Virtual Connections

separation

Our good friend and instructor David Lose reflected recently on churches’ use of social media in response to a presentation by pastor Keith Anderson. David says,

The key, I think, from my own experience and from listening to Keith and others, is that we imagine these forms not only as ways to push out more of our information, or even to use them to provide inspiration – both of which have some value – but are far more about forming and nurturing relationships in an increasingly socially fragmented world. Social media, that is, at its best allows us to connect with each other in new ways.”

We couldn’t agree more; as we spoke about here, with the launch of ChurchNext for Groups, we’re committed to connecting people on their journeys as disciples, to enabling folks to be in community in new ways, to re-collect what it means to live in relationship — with God and with each other. We pray that ChurchNext helps people feel connected to their church and their fellow sojourners even when they’re not physically in the pews. We hope that ChurchNext for Groups continues to empower folks to imagine new ways of learning and connecting.

And don’t forget: The Big Class: A Simple Path to a Deeper Spiritual Life with Becca Stevens continues free, worldwide through Easter Sunday. We invite you to connect with seekers around the world over the next week as we contemplate going deeper in our walk with Christ. Blessings to you in this Holy Week.

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Wisdom from You

Have a farmer’s theology- there’s always

The Big Class with Becca Stevens is over 700 people strong, and the Holy Spirit is clearly at work. Here is what some of you had to say in the discussion forums. We are so glad that this course continues through April 5 — join this life-giving study.

On having a farmer’s theology:

“I like the analogy of a farmer’s theology. I had never thought of spirituality in that context before, but it makes perfect sense. Just like many other biblical precepts can be seen in things in the secular world also. If you leave the garden, animals, or our spiritual life un-tended, they become emaciated or wilted, and eventually wither away to nothingness. I can see the times in my life where I neglected the daily weed and water, and then I wonder why I feel so far from God, like the Spirit is not within me. I order to abide in Him, I need the daily discipline of prayer, study and quiet time in the presence of my Lord. Thank you, Becca, for giving me a visual that I can identify with.” ~Michael A.

“Water and weed is a practical, clear way of walking out our obedience and being a living sacrifice. As an adoptive mom of many kids, I can easily get uninspired by the mundane or the repeated setbacks in their lives. This concise phrase gives me a tangible reminder of daily service. Not to mention if we follow the metaphor, then the farmer does not see fruit for a long time. He hopes. He works. He nurtures, but he’s operating in faith. In hope.” ~Suzanne M.

On the power of just “showing up”:

“Like walking a labyrinth — sometimes it seems you’re getting nowhere … or going in the opposite direction of where you wanted to go … but just keep putting one foot in front of the other and eventually you’ll get where you’re supposed to be.” ~Judy S.

“As an artist, I can’t always rely on inspiration. Sometimes I just have to start creating. That is true for other things, from cleaning house to going to work. Sometimes inspiration comes. Sometimes it doesn’t. But there is always satisfaction in showing up.” ~Amy Jo G.

“Early in my faith walk, I reached a point where I thought that I was not being fed spiritually in a particular church. A dear sweet saint and pastor took the time to help me understand that we cannot just soak up the good things of being a Christian, but that there are expectations that go with being a Christian. He gently let me know that when I started feeling like I wasn’t being fed spiritually, perhaps I should roll up my sleeves and go to work after consulting the Lord for what it was that He would have me do. Miraculously, spirituality took an exponential leap for me. It was in serving that I received. I reflect back on this lesson that happened over 40 years ago, and it still serves me well to this day. ” ~Michael A.

On “considering the thistle”:

“To me the ‘thistle’ is the thing I turn from or  push aside cause it may be too hard to face at the moment.  I am ever pressing forward to see through the ‘hard’ thistle and to find the peace, beauty, love or learning lesson it has to show me.  I have learned to love not change the ‘thistle’….. what a profound feeling to just love, without the anxiety to try to change!” ~Phyllis S.

On a single act (or “light”) that can change everything:

“I often need the light, and sometimes reflect the light.  Learning to accept light from others really helps us learn to accept God’s unconditional love for us.. In reflecting the light of Christ, through whatever means we have been given allows us a glimpse into what he wants to be to us.” ~Ken M.

The Big Class is now live!

A Simple Path to a Deeper Spiritual Life with Becca Stevens

free worldwide from today through Easter Sunday

Join us for a wonderfully inspiring and thought-provoking course on deepening our spiritual lives. Becca newbeccaStevens shares insight and wisdom from her years of ministry and service as an Episcopal priest and as founder of Thistle Farms, the social enterprise for women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction and life on the streets.  Because, as Becca shares, a deeper spirituality comes from the daily practice of loving and serving the world.

The Big Class also offers a sneak peek at Becca’s new book, Letters from the Farm, which releases in June. Take this course at your own pace with people from around the world over the next couple of weeks. We pray that it spurs you to reflection, conversation, and action as you deepen your own spiritual journey. Click here for more information or to get started.

Thank you to our sponsors, Church Publishing, Forward Movement, the Episcopal Church, and Trinity Wall Street.

Practicing Resurrection

If you’ve never read Wendell Berry’s poem, Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front, you won’t know how much Becca Stevens’ ministry “practices resurrection” and embodies that nonsensical love for the world and its people that so characterizes Jesus’ own ministry. (Take a moment to read the poem by clicking the link above: you won’t regret it.)newbecca

Registration for The Big Class: A Simple Path to a Deeper Spiritual Life opens today; the free course runs March 22 – April 5. We’re thrilled to be offering this course free to the world and are grateful to our sponsors, The Episcopal Church, Trinity Wall Street, Church Publishing, and Forward Movement. Over four lessons, Becca shares the lessons and insights she’s gained in her ministry and offers wisdom on journeying into a deeper spiritual life. (Click here for more information or to register.)

But the point of the Berry’s poem — and Becca Stevens’ ministry — is that living a spiritual life and doing the work of Christ is simple: love God, love God’s creation and God’s people, celebrate Jesus’ power to redeem, recreate, refresh, resurrect. Becca, through her various ministries and through Thistle Farms, has seen death — living death — but has also witnessed resurrection. By paying attention, loving and celebrating what the world would see as wasted or maimed or undeserving of attention and service, Becca’s ministry has seen the power of new life, of what was dead becoming new again and flowering in a harvest that is much larger than we may ever know.

Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion — put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.

In The Big Class, Becca invites us to a similar way of viewing the world, and reminds us not to worry about forging some deep spiritual path: just show up, get your hands dirty, dig in the soil God has given you to work with, and the new life will come. We hope you’ll join us in this mission and share it with anyone who may be longing for new life.

The Big Class: A Simple Path to a Deeper Spiritual Life with Becca Stevens

You don’t have to worry about being inspired. Just do the work of daily spiritual growth and the inspiration will come.

We are so excited for our next Big Class, which runs 3/22 – 4/5 with Becca Stevens, founder of Magdalene newbeccaand Thistle Farms. In “A Simple Path to a Deeper Spiritual Life,” Becca will help us explore what the spiritual life really means: how to believe, to hope, to experience resurrection, to be inspired. In four lessons, she shares what she has learned in her years of ministry and service, and how this wisdom can enrich our own journeys. She reminds us about the importance of just showing up, of believing, of surrendering, of giving ourselves space. And that love heals and changes and brings about resurrection and justice.

This short, free course will be open to all from March 22 – April 5; registration opens this Sunday, March 15. We invite you to join us and to share this course with friends and neighbors. Our prayer is that, as we enter the season of Easter, this course may renew and inspire our journeys to resurrection.

The Big Class: Called to Common Good with Cornel West is now live!

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”

~ Dr. Cornel West

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:35-40)

Join us, today through January 21st, as we attend to one of the most pressing issues of our time: economic inequality — and what we as Christians can and should do about it. We are each of us made in the image of God, which means we are entitled to equal dignity, opportunity, and justice. And yet the United States — one of the most nominally religious societies in the world, with 82% of Americans calling themselves Christians — is also founded on fiercely competitive capitalistic westvalues, leaving entire classes of citizens struggling with poverty, lack of education and opportunity, and a deep sense of powerlessness and despair.  How does the Gospel speak to this disconnect? What are we called to do in response to such an overwhelming problem?

Our lecturer, Dr. Cornel West, has often spoken out for justice and equality, specifically what American Christians are called to do; in this course, derived from the Trinity Institute’s 2015 “Creating Common Good” conference, he shares his own insights and experiences wrestling with the problem of inequality, how this issue relates to Christian teaching, and why it’s so vital to the health of our very souls. This course promises to be a thought-provoking and productive contribution to creating common good.

Thanks to the generosity of the following sponsors, The Big Class is offered free of charge to all:

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, click here.

Forward Movement, a ministry of the Episcopal Church, grew out of the determination of the General Convention in 1934 to counter a period of anxiety, distrust, and decline in the Episcopal Church with a “forward movement” charged to “reinvigorate the life of the church and to rehabilitate its general, diocesan, and parochial work.” Best known for the popular daily devotional Forward Day by Day, which provides daily meditations based on Bible scripture readings appointed by the lectionary and Daily Office. Forward Day by Day is published in English, Spanish, large print, audio cassette, and Braille editions, and the daily meditation is available online.

The Episcopal Church

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. 

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