At the conclusion of the first month of this New Year, we look ahead: to making new and more diverse friends; Black History Month; Lent & Easter; renewed spiritual life; stress reduction; and transformative worship.

ONE

Spark great conversations about what it means to be a friend – and get inspired to develop more diverse friendships – with the humorous Seeking Best Friend (Beaming).

Expand these conversations with all ages utilizing Rev. Dana Neuhauser’s list of Books That Can Build Empathy for BIPOC Communities.

TWO

For two distinctly different perspectives on Black History in America, see Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s commendation of the historical refuge and sustenance provided by The Black Church: This Is Our Story. This Is Our Song (Penguin) and its rising generation’s demand of “freedom and dignity” for all and Maha Hilal‘s Innocent Until Proven Muslim: Islamophobia, the War on Terror, and the Muslim Experience Since 9/11 (Broadleaf).

Find additional religion-related resources for Black History Month in our lib guides for all ages, especially Racism: Adults: …and the ChurchChildren & Families: History of Race in America; and Tweens & TeensPerspectives & Stories.

THREE

If it’s leadership team relationships that are strained, develop new modes of decision-making with Sacred Decisions: Consensus in Faith Communities (Judson); it might lead to The End of Burnout:Why Work Drains Us and How to Build Better Lives (UC Press).

You might also get re-energized with ideas from Lifelong Faith: Formation for All Ages and Generations (Church).

FOUR

While you’re at it, decrease stress-levels as you expand your spiritual practice repertoire and offerings. Invite the whole congregation along with Living Lutheran’s, Contemplating the New Year: Lutherans Explore Meditation, Mindfulness, and Contemplative Practices (you do NOT have to be Lutheran to engage with this article – or it’s accompanying study guide!) or PC(USA) Store’s latest Follow Me release, Practice Spiritual Disciplines.

FIVE

Lent is the perfect season for starting new practices! You might invite adults to sink their teeth into A Time to Grow: Lenten Lessons from the Garden to the Table (WJK); engage your Littles and parents with Illustrated Ministry’s Lenten and Easter resources – especially good for at-home kits.

Find our curated lists for Lent & Easter in our designated Faith Formation and Worship lib guides.

SIX

If you need worship inspiration before Lent – or if you’re looking for a great way to move online for just a Sunday or two – members can request our recorded Season after the Epiphany/Ordinary Time full worship service featuring movement liturgy with Michel Gribble and music from Billy McLaughlin; or see This Is the Day’s two services: God on the Move: A Worship Series on Technology and Innovation and God on the Move: Faith and Democracy. The former could be great for moving into some of those challenging decision-making conversations!!