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
Churches are very good at reminding people to count their blessings, to focus on God’s goodness when things go wrong, to remember that God owes us nothing. This is not wrong advice: they are correct to think that gratitude can be a motivator, they are correct to say that God’s goodness does not depend on whether our lives are going well or poorly, and they are correct to teach us not to have exaggerated expectations. But whether something is correct does not always correlate with whether it is compassionate, and some churches can be so focused on the former that they forget about the latter.
Eugene Peterson, the best-selling author and longtime pastor praised as a “shepherd’s shepherd,” passed away on Oct. 22 at age 85. Although best known for “The Message,” his popular paraphrase of the Bible in contemporary language that made the Bible accessible to many Christians, altogether he wrote more than 30 books, including the Christian classic, “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. His life’s goal was to change the pastoral imagination of pastors today, to urge them to slow down and to be present to their lives so that they could help their congregations do the same.
Trappist Fr. Thomas Keating, a global figure in both interreligious dialogue and Christian contemplative prayer, has died at the age of 95. Keating died Oct. 25 at St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, where he had been abbot from 1961 to 1981, and where he began his role as one of the chief architects of what is now known as centering prayer. This article from the National Catholic Reporter provides details of Keating’s life and areas of influence.
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.
Publishers rejected her, Christians attacked her: The deep faith of ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ author Madeleine L’Engle
It took 26 publisher rejections before Madeleine L’Engle could get “A Wrinkle in Time” into print in 1962. The book was an instant hit, winning the Newbery Medal the following year, but despite its wild success, L’Engle still had fierce critics. Perhaps most critical were some conservative Christians who believed that the book promoted the occult or mystical elements. A new Disney film adaptation of the book opens this month, sparking renewed interest in this classic tale.
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.