Table Discussion, Overall Summary from the Contemplative Outreach Conference in Denver, September 21-24, 2017


The following is an edited collection of comments generated during several hours of small group discussions at the Contemplative Outreach Conference in Denver September 21-24, 2017. 

Comments were gathered from 15 posters prepared during the course of the conference.  These are the prayerful thoughts and hopes of our contemplative community. 

We have compiled and published them because we believe they capture the direction the Holy Spirit is leading Contemplative Outreach ‚Äì and each of us is a part of that organism!  We welcome your response. We encourage you to notice in which of these areas the Spirit is stirring up your desire to take action! 

Please contact those listed below to further explore your desire to volunteer your time and talent. 

Members of the Governing Board


Summary of Comments on Programs Offered by Contemplative Outreach

  • The Introductory Workshop is foundational.    The six-session follow-up format develops the habit of attending as well as providing information about common problems encountered.  A variety of presentation formats need to be offered.
  • Welcoming Prayer is a gift that brings Divine impact into daily life. It hastens dismantling of the false self. It puts things in perspective.
  • Lectio Divina is as substantive as Centering Prayer and helps one listen at ever deepening levels
  • 12-step outreach attracts new, non-traditional people. More presenters are needed.
  • Living Flame develops the vital conceptual background of Centering Prayer, takes us deeper, and builds community.  Expand it to include social justice, environment, relevance to children, young people, millennials, seniors in rest homes, patients and staff in hospitals, Veterans (esp. with PTSD), contemplative community formation, and possibly a presentation on mind-body.  Make it more accessible to small chapters, perhaps as individual modules.  Seek to attract a more diverse population.
  • Prison Ministry ‚Äì Language adaptation of our materials is needed to more effectively reach a population largely from marginalized, poorly educated communities that addresses diverse ethnicities, and races.  An exit program is needed to facilitate re-entry upon release.  Provide guidance for dealing with the obstacles to bringing Centering Prayer to prisons.

Comments About the Direction of Contemplative Outreach

  • Keep evolving as an organism ‚Äì foster transparency, openness, communication, listen to the grass roots
  • Attract volunteer regional representatives to foster communication, interaction and cooperation among chapter leaders.  Organize regional meetings and retreats for leaders
  • Develop offerings for seasoned practitioners
  • Provide more support and representation for international chapters
  • Provide brochures on chapter development, on retreat ministry, on the Forgiveness Prayer, and on spiritual direction.  Update old-looking brochures
  • Develop partnerships with other contemplative groups

Personal Responses to Conference Questions

What am I taking home from these table discussions?

  • Inspiration – taking back to my chapter a deeper understanding of our Vision, Theological Principles and Guidelines for Service
  • A new awareness of how much has already been done by CO staff, service teams and boards over the past 30 years. Gratitude. 
  • A better grasp of how to use the materials provided on the website
  • Confidence that the Holy Spirit is moving us in the right direction. A sense of connection. A sense of community
  • Improved understanding of the challenges facing CO as a worldwide organism
  • How much a contemplative conversation in a small group with like-minded participants can produce!

Some CO jobs awaiting volunteers

  • Expand the Living Flame Program ‚Äì make it more accessible to small chapters perhaps in individual modules; add new components such as Inner life, social justice, environment, mind-body.  Please contact team leader Marilyn Webb
  • Contact Tom Smith  or Pamela Begeman to aid the Communications Team to include a wiki page on Centering Prayer, social media topics, Google groups
  • Learn more about prison ministry by contacting Ray Leonardini of Prison Contemplative Fellowship at
  • Serve with the international team to provide more service (as is needed) ‚Äì contact Sr. Fionnuala Quinn at
  • Encourage continuing grass roots input to the direction of Contemplative Outreach. The coordinator/contact person support team under the leadership of Ruth Hofmann is contacting every chapter coordinator to discuss regional dialog, inter-chapter communication and support, how to offer joint retreats, etc.
  • If you are interested in volunteering for 12-step outreach and are a currently active member of a 12-step program, please contact Jenny Adamson  The guidelines for becoming a 12-step presenter and other information is available on
  • Contact Marie Howard to explore volunteering to lead development of a team to serve:

seasoned practitioners,
youth, and youth on campus, millennials, children
foster diversity,
evangelical christians
veterans (esp. with PTSD)
seniors in rest homes
patients and staff in hospital
contemplative community formation 

Having explored these thoughts and hopes, you are now invited to join in expressing your prayerful thoughts regarding the direction of our organism.  What additional topics or comments come into your awareness?  Please send these to Marie Howard