This Year’s Theme

Like Jesus

In his Invitation to a Journey, Robert Mulholland, describes Christian spiritual formation as “the process of being conformed to the image of Christ by the gracious working of God’s spirit, for the transformation of the world.” Likewise, James C. Wilhoit in Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered: Growing in Christ Through Community, notes that Christian spiritual formation “(1) is intentional; (2) is communal; (3) requires our engagement; (4) is accomplished by the Holy Spirit; (5) is for the glory of God and the service of others; and (6) has as its means and end the imitation of Christ.”

Central to both of these attempts as defining Christian spiritual formation is the notion of being shaped into the image of Jesus, or being like Jesus. The Western Canadian Leadership Summit, led by Randy Harris, will tease out the contours of this “Like Jesus” way of being.

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Randy Harris

Randy Harris

Randy Harris' colleagues in the Abilene Christian University’s College of Biblical Studies jokingly call him "the only Church of Christ monk.” Harris is single. He is gentle, soft-spoken and loves the contemplative life, which also would qualify him.

Harris' love of contemplative prayer is something he can bring to students in the department that perhaps others can't. He has found that students are eager to experience the same depth of communion with God that he has discovered through contemplative prayer.

His own experiences include a 40-day silent prayer retreat with hermits at Lebh Shomea House of Prayer in South Texas, participation in Jesuit and Franciscan retreats and Trappist monasteries, and a Celtic retreat on the Island of Lindesfarne. He also completed a two-year certificate program in contemplative spiritual direction at the Shalem Institute in Bethesda, Md, which will serve him well in his role as spiritual director for the College of Biblical Studies.

Harris' first encounter with contemplative prayer came after a difficult period in his life when he was studying at Syracuse University. He had read Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. When he experienced difficulties, he fell back on what he had learned and experienced. Once safely through the difficult time, Harris discovered that he didn't want to leave the contemplative life behind. Instead, he chose to make it a part of his life. A profound experience sealed that decision.

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