Pastor Pat Bailey: View From The Pulpit
Dr. Pat Bailey of Telluride’s Christ Presbyterian Church, is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. He was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in 1987. For 16 years, Pat served as a chaplain in the U.S. Army. He is also an Iraq War veteran. Pastor Pat holds several degrees: a Master of Divinity from Columbia Seminary, a Master of Theology in comparative religion from Emory University, and (recently) a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary. His primary professional interests are interfaith spirituality, evolutionary consciousness, nature spirituality – and accompanying others in spiritual community. To that end, Pastor Pat has been blogging on Telluride Inside… and Out for years. His new series, “View from the Pulpit,” continues.
Christ Church kicks off a new and long-awaited program this Sunday evening: a contemplative youth group for middle-school aged youth. We are calling the program “Downtime.” The contemplative model for youth groups was developed by Rev. Mark Yaconelli, founder and director of the Youth Ministry and Spirituality Project at San Francisco Theological Seminary. The emphasis in the contemplative model is on equipping adults to accompany youth on their life’s journeys and honoring the spiritual aspect of that journey.
A handful of adults have been meeting over the summer to prepare themselves to enact the model with youth. They have been focusing their attention on providing presence, attending to young persons, and discerning ways to help youth express and value their spirituality. While some of the adult participants attend Christ Church, the program intentionally includes adults and youth who represent the wider Telluride community.
A contemplative model provides a contrast to more traditional models of youth ministry that focus on conversion to a particular religious worldview. Middle-school-aged youth are beginning the transition from a traditional or mythological consciousness to a more rational stage of consciousness. So, they have lots of questions. Rather than trying to steer those questions toward an exclusive set of beliefs or to constrain them within a literalized mythological worldview, we want to honor their curiosity and their transition to more rational thought forms. At the same time, we want to validate those deeper currents of consciousness that touch the greater mystery we encounter in life and within ourselves. So, for adults facilitating a contemplative youth group the task is much more about listening than answering questions and about discerning when to speak out of our own questions and experiences as fellow travelers on the spiritual journey.
The choice of “Downtime” to describe the group is intended as an invitation to spaciousness. The lives of youth today are often caught between the two extremes of achievement and distraction. There is little opportunity to escape the drives and amusements that dominate their lives and take the time to explore the inscape of their deepest selves.
This Sunday, the group meets at 5:30 p.m. to prepare a meal and then to eat together. At 6:30 p.m., we participate in a group spiritual practice, a simple opening of self through hearing, sharing, ruminating, and ritual. Our time together ends at 7:00 p.m.. It’s a pretty low-stress process of welcoming, relating, and opening. You know, downtime.
Please help me get the word out about the group to the youth in our community.
If you have questions or suggestions, contact me at 970-708-1092 or email@example.com.
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