To reinvigorate the life of the Church

As many 7WD readers know, I have been discerning where I might be called to serve next. Well, I am delighted to announce that I have accepted a call to serve as the Executive Director of Forward Movement. You can read the story on Episcopal News Service. For those of you who think that Forward Movement is synonymous with Forward Day by Day, let me tell you there is a lot more now and even more to come.

In no particular order, here are some reasons I am excited about this call and about the future of Forward Movement.

The origin of Forward Movement is also the key to its vibrant future. You can read the whole tale on the Forward Movement website. Back in the 1930s, the Episcopal Church was hurting. A bunch of lay people and clergy worked (initially outside the bounds of General Convention) to contribute to the financial need of the church and then to breathe life into the Church. Simply put, the Church had forgotten why it exists. Sound familiar? Anyway, soon there was a “forward movement” at work — with materials and gatherings “to reinvigorate the life of the Episcopal Church”.

Our church needs this today, as we all need continual renewal. My hope is the Forward Movement will once again be on the vanguard of producing materials and maybe even holding gatherings that will equip, empower, and inspire people to exercise the fullness of their ministry.

There are 300,000 dedicated readers already. The flagship publication of Forward Movement is, of course, Forward Day by Day. It goes to parishes, prisons, hospitals, elder care facilities, and individual subscribers. It’s available in Spanish, in large print, and in media for visually impaired readers. And these readers are dedicated. Second to Altar Guilds, the readers of Forward Day by Day are the folks not to be trifled with in parish ministry. On the occasions when our parish administrator forgot to put out the next quarter’s copies, our phones rang off the hook. People love their Forward Day by Day. My hope is to continue to provide what clearly nourishes people, and to increase the engagement of these readers. How might the church itself be enriched if these readers are further enlivened?

I’ll be working with a great Board and a dedicated staff. Forward Movement is blessed to be led by a Board of diverse and talented people from across the Church. The Presiding Bishop is the President of Forward Movement, though I suspect she will not have a lot of time to be actively involved on a regular basis. At the Forward Movement office in Cincinnati, there is a dedicated and talented group of staff that I look forward to getting to know and serving with. They are, I think, looking forward to our adventure together.

I am about to lead an organization that has had good leadership. For the last few years, the Rev’d Richard (“Dick”) Schmidt has led Forward Movement, focusing especially on editorial quality. He is the latest in a string of amazing folks, each of whom has brought a particular contribution to the organization. I’ll pray for the wisdom and grace to join this company of able leaders. Dick has also been incredibly hospitable to Sherilyn (my partner) and me as we have contemplated this transition.

We are looking forward to settling into a new city. Cincinnati is a lovely city, a midwestern “river town” nestled in green hills. The church there is vibrant. It will be hard to decide where I’ll hang by ecclesiastical hat (it’s a Canterbury cap, not a biretta). Already we have found a number of great places to eat, good museums, stunning parks, and other cultural amenities. If you know anything about Cincinnati, I welcome your recommendations.

The time is ripe for digital media and new channels for delivery. It’s easier than ever to create mobile apps now, and the potential audience is ever larger. Look for some resources for daily prayer (including Forward Day by Day) on your iPhone soon. Already you can read each day’s meditation from Forward Day by Day on the Forward Movement website. I expect we’ll get some select publications available for Kindle and other e-readers soon. There are other ideas.

I will enjoy seeing the wider church. One of my new tasks will be speaking and listening throughout the wider church. It will be great to visit parishes, diocesan gatherings, and seminaries throughout the Episcopal Church. My hope is to travel a good bit when I first start; I want to hear from Episcopalians who read Forward Movement publications as well as people who have no idea what Forward Movement is. What are people hungry for? What does the Church need?

Some of the most successful authors for Forward Day by Day have been folks who were incarcerated inmates, and many readers are in prison cells. I expect to visit some readers and authors in prisons as well. That is always sobering, humbling, and often inspiring. (If you’ve never been inside a prison, you should go sometime. It will change you.)

My hope is to offer a Christ-centered, mission-driven voice within the church. We Episcopalians love to fight (usually about second- or third-order matters). We are prone to lose sight of what matters as we prioritize structure over vocation. Bonnie Anderson got this right in her recent Kellogg Lectures. Forward Movement has not gotten itself embroiled in the controversies d’jour and I intend to keep it that way. Let’s talk about Jesus and what he means in our lives. That should give us enough to talk about.

I will be running an Agency. There are several official agencies of the Episcopal Church, of which Forward Movement is one. Next time my espresso is taking too long to make, I’ll say to the barista — almost under my breath — “wait until I tell people back at The Agency about this”. If they assume I’m part of the CIA, well so be it.

Well, dear readers, I could go on. That will give you a taste of the varieties of my excitement (and questionable humor). Please write or leave a comment here with your suggestions, questions, or criticisms for Forward Movement. One of my first tasks is to hire a Managing Editor, so if you know of someone who might be up for this adventure, have them take a look at the job description. (Note that it will take two of us to continue Dick Schmidt’s work!)

You can expect Seven whole days to continue. And now that I’m not looking for a job, I’ll finally get to my backlog of unblogged material. In every way, it’s time to move forward!

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20 Responses

  1. Norris Battin says:

    Congrats! A great move for you and for the Church.

    All the best,


  2. Penny Nash says:

    Fantastic news! Congratulations and best wishes as you head off into this new adventure. Looking forward to seeing how this unfolds as well as your getting back to blogging. (I am sure your great work as a Celebrity Blogger during Lent Madness was a key component in the decision making.)


  3. Tim Schenck says:

    Yes, Penny. He’d be nothing without me.

  4. Penny Nash says:

    That was fast, Tim.

  5. Steve Pankey says:


    Congrats and many blessings on the new call. Dick Schmidt is my Rector’s former boss, and our congregation is full of dedicated readers. I’m glad to hear that someone of your caliber will be leading Forward Movement to serve the 21st century Church. I’m sure you’ll get all sorts of advice as you begin this journey, but mine is to continue to carry out your ministry of humor. With the Wittenburg Door now defunct, I’m left in want for quality religious satire. Maybe FM (in conjunction with 7WD) could take that on as a side project.

  6. Gina Howarth says:

    Congratulations Scott! Sounds like a wonderful and exciting challenge. Wishing you all the best in your move!

  7. Skip Schueddig says:

    This is wonderful news, Scott! You will be perfect for this job. I am so excited. Episcopal Media Center has worked with Forward Movement on many projects over the years, and I hope you will come see us in Atlanta once you get settled.


  8. Gary Goldacker says:

    Great move Scott! You are a worthy successor to a long line of dedicated leaders of this agency. (CIA hat is on the way) Remember that Cincinnati is on the frontier so you will have to chop your own wood and haul your own water from the Ohio, so get out your buckskins. Call when you get to DC.

  9. MadPriest says:

    I think the first thing you should do is open a branch in the North East of England.

    Well done, my friend.

  10. Scott Gunn says:

    Thank you (everyone except for Tim) for your kind wishes. It will be an exciting and challenging adventure, that’s for sure.

    Penny, Tim was so fast because commenting on other blogs is as close as he gets to a real blog.

    Gary, I appreciate the tip. Will work on my buckskin outfit.

    Skip, I look forward to conversation about ways we can work together to build God’s kingdom.

  11. This is wonderful news. ou will be perfect for the job,plus 7WD will continue.Your often self-deprecating humor is what is needed now. Talk about forward movement-that’s you. You’re going to be a bigger deal in the church than you realize–and to think you sat in my class.

  12. rosa lee harden says:

    Congrats! Can’t wait to see what we move forward to next …

  13. Bette Bruckner says:

    Hi Scott,
    What a joy for me to see you on the Diocesan Website! I knew from the day I “greeted” you, that you would be a wonderful Rector, and now to see you as the Ex.Director of Forward…..May God bless you in your “call”, and know that many former members of Christ Church (now at Emmanuel), are so excited about your future…..I still miss you, and Melody, too…..but with God’s help, I am doing well.Your “forever” friend,

  14. Andy Smith says:

    Congratulations, Scott! I have no doubt you will lead Forward Movement with vision and vigor.

  15. anne mccarthy says:

    the very best to you in this new work.
    Check out The Upper Room(UMC).I like the one reading and some of the innovative work by Mosadegh.
    We need to read more about being “perfect” in the sense of being whole and not to forget about the
    power of healing…..
    I have every confidence in your talent as a few have told me about you and what gifts you bring to our church.

  16. Reginald Gunn says:

    Congratulations, Cousin! I think we are related. I am a retired priest of the Diocese of Georgia. Best wishes on your new adventure. I admire the philosophy and direction you propose to take. Blessings.

  17. Beth Hardin says:


    I don’t know you, but I am grateful for your enthusiasm for the Forward Movement. My fellow disciples here in Charlotte, NC, have LOTS of ideas for you and FM. My parish is engaged in Hispanic Ministries, supports campus ministry (a particularly effective one), and is active in many outreach venues. Many ideas arise those communities. Let me know if we can brainstorm with you.

    May God’s blessing pour on you and those at the Forward Movement.

    With hope,

  18. Scott Gunn says:

    Beth, please do share your ideas — if you want to speak by phone, let me know. There’s an email address for me on the “About” page of this blog or in the release announcing the Forward Movement news. I’m eager to hear from folks with great ideas.

    Thanks to everyone for your support, prayers, and good wishes.


  19. I now feel that all of the pain and agony we endured in technical writing and creative writing classes was worth it. Good luck, Scott. May you own your audience, and vice versa.

  20. Scott Gunn says:

    Larkin, hah! I frequently channel my inner Professor Wallace. Now perhaps there’s a chance I’ll understand the cryptic markings of editors. We’ll see…

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