Registration Opens Today for The Big Class: Civil Conversations in Uncivil Times with Ray Suarez

Ray Suarez, instructor for this course.

Today, we are opening registration for our free Big Class: Civil Conversations in Uncivil Times — Practicing Our Faith in the Public Square with Ray Suarez.

In this historically contentious election season, many Christians are looking for ways to bring their faith into their political interactions. Ray Suarez knows a lot about contentious political landscapes. He also knows a great deal about faith. As an award-winning journalist, college instructor, and outspoken Episcopalian, he has written a book on the subject of faith and politics in the United States and offers these four video presentations in this free online class:

  • The Challenge of Civility
  • Scripture and Civility
  • What Civility Might Look Like
  • Getting There

You can register today for this class. The class opens on October 12, and it will remain free to students across the world through October 26. As with most ChurchNext classes, you can take this course at your own pace, at whatever time suits you. It should take less than an hour to complete, and students will have an opportunity to ask the instructor questions.

This course is ideal for Christians looking for ways to be faithful in the midst of contentious politics and is brought to you for free by The Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Church FoundationTrinity Wall Street, the Consortium of Endowed Episcopal ChurchesForward Movement, and ChurchNext.

Just Launched: Spiritual Truth in an Age of Fake News with Elizabeth Geitz and Rebecca Cotton

We just launched Spiritual Truth in an Age of Fake News with Elizabeth Geitz and Rebecca Cotton For Individuals and For Groups.

The term “fake news” tends to convey different meanings in different contexts. People use it to refer to anything from parody news accounts to half-true “facts” spread on social media to legitimate news that politicians or pundits want to spin as false. It can be hard to identify misinformation because it is designed both to appeal to us and to resemble real news. The more misinformation that appears, the harder it is for people to trust any news sources. It doesn’t help that legitimate news is often presented in ways designed to appeal to emotion so that people will click and subscribe. The constantly-changing ways we consume media can be hard to keep up with, also benefiting scammers.

Reporters with various forms of “fake news” from an 1894 illustration by Frederick Burr Opper.

It is, perhaps, unsurprising that many people are aware that they can’t trust the information they encounter but aren’t sure how to navigate the news media landscape. As a default, people tend to consume the news we want to believe, which leaves the community both ill-informed and set against one another. We retreat into echo chambers, respond skeptically to news that doesn’t suit our narratives, and, increasingly, find ourselves divided from people with whom we disagree. Worst of all, from a Christian point of view, is the spread of biblical misinformation designed to support our biases.

In this class, renowned author Elizabeth Geitz and Rebecca Cotton from the Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations offer their help in clearing the weeds. They explain what misinformation looks like, why it confuses people, and ways to combat it. They discuss the effects of misinformation on our culture and the reasons that Christians in particular must resist fake news. They also talk about how the misuse of news information, and in particular misinformation about the Bible, has been used for centuries to support cultural inequities. They suggest ways and reasons to resist biblical fake news.

This course is ideal for those seeking tools for discerning truth. For a preview of the course, please click the video below.

Just Launched: Growing Giving in an Online World

We just launched Growing Giving in an Online World For Individuals and For Groups.

As the period of social distancing extends, people are starting to accept that there will be no return to the “normal” we knew before 2020. The world is changing — and the church with it.

What will the church that emerges from this period of strict social distancing look like? How will it have changed? Will we retain the online worship practices that we learned to use during the pandemic? Will we do more socialization or formation work online? How will our ministries, both within the church community and to the wider community change? And how will we fund them?

In this class, Kristine Miller, an internationally recognized consultant on church stewardship, discusses how churches can grow generous congregations — and how they can do it in a world in which both giving and many other other church-based interactions take place online. She talks about ways in which churches are changing during the age of Covid and how their forays into online territory will probably extend beyond the pandemic. She discusses how churches can build healthy relationships with their donors and examines effective ways to ask people to donate in an online context. Her suggestions include using impact stories to show donors how their money builds ministries and ways to use impact stories in online worship and financial appeals. She also suggests ways to measure the effectiveness of the church’s appeals for finances. The final lesson focuses almost entirely on digital stewardship campaigns and how people can run them effectively in the context of online worship.

This course is ideal for anyone who is interested in learning more about managing stewardship as church becomes, increasingly, a digital experience. For a preview of the course, please click below.