“We’ve been given eyes to see, but the question becomes, do we let our hearts be broken by that reality, and then, do we act?”
In Washington D.C. towards the end of the last century, there was a unique church called the Church of the Savior. Between the years 1950-2000, their congregation of ~200 people launched over 40 different non-profits.
How were they able to have such an impact?
Their community was centered around contemplative practice and high commitment small groups, where people formed deep relationships and encouraged each other to find ways to be of service to those in need.
Some of the groups’ commitments were:
- A commitment to spending a certain amount of time each day in contemplative silence (prayer, meditation, journaling, etc.).
- A commitment to allowing yourself to be deeply known by the group, sharing your joys and struggles.
- A commitment to the group itself -- committing to regular attendance for one year, followed by a period of discernment to determine whether you are still called to this manifestation of contemplative community.
- A commitment to spend time with people across lines of difference, and to use that time to nurture authentic relationships.
- A commitment to using the inward journey to go outward, having contemplative practice be not just be about self-actualization, but about finding the place where your gifts and brokenness can meet the world’s deep needs.
Towards the end of 2019, a group of us decided to create a secular / interfaith contemplative community based on the above.
10 of us have been meeting weekly since February, and we are now holding our first open gatherings for others who might be interested in joining a year-long "formation group."
“The one journey that ultimately matters is the journey into the place of stillness deep within one’s self. To reach that place is to be at home; to fail to reach it is to be forever restless.”
~N. Gordon Cosby
Living in the modern world, it’s easy to be influenced by social cues around money, status, and power, while losing track of that still, small voice inside that calls us towards the full expression of who we are.
Moreover, with the pandemic, many of us are re-examining what it means to live a meaningful life. At the same time, with social distancing around the world, we've had our social circles drastically shrink.
As a result, many of us are hungering for something more -- hunger for deeper, more regular human connection and for a larger purpose to fill our days and our lives.
Over the coming months, we’ll be hosting “explorers groups,” where we’ll gather together with people who are interested in opening a conversation around whether a community built around the above commitments might be a fit for their current juncture in life.
We’ll come together virtually to share some time in silence, talk more about the community and commitments, and then get a chance to know each other more deeply as we consider embarking on this journey together.
After a period of mutual discernment, we will break those interested into groups that will meet weekly for an 8-week discernment period. After this period, members will decide whether they are called to continue and commit for the duration of the year, or whether their lives are calling them elsewhere at this point in time.
Interested in testing the waters?
Our next Explorers Group will be held on:
- October 25, 2020 @ 5:15pm EST on Zoom
- November 29, 2020 @ 5:15pm EST on Zoom
- December 20, 2020 @ 5:15pm EST on Zoom
RSVP at the links above, or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any additional questions.
What do you mean by “secular / interfaith contemplative community”?
We mean a community that places an importance on silence and stillness in our daily lives, and one that is accessible to those with of any religious background or no religious background.
I’m a Christian / Muslim / Jew / Atheist / Agnostic / etc... can I participate?
Yes! We find that an added benefit of not being rooted in any one tradition is that our language & practice should be accessible to those of any (non-fundamentalist) faith tradition.
A one-year commitment… do I have to commit from day 1?
No! The exploration groups are meant to give people a way to put their toe in the water while sorting out whether the commitment is right for them.
Additionally, the first 8 weeks of the year-long program will be a “discernment period.” At the 8-week mark, anyone who has decided the community is not for them is free to opt out.
Depending on covid restrictions, those who decide at that point to commit to the full year may spend a weekend together on retreat to kick off the rest of the program.
What about when I’m traveling / offline / etc.?
We realize family and work trips come up -- we simply ask that you make a best effort to make the group a priority in your life.
Where will we meet?
We’ll meet virtually until the end of the pandemic. Groups that start virtually will likely continue virtually through the end of the year.
Is there a fee to participate?
There is no fee to participate, although we may ask for some contribution each month to cover the cost of space (at-cost) if we cannot find a free place to hold our gatherings.
I have another question -- who can I contact?
Reach out to email@example.com and he’ll see what he can do.
*Commitments inspired by Killian Noe’s writings in Descent Into Love.