Forward Movement Legacies

Gilbert Symons was more than a writer and editor. He had a gift for friendship and a love for people in trouble which led him to carry on a voluminous correspondence. In one of his reports, Symons wrote: “What we looked for in our mail was orders for literature. What we could not expect was the growing number of letters—many thousands over the years: letters asking advice, guidance, questions about religion and conduct; letters asking for prayers; letters revealing pitiful plight, and even confession. We try to answer them all, for it is a form of ministry. Some letters take hours and much research, some so sacredly intimate that they must be answered by hand. The war period sent us letters from every part of the globe from the humblest G.I. to men in high command. These above all we tried to answer and with dispatch.” Symons called this “a sort of pastorate by post.” It developed into a program which matched U.S. servicemen and others in need with people who wanted to send gifts. Thousands of packages were mailed to such persons by donors who had never met them.

When advancing age led Symons to retire, Francis J. Moore—one of the scholars who had written the first draft of “Disciple’s Way” in 1934—succeeded him as editor. Moore had been active in Forward Movement all along, writing more Forward Movement tracts than any other author. A native of England who had also served in Canada, Moore used his contacts to expand Forward Movement’s ministry internationally.

He visited Canadian theological schools and dioceses and established a strong base of Canadian readers of Forward Day by Day and other Forward Movement publications. Today, roughly ten percent of Forward Movement’s sales are to Canadian parishes and subscribers.

Moore also arranged with the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge for dissemination of Forward Movement materials in England. In his seven years as editor, Moore nearly quadrupled the number of tracts and pamphlets available from Forward Movement.

Clement W. Welsh succeeded Moore as editor in 1957. Welsh was a faculty member at Bexley Hall who could write winsome, appealing prose. His Forward Movement Notes, brisk observations and quotations intended mainly for the clergy, were very popular. The Diocese of Massachusetts asked Forward Movement to assume the task of printing and distributing two dozen tracts it had previously published, and Welsh steered Forward Movement through this expansion. He also published Spanish and Portuguese translations of several Forward Movement pieces, a ministry that continues to this day.

Welsh resigned in 1963 to become Director of Studies at the College of Preachers. He was succeeded by James W. Kennedy, a prominent parish priest, author, and pioneer in religious broadcasting. Kennedy launched Forward Movement Miniature Books, making devotional and other works of substantial length available at low cost.

Kennedy was keenly interested in ecumenism and Anglican relations. Under his leadership, Forward Movement published ecumenical studies for parish use and a devotional guide centered on Anglican missions which eventually evolved into the Anglican Cycle of Prayer, a publication linking worldwide Anglicans in prayer. Forward Movement continued to publish it until 2004, when it was taken over by the Anglican Communion office in London.

Charles H. Long became Forward Movement’s fifth editor in 1978. The son of Anglican missionaries in China, Long continued and expanded Forward Movement’s ecumenical and Anglican Communion publications. Following the General Convention of 1979 which adopted a new Prayer Book, virtually every tract and pamphlet needed revision. Long did many of the rewrites himself and oversaw the others. He also introduced new business management methods and more efficient accounting procedures, and expanded the Forward Movement executive committee, whose membership had remained largely unchanged for thirty years.

When Charles Long retired in 1994, he was succeeded by Edward S. Gleason, then development officer at Virginia Theological Seminary. Gleason inherited a thriving ministry with a devoted staff. He brought new authors to Forward Movement, hired additional staff, and launched the Forward Fund, a capital funds drive which doubled the Forward Movement endowment, making possible an expanded Spanish-language program and new young adult initiative.

Richard H. Schmidt was the seventh editor at Forward Movement, assuming the post in 2005. A former parish priest, author, and editor of several Episcopal publications, Schmidt updated classic Forward Movement titles and recruited new authors from overseas and other Christian communions. He also launched Odyssey, a newsletter with devotional features and book reviews. The executive committee was expanded and reorganized as a Board of Directors. The Board and staff developed new ministries, some of them in cooperation with other Episcopal communications organizations, to “reinvigorate the life of the church” using digital communications and social networking. Schmidt retired in 2011.

In July 2011, Scott Gunn became the Executive Director of Forward Movement. He is widely known in the church as a voice for proclaiming our ancient faith in fresh, new ways. Before serving at Forward Movement, he was a parish priest in Rhode Island. Prior to ordination, he worked in a number of media, non-profit, and technology organizations, including the MIT Media Lab, the Atlantic Monthly, Education Development Center, and Fast Company. You can read his blog at www.sevenwholedays.org.

With Gunn's appointment as executive director, the organization added a new position, that of managing editor. Nicole Seiferth began in November 2011, coming to Forward Movement from the communications staff of Trinity, Wall Street. She has worked in a number of church ministries, including the Presiding Bishop's office and the Diocese of New York.

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