Introducing the 2020-2021 Brazos Fellows

In just a few weeks, the 2020-2021 Brazos Fellows cohort kicks off! It’s certainly not going to be a typical year for the fellowship, given COVID-19, but the basics will stay the same: a rhythm of prayer, work, and study; learning and discerning in conversation with tutors, spiritual directors, and coaches; a rich and rigorous Course of Study; and sharing life together. As it turns out, 2020 might just be the perfect time to be part of something like Brazos Fellows. In the middle of uncertainty, division, and disruption, there’s never been a greater need for Christians to take on a Rule of Life–to embrace weekly practices and disciplines aimed at deepening our love of God and neighbor–and to commit to sharing life with others in small, in-depth communities.

And we’re especially excited to do this work with our incoming fellows. In the coming weeks we’ll be welcoming a great group of young men and women to Waco, Texas. Here’s the 2020-2021 Brazos Fellows cohort:

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Arabella Bryant goes by Belle. She was raised in Central Florida with her parents, in a city called Lakeland. She recently graduated from Wheaton College where she majored in English Literature and minored in Bible/Theology and French. This year she will study the body within church history and how embodiment relates to our redemption and to eschatology. She is looking forward to how being in a space that is initially unknown can invite the fellows into new perspectives on ourselves, the world, and God.

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Mitchell Elequin was raised in the hill country west of Austin, Texas. He just graduated from Baylor with a BBA, studying accounting, anthropology, and New Testament. This summer, he is developing a non-profit called Tentmakers Network and enjoying board games and disc golf with loved ones. He is looking forward to studying contemporary Christian ethics through first-century Christian wisdom, and eagerly anticipates liturgical and communal life with the Brazos Fellows cohort.

Picture1Natalie Widdows is originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and she recently graduated from Baylor as a University Scholar studying Great Texts. She attended Christ Church this past year and is excited to continue being a part of the Christ Church family for this upcoming year. She is particularly excited to study church history, theology, and Holy Scripture in the context of a community centered on prayer, worship, fellowship, and love of God.

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Chris Norton received his initial programming in Shreveport, Louisiana, as part of a global conspiracy to subvert your thoughts and feelings. However, an undisclosed agent hacked his software and modified him to endlessly scribble made-up stories instead. As a result, Chris was let loose to run amok in the world and currently masquerades as a writer of wacky fiction, supporting himself by creating short stories for English language learners. During his time in Waco, he’ll be looking into some questions at the intersection of writing and spiritual experience. He’s excited to ride some mountain bike trails and explore with his puppy, Naomi—all while devoting his abilities entirely to peaceful purposes.

Please join us in praying for Mitchell, Belle, Natalie, and Chris, as they move to Waco, get settled, and prepare to do this work of study, discernment, and prayer. We’re looking forward to what this year holds for them.

What is theology for?

“What is theology for?” This is the question that Dr. J.I. Packer asked, every time, in a ringing, clear voice at the start of systematic theology class at Regent College. And the answer we called back, every time: “Doxology!” We then stood, and sang it–The Doxology, that is. Because, for Dr. Packer, to talk about God, to talk about ideas about God, for any other reason and in any other frame was, in fact, nonsense. We studied theology to know God. We studied for, and as, worship.

 

Yesterday, Jim Packer went home to be with the Lord. The legacy he left behind is hard to overstate. He left a mark in 20th century evangelical theology, in the life of the Anglican church, in evangelical-Catholic relations, and in many years of teaching at Regent College. You can read about Dr. Packer’s tremendous life and career here.

One part of his legacy is that the call for worship-oriented theology–for theology aiming at doxology–lives on in a small way in the many students he taught. Our work together at Brazos fellows, when we gather in classrooms or around the dinner table, is what it is in no small part because of him. Thank you, Dr. Packer.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.

‘Lord, You Were There’: Memory and the Presence of God

Editor: please enjoy a new reflection on our year from Brazos Fellows 2019-2020 alum, Emily Engelhardt. This fall, Emily is heading off to Nashville, TN to begin a program in Certified Nurse-Midwifery at Vanderbilt University.

000214510030As I reflect on this past year, I remember classes in a white-painted room with opaque windows in the back of Christ Church. I remember the feel and shape of a ceramic teacup within my hands and the unforgettable squeak of the back door. I remember a candle’s bright flame flickering in the middle of our table. As Christians we are called to remember, not only our own journey of faith, but the faith of generations before us. Our faith is built upon the faith of older generations who passed on the gospel through making disciples. Christianity, as Robert Louis Wilken reminds us, is inescapably bound to the witness of others. We do not even have Christ’s words apart from the apostles who wrote them down. The gospel is shared through the ages by bearing witness to God and living in conversation with the past.

 

Memory is a central theme in scripture. Only by remembering can we live in obedience to Christ—only by returning to God’s work in our own life and in the lives of those before us can the foundation of our faith be sustained. The psalms are saturated with memories of God’s faithfulness. Psalm 77 begins with cry to God with a “soul that refuses to be comforted”. Midway through, the psalmist turns:  “Then I said, ‘I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.’ I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.” Psalm 105 recalls the plagues from which God delivered the Israelites and his provision for them in the desert. The story of man’s rebellion, repentance, and deliverance is told again and again through scripture. Alasdair MacIntyre says, “I can only answer the question “What am I to do?” if I can answer the prior question “Of what story do I find myself a part?” By remembering these stories, we learn who we are and how to live. Continue reading “‘Lord, You Were There’: Memory and the Presence of God”

Prayer for Justice, Prayer for Healing

Archbishop Foley Beach has called the ACNA to a week of fasting and prayer in light of recent events in our nation, especially the “senseless killing by a police officer of an unarmed black man, George Floyd.” All of us at Brazos Fellows join in offering these prayers for justice and racial healing in our nation. And we add our voices to the many in ACNA who recognize the need for confession, commitment, and change in the Letter on Anti-Racism and a More Diverse and Just Anglicanism:

We see and grieve the racism and discrimination that exists and has a deep cultural and structural influence in our society, in our communities, and in our churches. The recent tragedies of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd are simply the latest in a long line of harrowing examples of these deeply embedded systemic realities. We see and grieve that our brothers and sisters of color, including many in our own dioceses and parishes, have been and continue to be profoundly affected by these realities.

Against this backdrop, we offer the following confessions and make the following commitments.

Please read the whole letter here–and consider adding your name.

While we cannot provide anything close to a comprehensive list of resources for further viewing and / or reading, we commend the following to our readers: