A Pilgrimage Through the Door to the Sanctuary

Once upon a time, I was concluding a seven-year job at a church, and a friend of mine from high school, who now happens to be a pastor, asked me what I was hoping to do next.

“Oh,” I said somewhat wistfully, “I really want to become a spiritual director, but everyone says you can’t make a living off of that.”
“I know a couple who started a spiritual formation ministry in Hopkinton,” said my friend. “It’s called the Sanctuary at Woodville. You should look them up.” 

I looked them up. The couple was named Bill and Laurel Coolbaugh. I liked what it sounded like they were trying to do in/for God’s Kingdom. But I didn’t know them, and wasn’t a spiritual director yet, and didn’t really know what to say if I reached out.

That summer, I started training as a spiritual director and a chaplain. Occasionally I heard Laurel’s name (she’s the spiritual director in the couple). Then I met Bill. It turns out that he also works with international students and was doing so in conjunction with Campus Ambassadors, the branch of Missions Door I had just been invited to join in order to launch the Pilgrimage. Haha–what a small world! I thought. Laurel and I met some months later, and this year began a spiritual directors’ peer supervision group together.

It is now three years later. In that time a lot has happened. I have completed my spiritual direction training and become a Board Certified Chaplain. The Pilgrimage has gone through at least eight OSFGroup studies, two rounds of Stepping Into the Story, has three spiritual directees, and has become a “specialized ministry” (outside of Campus Ambassadors) with Missions Door. I continue to acknowledge a debt of gratitude to Missions Door for helping me launch this ministry and continuing to provide oversight of its funds. The Pilgrimage wouldn’t exist without that help getting started. In the last year, however, I have been feeling the need/desire to work with a smaller team with a more similarly focused spiritual formation mission and vision, and have been praying accordingly.

You can probably see where this is going…

A few months ago, Bill and Laurel learned that I was praying for a ministry move and, to my surprise and delight, offered a place for the Pilgrimage as a dba (“doing business as”) of the Sanctuary at Woodville. The Sanctuary at Woodville is a spiritual formation ministry like the Pilgrimage, with similar but not identical initiatives. Unlike the Pilgrimage, it is a “freestanding” 501c3, with a physical location, a board, and accounting, and will oversee the Pilgrimage donations. I will also be able to receive accountability relevant to the ministry I’m doing, while at the same time retaining autonomy to plan and direct Pilgrimage programs as before. 

I am really excited about this, you guys! I’m happy to be working in a smaller organization with people I am already learning with and from. I’m grateful to be working with an organization with the same ministry focus as the Pilgrimage. I’m looking forward to seeing how our two ministries complement each other and can share resources, while expanding the range of programs we offer to our respective participants. 

I also really like that, as a dba, the Pilgrimage can now receive donations in its own name, as well as payments for the programs with fees. Yes, funding for the Pilgrimage will still happen via the same two-pronged approach: the faithful financial donations of “Pilgrimage Outfitters,” and fees for spiritual direction and Stepping Into the Story. Donations for the Pilgrimage will no longer be received at Missions Door as of January 1st, so if you are a regular donor, I would be so grateful if you were willing to transfer your giving here. If you are not a regular donor, now is a great time to start! And if you have any questions or concerns, ask away! I am happy to talk to you about this.

I will here reiterate my thanks to and for Missions Door, for getting the Pilgrimage “out the door” and on its way…to the Sanctuary. (The progression of these names really appeals to my English major side–metaphors and symbols!) I also want to say thank you to YOU–for reading, for praying for those of us on this pilgrimage, and for your generous (and often quite creative) gifts to make this ministry possible. Thank you.

Published by Jennwith2ns

Jesus person. Wife and step-mom. Daughter, sister, auntie, friend. Collector of stories: mine, yours, tangible, not... Pastor of Central Baptist Church, founder and spiritual director at The Pilgrimage, and author of Trees In The Pavement and Favored One.

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