The School for Contemplative Living
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Listening in Stillness, Serving in Joy!
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10th Annual Contemplative Conference

Date: Friday, November 08, 2019 - Saturday, November 09, 2019
Time: 7:00 PM - 12:00 PM
Location: First Grace United Methodist Church

Joy Unspeakable: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life
with Rev. Dr. Barbara Holmes and Phileena Heuertz
Presenters at Richard Rohr's Conspire Conference
Friday, 11/8/19, 7-8:30 pm and Saturday, 11/9/19, 9 am - 12 noon
This program explores the possibility of real joy in a world that is often  unspeakably joyless.  What do we do when everyday brings news of violence, war, poverty and disaster?  It seems that each issue is so complicated and vast that our positive attempts to change things seem futile.  I contend that we need not abandon all hope.  Joy is experienced and expressed in many ways: as an emotion; as a state of being; and as a catalyst that ignites love of self and neighbor.   I am reminded of an old gospel hymn that the church mothers used to sing:  "This joy that I have, the world didn't give it and the world can't take it away."  Thanks be to God.    

Rev. Dr. Barbara Holmes is a spiritual teacher and writer focused on African American spirituality, mysticism, cosmology and culture. She is President Emerita of United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities (2012-2016). She also served as Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Memphis Theological Seminary (2005-2010). She holds the title of Professor Emerita of Ethics and African American Religious Studies at that seminary.


Dr. Holmes was called to ministry while working as a corporate lawyer for the J.C. Penney Corporation, and was ordained in the Latter Rain Apostolic Holiness Church in Dallas, Texas. Today, she has privilege of call in the United Church of Christ and recognition of ministerial standing in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Dr. Holmes grew up in New Haven, Connecticut, and was a member of Dixwell Avenue Congregational Church.

Dr. Holmes has earned the following degrees: a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a minor in Theatre Arts from the University of Connecticut; a Master of Science in Education from Southern Connecticut University; a Master of Divinity degree from Columbia Theological Seminary; and a Doctor of Philosophy in Religion (Ethics) from Vanderbilt. Also, she earned a law degree from Walter F. George School of Law, at Mercer University and practiced law in Miami, Atlanta, Macon and Dallas. She specialized in civil litigation, corporate, and appellate practice. She says, ”My life is committed to the struggle for justice, the healing of the human spirit, and the art of relevant and radical creativity.”

In addition, Dr. Holmes has worked with homeless missions; HIV/AIDS support groups and international ministries in Kenya (the Presbyterian Church of East Africa) and Japan. The author of five books and numerous articles, her most recent publications include: Dreaming, Liberation and the Cosmos: Conversations with the Elders, and Joy Unspeakable: Contemplative Practices of the Black Church. A second edition of Joy Unspeakable was published in 2017. Dr. Holmes is married to George Ford and has two sons: Marcus, a film director, and Jason a professor of music.


Phileena’s first half of life was formed on the streets of more than 70 countries, building community among victims of human trafficking, survivors of HIV and AIDS, abandoned children and child soldiers and war brides.

Drawing on 20 years of experience fighting global poverty and injustice with Word Made Flesh, in 2012 she and her husband Chris co-founded Gravity to support the development of consciousness in an ongoing effort to respond to the challenging social justice perils of our time.

Phileena believes that contemplative spirituality is crucial to authentic, creative, liberating social change. Phileena is known for her provocative theological narrative, Pilgrimage of a Soul (IVP 2010) and Mindful Silence (IVP 2018).


Program: Rev. Dr. Holmes will focus on “Contemplation in the Black Church,” 7-8:30 pm including Q&A Friday evening, and Phileena will focus on her compelling story of compassion fatigue and the discovery of contemplative balance on Saturday morning 9-10:30 am including Q&A. Then they take turns leading us in contemplative practices 10:45-12 noon.

Cost: $60, Early Bird Rate until October 1, then $75

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