Bennington, Vt., Rector Joins New Contemplative Exchange
Priestly Network Inspires Global Collaborations
The Rev. Justin Lanier, Rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Bennington, recently accepted an invitation from Fr. Thomas Keating, OCSO, Contemplative Outreach, to become a member of the New Contemplatives Exchange (NCE), a global network for contemplative studies and practice.
Lanier is one of four “young Christian contemplatives” from around the world invited by each of the NCE founders to meet with them at St. Benedict's Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado, in mid-August.
The overall vision of NCE is "to awaken a larger embrace and expansion of Christian contemplative understanding and practice as the vital grounding of Christian life, with openness to collaboration with all streams of contemplative wisdom, in response to the urgent social and spiritual needs of our time."
Lanier hopes that the ongoing work of “the Exchangers”—retreats, workshops, joint articles, books, and trainings—might help foster a dialogue and network among contemplatives, the people of Province 1, and the Episcopal Church in Vermont.
For example, Lanier recently met with, the Rev. Mark Longhurst, pastor of First Congregational Church, UCC, Williamstown, Massachusetts. Longhurst is a student of NCE co-founder Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM. Lanier says that there are early plans for collaboration on articles pertaining to some of the horizons of Centering Prayer and modes of contemplative training.
Lanier has also been in touch with Fr. Stuart Higginbotham, rector of Grace Church, Gainesville, Georgia. Higginbotham is a student of NCE co-founder the Rev. Tilden Edwards.
Higginbotham’s doctoral thesis “The Practice of Christian Mindfulness as an Imaginative Challenge in Parish Ministry,” describes Grace’s work over the past few years to reorient its image of discipleship and ministry away from the “program-maintenance model” toward a practice of spiritual imagination, discernment, transfigured awareness, and desire. The two priests have recently shared ideas on contemplative formation, such as the work Lanier did in conjunction with Vermont’s Sitrrings of the Spirit ministry in 2015, Holy Week liturgies, and practices in parishes.
Individuals with an interest in contemplative studies and practice are encouraged to contact Lanier by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone at (802) 442-2911.