Care of Souls
“It turns out that the things we've been taught to pursue — money, status, power, fame, and sex appeal—are not only unworthy of us, but driving us to hurt ourselves, oppress each other, and damage our world. In ever-larger numbers, we see the lie and its toxicity, as we reject insufficient and untrustworthy systems, and despair at a culture of isolation and injustice.”
This passage comes from “Care of Souls”, a capstone report written by Casper ter Kuile, Angie Thurston, and Rev. Sue Phillips — a group of Ministry Innovation Fellows at the Harvard Divinity School — with support from The Fetzer Institute and On Being. Over the course of four years, these fellows traveled around the U.S. to understand the loneliness, isolation and division that plague so many in the digital age. The report caps off their research and illustrates seven innovative community leadership roles that they feel are needed now.
The seven roles are:
The Gatherer — Forms communities of meaning and depth
The Seer — Helps us approach the sacred
The Healer — Breaks cycles of violence
The Steward — Creates the infrastructure for spiritual life
The Elder — Grounds our gifts in history and community
The Venturer — Invests in creative ways to support human flourishing
The Maker — Reminds us how to be human
According to the authors:
“These are the new interpreters of ancient wisdom, sanctifiers of daily life, and speakers to the deepest ground of our being. They do the project of being human in a different way. They solve for social and spiritual disconnection, and provide others with permission and resources to do the same. To know them is to know courage and imagination.
Perhaps you know them. Perhaps you are one of them.
If you can’t see them, it’s because they belong to a future that is only just emerging. The categories they belong to don’t yet exist.”
In the report, the authors detail why each role is important and the pitfalls that a person or organization in this role will need to avoid. For instance, the Seer will need to avoid “guru-syndrome” while the Steward will need to understand the importance of traditions and ancient practices while also imagining and testing new ones.
It’s a truly profound piece and was one of a handful of resources we curated for our members this month.
P.S. Thank you to Holstee community members Danya and Nick for sharing this report with me!