I guess you could cohort in many ways. Our group all shared a love for the earth and so we planned our time around various forays into nature. Our idea was to allow the earth’s rhythms, seasons, and passages to be a container for discussing our own life transitions, personal and professional.  

For me, the outings we planned were like a big carrot dangling; something to look forward to that I found nourishing and restorative. In the process, we laughed, explored, shared, talked shop, hiked, prepared meals together, read books, wrote, reflected, photographed, drummed, discovered new music, and cared about each other. And it took some real commitment.

So many times we were challenged by “something that had come up” which threatened a cohort’s participation in the next gathering. But allowing ourselves this gift of nourishment and renewal made possible through this program was extremely rewarding.

In a nutshell, this process was the very thing that, to me, sustains pastoral excellence because of the ongoing renewal and the stirring of creativity made possible through these deeper intentions.

– Kent Taylor, member of Terra Pastora cohort group

Terra Pastora

The four members of Terra Pastora, a cohort funded through Austin Seminary's College of Pastoral Leaders (CPL), share a love for nature. Through the earth’s rhythms, seasons, and passages, they found rejuvenation and sustenance for their ministries.

Terra Pastora, or “Earth Pastors,” came together as a CPL Cohort to draw on each other’s personal and faith experiences for support and growth in their work as chaplains. Group members Mark Hart, Paul Robertson, Kent Taylor, and Doug Watts all met through chaplaincy training. They are now directors in pastoral  care or the Clinical Pastoral Education programs at hospitals in San Antonio, Houston, Plano and Dallas.

Because they are geographically spread throughout Texas, the cohort met monthly, by phone or in person, during their two-year commitment through the CPL program.  Each quarter they journeyed to a different geographic region in the Southwest so as to connect with different aspects of creation: trees, wind, water, fire, rock, and sky. Terra Pastora’s travels took them to the Guadalupe River in Ingram, Texas; Caddo Lake; Taos, New Mexico; and the Oregon Coast.

Terra Pastora documented their journeys through photography, poetry, and prose, which they compiled into a beautiful coffee table book.

In between travels, the cohort read books and engaged in discussion together. Their first book was “The Invisible Church” by J. Pittmam McGehee provided an outline for further exploration for the foursome.

Their formal commitment together as an Austin Seminary CPL Cohort ended in 2010, but the group continues to support one another through each other’s ministry.

About the College of Pastoral Leaders

Through the College of Pastoral Leaders, Austin Seminary offers pastors resources 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 the sake of the Gospel.


Read Past Descriptions

Apply to be a Cohort

Online Application

 Deadline for applications is Nov. 15, 2011