The Journey School FAQs
What is The Journey School?
The Journey School is a school of transformative spiritual psychology and practice of The Church of Conscious Harmony (CCH). The Journey School consists of the following three components:
1. A weekly Thursday evening class exploring the ideas and practices of the Work of Inner Christianity integrated with wisdom from the contemplative Christian tradition.
2. An annual, yearlong curriculum consisting of a weekly email which includes Scripture, teachings from the Work of Inner Christianity integrated with contemplative Christianity, homework exercises, links to definitions, readings and related resources.
3. Weekly Journey Groups, the primary place for the nurturing of spiritual community in a small group setting.
Are there levels of participation in The Journey School?
Yes. One can engage The Journey School at a level that fits your available time and spiritual hunger:
1. Receive weekly email only
2. Receive weekly email and participate in a Journey Group
3. Attend the Thursday evening class with the option of having a Work Partner. The weekly email is included in this level of engagement
4. All of the above
5. Participate in all offerings and commit to being a CCH Oblate, living the Oblate Rule of Life.
Is The Journey School the same as the 2019 Spiritual Journey program?
The 2019 Spiritual Journey program was an experiment, exploring a new paradigm of teaching and community support at CCH: using a formal year-long curriculum, distributing teaching via email, establishing Journey Groups for small-group discussion and support, and employing technology to allow remote participation. The Journey School takes these ideas further, incorporating the CCH Annual Aim into the curriculum and integrating the weekly email teachings and homework with the Thursday night class. The 2020 curriculum will be new and unique.
Who can participate in The Journey School?
The Journey School is open to anyone who wants to make God-devotion and transformation into Christ the center of their lives. You do not need to live in the Austin area or be a member of CCH. All that is required is the intention to participate in The Journey School at one of the levels of engagement.
How do I join The Journey School?
You join The Journey School by filling out an acceptance card (handed out at Sunday Service in January), joining online, or by calling the Church office: 512.347.9673, in January 2020.
Does it cost anything to participate in The Journey School?
There is a suggested offering of $125 to participate in The Journey School to help offset program expenses and receive the email curriculum.
Is The Journey School an experiment like the 2019 Spiritual Journey program?
The Journey School is planned to be a stable, ongoing, yearly platform for spiritual teaching and support. Every year the curriculum will change, though always integrating the foundational streams of teaching that make CCH unique: contemplative Christianity and the Work of Inner Christianity.
Who runs The Journey School?
A team of people are involved in making The Journey School function. The Minister has overall responsibility; an Abbot/Abbess has oversight of the spiritual integrity and temporal affairs of the School and the CCH Oblates; a Curriculum Team designs the annual curriculum; a Writing Team produces the weekly lessons; a team of Faculty members leads the Thursday evening class; and facilitators hold center for each Journey Group. Additional support is provided by the CCH Business Manager, Office Manager and volunteers.
What’s the difference between The Journey School and The Church of Conscious Harmony (CCH)?
CCH offers many opportunities to deepen our relationship with God – The Journey School is but one – though a principal one. In addition to The Journey School, CCH offers worship services, a youth program, other classes and retreats. Although The Journey School is part of CCH, it is possible to participate in The Journey School and not be a formal member of CCH. It is also possible to be a member of CCH and not participate in The Journey School.
Will CCH offer in-depth study options apart from The Journey School?
Yes. Each spring and fall there will be elective classes offered, open to all.
Does The Journey School have a campus?
Yes, at The Church of Conscious Harmony in Austin, Texas. The Journey School holds a weekly Thursday evening class in the sanctuary. Face-to-face Journey Groups also meet on campus.
What is a Journey Group?
Journey Groups are the primary place for the nurturing of spiritual community in a small group setting. The Journey Group is a spiritual family (of about 6 to 10 people) whose members listen to and encourage one another. Members discuss the weekly Journey School curriculum and share how they engage with it in their daily lives. Journey Group members make a one-year commitment (January through December) to meet for about 75 minutes each week, either in person on the CCH campus, or remotely via Zoom.
Who facilitates the Journey Groups?
Certain experienced members of The Journey School are selected by the Abbot/Abbess and Faculty to serve as Journey Group facilitators. These individuals undergo training for their role. Ideally, facilitators are Oblates of CCH.
Are Journey Groups different from what we had in 2019?
Not in principle, although the 2020 curriculum, weekly email and homework will focus the Journey Group conversations into new areas.
Do I have to belong to a Journey Group to participate in The Journey School?
No, you can participate in The Journey School by receiving the weekly email and/or attending the Thursday evening class. Journey Groups are an additional enrichment for those who desire it.
What happened to Second Line Groups?
Second Line groups have been replaced by Journey Groups.
What is an Oblate of The Church of Conscious Harmony?
An Oblate of The Church of Conscious Harmony consents to journey deeper into Christ, what theologians call Theosis, or simply, Love. Participation as an Oblate is a declaration of intentional relationship to the Divine Mystery that is God and to all creation. Oblates participate in all aspects of The Journey School, and in addition take a vow to live by the Oblate Rule of Life.
How does one become an Oblate of The Church of Conscious Harmony?
To become a CCH Oblate, a vow is taken, renewable each January. The vow is born of a personal hunger and commitment for transformation into Christ and a wish to live a committed life in service of this aim. The vow is to God alone, yet lived out through and with The Church of Conscious Harmony community. With the annual vow, CCH Oblates commit to God and to the Oblate Rule of Life so to actively participate in the spiritual journey while engaging the transformative process as “monks in the world.”
Is the Oblate program the new version of The 10th Man School?
Like Oblates, members of The Tenth Man School agreed to live by a similar Rule of Life. While there is this similarity, Oblates also commit themselves to study and practice in community through The Journey School. Oblates will also have a dedicated weekend retreat each year.
What is the CCH Oblate Rule of Life?
There are ten practices that comprise the CCH Oblate Rule of Life:
1. Twice daily Centering Prayer practice
A twice-daily practice of 20-30 minutes of Centering Prayer is the foundational and essential practice for consenting to God’s presence and action.
2. Daily reading of Scripture
Personal reading of Scripture is a foundational daily monastic practice, for individuals and community. Using a daily liturgical reader, such as Give Us This Day, is suggested. We read Scripture through the lens of the ideas of the Work of Inner Christianity and contemplative Christianity. Reading in the manner of Lectio Divina is suggested.
3. Daily study and application of the ideas of the Work of Inner Christianity
Ordinarily, this will mean reading and engaging a selection from Maurice Nicoll’s Commentaries. However, there are many other resources from enriching teachers such as P.D. Ouspensky, J. G. Bennett, Rebecca Nottingham, et al.
4. Daily conscious movement (e.g., tai chi, yoga, walking)
As incarnated beings, love of God with our whole being must incorporate our bodies, temples of the Spirit. Care and movement of the body are a means of being fully human and integrating the energetic movement that can arise in the body through contemplative practices.
5. Weekly immersion in a Eucharistic worship service
The Eucharist provides an opportunity to see ordinary matter in an extraordinary way, inviting us to perceive the mystery of Christ everywhere and in everything. It is an unbroken transmission of God’s love for us and Presence with and within us. Oblates participate in Eucharistic worship at The Church of Conscious Harmony on Sunday mornings or Wednesday evenings. Those who are traveling or live out of town are encouraged to partake in a local Eucharistic service.
6. Spiritual direction with the Minister
We recognize the value in witnessing, confessing, and opening ourselves in vulnerability to another who will individually respond to us, pray with us, and gently guide us in ways we could not do alone.
7. Seva or YES program service
Service to the community and one another is an expression of love for God and one another. Oblates are expected to participate in a Seva team or other similar ministry to the Church community. For those who reside outside of the Austin area, the Oblate selects his/her area of regular service.
8. Commitment to attend a multi-day Centering Prayer retreat
Extended time away from the demands of day-to-day life in the silence with others is a foundational experience in the contemplative life. Oblates are encouraged to attend a 10-day retreat, but any multi-day Centering Prayer retreat will open us to receiving untold gifts of spiritual and psychological fruitfulness.
9. Attendance at the annual weekend Oblate retreat
The annual Oblate retreat provides time away for inspiration and focused community building. Typically, the retreat will begin on a Friday evening and conclude by 5:00 pm Saturday. Oblates coming from out of town are encouraged to stay for the Sunday worship service and enjoy fellowship with the entire Church community.
We give freely and receive joyfully. Tithing is an expression of valuation and gratitude for the spiritual sources which feed our soul. Tithing is also a spiritual practice between you and God. The practice of tithing brings God into our relationship with money, and through it we acknowledge in faith that God is the true source of our supply. Historically, tithing means contributing 10% of one’s income.
Do I have to agree to live all 10 of the practices to be a CCH Oblate?
I live out of town and do not feel comfortable attending a Eucharistic worship service in my local community. Can I still be a CCH Oblate?
There is a religious order called Oblates of Mary Immaculate, OMI. Is that related to Oblates of The Church of Conscious Harmony?
There is no relation. While the OMI order might use the word Oblate to convey a similar meaning, there is no connection between CCH Oblates and the OMI, or any other group that uses the term Oblate.
Out of Town Participants
I don’t live in Austin. How much of The Journey School can I participate in?
You can receive the weekly email, attend the Thursday evening class via Zoom, and be part of a Journey Group via Zoom.
I don’t live in Austin. Can I be a CCH Oblate?
Yes. As an out-of-town Oblate, the Abbot/Abbess will reach out to you and be your primary point of contact. The Abbot/Abbess will also help you discern the Seva component of your Rule of Life.
The Thursday Evening Class
What is the Thursday evening class and does it differ from the current WoIC class?
The Journey School Thursday class replaces what was named the Work of Inner Christianity class (WoIC). It meets from 7:00 to 8:30pm and is led by The Journey School Abbot/Abbess and a faculty member. The chief innovation of the Thursday night class is that the content follows the curriculum laid out in the annual Journey School curriculum. As such, The Journey School class more intentionally integrates teachings from the Work of Inner Christianity, Scripture, and contemplative Christianity.
What is the format of the Thursday evening class?
The Journey School class follows much the same format as the WOIC class did; starting with Lectio Divina and faith sharing, followed by personal reports on the homework from the previous week, then a teaching and a reading, followed by a homework assignment, and closing with Compline.
Will we still study the Commentaries?
The Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky will remain a foundational text for The Journey School curriculum.
Can I attend the class if I don’t receive the weekly Journey School email?
Yes, although the class is designed to amplify, expand and integrate teachings related to the weekly email. Receiving the weekly email is not a prerequisite, but it would be beneficial for anyone who wants to get the most out of the class.
Is the class open or closed?
Although structured for the benefit of those who are participating in The Journey School, the Thursday evening class is open to all who have a desire to study and practice.
How do I participate if I’m traveling or don’t live in Austin?
Weekly physical attendance at the class is encouraged. But for travelers and those living out of Austin, the class will be broadcast live using the Zoom videoconferencing platform. Audio recordings of the classes will also continue to be available for streaming/download.
What is Zoom?
Zoom is an internet-based service that allows CCH to stream the Thursday night class to people who cannot be physically present in the sanctuary. Remote participants can see and hear the class. There is no cost to participants.
Will I be seen on Zoom video?
No. The Zoom broadcast will be focused on the class leader(s). Anyone viewing the broadcast will not see class members, although anyone who shares during the class will be heard by all.
Can remote people interact via Zoom – i.e., ask questions or share experiences?
Not at this time.
Will the Zoom video be recorded? Can I watch a class at a later time?
That is TBD. Audio recordings of the class will continue to be available.
Will the CCH worship services be broadcast via Zoom also?
What is a Work Partner relationship?
A Work Partner relationship is a special, voluntary, 1-1 relationship between two people who are receiving the weekly Journey School emails and attending the Thursday evening class. Two qualified people are paired to work together – deepening their knowledge and their being. It is an opportunity to immerse oneself more deeply in The Journey School curriculum and practice.
What do Work Partners talk about?
The primary purpose of the Work Partner relationship is to set aim each day, to report on one’s observations and struggles in daily life while on the spiritual journey, and to discuss one’s engagement with the weekly homework exercises.
How long does this relationship last?
People who desire a Work Partner relationship are paired up by the Abbess and Faculty early each year. The relationship continues for the rest of the year.
What is a time guideline for Work Partner interactions?
Work Partners agree to talk each day, almost always by phone. Typical calls may range from 20-30 minutes but might be longer or shorter depending on circumstances. Sometimes Work Partners may wish to meet for lunch or coffee to engage in a more relaxed or in-depth conversation.
What are the prerequisites to have a Work Partner?
To qualify for a Work Partner relationship, one must be receiving the weekly Journey School emails, and be attending the Thursday evening class. Out of town/Zoom participants in the Thursday evening class may request a Work Partner after consultation with the Minister.