At our January Vestry meeting, Rev Keith unveiled Project 2020. With a goal of stoking our faith through a variety of learning opportunities, partnerships, and other opportunities for engagement, Keith invites us to dig in and deepen our faith, leading us to new paths.
There are three components to Project 2020:
- Enhanced engagement with scripture and theology – Each Sunday morning, whoever is preaching, will be available from 9:30 to 10 am to interact with you about the homily you have just heard, or are about to hear. In addition to the Sunday morning experience, we will be enhancing our midweek services to allow for more group discussion. There will be two midweek worship/study opportunities each week for the rest of the year (at least.) Hana will be offering a Tuesday night Eucharist at 7 pm, with a discussion session to follow and Keith will continue to offer a Wednesday morning Eucharist at 10 am.
- Partnership with St. Paul’s Cathedral – Through a series of clergy exchanges, we’ll be taking a look at the Old Testament readings for each Sunday, and opening up their wider context and meaning. We are exploring further shared services and exchanges to strengthen our faith and share our resources.
- Reading, reflection, and discussion – Time to read! A list of 15 books have been chosen by our leaders from St. James and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Over the course of 2020 there will be at least one study session on each of the books. We invite you to discuss what you read with a variety of other people. St. James Westminster will initially bring in three copies of each book and place them in our lending library. Each month, we will order copies for people who would like to have their own. On the first Monday of the month, Rebekah will place an order. You will be asked to pay for the books when you pick them up. All are welcome to access the books electronically from your favoured provider.
The Book List
Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans
If the Bible isn’t a science book or an instruction manual, then what is it? What do people mean when they say the Bible is inspired? When Rachel Held Evans found herself asking these questions, she began a quest to better understand what the Bible is and how it is meant to be read. What she discovered changed her—and it will change you too. Drawing on the best in recent scholarship and using her well-honed literary expertise, Evans examines some of our favorite Bible stories and possible interpretations, retelling them through memoir, original poetry, short stories, soliloquies, and even a short screenplay. Undaunted by the Bible’s most difficult passages, Evans wrestles through the process of doubting, imagining, and debating Scripture’s mysteries. The Bible, she discovers, is not a static work but is a living, breathing, captivating, and confounding book that is able to equip us to join God’s loving and redemptive work in the world.
The Universal Christ by Fr. Richard Rohr
From one of the world’s most influential spiritual thinkers, a long-awaited book exploring what it means that Jesus was called “Christ,” and how this forgotten truth can restore hope and meaning to our lives. In his decades as a globally recognized teacher, Father Richard Rohr has helped millions realize what is at stake in matters of faith and spirituality. Yet Rohr has never written on the most perennially talked about topic in Christianity: Jesus. Most know who Jesus was, but who was Christ? Is the word simply Jesus’s last name? Too often, Rohr writes, our understandings have been limited by culture, religious debate, and the human tendency to put ourselves at the centre. Drawing on scripture, history, and spiritual practice, Rohr articulates a transformative view of Jesus Christ as a portrait of God’s constant, unfolding work in the world. “God loves things by becoming them,” he writes, and Jesus’s life was meant to declare that humanity has never been separate from God—except by its own negative choice. When we recover this fundamental truth, faith becomes less about proving Jesus was God, and more about learning to recognize the Creator’s presence all around us, and in everyone we meet. Thought-provoking, practical, and full of deep hope and vision, The Universal Christ is a landmark book from one of our most beloved spiritual writers, and an invitation to contemplate how God liberates and loves all that is.
What Happens When we Die?: A Little Book of Guidance by Thomas G. Long
A straightforward treatment of the only existential issue that matters from the Christian perspective. The author is a renowned preacher, esteemed homiletician, and well-published author. In What Happens When We Die? Tom Long provides information about the promises and convictions of the Christian gospel concerning death and life after death. He surveys in simple terms the major themes surrounding death, dying, and hope for an afterlife.
The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World by Howard Gardner and Katie Davis
No one has failed to notice that the current generation of youth is deeply – some would say totally – involved with digital media. Professors Howard Gardner and Katie Davis name today’s young people The App Generation, and in this fascinating and relevant book they explore what it means to be “app-dependent” versus “app-enabled” and how life for this generation differs from life before the digital era. Gardner and Davis are concerned with three vital areas of adolescent life: identity, intimacy, and imagination. Through innovative research, including interviews of young people, focus groups of those who work with them, and a unique comparison of youthful artistic productions before and after the digital revolution, the authors uncover the drawbacks of apps: they may foreclose a sense of identity, encourage superficial relations with others, and stunt creative imagination. On the other hand, the benefits of apps are equally striking: they can promote a strong sense of identity, allow deep relationships, and stimulate creativity. The challenge is to venture beyond the ways that apps are designed to be used, Gardner and Davis conclude, and they suggest how the power of apps can be a springboard to greater creativity and higher aspirations.
The Sin of Certainty: Why God Require Our Trust More Than Our “Correct” Beliefs by Peter Enns
Biblical scholar, Pete Enns, explains how Christians mistake “certainty” and “correct belief” for faith when what God really desires is trust and intimacy. With compelling and often humorous stories from his own life, Bible scholar Peter Enns offers a fresh look at how Christian life truly works, answering questions that cannot be addressed by the idealized traditional doctrine of “once for all delivered to the saints.” Enns offers a model of vibrant faith that views skepticism not as a loss of belief, but as an opportunity to deepen religious conviction with courage and confidence. This is not just an intellectual conviction, he contends, but a more profound kind of knowing that only true faith can provide. Combining Enns’ reflections of his own spiritual journey with an examination of Scripture, The Sin of Certainty models an acceptance of mystery and paradox that all believers can follow and why God prefers this path because it is only this way by which we can become mature disciples who truly trust God. It gives Christians who have known only the demand for certainty permission to view faith on their own flawed, uncertain, yet heartfelt, terms.
Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
Based on the same topic as his viral TEDTalk, the second most viewed of all time, Simon Sinek discusses the concept of ‘why’, and how holding ‘why’ at the centre of your vision and mission creates the space for great success. More than just looking at business practices, Sinek’s Start With Why gets to the heart of how humans interact in communal ways, and how we build authenticity and purpose into our lives.
Letters to the Church by Francis Chan
The early Christian Church started out as a radical, spiritually intimate gathering of believers that ultimately changed the face of history. And yet, today, millions of churchgoers are content with being mere observers. In Letters to the Church Francis Chan invites readers to wrestle with the idea that the church has drifted away from God’s vision and challenges us to ask: What does God want for his church?
Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the US by Lenny Duncan
– Shifting demographics and declining congregations are what we focus on, but Lenny Duncan sees something else at work: a direct correlation between the church’s lack of diversity and the church’s lack of vitality. Dear Church offers a bold vision for the future of the Evangelical Lutheran church and the broader mainline Christian community as it rejects the narrative of church decline and calls everyone, clergy and laity alike, to the front lines of the church’s renewal through racial equality and justice.
Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow by Carey Nieuwhof
There is no doubt that the church is in a time that few church leaders are prepared for. But there is no reason to think we are done, we just need to have the right conversation. Designed to facilitate the tough discussions needed to have an honest conversation around church growth Lasting Impact helps readers envision that the best days of the church could be ahead of them.
Mercy in the City: How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisioned, and Keep Your Day Job by Kerry Weber
When Jesus asked us to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, and visit the imprisioned, he couldn’t possibly have meant it literally! In her book, Mercy in the City, author Kerry Weber, a modern young single woman in New York City, attempts to do just that as she works to practice the Corporal Works of Mercy in an authentic, personal manner while maintaining a regular life. Speaking with honesty and transparency, Weber explores the Works of Mercy in the contemporary world and how we connect as people of faith.
God: A Human History by Reza Aslan
Reza Aslan, who ruffled a few feathers with his book Zealot, about Jesus, will fascinate you with this look into how humans have understood God, as long as there has been humans
Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others by Barbara Brown Taylor
Barbara Brown Taylor is an Episcopal priest and an accomplished author. She spent a good portion of her professional life teaching a course in World Religions at a small college near Atlanta. In this book, she shares how she has been impacted by the faith of others.
Shameless: A Sexual Reformation, by Nadia Bolz Weber
Nadia Bolz Weber, a Lutheran pastor, pulls no punches in her latest book (her other books are exactly the same.) This is a deep look into a Christian Theology around sexuality, and she advocates for a cutting edge rework. The book contains frank discussions about sex and some adult language, for which Nadia does not apologize
Jesus: A Pilgrimage by James Martin
This 500 plus page book moved me in ways I did not expect. James Martin is a Roman Catholic Priest and author. He recently made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and did his best to visit sites in the chronological order of the Jesus story in the Gospel of Luke. Vibrant discussions of the holiest of places, paired with a theological commentary around Luke’s version and some heart warming personal stories. This book was incredibly informative for me.
Faith: A Journey For All by Jimmy Carter
So, what if you are a humble farmer and Christian from Georgia and you suddenly find yourself in the most influential position in the world: President of the United States. In his usual humble style, Carter wends a tale of how his faith has guided him from simple beginnings to the spotlight of the world.