Receive Your Certification in Episcopal Catechismal Study

ChurchNext offers several certification programs for people who want to become well-versed in particular topics. For example, we already have a Certification in Vestry Leadership and a Certification in Prayer Book Studies. Today, we’re announcing a new focused area of study: a Certification in Episcopal Catechismal Study.

In this series of courses, participants become familiar with the topics covered in the Episcopal Catechism. At the end of this series, participants should be have a solid understanding of each section of the catechism. They should be able to open the prayer book to any section of the catechism and have a good sense of what beliefs and systems that section affirms.

Upon completion, either the individual taking the series or a mentor guiding their study may write hello@churchnext.tv and let us know you have completed your certification program. We will send your customized ChurchNext Certificate in Episcopal Catechismal Study.

 

Courses in this series include:

This series can be used in many ways

  • It can help any Christian refresh their understanding of the basic tenets of the Episcopal approach to faith.
  • It can help adults prepare for baptism.
  • It can help young people prepare for confirmation.
  • It can be a tool used in catechumenate programs.
  • It can help new Episcopalians gain an understanding of our denomination’s approach to familiar Christian concepts.

Please note that all these courses are formatted for both individual and group study. They can, therefore, be adapted for use in many different contexts. Here are some examples:

  • The For Groups courses can be the basis for group study, but they don’t have to be. You can combine them with other group activities.
  • If a church is doing an in-person study series and someone has to miss a session, they can take a short online course on the topic — or even just relevant sections of a course — to keep up.
  • Courses can be adapted for hybrid study programs in all sorts of ways — doing some classes at home and some in person, for example, or doing a program with at-home and in-person subgroups.
  • The list could go on, but you get the idea. Be creative! These courses are adaptable tools.

Just Launched: Updated Version of Let the Women Speak! with Lindsay Hardin Freeman

Most of you already know that Lindsay Hardin Freeman is doing our free, live Good Book Club course: Examining Ruth and Esther starting this Wednesday, January 11. As of today, we have 333 people signed up to take it, and it should be extremely interesting. (If you haven’t signed up, we encourage you to do so. It will meet on six consecutive Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. E.T. starting this Wednesday. Click here to register.)

Since Lindsay will be doing this course with us, we thought it also would be a good time to update her course Let the Women Speak! For Individuals and For Groups. The course is based on her book Bible Women: All Their Words and Why They Matter, a second expanded edition of which is coming out on Feb. 1.

The women of the Bible lived in patriarchal cultures that granted them so little power that the men who ran their world regarded them as nonentities. Yet they blaze across the centuries in all their wisdom and pain, energy and intelligence, diplomacy and passion.


Tamar goes to creative lengths to deceive Judah into taking on responsibilities his sons neglected (Genesis 38).

 

 

 

Ruth declares that rather than abandoning her mother-in-law to despair and death, she will give up her citizenship and her place in the world to care for her — and she follows up on that promise with some serious risk-taking (The Book of Ruth).

 

 

 

 

The woman at the well has one of the lengthiest, most sophisticated conversations with Jesus of anyone in the gospels (John 4).

 

 

 

 

Joanna, Mary of Clopas, Mary Magdelene, and the other women gaze in astonishment on the empty tomb as the angels tell them Jesus has risen from death (John 19).

 

 

The women of the Bible act as powerful — and often surprising — agents of God. They influenced Christian history in powerful ways, and in this course you’ll begin to see how. Lindsay Hardin Freeman’s thoughtful, reverent, and intelligent presentations help these admirable and memorable figures come alive.

Our instructor, writer and Episcopal priest Lindsay Hardin Freeman (M.A., M.Div), has studied and written extensively on women in the Bible. She and her team of researchers were the first to count and profile all the women whose words are recorded in the Bible, resulting in the publication of Bible Women: All Their Words and Why They Matter (a second edition of which will be released in 2023). We hope you’ll find time to investigate her class on Bible women and what we can learn from them.

 

What Does “Updated” Mean?

Just as books with high-quality content need to be updated occasionally, some of our earlier courses do as well. When we relaunch a course, that means we have reviewed its video content and find that it remains strong and relevant, but the accompanying materials (introductions, discussion questions, supporting materials) could benefit from an update, either to remain consistent with what we’re doing now in terms of style or content or because references we made might have started to feel dated. When we find a good course that needs a little routine maintenance, we update it and re-launch it so you know it’s been reviewed and revised to remain current and helpful.

This course is ideal for anyone interested in women in the Bible or biblical study in general. For a course preview, please click below.

 

 

Just Launched: How to Be an Usher with Tim Spannaus

We just launched How to Be an Usher with Tim Spannaus For Individuals and For Groups.

The role of church usher marries hospitality with practicality. It is a ministry for people who want to welcome people and make the worship experience easy and pleasant for them, especially newcomers. Ushers are so useful that even before the position was formalized, the church had people appointed to various usher-like roles, facilitating worship and assisting people.

In this course, Tim Spannaus, Archdeacon at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Paul in Detroit, who has taught about the Episcopal liturgy for many years, teaches about best practices for ushers. He describes the role of ushers as, more than anything else, a role of hospitality, especially in relation to newcomers. Ushers are the first faces people who are new to a church often see, and it is their job to reach out to these people, answer their questions, and troubleshoot if necessary.

In this course, Tim talks about the biblical and historical role of church ushers. He describes the duties of an usher, and also discusses some of the extended duties ushers may expect to take on in their roles.

This course is ideal for anyone interested in serving as an usher or who wants to think about the role the ushers should take at their church. For a preview, please click below.

Just Launched: Updated Version of Praying with Icons with Randall Warren

This Byzantine icon of Christ Pantocrator (“Ruler of All”) is one of the earliest Christian religious icons, dating back to the 6th century C.E. Public domain.

 

We just launched an updated version of Praying with Icons with Randall Warren For Individuals and For Groups.

Icons are windows to the divine. Not merely beautiful works of art, they are prayerfully painted (or, more properly, “written”) reflections of God’s beauty and radiance. Though many of us close our eyes when we pray, icons offer an alternative form of prayer, one in which our eyes are wide open to God’s glory. What we see in an icon imprints itself on our heart, carving new pathways in our minds and souls to God.

In this course, The Rev. Dr. Randall Warren, an author, teacher, and priest, introduces us to the ancient and sacred practice of praying with icons. He discusses the reasons for their creation and use, the fraught history of icons in the Western Christian Church, and then offers some guidance on how to pray with icons in our own devotions. Along the way, he walks us through several beautiful and famous icons, teaching us some of their most prominent symbols and meanings.

If you are interested in learning more about icons, in enhancing your prayer life, or in finding new ways to encounter and relate with God, this course is for you. For a preview of the course, please click below.

 

Just Launched: Introducing the Quaker Tradition with Gary Gillespie and Sarah Bur

Interior of the Arch Street Friends Meeting House in Philadelphia, built in 1805. Public Domain.

We just launched Introducing the Quaker Tradition with Gary Gillespie and Sarah Bur For Individuals and For Groups.

The Religious Society of Friends, informally known as Quakers, emerged as a Christian Protestant denomination during the English Civil War in the 1600s when many different approaches to the Christian experience were formed. Many Quakers moved to North America, where they were able to thrive in some colonies (most famously Pennsylvania) but were persecuted in others (notably the New England colonies).

Today, Quakerism takes a unique space in the American religious landscape. It is rooted in Christianity but when you ask if Quakers are Christians today, the answer varies. Quaker.org, a website run by the nonprofit Quaker organization that publishes the Friends Journal, writes, “Most Quakers believe in… something. It’s when you ask if that something is ‘God’ that the answer becomes more complicated.” Across the world, Quakers range from groups that would describe themselves as Christians to groups that make no representations about what exactly their members believe.

What unifies the Quaker experience? Most Quakers emphasize listening. Contemplative prayer focused on discerning the word of God for the world, the meeting, and the individual is central to the religious Quaker experience. Likewise, Quakers practice nonviolence and value simplicity, especially in worship. Quaker meetings also tend to emphasize inclusiveness. In the U.S. Quakers have historically advocated for equality and justice; for example, many Quakers were abolitionists and later, passionate advocates for racial justice during the Civil Rights Movement.

In this class, Quakers Gary Gillespie and Sarah Bur describe the contemporary American Quaker experience. They discuss basic history, beliefs, values, worship style, and other important elements of Quaker life and worship today. This course is ideal for anyone interested in learning more about different ways of approaching Christian faith and worship.

Upcoming Live Course: Vital Signs of Faith with Kate Moorehead Carroll

We are hosting a new Live Course: Vital Signs of Faith with Kate Moorehead Carroll. Kate is Dean of St. John’s Cathedral in Jacksonville, Florida and author of eight books, including Vital Signs of Faith, the book to which this course is a companion. (Participants do not have to read the book for the course, but they will probably find the experience richer id they do.)

From the book Vital Signs of Faith.

I try to get a check-up each year. Each year, my doctor discusses various issues with me. She asks me if I am exercising regularly. How is my diet? She tells me that as a middle-aged woman I need to lift weights because my bones are beginning to decline (she uses much more impressive language like impending osteopenia). She talks about the coming of menopause, checking for breast cancer and other issues. It is a detailed exam, and I am grateful for her thoroughness. I am truly blessed to have medical care.

Why do we not examine our spiritual health with the same intention? I believe it is time for faith leaders to provide our people with ways to measure, nurture, and develop the life of the spirit. Just as we care for our bodies, so we must learn to care for our hearts, minds, and souls. The physical life and the spiritual life are both vital. One influences and impacts the other. Why do we spend time on our bodies alone and not also on our souls?

 

 

 

In this class, a faith leader is going to do exactly what she calls for in her book: discuss ways to measure, nurture, and maintain healthy spiritual lives with the same care doctors urge in caring for our bodies. Each class will develop a section or topic of particular interest and will include opportunities for discussion and questions.

Here’s how it works: The course will meet in four sessions on Wednesday nights at 8:00 p.m. E.T. from October 26 through November 16 in a Zoom classroom to which participants will receive a link. Course materials will be available on an online ChurchNext course. We will also post recordings of the class meetings on the course page, so don’t worry if you can’t attend every class meeting. You can take this course with others from your congregation or on your own.

The course costs $35. If you buy Kate’s book for the class, use the discount code “Vital Signs” when you register, and you will get 50% off the course.

Sign up here today! We look forward to seeing you on October 26.

Just Launched: Reflections on Lambeth 2022 with Bishop Eugene Sutton

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, gives the sermon during the Closing Service of the 2022 Lambeth Conference in Canterbury Cathedral in the United Kingdom. Photo: Richard Washbrooke for The Lambeth Conference. Sunday 7th August 2022

We just launched Reflections on Lambeth 2022 with Bishop Eugene Sutton For Individuals and For Groups.

Originally scheduled for 2020 and postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the most recent Lambeth Conference finally was able to meet in late July and early August of 2022. All bishops in the Anglican Communion are invited to attend the Lambeth Conference, where they pray and reflect on scripture together and discuss issues of importance to the global church.

In this class, Bishop Eugene Sutton, who attended his first Lambeth Conference in 2008, offers his perspective on the 2022 Lambeth Conference. First, he offers an overview of what exactly the conference is and why it matters. Second, he discusses the current place the conference holds as an Anglican Church authority. Third, he talks about the main issues discussed at the 2022 conference. Fourth, he addresses the question of why it matters that the Lambeth Conference and other meetings between members of the global Anglican communion continue to happen.

Major themes Bishop Sutton engages include:

  • Why the Lambeth Conference is essential.
  • The nature and extent of the Lambeth Conference’s authority.
  • The major issues that divide the global Anglican communion and how they were handled at the 2022 conference.
  • The major issues that were discussed at the 2022 conference.
  • The necessity of maintaining a global perspective on issues facing the Anglican Communion.
  • The importance of meeting with other members of the global Anglican communion regularly.
  • Tensions that define the Anglican Communion experience across the board (e.g. the tension between our reverence for tradition and our openness to new ideas.

The Anglican Bishops attending the Lambeth Conference pose for their group photograph during the 2022 Lambeth Conference at the University of Kent in Canterbury, United Kingdom. Photo: Neil Turner for The Lambeth Conference. Wednesday 27th July 2022

Bishop Sutton’s video lectures include:

  • Historical Roots
  • Lambeth and Moral Authority
  • The Issues
  • Why Meet?

We hope this class teaches you about the place of the Lambeth Conference in the Anglican Communion today and about how they are approaching issues of importance to the global church today.

For a course preview, please click below.

Just Launched: How (and Why) to Build a Farm-Faith Partnership with Justine Post

We have just launched How (and Why) to Build a Farm-Faith Partnership with Justine Post For Individuals and For Groups.

A farm-faith partnership is a partnership between a congregation or group of congregations and a farmer or group of farmers in which the congregation’s members provide a market for the farmers to sell their produce. The goal: to close the gap between underserved farmers and farmers of color and the markets to which they have access. Faith communities benefit too in gaining access to fresh, local, nutritious food and also in access to education about how to build healthy food systems in their area.

Justine Post, who teaches this course, directs the Come to the Table program for RAFI-USA, a farmer advocacy nonprofit organization in North Carolina. Her program’s mission is to empower faith communities to participate in the creation of a just food system through collaboration, capacity building, and advocacy. She uses her expertise in forming connections between faith-based groups and farmers, particularly farmers of color, to teach others how to build this kind of collaboration and why they should do so.

Justine’s examples are based in Come to the Table’s mission, but you can start a farm-faith partnership anywhere. These partnerships could look like a group of churches that strengthen their collective purchasing power by purchasing multiple CSA shares for their congregants from farmers of color. Or it could look like a church hosting a farmers market in their parking lot. Through these farm-to-church connections, churches are able to participate in a just and healthful local food system while also engaging in relational ministries with farmers in their communities.

Her video lectures include:

  • Why Food and Faith?
  • The Farm and Faith Partnerships Project
  • Farming and Systemic Racism
  • Getting Started
  • Resources for Leaders

This course is ideal for anyone interested in combating systemic racism, learning about building sustainable food systems, and doing justice through food ministries. For a preview, please click below.

 

Just Launched — Gleaning Today: Conserving Food for Hungry People with Michael Binger

We just launched Gleaning Today: Conserving Food for Hungry People with Michael Binger For Individuals and For Groups.

Gleaning is the age-old agricultural practice of collecting excess food for the hungry. For centuries, the edges of crops were left in the field for the poor to harvest. Over the years, versions of that practice remained standard in many cultures as a way of providing food for hungry people.

Today in America, we waste literally tons of excess food every year, either because it doesn’t fit high retail standards and nobody considers it worth harvesting or due to other inefficiencies in the food system. We, like those who came before us, have a responsibility as people of faith to nurture God’s abundance and to ensure that people who need help in our areas have enough food — and we have food available. Good, fresh food full of nutrition. Food that rots and gets thrown away if it isn’t recovered and made available to hungry people.

Ugly tomatoes like this little guy are discarded in our food system, even though they taste just like their prettier brothers and sisters. (Sometimes better!)

The Society of St. Andrew (SoSA) works with volunteers throughout the U.S. to help reclaim food that becomes available for poor people through the food system and deliver it to food banks and food pantries. In this class Michael Binger, SoSA’s Regional Director of the Carolinas, explains how gleaning works in the twenty-first century food system. He discusses the biblical foundations of this call and explains how and why people can work with SoSA or organize independently in our communities to get excess produce to those who need it.

Congregations can use this course to start learning how and why to organize groups to glean fresh food from local farms for local food banks — an activity with which kids can be actively involved and which does not require steady participation; people can join when they are available. Individuals can use it to figure out how to start gleaning with their family or on their own, from their own gardens or in local farms and urban gardens.

This course is ideal for anyone interested in serving the hungry. For a preview, please click below.

Just Launched: Updated Version of When We Get Angry with God with Laurie Brock

We just launched an updated version of When We Get Angry with God with Laurie Brock For Individuals and For Groups.

What Does “Updated” Mean?

First, a brief explanation of what it means when we update courses, since we’ve re-launched a number of updated courses recently.

We’ve been looking at some of our older offerings to see if they hold up with time. Just as books with high-quality content need to be updated occasionally, some of our earlier courses do as well. When we relaunch a course, that means its video content remains strong and relevant, but the accompanying materials (introductions, discussion questions, supporting materials) could benefit from an update, either to remain consistent with what we’re doing now in terms of style or content or because references we made might have started to feel dated. When we find a good course that needs a little routine maintenance, we update it and re-launch it so you know it’s been reviewed and revised to remain current and helpful.

Course Information

When We Get Angry with God, Laurie Brock discusses our discomfort with the idea of being angry at God. Years of conditioning have taught us that not only is anger bad, but that anger at God is almost akin to heresy. In this class, Laurie, an Episcopal priest and author, examines anger as an emotion that is part of the human experience, neither good nor bad. She argues that we must learn to see anger not as a negative emotion, but as a gift from God, placed in our souls to be a useful part of our spiritual growth and a holy part of what it means to be a person of faith.

Laurie presents anger as a transformative opportunity, likening it to fire which burns, clears and leaves way for new growth. Malcolm X once said, “usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.” Laurie argues that anger can give us the transformative energy we need to move ourselves into a new and better place.

Laurie’s lectures include:

  • What is Anger?
  • Why Do We Get Angry with God?
  • Is Anger at God Okay?
  • Coping with Our Anger with God.
  • Transforming Our Anger with God.

This class is ideal for anyone who is angry. Which is a lot of people these days, so really, you should probably check out this class.

About the Instructor

The Rev. Laurie Brock is an Episcopal priest, former attorney and author of God, Grace and Horses and Where God Hides Holiness:Thoughts on Grief, Joy and the Search for Fabulous Heels. She is also a celebrity blogger in the Lent Madness series. Learn more about her work on her website.

For a course preview, please click below.