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Escape into a book (or more) this summer

Dear Middleway Urban Monastery friends,

Every summer, public libraries in the U.S. start a reading program as soon as school ends. According to the American Library Association, "Summer reading programs began in the 1890s as a way to encourage school children, particularly those in urban areas and not needed for farm work, to read during their summer vacation, use the library and develop the habit of reading." I'm sure farm kids also gravitated to read, though perhaps it was late at night when they sat their weary bones down by a lantern.

In my town, the library had a theme depicted on card-stock paper with a drawing. A sticker was given for each completed book when it was returned to the library. I still have all of mine for about six summers, and on the back I wrote every book I read. During many of those years I continued well beyond the 25 or so books required for "completion. Those books helped form me.

And thus for generations, a habit of reading was developed in our culture, and we don't limit it to June-August. Middleway Urban Monastery has just completed its first year of a book club on the topic of spirituality. We've read many books by well-known spiritual writers. All of the authors for the last six months were men. For the next six months, we will explore the writings of contemporary female authors on spirituality for all. We hope you'll join us for shared discussion around these books. The list is below.

Read about what's going on at Middleway below. Make a note to check out our Facebook group page or website.

Poetry as Prayer set for Saturday in person, continuing online through July

Notice: Due to an emergency, the in-person Poetry as Prayer event originally scheduled for July 26 at 1 a.m. has been cancelled. Please join us online for this week's segment.

Poetry as Prayer will continue virtually through the month of July. We will offer a poem at 10 a.m. Saturday mornings on our Facebook group. If you would like to share a poem, please contact Aneya Elbert at She will set up a time to speak with you either in person or over Zoom. You can watch all editions of Poetry as Prayer on our website or youtube channel.

The Way of the Heart topic of weekly book club

July marks a couple of changes for Middleway's book club. We'll begin a new book AND a new day. Our book club will move to Thursday's at 7 p.m. We hope this will enable some of you to join who could not come on Tuesdays.

Our new slate of books for the next six months includes various contemporary women authors. We meet weekly, but we finish one book per month. Here's the list, so you can order or download them and be ready.

  • July (beginning on the 8th) - " Searching for Sunday: Loving, leaving and finding the church" by Rachel Held Evans

  • August - "Halleluja Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy" by Anne Lamott

  • September - "An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith" by Barbara Brown Taylor

  • October - "Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus" by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg

  • November - "Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith" by Kathleen Norris

  • December - No meetings

  • January 2022 - "The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are" by Brene Brown

The group is open to all. Here's how to join:

Meeting ID: 862 8991 8385 Passcode: 164675

or call in 1 346 248 7799

Interested in spiritual direction or formation training?

If you've considered learning more about Christian spirituality and how the training might impact you and your ministry, check out FIND - School for Spiritual Direction and Formation. Applications are being accepted until June 30 for the ecumenical school which offers classes once a month on a Saturday so that busy lay and clergy people can attend more easily. NEW THIS YEAR: FIND is launching a second version of the school -- a parallel school which will be exclusively online to enable anyone to attend without regard to location. The traditional school, which was founded in 1997, will return to an in-person venue at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Bryan, Texas. A person may choose to enroll in either the online or in-person school. FIND hopes to move to Middleway Urban Monastery when a physical location is established. For more information, see

How to Visit Middleway Urban Monastery

Ready to dig a little deeper spiritually? We're here for you. Very soon, we hope to have our physical space in Bryan, Texas ready for in-person visits. In the meantime, come virtually.

You're a "member" if you are receiving this newsletter. Come and see what the monastery has for you online. When you enter our URL,, it is like opening the door of a physical building, and you will find all that is offered there.

Likewise, you can come to our website and explore the offerings, including links to our Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube accounts, if you like those formats and want to follow.

If you know others who would like to "join," ask them to subscribe to our weekly newsletter by going to and entering their email address at the Subscribe button on the lower right.

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