Cover Story

Contemplative congregation: An invitation to silence

I serve as pastor for a medium-sized congregation that worships in a gorgeous, soaring mid-century sanctuary with a cream brick interior and tall, fluted windows. I call it a neighborhood cathedral. But what I love most about Westminster is not its building but the people’s desire to grow spiritually. It’s a congregation of openhearted friendliness.

We have lovely choirs, mission outreach ministries, and a terrific staff. We have no debt. Yet while I’m deeply grateful for our blessings, I came to Westminster looking for something more. Now the congregation has joined me in my search: we are hungry to grow deeper together in Christ and are feeding that hunger with contemplative practices.

When I came to Westminster I had already started a blog and written a book about contemplation, and I shared my interest with the pastoral search committee. For me, I said, the rediscovery and application of the wisdom of the contemplative dimension of Christianity has been a way to grow spiritually. Then I suggested that, after decades of pursuing many other goals, Westminster might be a good candidate for a congregational emphasis on contemplation.