Spirituality & Personal Growth
The College for Bishops Leadership Institute was established to provide educational resources for new bishops as well as trending informational resources for all bishops. Spirituality & Personal Growth focuses on specific resources such as:
New items are added monthly. To comment on current items or suggest additional topics and/or resources, please use the feedback form at the bottom of this page.
Devotions & Personal Study
Rachel Held Evans, a well-known Christian blogger, author, and joyful troublemaker online, died recently from massive brain swelling after being hospitalized for an infection. She was 37. Evans leaves behind two little kids, a husband, and four books to her name. Her death has been met with an up-swelling of grief and appreciation from loyal readers, famous pastors who sparred with her, and, especially, young people who saw her as a mentor.
Jean Vanier, the founder of the L’Arche and Faith and Light communities, which support people with disabilities and their families, has died at age 90. Mr. Vanier inspired countless people with his simple message that people with disabilities are teachers. A former naval officer and professor, Mr. Vanier resigned from his teaching position to form the first L’Arche community, in which people with and without disabilities live and work side by side. He embodied an idea he often preached: that people best learn to love by climbing down, rather than up, the ladder of wealth and social success.
Americans these days seem to be losing their appetite for empathy, especially the walk-a-mile-in-someone's-shoes Easter Sunday morning kind. The new rule for empathy seems to be: reserve it, not for your "enemies," but for the people you believe are hurt, or you have decided need it the most. Empathy, but just for your own team. And empathizing with the other team? That's practically a taboo. And it turns out that this brand of selective empathy is a powerful force.
Hidden away in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer may be found a small masterpiece of pastoral theology called "A Prayer for Persons Troubled in Mind or in Conscience." The prayer is a kind of exploded collect—longer and more complex than is typical. This prayer has not achieved a prominent place in the Anglican tradition, but it contains great wisdom and comfort for our present day.
The church of our future may not be as life-giving as those of our past. More likely than not, it will be in decline. It may be experimenting—badly—with ways to attract millennials. It may not have hit its budget target in years. It may struggle with mission beyond its doors. It may be somewhat uncomfortable, even painful, to visit and to join. The church, through its many forms and ministries, has shaped us to become what we preach. The church has pushed us to long for more from itself. So even when it’s hard, the sermon must go on.
Greco-Roman gods had no interest in the poor nor was organized charity considered a religious duty. How was caring for the poor treated differently in the Torah? What accounts for the difference between Greco-Roman and Jewish/Christian approaches to the care of the poor? Was Christianity different and what led to this distinction?
Second-mountain people lead us toward a culture that puts relationships at the center. They ask us to measure our lives by the quality of our attachments, to see that life is a qualitative endeavor, not a quantitative one. They ask us to see others at their full depths, and not just as a stereotype, and to have the courage to lead with vulnerability. In this article from The New York Times, David Brooks tells how second-mountain people are leading us into a new culture.
Found among her papers, Flannery O’Connor’s A Prayer Journal was published to great acclaim in 2013 as it gave readers a glimpse into the baptism by ﬁre she endured before emerging as America’s ﬁnest Catholic writer of the 20th century. Five years later, this work continues to appeal to readers who value her work as it teaches us not only about the author, but also about ourselves as people in pursuit of twin vocations, the professional and the spiritual, and the challenges of reconciling the two.
At a time when church attendance is declining in many parts of the world, there are indeed many depressing real reasons why some choose to avoid church. However, as Marilyn McEntyre outlines in this article from Comment Magazine, the list of reasons to choose church is longer, more interesting, and ultimately more compelling.
Good Book Club
Join the Journey: At the invitation of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Episcopalians across the church are embarking on a journey through the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts during the seasons of Lent and Easter. The initiative is led by Forward Movement and supported by more than two dozen partner organizations, including Episcopal Church Foundation, ChurchNext, Episcopal Migration Ministries and The Living Church. During this webinar, Episcopal priest Jay Sidebotham and Forward Movement deputy director Richelle Thompson will help you prepare for the journey, providing context and background for Luke and Acts and sharing information about how to access and use dozens of resources (mostly free!) created to encourage deep and joy-filled engagement with God’s Word.
What can churches and Christian communities offer to today’s society that is so defined by isolation and alienation? What they can offer is a form of community that isn’t available anywhere else and that doesn’t necessarily take the same forms that community took in eras when more people got married, more people had families, and you could rely on those kinship networks as the basis of community. In a world where you have lots of divorced sixty-seven-year-olds who have one kid who lives halfway across the country, you need communities that are ready to welcome people and take them in and build communities around something other than the nuclear family.
Popular author and pastor Eugene H Peterson recently announced that he is retiring from public life and that his latest book As Kingfishers Catch Fire: A Conversation On The Ways of God Formed by the Words of God is his last. The book is a collection of his sermons and this excerpt is from a section entitled: “Yes and Amen and Jesus: Preaching in the Company of Peter.” This excerpt was featured on Bearings Online, a web publication of Collegeville Institute.
The tasks of today’s ministers are manifold and often study is lost in the minutia of ministry. Still, a commitment to study deepens our preaching, gives us a wider perspective on God’s presence in the world, and enables us to more creatively respond to the questions of seekers as well as congregants.