The Cathedral of St. Philip - Atlanta, GA

2019 Spirituality Conference

Lerita Coleman Brown, Ph.D.

From Contemplation to Compassionate Social Action:
The Creative Encounter of Howard Thurman

Saturday, October 26, 2019
9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.

As a mystic, theologian, and spiritual adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,Howard Thurman (1899-1981) possessed the uncanny and prophetic ability to make a connection between silence and the scrutiny of one’s inner life with social justice work. As the spiritual architect of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Thurman chose to engage in sacred activism (work that would serve all people) and to use the contemplative experience as a path to peace, purpose, and empowerment. He wrote about this desire in Jesus and the Disinherited, a book that Dr. King carried with him whenever he marched. Howard Thurman’s advocacy of the common unity among all of God’s holy children is highlighted in a later book, The Creative Encounter.

What does it mean to be a freed human spirit? Join us for a day journeying through the life and writings of Howard Thurman and dipping into his contemplative practices. We will explore how this mystic and theologian emerged from Baptist beginnings to become a model and teacher of sacred activism. An examination of how his contemplative roots were affirmed and strengthened, and his 1935 pilgrimage to India and meeting with Mahatma Gandhi reveal his quiet role in changing the course of American history. In addition, Howard Thurman’s transformational experiences with God and his classic book, Jesus and the Disinherited highlight the living wisdom he espoused that continues to nourish our spirits today.

Lerita Coleman Brown, PhD, Ayşe I. Carden Distinguished Professor Emerita of Psychology, Agnes Scott College, is a spiritual director/companion, writer, retreat leader, and speaker. She earned her BA from UC Santa Cruz and PhD from Harvard University. A graduate of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, Professor Brown promotes contemplative spirituality, the living wisdom of Howard Thurman, and uncovering the peace and joy in one’s heart on her website,, and other social media platforms. Her recent chapter, “Dissecting Racism: Healing Minds, Cultivating Spirits," was published in the edited volume, Living into God's Dream: Dismantling Racism in America. Her new book, When the Heart Speaks, Listen—Discovering Inner Wisdom was released in February, 2019.
Twitter: @peace4hearts

The cost is $60/person and includes lunch (group rate is $55/person for groups of 5 or more). Late registration (week-of) is $70/person. 


Purchase tickets below or from our Eventbrite page. If you prefer to pay with a check, please use this form. Contact Jeannie Mahood, 404-365-1031, with questions. 

Subscribe to our Spirituality Conference emails:

Email Address
First Name
Last Name

The Cathedral of St. Philip will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you with content related to our ministries. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at We will treat your information with respect. We use MailChimp as our marketing automation platform. By clicking below to submit this form, you acknowledge that the information you provide will be transferred to MailChimp for processing in accordance with their Privacy Policy and Terms.

Hotels and Restaurants

For a partial list of hotels and restaurants near the Cathedral of St. Philip, click here.


To make a donation for this and future spirituality conferences, click here. Proceed with options and select "Spiritual Formation" from the list.

Feel free to contact Jeannie Mahood, 404-365-1034.


2017 Spirituality Conference

Featuring the Rev. Dr. Barbara Brown Taylor

Sunday Dean's Forum (audio) »

2016 Spirituality Conference

Featuring the Rev. Dr. John Philip Newell

Sunday sermon (audio/video) »
Sunday Dean's Forum (audio) »