our “Introducing the Book of Common Prayer” Series

English Origins of the Book of Common Prayer is our latest offering in partnership with Bexley-Seabury, and it’s a fascinating look at the often messy history of the Anglican Church. In this course, popular writer, educator, and priest John Dally takes us through the dally
upheaval and conflict, as well as the heroic sacrifice and passionate dedication, that formed the beginnings of the Church of England and of its Book of Common Prayer.  From Thomas Cranmer’s 1549 Book of Common Prayer to the reign of Elizabeth I and beyond, this course helps us understand the environment in which our faith was born.  Many men and women devoted their lives — and gave them up entirely — to create an English church separate from the church in Rome; the language and liturgy Episcopalians love today derive their richness from this fascinating period.

This course is the third in an 8-part series called Introducing the Book of Common Prayer. The next five courses will be launching in the coming weeks, so stay tuned. This series is brought to us by our partners at Bexley Seabury Theological 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.

Join us!

Part 2 of The Book of Common Prayer: Spirituality of the Prayer Book

What is the Spirituality of the Book of Common Prayer?  How does it inform people’s lives and beliefs as members of the worldwide Anglican Communion, as Christians in general?  Whether you’re a lifelong Episcopalian, a newcomer to the denomination, or a member of another faith tradition, you’ll find much of interest and much worthy of thought in this new course. Click here to learn more and sign up for this course.

After all, when the crafters of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) set out to assemble an accessible guide to prayer and liturgy they were also intentional about putting together a resource that could shape disciples for a lifetime. Karl Ruttan

In this course, spiritual director, teacher, and writer Karl Ruttan shows us how the Book of Common Prayer can be used to deepen our spiritual lives. It’s called ‘The Spirituality of the Book of Common Prayer.’  Karl begins by telling us how the BCP serves as a handbook for holiness.  He then walks us through its origins in Benedictine spirituality. He also shows us how to use the Daily Offices, or daily prayer liturgies for morning and evening prayer. Karl ends by showing us how we might use the Baptismal Covenant as a foundation for a rule of life.

This course is the second in an 8-part series called Introducing the Book of Common Prayer. The next six courses will be launching in the coming weeks, so stay tuned. This series is brought to us by our partners at Bexley Seabury Theological 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.

Join us!

Big News! Part 1 of series on The Book of Common Prayer begins today

An American Prayer Book, A Global Prayer Book, taught by Tom Ferguson of Bexley Hall Seabury Western Theological Federation, is the first in an 8-part series on The Book of Common Prayer and launches today!ferguson

This course is a fascinating exploration of what “The Book of Common Prayer” literally means and why that matters.  That is, why is it “the” Book of Common Prayer?  What do we mean when we call it “common”?  What did its status as “book”  signify in the early days of the Anglican Church and why does it matter today?  What exactly does “prayer” look like?

After taking this course, you’ll have some answers to these sorts of questions; if they’d never occurred to you before, you’ll probably be left wondering why.  Tom Ferguson’s fascinating, engaging talks on each component of the BCP’s title will challenge you to think more deeply about the church’s history, present, and future.  To register or to learn more, click here.

This course is the first in an 8-part series called Introducing the Book of Common Prayer. The next seven 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.