In Christ We Meet

Dear Friends,

Cannon beach
Arriving at Cannon Beach for October doctoral intensive retreat

More than two months ago I reported that I had enrolled in and begun a Doctor of Ministry program at the Quaker-based, George Fox University. In that blog post I invited you on a transformational journey. I said that I expected that in order to lead and walk with our presbytery in this time I could not expect the presbytery to take a transformational journey unless I was also willing to open myself to transformation as a leader as well.

After a month of many conversations, prayer and reflection I have decided not to continue the program. I have reinforced in the presbytery that we live in a time of experimentation and innovation. My stepping into the program was based on the belief that I needed to invest in a structured and disciplined transformational program. As with all experiments one steps out boldly in faith and then trusts the process of unfolding. All decisions teach us something in this process.

It quickly became clear to me that committing an extra fifteen hours a week to reading and study was not going to serve my goals toward spiritual transformation. It became clear that my investment did not need to be in more study, but in more relational contact with presbytery leadership and churches and more self-care (read as more time with my grandchildren!)

Cannon Beach hike
View from cliff at Cannon Beach during a Mary Oliver silent meditation hike

I am sure there will be more to share down the road about this decision and what it means for me and our presbytery. But for now I just wanted to share the poem that I wrote the night before I reported this news to the other fourteen colleagues who had become close companions on this journey. For more than two months, we have shared ourselves in raw and vulnerable ways and I needed some way to reflect on what these fourteen loving souls meant to me. Here is my parting poem written to them (slightly edited):

In Christ We Meet

In Christ we meet
Our lives are but a moment
Our love is but a gift
Our time is God’s alone

The thread long or short
The window clear or foggy
The path unknown or revealed

Like waves we come and we go
We share our truth and we listen
We open our hearts and we trust

We were together before we met
We knew each other before we spoke
Our destinies were already colliding

In Christ we meet
In Christ we shall remain




4 thoughts on “In Christ We Meet

  1. Dear Brian

    I think you have made a good choice – good for you personally and good for your ministry.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Bill Griffith, Jr.


  2. Hi Brian,
    A hard choice to make. My encouragement for you is this, coming from the other side of the program (my dissertation is awaiting editorial review even now);
    I hope and pray that as you have discerned this particular step in your journey in this season that there are buds awaiting for their new growth to come in another season. I, too, took pictures and wrote poetry while in Cannon Beach and taking classes. Funny how the unleashed ability to contemplate on retreat, even while taking classes and engaging material, still surfaces to teach us something on another level.
    Peace, I support you in your journeying.


  3. Hi Scott,
    I appreciate your comment and the hope that “there are buds awaiting their new growth in another season.” I very much felt that as I worked through my decision over a month-long period. I could feel new buds wanting to emerge and the doctoral program feeling more like an impediment than nourishment. Thank you for support and thoughts. You are right–it was a hard decision but one that feels very right at this moment.


  4. Dear Brian,
    I’m so excited that you are in the Dmin program at Portland Seminary! The MDiv program there has been so enriching for me, especially the emphasis on Spiritual Formation. I hope to see you at the Portland Center at an event sometime.
    Peace be with you,
    Rob Christ – Reedville


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