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The Sewanee Contemplative Exchange: Bridging the Gap Between Contemplation and Compassionate Action

  • St. Mary's Sewanee 770 Saint Marys Lane Sewanee, TN, 37375 United States (map)

We live in a world saturated by dualisms, categories in which we place people and things in order to grant them worth and priority. We separate ourselves from each other—and God from ourselves—resulting in persistent tension and frustration, pain and grief. For too long we have separated—even if in our minds—the spheres of contemplation and action, of silence and embodiment, of prayer and reconciliation. When these two vital aspects of our lives are pulled apart, our contemplation easily becomes an insular escape and our compassionate action becomes reactive and driven by anger.

We are invited to integrate ourselves, to seek wholeness in our spiritual practice, In Christ, we see a reconciliation of all aspects of our being. In His personhood we see the potential for an authentic religious practice in which silence nurtures justice. We encounter a space where contemplation and compassionate action are no longer competing with each other; rather, they exist in a circular relationship in which silence grounds action and justice leads us to further prayer. We find hope and wholeness in our union with God and with one another.

Leadership for this event comes from a collaboration of colleagues from:  The Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, Washington D.C.; The Beecken Center of the School of Theology, The University of the South; St. Mary's Sewanee:  The Ayres Center for Spiritual Development; Mary and Martha's Place, Atlanta, Georgia; Grace Episcopal Church, Gainesville, Georgia; and a consortium of clergy from The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta and beyond, community and seminary leaders, spiritual directors, and teachers. 

Special Guest:  Dr. Lerita Coleman Brown, Ayse I Carden Distinguished Professor Emerita of Psychology, Agnes Scott College, will lead a series of guided meditations on the writings of Howard Thurman, weaving times of silence and prayer with reflection and pilgrimage.

In addition to a day of reflection and prayer, we will share a special pilgrimage to the historic Highlander Folk School, where Dr. King, Rosa Parks, and other civil rights leaders met to pray and reflect together.

For questions and information, please contact The Rev. Dr. Stuart Higginbotham ( or Rebecca Parker (

Earlier Event: April 28
A Celebration of the Seasons