Vision

From the Founder

 

The vision of PAX is to see the local church offering the opportunity to learn and experience a variety of Christian spiritual practices that lead us into spending time  being with God.  A regular diet of spending time with God strengthens and deepens our relationship with God, and nourishes a way of life that is centered in Christ becoming like Him in love and service for the sake of others.

For several years, I held a vision of a spiritual formation center that would be based in the life of the church seeing our local communities of faith as the foundation for spiritual formation. The Center would serve its church family as well as its surrounding communities. I had fondly referred to it as the community college for spiritual formation with offerings that would appeal to all seasons of the spiritual journey of faith.

The offerings would be held in the local church and would be such that a person could use them as a vehicle to help create an intentional rhythm of Christian spiritual practices that might include spiritual direction, retreats, workshops, and individual and group forms of prayer. Rather than just a one-time experience that tapped into a spiritual yearning and hunger, the Center would seek to be a place of ongoing spiritual nourishment within the context of a supportive and nurturing Christian community. Part of the vision also included collaborating with leaders in the field of spiritual formation so that the Center might become a broader resource and network of offerings available within our churches.

The idea for the Center was born out of observing the desire for spiritual growth and intimacy in the lives of the people I have had the privilege to minister with here at our church. Through our church’s spiritual formation ministry, I have noticed how people that may not otherwise go seeking what feels outside of their comfort zone or faith tradition have nonetheless waded in within the context of what feels safe and familiar in their own church setting. It can feel a bit intimidating and perhaps rudderless to seek opportunities at the various retreat centers; or, after a rich experience, where and how to continue to be supported in a contemplative way of life. In many ways, our churches can become those retreat centers taking advantage of what is already an investment in our buildings and facilities. I have witnessed the fruit of the ministry of spiritual formation in the life of our church; fruit in the lives of individuals and in the corporate life of our church as people live and serve from a deeper place.

I am committed to the need and value of contemplative practices within the life of our churches. My heart resonates with the vision of “contemplatives in action” believing that as we go deeper into the love of God we go more broadly into the world with mercy and justice while walking humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).

In partnership with The First Congregational Church of Essex, PAX Center for Christian Spiritual Formation was born.

 

The Name PAX

 

The naming of PAX (latin for the word peace) happened in a setting of peace for me. One early morning, I was walking near our beloved summer cottage in the mountains of New Hampshire pondering this vision of a spiritual formation center. In the moment, I asked God to name it and almost immediately the word “peace” surfaced. This word felt like a gift to me.

How often I had been struck by the many times Jesus offered and gave His Peace to His disciples.  Jesus so ardently giving and leaving His peace in John 14:27 & 16:33; then, His first word to them in the upper room as they hid in fear behind locked doors, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19). Peace, the gift of our Lord Jesus Christ; a mystery that settles deep within me when I am living in the majestic stillness of the mountains. And so this naming of peace I gladly received as I envision the ministry of spiritual formation as a place of God’s peace.

How did “peace” turn into the name “PAX”? It is a name long forgotten from my high school days; a nickname given to me although I have no memory as to why or how it came about. And so as to avoid any possible generic renderings of the word “peace,” the Center became known as PAX.