The Rev. Dr. Stuart Higginbotham

Rector

Fr. Stuart has oversight of the entirety of the mission and ministry of the parish, working with the vestry, committees, and staff colleagues in discernment, vision, and planning. He began his cure as rector on January 6, 2014 the Feast of the Epiphany. He loves to draw on the insights of the entire team, wondering together what God is inviting us to explore in the community! 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 tradition, working and studying as part of The New Contemplatives Exchange, a global fellowship 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). 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 image of discipleship and ministry away from the “program-maintenance model” toward a practice of spiritual imagination, discernment, transfigured awareness, and desire. He is particularly drawn to exploring the ways the Christian contemplative tradition can shape, nurture, and challenge the institutional church.

Fr. Stuart graduated from 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) and the School of Theology at the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee (Diploma in Anglican Studies, 2008). He completed his Doctor of Ministry degree from Sewanee in May 2017. He has also worked and studied for years with the Shalem Institute of Spiritual Formation (Washington, DC). Desiring a tradition to ground his ongoing study in contemplative practices, Fr. Stuart became a Benedictine oblate with the Camaldolese Benedictine community, New Camaldoli, in Big Sur, California in 2016.

His wife, Lisa, is a phenomenal elementary school teacher. Both Stuart and Lisa grew up in the Mississippi Delta in southeast Arkansas, deep in cotton country, just over the bridge from Greenville, Mississippi, spending long summer days with large families and way too much sweet tea! They met while studying at Lyon College, where for a brief stint Lisa was Stuart's boss. 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, watching movies, and spending time with family and friends.