I just learned that Gordon Cosby, one of the giants of the spiritual formation movement since 1947 and founder of Church of the Saviour in Washington D.C., died yesterday at the age of 95. It is a wonderful day for Gordon and a sad day for the Church, even the world.
I have been a follower of Gordon’s thinking and writing since the early sixties. Since then I have yearned to be part of a church experience like that of Church of the Saviour. Several years ago I was so fortunate to be part of a group chosen by the former Director of Discipleship for the Reformed Church in America, Kirsti DePree to study discipleship at Church of the Saviour. We toured the Church of the Saviour’s mission projects (rehab center, medical center, 7- story low-income apartment complex, job employment center, etc.). We also met Gordon and I was able to speak with him personally at the Potter’s House, a coffee-house that was the church’s first church and mission outpost.
If you are interested in more information about Church of the Saviour, Elizabeth O’Connor was the writer who chronicled Church of the Saviour’s work – which came to be known by the phrase Inward Journey/Outward Journey.
Today we know as apprentices that we must have a strong inner connection to the Trinity in order to do the work we describe as social action or social justice. We know who we are (one in whom Christ dwells and delights), where we live (in the unshakable kingdom of God), and what we are to do (Christ- in- me transforms the world). Gordon and the Church of the Saviour pioneered a very important expression of that philosophy.
Here is a quote that the Church of the Saviour posted today in his memory. It is a message the Church needs to take to heart.
“If men and women today began by the thousands experiencing the depths of Jesus Christ in a transforming way, there would simply be no place for their expression of experience to fit into present-day straitjackets of Christianity. Protestant or Catholic, neither one is structured to contain a mass of devoted people who long for spiritual depth. We are structured towards infancy.” N. Gordon Cosby
Let’s all pick up the mantle and get to work!