The Rev. Dr. Stuart Higginbotham serves as the rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Gainesville, Georgia. He is a priest, writer, retreat leader, husband, and father. He has a deep desire for a contemplation reformation, an exploration of how the Christian contemplative tradition can shape, nurture, and challenge the institutional church–specifically embodied at Grace in The Center for the Practice of Prayer.
At Grace, Fr. Stuart serves as rector of the 1,000 member parish and pre-school, working with the vestry, ministry committees, and staff colleagues in prayer, discernment, worship, and community life. He began his cure on January 6, 2014, the Feast of the Epiphany.
Within the broader ministry team, Fr. Stuart has a keen interest in spiritual formation and prayer, membership and newcomers, and the worship and liturgical life of the community. He grounds his ministry at Grace in the Christian contemplative lineage. In August 2017, he was part of the initial gathering of The New Contemplatives Exchange, a global network of young contemplative scholars and practitioners convened by Thomas Keating (Contemplative Outreach), Richard Rohr (The Center for Action and Contemplation), Tilden Edwards (The Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation), and Laurence Freeman (The World Community for Christian Meditation) at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado. Click HERE to explore a short documentary on the Snowmass gathering, put together by Leonardo Correa, with the World Community for Christian Meditation.
Stuart and his friend and colleague Dr. Jessica Smith co-edited Contemplation and Community: A Gathering of Fresh Voices for a Living Tradition (Crossroad Publishing, September 2019). This work is a compilation of eleven chapters from participants in the Snowmass gathering that focuses on key aspects of contemplative practice in our current global environment.
Fr. Stuart’s doctoral thesis, “The Practice of Christian Mindfulness as an Imaginative Challenge in Parish Ministry,” describes Grace’s work over the past few years to reorient its practice of discipleship and ministry away from the “program-maintenance model” toward a contemplative posture of spiritual imagination, discernment, transfigured awareness, and desire.
Fr. Stuart studied in the pre-med program at Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas (B.S. Biology, summa cum laude, 2001) and did his initial theological studies at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia (M. Div, honors in spiritual formation, 2005). He also studied at the School of Theology at the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee (Diploma in Anglican Studies, 2008). He received his Doctor of Ministry degree from Sewanee as well (May 2017). He is also a graduate of the Shalem Institute of Spiritual Formation (Washington, DC) and serves as an adjunct staff person in Shalem’s Clergy Spiritual Life program.
His wife, Lisa, is a middle school teacher and is the grounding presence for their family. Both Stuart and Lisa grew up in the Mississippi Delta in Southeast Arkansas (30 minutes apart), deep in farm country, just over the bridge from Greenville, Mississippi, spending long summer days with large families, fried catfish, and sweet tea. They met while studying at Lyon College, where Lisa first thought Stuart was a British foreign exchange student (until he spoke). They have one daughter, Evelyn Clare, who loves to read, draw, and tell jokes and stories. As a family, they love having as simple a life as possible: cooking, reading, playing games, watching movies, and spending time with family and friends.
You can contact Fr. Stuart at firstname.lastname@example.org.