Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
David Robinson, DMin
Mary Pandiani, DMin
The Episcopal Church today experiences continuing decline in membership and new challenges to making Christ Jesus fully known. Research1 reveals a significant number of members desire to understand scripture better, experience the mystery of the Eucharist, learn how to deepen their spiritual journey, and encourage clergy to deepen their journey as well. With the departure of many Evangelicals, the Church has lost its comprehensiveness.2 This affects how leadership sees spiritual formation. At the same time, laity have expressed a desire for how to engage in a deeper prayer life.
Two solutions address these issues. Centering prayer explores silent, imageless contemplation to engender an ever-deepening self-awareness and transformation. The Presiding Bishop’s vision for “joining the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement” is spelled out in a new rule of life called The Way of Love. Its goal is to prepare Episcopalians to share the ministry of Jesus today. A critique of these alternatives both affirms and challenges their possible ongoing contributions to spiritual formation in the Episcopal Church.
Episcopalians can renew a vision for authentic and contemplative discipleship as they are led to deepen their journeys into Christ. The promise of lifelong transformation into Christlikeness may be enhanced by considering the Evangelical Option3 : embracing the lordship of Jesus the Christ.
Historical ways to encourage Christian formation can be adapted to life today. These pathways include perspectives and select practices from Benedictine tradition and spirituality found in The Cloud of Unknowing and The Practice of the Presence of God, as well as Orthodox and Celtic traditions.
The Artifact addresses the person in the pew hungering for more spiritual development. Chapters include formation essays, chants, videos, Bible study, and journaling—all to be used by individuals or small groups. The artifact is open-ended with more chapters to be added over time.
1 “RenewalWorks: What We Are Learning,” Forward Movement, 2018, http://renewalworks.org/researchsummary/.
2 Comprehensive refers to the Episcopal Church ethos of accepting many differing principles of interpretation and practice alongside one another, finding unity within diversity. For example, Protestant and Catholic, conservative and liberal, Evangelical and Progressive views are all parts of the whole. How scripture is interpreted, what authority historic traditions drawn from ecumenical councils or creeds still have, and how reason or experience all contribute to understanding what it means to be a vital Christian community.
Swope, Robert, "Renewing the Jesus Movement in the Episcopal Church: Weaving Good News Into Spiritual Formation" (2019). Doctor of Ministry. 301.