A Retreat for Shepherds & Lay Ministers to Artists!

[PHOTO: Myself and visual artist John Cobb out at the Laity Lodge in our beardly best.]

When I first envisioned the transforming culture symposium I actually envisioned a camping trip.

There I was, stuck in a pine forested mountain far away from the tireless thrum of society. Somewhere in the Rockies perhaps. Or the Great Smoky Mountains. Hunched over a smoldering fire, the clammy mists of dawn crawling heavily through the trees, I stir a cast iron skillet full of eggs, salsa ranchera and boracho beans. Despite the sleepy silence and the thoroughly matted hair, an irrepressible sense of joy fills our faces.

Walking around the circle I drop the Mexican breakfast into tin bowls. Here is John Witvliet, ever the gentle one. There is Luci Shaw, her eyes twinkling pure gaiety. Here is Sandra Bowden mysteriously but impeccably dressed, and John Wilson who had insisted on bringing 38 books to read aloud. There's Barbara Nicolosi, in her third day of detox from LA. Here is Jeremy Begbie, humming, fingers tapping, with a Whistler Ski Resort toque keeping his head warm.

And over there is Andy Crouch making the most divine culture from a pot of ancho chili-flavored hot chocolate. There, in an REI-constructed rocking chair, is Eugene Peterson, quietly thinking about how damn ordinary we all were and how wonderful it is.

And there all atop the flat ridgetop is everybody else who came to the symposium. Rosie and Ahna. Colin, Rory, Brie, Dal and Kim. And Erik. And Duffy. And Banner and Detweiller and Siewert and Van Dyke and Fortunato and McCoy. There are all my friends, old and new. And isn't this like heaven!

But instead of a camping trip we had a fabulous time in south Austin on the lovely grounds of First Evangelical Free Church. And now nine months later I'm happy to announce a hybrid of the camping trip: a retreat.

The Laity Lodge leadership has graciously approved my proposal for a retreat aimed at anybody who was in the business, formal or informal, of caring for artists, and for their courage and trust I'm very grateful. Here below is the basic info.

For some of you the work of caring for artists takes place in a church or educational setting, and possibly in an official capacity. For some of you it occurs in the marketplace. For many of you your shepherding of artists takes shape in informal ways. But what links us all is a sense of call: you feel called to care for the well-being of artists. And what I've yearned to do for some time is to get us pastoral-hearted folk all in the same room.

It is in light of this that I invite you to participate in a retreat sponsored by the Laity Lodge, April 20-23. Brian Moss, Mako Fujimura, Steven Purcell and I, among others, will be giving leadership to the retreat. We invite you to join your kindred for three days of talking, playing, eating, resting, and praying on behalf of our artist brothers and sisters who are serving the church and the world.

The three topics we'll explore together are: 1) our own preparation as ministers, 2) the pastoring of the artist as a person, and 3) the pastoring of the artist as a worker. Our hope is that our time together will equip and encourage us in our common work of building up the Body of Christ.

Senior pastors. Associate pastors. Lay ministers. Professional coffee drinkers. Teachers. Para-church staff. And anybody who feels that strong yearning to love artists and to help them grow strong and whole and holy. Please do pass this along to someone you think might be interested.

April 20-23 (Monday dinner through Thursday lunch). Laity Lodge retreat center in the Hill Country of Texas. You drive through a river to get there. It's great. The cost is $285. We're really getting an amazing deal on the cost. The food alone is worth the charge of admission. Trust me.

What kind of folks have visited the Laity Lodge? Frederick Buechner's been. Madeleine L'Engle's been. As have Henri Nouwen, Bishop Tom Wright, and Eugene Peterson. I know that Steven Lawhead has made the trek. So have Virginia Stem Owens, Begbie, Winner, Yancey, Tournier, Ratzinger. And Beyonce. Ok, not Beyonce, but I know she wants to. And not Ratzinger either. He's busy. But a whole bunch of wonderful people have been and reviews are roundly positive.

Go here.

If you have any questions, fire away. Again, please send this on to anybody you know who might be interested. And hopefully we'll see some of you out there on the frio river!
And a happy Epiphany to all.

[Here's a snippet of music from Buddy Green and Joseph Luptak from an artist retreat out at the Laity in 2007.]


All I can say is, "Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow!"
I know I wrote the thing and I've been thinking about it for a long, long time, but I'm still pretty thrilled. Tamara, I sure hope you can make it down. I'm going to write the Exec pastor at your church and say, "Pretty pleeeeeease?!"
I sent my pastors the info. I'm hoping since they missed the symposium they might go out to Laity Lodge. What a beautiful place. And maybe I'll get to go too since I was basically handed the responsibility of starting up an arts community when I got back from the symp. (and still have yet to make that happen...) Thanks, David :-)
That'd be great, Heather. I'd love for as many church staffed pastors to come. They're usually the ones that make the decisions around the house. It'd be nice if they had a chance to be inspired by the people and the place that will convene in late April.

And it'd be wonderful if you could come too. :)
Shane Tucker said…
This, David, is pure inspiration. I feel a resonance with you already that moves me at a very deep place in my soul and we have yet to actually communicate with one another. I, too, have been wanting to facilitate a gathering like this for some time and I'm so glad you're birthing it into being this April! Incidentally, I may be helping to facilitate a retreat at Laity Lodge this autumn with a friend for artists and athletes. I will be spreading the words far and wide about this gathering in every way that I can. I would love to be there too, but alas, I will be helping facilitate another retreat in Rome over the exact same dates. However, I will be there with you in heart! May God surprise you all with the Gift of Himself in April!
Thank you, Shane. Such kind words. I love it that you're doing a retreat in Rome. In Rome! In eighth grade I played the lead in the musical "Androcles and the Lion." I sang and danced and made lots of references to Rome.

Blessings to you!
Bez said…
David, Christy from International Arts Movement here! I want to email you but I can't seem to find any contact info here - can you send me an email at christy(at)iamny.org?
Sherri Coffield said…
I was clearing out my favorites folder when I ran across this blog I had saved years ago. It reminded me of these wonderful series of retreats and this amazing thin place in Hill country. Through these retreats you led me down a path to a vision for a monthly gathering of artists in my own city. It was nothing short of a God inspired success. It was so obvious to me that God had breathed his life into it, as He did with your retreats. Though my own monthly series has come and gone it still inspires me to keep exploring different avenues to bring light and life into the world of the artist, as well into my own art. I so treasure these experiences that keep giving. Thank you David for all your own vision and heart for these. If for nothing else perhaps this alone was worth it all.
Sherri, that is so wonderful to read! Thank you for sharing it. And God bless you for your faithfulness over the years. May he bless the work of your hands, heart and imagination!

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