ECF Book Club: Reading and Learning Together

February 15, 2017

The Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF) is trying a new thing this year – a book club! Over the course of 2017, ECF will be encouraging our friends, colleagues, and church leaders to engage with a classic text that merits reading and discussion. Join us as we read, chat and learn together!

The first book ECF has selected is Living on the Border of the Holy: Renewing the Priesthood of All by ECF Fellow William L. Countryman (available in print and e-book format). This book addresses the underpinnings of the priesthood of all believers, and explores how the priesthood of the laity and the priesthood of the ordained are rooted in the deeper, more fundamental priestly nature of human life. If you’d like to join us, please read the book and be sure to tweet your questions, comments, and critiques to @EpisChFdtn with the hashtag #ECFBookClub. Also, register here for May 18 at 7 PM ET for an online discussion of the book with ECF President Donald V. Romanik.

Why a Book Club? And Why This Book?

At ECF we work with church leaders to bring about transformation and positive change in our communities, while living out Christian stewardship and developing new and exciting approaches to mission and ministry. This book club is an opportunity to engage in critical discussions about our life and work as Christians, using the wisdom of experienced authors as a starting point, while also fostering a culture of continuing education and learning from each other.

Over the course of 2017, ECF will encourage the reading of two books – one in the Spring and one in the Fall – which will culminate in online discussions led by ECF President Donald Romanik in May and early December. These discussions will include a short presentation on key ideas in the book and then a discussion based on questions and comments from the wider audience. Since ECF will be selecting only two books this year, we first established a framework for how we would go about selecting each. These were the factors that were considered:

  • First, each selection must clearly relate to ECF’s mission and to at least one of the four impacts that ECF is seeking to make in the Episcopal Church. ECF is striving to build a church where lay and clergy leaders are working together effectively; where there are healthy, vital, vibrant Episcopal communities of faith; where there are meaningful opportunities for Christian stewardship and effective fundraising; and we wish to support innovative, mission-based ways to be the Church of the future. L. William Countryman’s Living on the Border of the Holy is directly related to the first of these impacts in that it encourages a church where lay and clergy leaders are working together in new ways.
  • Second, ECF’s preference is to support Episcopal authors and Episcopal publishing houses. Thought leadership is a critical part of what it means to be a vibrant denomination, and we wish to help foster a strong ecosystem of Episcopal authorship and publishing by encouraging lay and clergy leaders to discover the thought leaders in our denomination.
  • Third, ECF wishes to select books that are widely recognized as excellent versus trendy, evergreen versus “of the moment”. Published in 1999, L. William Countryman’s book is a book that merits taking off the bookshelf to be read for the first time or read again more deeply.

We hope that you will join us in reading Living on the Border of the Holy and participate in the discussion on May 18 at 7 PM ET. You can register for this online event here.

Have a suggestion for the next book? Send a tweet to @EpisChFdtn and be sure to use the hashtag #ECFBookClub