GSL Reading Together


Life at GSL: Winter-Spring Guide of Worship, Christian Formation, Connecting & More

GSL Reading Together is one of many ways to connect with others at GSL around a common subject. Order your book through a local book- seller or online, let the reading begin, and consider signing up for Zoom discussions according to the schedules associated with each book. 



The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace by Jack Kornfield

This four-week series began with a conversation about the common misunderstandings and difference between forgiveness and reconciliation and is followed by an exploration of each chapter: forgiveness, lovingkindness, peace. The book is described as an invitation both to remember the transforming power of forgiveness and lovingkindness and that no matter where you are and what you face, within your heart peace is possible.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Wonder is a heartwarming story of a boy born with a facial deformity which has prevented him from going to school up until now. The story begins as he starts fifth grade and is told from several different points of view. You may find yourself alternately laughing and crying, identifying with first one character and then another, but you will likely come away from this book with the conviction that showing even one simple act of kindness can make all the difference in the world. A great read for all ages, households with children and teens especially might enjoy reading this together!

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World bDalai Lama XIV and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Carlton Abrams 

Anglican Archbishop Tutu of South Africa visits the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, on the occasion of his 80th birthday for a week of conversation about living joyfully in the face of adversity. Both men stress the importance of sharing compassion and gratitude. Filled with wisdom buoyed by scientific research on happiness and with practices for cultivating your own sense of joy, this book might just be tailor-made for this moment in our lives. We could all use a little bit more joy.

Crazy Christians: A Call to Follow Jesus by The Most Reverend Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church

“We need some Christians who are as crazy as the Lord. Crazy enough to love like Jesus, to give like Jesus, to forgive like Jesus, to do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with God like Jesus. Crazy enough to dare to change the world from the nightmare it often is in to something close to the dream that God dreams for it.” Bishop Curry’s words are a clarion call to us to take the gospel seriously and let it transform the very fabric of our lives. To foster both community and build on discussions, class participants are encouraged to commit to all sessions if possible.



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“GSL Reading Together” Formation Offering
Reflections on Two Books for August: Wonder by R. J. Palacio and 
The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama XIV
and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Carlton Abrams  

The Book of Joy reflected on by Anne Ayres 

Do we have to wait till this is all over to feel joyful again?   Lord, I hope not!  That could be a while.  Meanwhile life is still happening.  So I picked up this book hoping that the Dalai Lama and the Archbishop would have some wisdom to share about how to spark some joy in my life.  And I’m grateful I did.  Because here’s what I got out of it:  Joy is an inside job. And it doesn’t come about when you go after it.  It happens on the side – as a byproduct.  You might ask, a byproduct of what?  Of some intentional practices.  Thankfully, they don’t involve meditating for three hours a day, but they do involve becoming conscious of what we are doing with our minds.  Here are their eight pillars of joy: Perspective – Being mindful that we make choices all the time about how we think about what’s going on. Humility – Reminding ourselves that our vulnerabilities are essential for us to connect with others. Humor – Allowing our wholehearted laughter to warm and soften our hearts. Acceptance – Continually reminding ourselves that “all manner of things shall be well.” Forgiveness – Freeing ourselves from the prison of the past. Gratitude – Not ignoring what is negative in life, but choosing to appreciate the positive as well. Compassion – “The bigger and warmer our heart, the stronger our sense of aliveness and resilience.” Generosity – Remembering that we are not alone.  We are all interconnected.  When you suffer, I suffer.  When you flourish, I flourish.  Jesus called it, loving your neighbor as you love yourself. 

Wonder reflected on by The Rev. Ollie V. Rencher 

I believe every human being is a wonder because each is created in the image of God (imago Dei). This brilliant, engaging and inspiring fiction is a perfect illustration of why I believe what I do about human beings. The school’s yearend assembly included the awarding of a medal to honor students who have been notable or exemplary in certain areas throughout the school year. Typically, it was for one’s volunteerism or service to the school. In that particular year, more emphasis was given to the nature of one’s kindness, power of one’s friendship, test of one’s character, and strength of one’s courage. Before announcing the recipient, the school principal said, “Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness. And this is what the Henry Ward Beecher medal is about: recognizing greatness. Greatness lies not in being strong, but in the right using of strength…He is the greatest whose strength carries the most hearts.” August “Auggie” Pullman got the award. Auggie was born with a significant facial distinction requiring multiple surgeries to improve his circumstance, so much that he unable to attend mainstream school until the fifth grade. Despite the terror he felt about going to school at the insistence of his parents, he did it courageously and received unimaginable reward. Later, he thanked his mother for making him go to school. She thanked him for being a gift to them (mother, father, sister, everyone), especially for being himself. Amazed and humbled by his sheer existence, she whispered in his ear, “You really are a wonder, Auggie. You are a wonder.” With God as our refuge and strength, may we always pray for courage and trust that Jesus is our companion. 



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Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy is a powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clear call to fix our broken system of justice. It is both an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice. This book is a must-read for anyone concerned about what is now coming to light about our justice system. To foster both community and build on discussions, class participants are encouraged to commit to all sessions if possible.

To sign up for the discussion:
Wednesdays, October 14, 21, 28; 6–6:45 p.m.
Facilitators: The Rev. Laura F. Gettys, The Rev. Ollie V. Rencher
To join the discussion: Zoom ID: 619 908 6694, Passcode: 1720



Learning To Walk

Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor

In Learning to Walk in the Dark, Barbara Brown Taylor asks us to put aside our fears and anxieties and to explore all that God has to teach us “in the dark.” With her characteristic charm and literary wisdom, she is our guide through a spirituality of the nighttime, teaching us how to find our footing in times of uncertainty and giving us strength and hope to face all of life’s challenging moments. To foster both community and build on discussions, class participants are encouraged to commit to all sessions if possible.

To sign up for the discussion:
Wednesdays, November 4, 11, 18; 6–6:45 p.m.
Facilitators: Anne Ayres, The Rev. Ollie V. Rencher
To join the discussion: Zoom ID: 619 908 6694, Passcode: 1720