September 2020


The history of the Episcopal Church is founded on the concept of Via Media: The middle way. While that might sound like treading a meaningless, lukewarm path in the midst of conflict, our history points to something more radical: In a time when Christians were shedding each others’ blood over doctrine and politics, the Church of England’s innovation of common prayer called people to meet at Jesus’ table. To meet, literally, at the altar — not because they had to share all the same beliefs, but because we believe we all need the forgiveness Jesus offers, and that in shared confession, listening, and reconciliation we might experience something of the Kingdom of God. That theological innovation of common prayer laid the groundwork for the political innovation that separated church and state. Four hundred years later, here we are — in an extraordinarily fraught political situation, one in which our practice of via media might be, again, a painful gift.

Recently Bishop Loya wrote, in an email update to ECMN, an invitation to a shared practice of noonday prayer on Tuesdays leading up to the election day. I hope you’ll join us in that practice, using the form here or another that suits you. We pray not for one party to prevail but because we know lament and prayer to be faithful ways of being God’s people together, as we stumble together in the dark. We pray because we know God is God, and we are not. We pray also because we know prayer is formation: Prayer changes us. Sometimes, leaning into the Scriptures helps us to hear God’s voice around and above the ways our prevailing culture shapes our minds.

To that end, I was grateful to read Bishop Loya’s words about the Way of Jesus in that message:

“I ask you to be bold in your proclamation and witness to the good news of Jesus in this moment. While the gospel is never partisan–it does not endorse one candidate or party platform–the gospel is always political, meaning it is always concerned with the way people are treated and resources are managed in the real world. This is not a time for us to be timid in announcing that Jesus is always present with those who are cast down and cast aside, that Jesus affirms and values the inherent worth and dignity of every human being, and that the Holy Spirit is always engaged in helping us embrace the outsider and the other. Our nation, and our world, need the gospel’s message of hope and love as much as they ever have.”

Faithful Christians, and faithful Episcopalians, have understood the relationship between their faith and their civic/political engagement in different ways. Our via media tradition doesn’t demand intellectual acquiescence to one approach to policy, economics, or polity. But it does demand that we take seriously the story of faith as we seek to live it out as disciples of Jesus today.

To be shaped by Scripture means that we know that God hears the cries of those who suffer, and cries with them (Exodus). It means that we know that God abhors the use of power to exploit people and planet (the Prophets). It means that we have the audacity to believe that love of neighbor is love of God, and that our baptism is first a joining with Christ in his death and then a defiant hope in the resurrection (the Gospels). It means that we have our eyes open to the ways the powers and empires of this world want to colonize us, and that we turn instead toward the Way of Love (Revelation).


The Rev. Susan Daughtry
Missioner for Formation

Donation Based Registration for Fall 2020
For Fall 2020, ECMN and the School for Formation will offer our courses to all in ECMN without requiring tuition. The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching consequences for our members and faith communities, and we hope to bring our learning resources into reach during this challenging time! If you are in a position to make a financial donation, your gift will help us continue to offer robust learning opportunities at accessible rates for ECMN leaders in the future. Thank you for learning with us!

NEW: Spiritual Care and Pastoral Presence Lab opens in October 2020
Like Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), this course is a theological education opportunity. Students will learn and exercise spiritual care skills within a context of responsible relationships to peers and to those in a clinical placement site under the direct supervision of a qualified educator. This course will help those in formation, those already ordained and seeking continuing education, and lay pastoral care ministers to develop awareness of the theological and psycho-social concerns of persons in need of spiritual care. It will address personal growth matters of self-awareness and self-reflection. There is no tuition fee for this program in 2020-21.
To find out more and apply: Contact The Rev. Cindi Brickson,
Application deadline: September 30.
There are only three spaces remaining in this program, to be filled on a first-come basis.
Register today for courses beginning Oct. 12
Layers: The Story of the Old Testament
October 12 - November 30

This class is designed to help you teach, preach, and live the Old Testament as a theological story. Borrowing from archaeology, we'll describe the Bible as layers, from older to newer, deposited by people of faith for future generations' use.

The Creeds and Practical Christian Theology
October 12 - November 30
Creeds encapsulate Christian beliefs; they also attempt to quell theological controversy. This course examines the historical origins of the Nicene and Apostles Creeds. The creeds not only articulate what Christians believe; they also shape Christian life.

Missional Management
October 12 - November 30
How can faith communities use their resources for creative experiments in meeting God in their neighbors and neighborhoods? How can your faith community escape the pattern of scarcity to realize God’s dream for your congregation?
Join this seven-week online course exploring the foundations and supporting structures for movements and institutions engaged in God’s mission.

Safe Church Trainings
Safe Church for God’s Children 
Tier 2, required for anyone who has access to facilities and/or is in ministry with children, youth, or vulnerable adults.

Safe Church for God’s People 
Tier 3, required for staff, clergy, leaders who are involved in managing ministries for youth and adults alike.
Soul Food for Faithful Leadership
Join in the Bishop's Book Club -- discussing Howard Thurman's Jesus and the Disinherited at Leading Beyond the Blizzard on Tues., Sept 22.
Find this and other podcasts from Luther Seminary's Faith+Lead here.
Miss church? Need a distraction from the news? This 2017 movie tells the true (if Hollywoodized) story of an Episcopal church in Tennessee and the Karen refugees who brought new life there.
Tending to Communal Trauma Through Spiritual Practices
"How are we to lead when it feels like the bottom is falling out from under us? How are we to lead when we are suffering the same trauma as those in our congregations?" More here.
On pastoral leadership in election season
"You're up against a propaganda machine. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in misinforming your people, so it's perfectly understandable that lots of people would be way off on this stuff....Pastoral teaching and leadership can help people to see what things are worth fighting for, and more than anything, help people to meet folks who are doing work, based on their own experience -- whether they're undocumented neighbors, or poor folks, or if you're a predominantly white community, hearing from black and brown folks about what policies they believe would benefit them in their communities -- those are things that pastors can do. Helping people hear from folks who are directly impacted and to learn about the organizing that's happening to build up the common good -- I think that's something pastors can do."

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Evangelical theologian and pastor, on "Reclaiming a Public Christian Faith," Gravity Leadership Podcast

Leading Beyond the Blizzard
Weekly videoconferences, Tuesday at 2pm, to gather ECMN folks around key conversations in response to the pandemic, racial justice, and the ways Episcopalians can participate in God's mission now. Join us.
Maybe you’ve been searching for answers at the intersections of faith, justice, belonging, scripture, church, and life. You know it's long past time to decolonize your belief system and lean into hard conversations, but you want to do that work in community.
James Cone: Black Theology and Black Power in 2020
With the Very Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary. Get connected here.
Clergy Consultation Groups from Leaderwise
A confidential space to share wisdom, learn from each other, exchange ideas, and process experiences of ministry during the pandemic. Find out more here.
The 2020 Election
Civil Discourse Curriculum
This five-part online curriculum covers the following topics: civil discourse in context, tenets for civil discourse, values-based conversations, the complexities of policy, and sacred space for debate. Click here for the curriculum.
Reflection Guide:
Democracy, Values, and the 2020 Election
The nonpartisan guide from Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light addresses urgent moral issues at stake in this election and beyond. Topics include justice for immigrants, economic dignity, care for creation and climate change, racism and criminal justice reform, democracy and voting rights, health care and the coronavirus pandemic, and global peacebuilding.
The Rev. Susan Daughtry | Missioner for Formation
Episcopal Church in Minnesota | | Sign up to get this email