Getting to Know the Leadership Team
Focus: Katie Newkirk
What brought me to the Academy?
When I first met with Rev. Dr. Bob Holloway to talk about becoming about a candidate for ministry, one of the questions he asked me during our time together was how I was doing spiritually. At the time I was a senior in college trying to balance an internship, classes, and two part-time jobs, and I was feeling pretty drained physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I shared that I felt guilty about not having a more active prayer life. With so much on my plate, I found myself forgetting to pray and forgetting to lean on God for strength. In that meeting, he recommended I do two things: First, to read Marjorie Thompson’s book Soul Feast. Second, to attend an Academy of Spiritual Formation. Bob raved about the Academy, saying that its focus on silence and the spiritual disciplines had the potential to be quite transformative for my relationship with God. At residency retreat (a retreat for those in the ordination process) several years later, the Academy of Spiritual Formation came up again as a potential spiritual retreat. My memory flashed back to that conversation with Bob, and I felt a Holy Spirit nudge to sign up for the next Academy. And so, I did that next February.
On a chilly Sunday afternoon in February, I left the familiar DFW metroplex to travel north, down some winding roads, through vast farmlands and then wooded terrains, until I came upon a beautiful retreat center called Prothro, tucked away between a forest and on the edge of Lake Texoma. It was a dreary day that day with scattered showers and a frigid breeze, but walking into worship that night, I felt the warmth of the Holy Spirit fill my heart and make me feel right at home. At the Academy, the first words we spoke each day were praise to God and the last words we spoke were praise to God. The meal times were filled with deep and meaningful conversations. The teaching sessions were spiritually enriching and enlightening, and the extended times of silence were nourishing to my soul. The Listening Circles were mutually encouraging and challenging in the faith, and the worship made me feel so close to God. I soon discovered that Bob was right, the Academy is a place that transforms us. I know it transformed me, and it made me more cognizant of God’s constant presence with me. Throughout the week, I experienced glimpses of the kingdom of God, and it filled my soul up until it overflows. I left the Academy singing, “It is well, it is well, with my soul.”