Sunday, October 17, 2010

Richard Rohr at Drew

I’m thrilled that Richard is coming to campus this week to lecture on "Contemplative Mind as an Alternative Consciousness" for the annual Tipple-Vosburgh Lectures at Drew University.  If you are near Madison, NJ, be sure to join us on Tuesday , October 19, at 7:30pm at the Dorothy Young Center.

My good friend, Jeff Markay, introduced me to the works of Richard Rohr a few years ago, and I’ve found myself listening to his tapes over and over to gain new insights.  Known for his articulation of a “Spirituality of Imperfection” for the second  half of life, Rohr speaks deeply to my heart and to thousands of others, and I commend him to my audience.    In reading his book on the Enneagram, I learned that I am a Seven and how to get along with a Five.   In listening to his tapes on Saint Paul and  Franciscan Spirituality, I heard the Gospel of Jesus in a radical way that I had not heard it before.  And in listening several times to “A Spirituality of Imperfection” I gained a new appreciation for contemplative prayer and, a least for a moment, grasped his notion of “non-dualistic thinking”—the treasure of the mystics.  

Next to Henri Nouwen,  Richard Rohr has impacted my spiritual life more than any other spiritual writer, and I am absolutely thrilled that he’s coming to Drew.

Not  too late to register: .
More information:  Contact Nancy VanderVeen at  
No where near Drew this week?   Google him and get one of his tapes or books.  

Background on Rohr:  

Richard Rohr, O.F.M. is a Franciscan of the New Mexico Province. He was the founder of the New Jerusalem Community in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1971, and the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) in Albuquerque, NM in 1986, where he presently serves as Founding Director. He founded the Center to serve as a “school for prophetic thinking,” to encourage lay leadership, and what he calls “a new reformation from within.”  

Fr. Richard is probably best known for his writings and numerous audio and video recordings that are distributed by St. Anthony Messenger Press, Crossroad Publishers, and Orbis Press, as well as through The Mustard Seed, the CAC’s resource center. He is often introduced as “the most taped and recorded Catholic priest in America.” Some of his more well-known books include Everything Belongs, Simplicity, From Wild Man to Wise Man, Quest for the Grail, Adam’s Return, Things Hidden, and Job and the Mystery of Suffering. His  most widely distributed talks are his recorded conferences on “The Enneagram,” “Breathing Under Water,” and “The Great Themes of Paul.” His latest book, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See, was published by Crossroad Press in September, 2009. 

Fr. Richard entered the Franciscans in 1961 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1970. He received his Master’s Degree in Theology from Dayton that same year. He now lives in a hermitage behind his Franciscan community in Albuquerque, and divides his time between working at the CAC and preaching and teaching on all continents. He considers the proclamation of the Gospel to be his primary call and uses many different platforms to communicate his messages. Scripture as liberation, the integration of action and contemplation, community building, peace and justice issues, church reform, contemplative prayer and non-dualistic thinking, male spirituality, the Enneagram, and eco-spirituality are the principle themes of his teaching. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Malawi Summit in Nashville

I was blessed this week to participate in the first Malawi Summit sponsored by the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries to bring together church groups and organizations (like WorldHope Corps) involved in ministry in Malawi.
Eight mission groups were represented at the Summit in Nashville, including:, Belmont UMC, Church of the Resurrection in KC, First UMC in Ankany, Iowa, and other active clergy and laity). We compared notes, found out what each other were doing, and asked questions about how we might work together in a more coordinated and transparent way in Malawi.

Most gratifying for me was learning that the WorldHope Corps initiatives--HOPE HOMES, HOPE SCHOLARSHIPS AND HOPE TAILORING SCHOOL--have been enthusiastically embraced and supported by the other volunteer mission groups.  And that there are others who want to put in village wells and support the work in Malawi, each in their own way.

Rev. Herb Mather, a Drew Theological School graduate, and his wife, Sue, who have made many trips to Malawi and aised several thousand dollars for mission projects, organized and hosted the Summit, and made us all feel welcome.

Its a great benefit to be in ministry together, and I look forward to next year's Summit, and to returning to Malawi with another mission team in May, 2011.

I want to include in this mission update with a short note from Rev. Daniel Mhone, Conference Superintendent of the United Methodist Church in Malawi, whose heart was encouraged during the Summit:
I write just to appreciate your participation in the Malawi Summit we held in Nashville and God bless you.

To be very honest as Superintendent in the newly legislated Missionary Conference, there have been times when I have personally got frozen in my spirit and thought this is a non starter and we are heading nowhere. BUT after the summit I feel that our cry has been held and there is a future and way out and we corporately take the work of the Missionary and a Methodist family. God bless you and let us carry out ministry to the glory of God.

Stand with us and may God richly bless you.

Rev. Daniel Mhone


Background on United Methodist Church in Malawi:

The United Methodist Church in Malawi is fairly young. Started some 21 years ago by indigenous leaders, it was for 20 years a district of the episcopal area based in nearby Zimbabwe. In April 2008, the United Methodist General Conference, the denomination's legislature, recognized Malawi was a Missionary Conference, with special ties to the General Board of Global Ministries. Today, there are about 100 congregations organized into 22 circuits.

Malawi is a land-locked country of 10.5 million mostly rural people east of Zambia, west of Mozambique, and south of Tanzania. Like Zimbabwe, it was colonized by English-speaking Europeans in the 19th century. It gained its independence from Great Britain in 1964 and become a democratic republic in 1994. Lilongwe is the capital city. The annual per capital income is $800. Some 80 percent of the population is Christian, 55 percent of those Protestant.


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A Prayer for Healing and Support in the midst of senseless tragedy

I love this prayer offered today by a Drew seminarian for the family and friends of Tyler Clementi, and for many others who live in despair...  And I wanted to pass it on...

One of our national trainers and a member of the National Shalom Committee is a professor at Rutgers University where this latest youth suicide occurred.  She shared with us how emotionally overwhelmed the campus community is right now, and we want to lift up those in need of help and healing into the Light of Christ.
Shalom, Amen

Dear Lord:

We humbly bow our heads to thank you for your faithfulness when we come to you in prayer. We lift up your name in praise, Oh God because we know that we are weak and powerless without you. 

We know that you are the hearer of the prayers of every sinner, Lord, of every woman, every child, every man, every lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer/questioning and intersexed child. For we are all your children. The children of God who were created in your image.

We especially lift up, Lord, the family, friends, partners, classmates, neighbors and teachers who so positively touched the lives of all seven (7) of the gay teens who recently ended their own lives – simply because they couldn't take it anymore. They could not bear yet another day of not being loved, not being understood, not being heard when they cried out for peace instead of hate, acceptance instead of shame, love instead of fear and intolerance. 

Perhaps they didn't know that you would be there Lord, to hold their hands and walk with them through their trials, through the taunting, through the teasing, through the name-calling, through the guilt, the pain and the shame they must have felt. Let us pray for their loving spirits and remember them today: 

Tyler Clementi, 18, Ridgewood, NJ,

Asher Brown, 13, Cyprus, TX,

Seth Walsh, 13, Tehachapi, CA,

Justin Aaberg, 15, Anoka, MN,

Billy Lucas, 15, Greensburg, IN,

Cody Barker, 17, Shiocton, WI,

Raymond Chase, 19, Monticello, NY 

Lord receive them. They are not forgotten. You know their names.

Let us also intercede in prayer for the many similar LGBTQI adults and children who have been left behind to continue in their struggle for love and acceptance.  Guide them.  Strengthen them.  Let them know that the God that we serve loves, protects and provides for ALL of God's children. Let them be certain to hear and believe the message that God loves them just the way that they are!  Help them to learn to pray without ceasing Lord – to pray for change, to pray for lives transformed by a healing, trusting relationship with you, oh God, our loving Savior. 

We also pray for hope, health and healing of the young people who have been named as the possible impetus for the latest, senseless tragedy at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. If they are involved, bless them, Lord for they know not what they did. We ask that you would please take them into your loving arms. Teach them that love conquers hate, that peace and understanding transcends all fear. Transform their hearts so that they will know that there is a place at the table for them as well. It is painfully obvious that they are also lost. Lost in a cruel world that tells them that its ok to bully, bash and torment those people who may not look like them or dress like them or speak like them or love the way that they do. As a community of faith, in the aftermath of these tragedies, we call for calm, peaceful remembrance, meaningful dialogue and continued healing; not more divisiveness or retaliation.

In the name of Christ, the anointed one, we pray, AMEN.

Esquire Holland, United Church of Christ/Seminarian
Co-President of SPECTRUM (LGBTQI Student Group)
Drew University Theological School
Madison, NJ 07940
M.Div. Class of 2013