Robin Jones explains the aims of the Forward! pew-sheet and why it is an invaluable educational resource for parishes
Dom Anselm Hughes’ book The Rivers of the Flood recalls a glorious incident, during one
of the periods of persecution against ritualism, of Fr Montague Noel at St Barnabas Jericho. Fr Noel teaches a group of children before him that it is wrong to look round in Church, and they all eagerly agree. However, as it is a special feast, Fr Noel informs them that they may look round; there they see three men writing in their notebooks (doubtless from the Church Association).
Fr Noel tells the children that these men are collecting evidence to try and send him to prison (shock amongst the children). He asks the children what shall they do, none of them dare to say anything coming into their heads, and then Fr Noel says, ‘Shall I tell you what we will do…we will kneel down, and we will all say a Hail Mary for those three very wicked men!’
Emphasis on teaching
Teaching has been at the centre of the Anglo-Catholic vision from the very beginning. One only need look at the foundation of parish schools in places such as London Docks and Somers Town, at the copies of the Haggerston Catechism with broken spines and biro scrawls that still sell on the second-hand market to know this. One of the hallmarks of AngloCatholicism is that it has never been ashamed of or shied away from teaching what it believes. Of course the difficulty has, on occasions, been not doing this, but finding the resources by which we might do it.
Types of article
The Forward pew-sheet was introduced in the mid-Nineties to offer to parishes and people orthodox catholic teaching in an accessible way. It has never aimed at being a ‘political’ publication in the way that New DiRections is. Its focus is solely on teaching, and doing that well.
Each sheet normally contains four
A ‘leader’ which tends to deal with the theme or topic of that week. In ordinary times it tries to cast the net wider, examining things such as theological virtues and the Te Deum.
A commentary on one of the readings trying to relate the scripture passage to the everyday reader; we are fortunate in having some very high quality authors for these pieces.
A third section endeavouring to examine the life and work of a weekly saint, offer spiritual advice and
guidance, or explain literally, the ritual reason why.
A fourth column offering a brief passage from the Fathers, or a prayer, or indeed an appropriate poem.
The guiding principle throughout the material is that it should be relevant to the everyday life of the person in the pew and short enough to be digestible in a few minutes; there is nothing worse than articles so long that they put people off.
Range of authors
Forward has a whole series of people who write for it, from bishops to the lowliest deacon, and from young laywomen to university professors. This collection of voices allows it to feel fresh and not too repetitive. We seek material that will speak to people whoever they are.
For the last fifteen years Forward has been offered in batches of fifty on A4 coloured paper. Whilst this is popular in many places, we realize that this is not a suitable format for all. Later this year we are hoping to be able to
offer it in a digital format.
This will allow parishes who need either fewer than the minimum fifty copies, or those who need many more than this, to print their own, either in colour or black and white. We also hope to create a digital format than can be folded in a landscape format. There may even be the possibility of releasing the material in a text format for parishes who print their own material!
Whilst format may be important, content is critical. With Forward you know and can guarantee that the material has been written by those who are orthodox for those who are orthodox. It aims to have no particular agenda other than being orthodox and its material is aimed to fit in with parishes which are both modern and traditional in their worship and those which are more Anglican in ethos.
Teaching the faith is as central to our mission as it was to Fr Noel in Jericho at the beginning of the last century. One of the glories of Anglo-Catholicism, at its best, is that there has been no presumption of knowledge; just a desire to teach the faith. Forward is an invaluable resource for your parish that can aid in this process – why not sign up today?
Contact the Forward in Faith office for more detail and exact costs or visit www.forwardinfaith.com/resources/forward.html ND