St. David’s is a big church with lots to offer. We want to make a place for you in the parish by welcoming you into smaller groups for spiritual development and community building. We also encourage you to take part in retreats and special events which are offered throughout the year. Once you find a place to plant your roots, your spiritual life, formation, and relationships will begin to flourish!
For people seeking a place to grow spiritually through Christian and other practices, The Abbey at St. David’s is a community in the heart of Austin and online. This is a natural extension of St. David’s role in our city since 1848: building connections in love, hope, joy, and vitality as we serve others. The Abbey is also an online hub for inspiring educational resources that people can access from anywhere. Find an online class, special event, or group to join and stay connected during physical-distancing!
Ongoing Sunday Morning Groups for Adults
- Wisdom Ways Scripture Discussion
- The Middle Place
- Spiritual Legacy Book Club
- Men’s Bible Study
- Thirst: God and the Alcoholic Experience
Fall 2020 Groups for Adults
- Introduction to the Enneagram
- Abbey Enneagram Circles
- Medieval Reading Group
- The Art of Stillness
- Writing Your Spiritual Autobiography
- Navigating Difficult Conversations
- EYC Wellness Circle
- Racial Healing through Beloved Community
- Thursday Meditation Group
Upcoming Adult Formation Events
- Adult Formation Summer 2021
Sunday Morning Lecture, 10 a.m.
The Summer Lecture Series will be presented in-person in Crail C and on Zoom. Registration not required for in-person lecture.
The summer months invite us into a different rhythm and Father Chuck has encouraged us to embrace rest, re-creation, and reflection as themes for the summer while he is on sabbatical. In that spirit, the lectures will cover a variety of topics that invite us into spaces of rest, creativity, and renewal while also challenging us with new ways to live as Christians in those spaces.
Click the date to learn more about each topic/speaker
May 30 | Mapping God’s Care in Psalm 23 for a Restless World
Presented by the Rev. Dr. Gregory L. Cuéllar, Associate Professor of Old Testament at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
Perhaps the reigning question of our era is, “How do you care in a world overwhelmed by suffering?” How do you care for a mother or father having to die alone from COVID-19? How to care for families grieving from the public murders of their black sons and daughters? How do you care for a country traumatized by an insurrectionist riot at the US Capitol? How do you care for hyper-traumatized asylum-seekers in immigration detention? How do you care for families suffering from a mass shooting or an anti-Asian hate crime? When asking these how questions, we are tempted to surrender to the cynical logic “why should I care?” and hence succumbed to a permanent state of carelessness. With care in crisis globally, I am drawn to the wisdom of Psalm 23 and how it maps God’s approach to care. Here my reading is not descriptive of God’s care but rather prescriptive, such that the care of God as revealed in Psalm 23 serves as a relevant hermeneutic of care for us today.
Rev. Dr. Gregory L. Cuéllar is Associate Professor of Old Testament at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Currently, he is a Visiting Academic at the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford. As an international biblical scholar, Dr. Cuéllar is interested in counterintuitive ways of reading biblical texts, in particular those that are rooted in a decolonizing discourse of liberation. He has written on topics related to the U.S./Mexico borderlands, Latinx immigration, race, Bible museums, and empire. His current research focuses on the carceral geographies of immigration detention facilities at the intersections of religion, migratory aesthetics, borderlands, and postcolonial trauma. His two most recent books are, Resacralizing the Other at the US-Mexico Border: A Borderland Hermeneutic for (Routledge, 2020) and, Empire, the British Museum, and the Making of the Biblical Scholar in the Nineteenth Century: Archival Criticism (Palgrave, 2019). In terms of advocacy work, he is the co-founder of a refugee artwork project called, Arte de Lágrimas (Art of Tears): Refugee Artwork Project. This project is a traveling art exhibit and archive that aims to create greater public awareness of the lived migratory journeys of asylum-seeking children, youth, and adults.
June 6 | Tikkun olam: Repairing the World
Presented by Rabbi Noah Kitty, spiritual leader of Congregation Etz Chaim.
Rabbi Noah Kitty will share a teaching on tikkun olam, the Jewish understanding of repairing the world. We will examine human responsibility and the limits of human action. The earliest use of the term tikkun olam comes in the phrase mip’nei tikkun ha-olam, “for the sake of repairing the world,” meaning keeping society well-functioning. A more modern understanding of this phrase is that we share a partnership with God, and are instructed to take the steps towards improving our own spiritual state in addition to the state of the world, which simultaneously brings more honor to God’s sovereignty. We will look at the question of how we approach tikkun olam and where we begin the repair.
Rabbi Noah Kitty graduated from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1994, and was awarded a Ph.D. honoris causa in 2020. She has been the spiritual leader of Congregation Etz Chaim since 2009. Her community involvement includes Interfaith work with local faith communities, and as president of the Dolphin Democrats, 2014-2016.
June 13 | A Theology of Food
Presented by the Rev. Cameron Spoor, Curate at St. David’s Episcopal Church. Would you believe an apple bite, or a loaf of bread, says a lot about our faith and our created identity? In this lecture, Fr. Cameron will help us explore how food can (and does) say a lot about how God made us and how we are called to interact in this world. The writings of Dr. Norman Wirzba will help guide our conversation, and there will be plenty of time for both conversation and reflection.
June 20 | St. David’s Anti-Racism History Project: The Two Reverends Fontaine
Presented by Laura Hernández-Ehrisman, Ph.D. a member of St. David’s Anti-Racism Task Force.
Explore a new project developed by the task force that reckons with issues of race and white supremacy in our own parish to tell a more honest and inclusive story of St. David’s.
Dr. Hernández-Ehrisman will share one of these stories that discusses the Rev. Jacob Fontaine’s connection to St. David’s church, discuss this history, and invite us to consider what Fontaine’s story means for St. David’s parishioners today.
June 27 | Playful Trinity
Presented by the Rev. Santi Rodriguez, Deacon and Seminarian, St. David’s Episcopal Church.
Come join Deacon Santi as he explores how sharing in the life of the Holy Trinity draws us to holy play. This includes a look at the powerful relationship between creative love and playfulness.
July 4 | No lecture
July 11 | God as Gardener
Presented by the Rev. Dr. Bob Shore-Goss, member United Church of Christ Environmental Justice Council.
There is another way of Earth care other than to use the model of creation stewardship. Stewardship is a patriarchal model for tending the garden from a position of mastery and dominance. If we look at the biblical scriptures more closely, we discover a gardening model of involvement with Earth care based on descriptive notions of God as Gardener, Christ the Gardener, and the Spirit intimately involved in the relationship between the Gardener and garden. Earth theologian Thomas Berry affirms, “Gardening is an active participant in the deepest mysteries of the universe.”
The Rev. Dr. Robert Shore-Goss is a retired UCC clergy/theologian and serves on the UCC Environmental Justice Council. As the pastor of the North Hollywood MCC United Church of Christ, the church became recognized as the first Christian Justice Church of the denomination. He has been involved in various congregational green teams and conference environmental justice teams. He received a 2011 Green Oscar from California Interfaith Power & Light. Shore-Goss received a Th.D. from Harvard University in Comparative Religion and Christian Theology, and self-identifies as a Buddhist-Christian. The Rev. Shore-Goss has held numerous workshops for UCC Annual Gatherings, the Parliament of World Religions (2015), and individual churches of several denominations on creating sustainable spiritualities of faith communities for long term commitment for eco-justice. He is the author of God Is Green: An Eco-Spirituality of Incarnate Compassion (2016). His second eco-theological book is, Creating Christian Protectors (October 2020). Visit his website for the complete list of his books: www.mischievousspiritandtheology.com
July 18 | St. Teresa of Avila: Castanets and the Prayer of Recollection
Led by Dr. Mona West. St. Teresa of Avila was a 16th century reformer of the Carmelite order. She is known for her books on prayer and the soul as an interior castle. She is also known for her wit and humor! When she created the new order of the Discalced Carmelites, she made sure her sisters had time each day for rest and fun in addition to prayer.
In that spirit, St. Teresa was known to dance on the refectory tables with castanets! We will explore briefly the life and wit of St. Teresa, as well as her explanation of the prayer of recollection.
July 25 | Sacred Pauses: The Periodic, The Daily, and The Necessary
REGISTER FOR ONLINE LECTURE
Presented by the Rev. Dr. Larry Peers, former senior consultant for the Alban Institute. Within our Christian tradition (and other religious traditions) particular periods, such as Lent, are set aside for reflection, renewal, and reconciliation. Also, there has been a long tradition of “praying the hours” which provide opportunities for reconnecting with God and ourselves at set times during the day. The contemporary writer, Macrina Wiederkehr, a contemporary Benedictine has offered in her book, “Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully through the Hours of the Day,” these verses: “Receive the gift, of seven sacred pauses, Practice waking up, Seven times a day.” Buddhist teacher Tara Brach reminds us that we need to take necessary sacred pauses, especially when we get “hooked” and emotionally lose a sense of presence with ourselves or another. We’ll explore together the practice of taking a sacred pause within our daily living and within our interactions in order to grow our souls more deliberately.
Larry Peers partners with religious organizations and leaders across many faith traditions to help them lead from a sense of purpose and innovate by aligning strategy and spirit. He is an adjunct professor at Lancaster Theological Seminary and at Hartford Seminary’s new Master’s program in peacemaking. He leads planning events with congregations, staff team coaching, clergy coaching, and retreats. He is a member of the Congregational Consulting Group, a former consultant with the Alban Institute, and a former director of the Pastoral Excellence Network.
Aug. 1 | Creativity as Spiritual Practice
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Presented by Cynthia Johnson, Licensed Master Social Worker – Advanced Practice (LMSW–AP) founding executive director of Courage & Renewal North Texas.
Encouraging the creative spirit within opens a pathway to the spirit of God. Whether it is painting (houses or canvas), singing a song, writing a poem, creating a garden, a beautiful table or a meaningful life, these practices can calm the overactive mind, the grasping ego, and take us to a deeper place. Join us as we explore how the creative process can provide liminal space for the spirit to speak, and help us connect our souls with our Creator. The opportunity to create a plan of practice will be included in this class.
Cynthia (Cindy) Johnson, L.M.S.W.-A.P., was the founding executive director of Courage & Renewal – North Texas for 13 years and, as a facilitator trained by the national Center for Courage & Renewal, leads Circles of Trust® programs in diverse community and professional settings around the country. A social worker by training, she has provided executive leadership to nonprofit organizations and community initiatives for more than 40 years. Ordained as a deacon in the Baptist tradition, she has also spent the last three decades engaged as an active leader in the congregational, denominational, ecumenical, and interfaith arenas of religious life. Cynthia earned a Bachelor of Arts in sociology and social work from Baylor University, a Master of Science in social work from the University of Texas at Arlington, has participated in post-graduate studies at Brite Divinity School, and earned a certificate in Spiritual Direction from Perkins School of Theology. Cindy’s passion is creating space for people to remember who they are, reconnect with their work in the world, and create organizations and communities that are life-giving and create positive change. Cindy and her husband, Roland, have two adult sons and live in Fort Worth, Texas.
Aug. 8 | The Exercise of Seeing: Gazing on and Beholding God’s Actions Through Rest, Recreation, and Reflection
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Many people find reading the Bible difficult, trying to understand a long-ago culture and teasing out its lessons and wisdom for today. Join the Rev. Dr. Robert D. Flanagan as he explains the Exercise of Seeing, a structured, dynamic, and powerful way to behold God’s revelation in the world and Word synoptically. Users of the practice can remain focused on the biblical text, engage with the struggle of realizing God’s Word, and see the world’s reality and transcendence. While the practice may sound challenging, readers will quickly discover its joy and promise.
Bob holds a Doctor of Ministry degree in Christian Spirituality at Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) and was the 2021 VTS spring semester Dean’s Scholar. He also is an adjunct faculty member at General Theological Seminary and a Lifelong Learning instructor at VTS, teaching pastoral ministry and Christian spirituality. Since 2003, he has been a priest, serving in the Diocese of New York. You will find Bob’s books at Amazon or www.robertdflanagan.com.
Wednesday Night Bible Study, 7 p.m.
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May 26-June 30, The Book of Esther Facilitated by Dr. Lynn Smith-Henry. The book of Esther is one of two books of the Hebrew Bible named after a woman. Our study will explore the historical background of the book, its unfolding narrative drama, and the courage and wit of Esther who helped save her people from annihilation.
July 7-Aug. 11, The Book of Jonah
Facilitated by Dr. Mona West. More a parable than a prophetic book, our study of Jonah will explore how this reluctant prophet invites us to consider that God’s love and mercy are not limited only to those whom we think are deserving. This big fish story also provides commentary on the ways we try to escape from living an authentic life to which we are all called.
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Thursday evenings at 6 p.m., June 3, 10, 17, 24, Register for links. A discussion of the book Invisible in Austin: Life and Labor in an American City, edited by Javier Auyero. Led by Laura Hernández-Ehrisman, Ph.D.
Explore the life experiences of Austinites who strive and struggle at the bottom of the social order. We will reflect on what we learn from these stories about people who are often overlooked in public accounts of our fast growing, high-tech city. How do these accounts re-shape our understanding of Austin, and our relationship to our neighbors?
Summer Quiet Day
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July 10, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. We gather in-person to use poetry and readings from Quaker writer Parker Palmer to explore invitations for our Christian journey from the season of summer. Led by Dr. Mona West. A box lunch will be provided.
- Eastertide Journey Groups
When Bad Things Happen to Good People: The Study of Theodicy
Thursdays, April 15-May 13, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
The Rev. Angela Cortiñas will be leading a journey group on the topic of theodicy, using the book by Rabbi Harold Kushner, When Bad Things Happen to Good People.
A Journey Through Time: An Introduction to The Daily Office
Sundays, April 18-May 23, 10:30-11:30 a.m.
Join with Director of Music Mark Wischkaemper in an exploration of the seven Daily Offices: Vigils, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline. We’ll read Brother David Steindl-Rast’s book Music of Silence, discuss how the Daily Offices can fit into a modern, non-monasterial schedule, and explore resources to include the Daily Offices in your own life.
Spiritual Temperaments and the Christian Journey
Thursdays, April 22-May 20, noon-1 p.m.
Dr. Mona West will lead a journey group that will explore how knowledge of one’s particular spiritual temperament can aid in choosing spiritual practices that deepen the Christian journey. We will also use this model to explore the spirituality of Jesus and welcome the spirituality of others whose temperament may be different from our own.
Spring Seasonal Quiet Day
May 1, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Meet at the church (limit 10 participants) in Crail C
This will be the first in a series of seasonal quiet days led by Dr. Mona West using poetry and the reflections of Quaker writer, Parker Palmer. We will meet as a group in Crail C and also spend individual quiet time in designated spaces throughout the church campus. A box lunch will be provided (vegetarian box optional).
The May Quiet Day is limited to 10 people, per Stage 3 guidelines for socially distanced in-person gatherings. Registration is expected to be available by mid-April.