The Rev. Dr. Stuart Higginbotham has served as the rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Gainesville, Georgia since January 2014. He is a priest, writer, retreat leader, husband, and father. He is interested in cultivating a “contemplation reformation,” an exploration of how the Christian contemplative tradition can shape, nurture, and challenge the institutional church to move beyond the mere program-maintenance model to a space shaped by discernment, prayer, imagination, and a deep trust in the Spirit. He will also serve as the co-director for the clergy program, Going Deeper: Clergy Spiritual Life and Leadership, with the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation beginning in 2021.
Within the broader ministry team at Grace, 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 in the Christian contemplative tradition. 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 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 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).
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.