This Summer, we will begin a more focused study of our key theme: elements of a contemplative reformation. We will reflect on this within the context of Grace Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta–and the broader community of which we are a part. There are elements of theological reflection as well as practice that are essential as we lean more into this deeper, contemplative tradition within our parishes and communities. To that end, we are offering these spaces for conversation, study, and practice. Keep reading to learn more about Summer School and the three Fall workshops.
Contemplative Summer School
On three Sunday evenings this Summer, we will share in conversations and reflections on key components of contemplative practice and practical ways to embody a posture of silence, listening, and discernment within communities.
- June 24, 6:00 pm to 7:30
- July 22, 6:00 pm to 7:30
- August 19, 6:00 pm to 7:30
We will use a few key texts to help frame our conversations. Participants are invited to purchase all four, which we will read over the three months. You are still welcome to share in the conversations even if you don’t read any, but having the language and images will help. These texts and our reflections on them will also help us prepare for the conversations during the Contemplative Reformation Workshops in September and October.
Here are the texts we will explore. The books are on the shorter side, and a brief description is listed:
Word into Silence, by John Main–a core resource on the practice of Christian meditation, a foundational text for the World Community for Christian Meditation.
Everything Belongs, by Richard Rohr–an essential resource for deeper engagement with contemplative prayer, offers very helpful language and theological reflection.
Pilgrimage of a Soul, by Phileena Heuertz–a deep reflection and memoir on how a contemplative practice nurtures compassionate action and justice.
The Soul of a Leader, by Margaret Benefiel–a phenomenal reflection on the dynamics of spiritual leadership, aware of the pressures and anxieties faced by all in communities and organizations.
Embracing the Call to Spiritual Depth, by Tilden Edwards–a beautiful reflection on the potential for reorienting our ministries and daily lives along the lines of contemplative engagement, also includes key examples for practices.
Contemplative Reformation Fall Workshops
On three Saturdays this Fall, we will share in focused conversation around the key theme of “Elements of a Contemplative Reformation.” The first Saturday will focus on the vital grounding of contemplative practice. The second Saturday will focus on how a practice of contemplative prayer nurtures a posture within us that shapes the way we live and lead in our lives and vocations. The third Saturday will focus on the promise of a contemplative life and the ways we can experience transformation, being attuned to the Spirit’s constant presence. They are arranged in a progression, so try to attend all three if you can.
To cover costs of meals and honoraria, registration is $40 per event, $100 if you register for all three. REGISTRATION OPENS JUNE 1, BUT SAVE THE DATE NOW!
- Contemplative Reformation Workshop, Part One– PRACTICE: The Grounding of Contemplative Practice: Saturday, September 15: 9 am to 2 pm. To begin, we will focus on the importance of contemplative practices, grounding ourselves in silence and an openness to the Spirit’s presence within our spiritual hearts. It is essential that we delve more deeply into the contemplative tradition within Christianity as we recognize the pressures we face in the world today. By anchoring ourselves in dedicated times of silence, resting in God’s presence, we encounter what Tilden Edwards and others describe as a “spaciousness” in which we encounter our true selves, beyond our ego-grasping mind. Tilden himself will join us via video conference to share conversations and reflections on the importance of silence and contemplative practice.
Tilden, Founder and Senior Fellow at Shalem, was the executive director of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation for over 27 years. An Episcopal priest with parish experience, he is a nationally respected speaker, retreat leader and author, most recently of Embracing the Call to Spiritual Depth. He has designed and led contemplative programs since 1979, continues to write and teach about the spiritual life, and serves on the staff of all of our long-term programs.
We are also thrilled that the Rev. Dr. Sharon Hiers will be with us to share her experience with contemplative prayer!
Sharon is the Senior Associate Rector at the Church of the Epiphany in Atlanta, Georgia. Along with her deep appreciation for meditation, Sharon has a wealth of experience in preaching as well as with the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta.
- Contemplative Reformation Workshop, Part Two–POSTURE: Dynamics of a Contemplative Posture: Saturday, October 13: 9 am to 2 pm. We will share in conversations with parishioners from Grace Church and other colleagues who are experimenting with a contemplative posture in their parishes and ministries. A guiding question for us to explore is this: how can a contemplative posture nurture a prayerful response to the challenges we face–rather than reacting out of anger and an ego-grasping mind? How can a contemplative posture provide the nourishing taproot for our leadership–in whatever ministry God invites us to share in? Participants may find Fr. Stuart’s doctoral thesis helpful, as it explores ways in which a contemplative grounding helps reorient and nurture the development of a congregation away from a “program-maintenance model” toward a community grounded in an awareness takes root in the spiritual heart. You can explore the pdf file of the thesis by clicking HERE.
We are very grateful that the Rev. Dr. Margaret Benefiel, will be joining us via video conference from Washington, DC!
Margaret became the executive director of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation in July 2015. Prior to coming to Shalem, she ran her own consulting, speaking, training, and coaching business, Executive Soul, helping leaders and organizations nurture their souls and express their deepest values institutionally. At the same time, she taught as adjunct faculty at Andover Newton Theological School in the area of contemplative leadership. Margaret is a Quaker and holds a B.A. in History from Princeton University, an M.A. in Mathematics from Portland State University, an M.A. in Theology from Earlham School of Religion, and a PhD in Spirituality from Catholic University of America. She has written extensively on various aspects of contemplative leadership and spirituality at work, including The Soul of Supervision; The Soul of a Leader: Finding Your Path to Fulfillment and Success; and Soul at Work: Spiritual Leadership in Organizations
We are also thrilled that the Rev. Sarah Fisher will be with us on October 13 to share her thoughts on how a contemplative posture nurtures a healthy and sustainable practice of stewardship. Sarah serves as the rector of St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church in Marietta, Georgia, and is also the Vice-President for The Episcopal Network for Stewardship. She has extensive experience in parish ministry both in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta as well as Chicago. Sarah’s particular focus is grounded how gratitude shapes our entire approach to stewardship–a vital piece for us to remember when we approach budgets.
Since the workshop falls on October 13, we hope that healthy and deep conversations can arise out of our shared reflection–in ample time for stewardship season!
- Contemplative Reformation Workshop, Part 3–PROMISE: The Promise of a Contemplative Life. Saturday, November 3: 9 am to 2 pm. We will have explored the grounding of contemplative practices which anchors us in a spirit of discipline and willingness to the Spirit’s movement; and will have explored the dynamics of a contemplative posture out of which we embody compassion and leadership in our vocations and ministry. At this point, we look toward the promise of a contemplative life. What does it mean to be open to the constant, guiding presence of the Spirit of Christ that invites us toward greater and greater transformation? What risks do we encounter? What resistances do we experience within ourselves? What possibilities for grace do we yearn for?
We are thrilled to welcome Fr. Richard Rohr, who will join us via video conference from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to share a time of reflection with us!
Fr. Richard Rohr is a globally recognized ecumenical teacher bearing witness to the universal awakening within Christian mysticism and the Perennial Tradition. He is a Franciscan priest of the New Mexico Province and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Fr. Richard’s teaching is grounded in the Franciscan alternative orthodoxy—practices of contemplation and self-emptying, expressing itself in radical compassion, particularly for the socially marginalized.
Fr. Richard is the author of numerous books, including Everything Belongs, Adam’s Return, The Naked Now, Breathing Under Water, Falling Upward, Immortal Diamond, and Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi. His newest book is The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (with Mike Morrell).
We are also thrilled that the Rev. Brian Sullivan will be with us on November 3.
Brian currently serves as the Rector of St. Benedict’s Episcopal Church and Head of School at St. Benedict’s Episcopal School, in Smyrna, Georgia. Brian will share a deep reflection on his own vocational discernment pertaining to a transition from being primarily a rector of a program-sized parish to primarily focusing on education. In particular, he counts his own contemplative practice as vital in grounding him during this period of discernment.