Austin Seminary is excited to announce that they are accepting applications for the 2014 College of Pastoral Leaders program. The College of Pastoral Leaders exists to enliven, invigorate, and sustain the life of ministry. It’s not a place where one earns a degree; it is an association of church leaders committed to learning in community, over time, for their own flourishing in ministry and for the sake of the Gospel. 

The application deadline is March 15, 2014 and you can contact Kathy Muenchow for more information. 

Cynthia Engstrom (MDiv’12) is part of the pastoral cohort The Stone Ring which spent time last fall at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. Engstrom took time to update The Reed on her journey. 

"I want to share with you the good news of our pastoral cohort experience, which met this past week at Ghost Ranch while enjoying a private audience with Cláudio Carvalhaes. The time we spent together reading, thinking, and discussing the subject of Eucharist, hospitality, and hostility in a pluralistic world was boundary-breaking and transformative. The extended, undisrupted time we had together as a cohort, away from work, and agendas, and even from our usual daily connections with the people we love, was a pastoral gift, the extent of which, none of us could have anticipated.  It was good that connectivity with the outside world was difficult to achieve and intermittent. We will likely duplicate this feature in future gatherings.

A typical day found us in class twice, either around a table or on the road, but we also had time to hike, rest, read, make trips to the nearby monastery, Christ in the Desert, and also to Sanctuario de Chimayo where we walked the grounds and prayed with other pilgrims. Each evening, we gathered in the family room of our small accomdations, shared stories of our lives, our ministries, laughed a lot, cried a bit, sang songs, prayed, and closed our week together with a celebration of Holy Communion. It was good. The friendships are set. Claudio has accepted his gift of a stone ring, even with all the strings that come with it, and we come away from our time together deeply bonded and committed to an annual pilgrimage, this time of year, each year, as we make our respective journeys through ministry. 

I wanted to thank you, Education Beyond the Walls, and the Lilly Endowment for this life-giving gift you have extended to the Stone Rings Cohort. Our lives and ministries are blessed in ways that we are enabled to return home, extending the gift of Eucharistic hospitality to our congregation and communities—and who all knows what radical sort of transformation such a gift might inspire."

Cynthia Engstrom

Stone Rings College of Pastoral Leaders Cohort members: Doug Cartwright, Bart Smith, Elizabeth Smith, Lori Starniri Gainer, John Leedy, and Cynthia Engstrom; photos of Ghost Ranch and Christ in the Desert Benedictine Monastery by John Leedy.