Circles of Friendship, Prayer, and Encouragement



At the Peterson Center, we're prayerfully asking God to help us nurture a community of pastors who embody a way of being that is faithful, contemplative, joyful, holy, and deeply human. And goodness, do we have our work cut out for us.

There are powerful, entrenched cultural forces arrayed against these simple hopes. Our frantically paced, ego-driven world insists we should clamor to be recognized, move lightning fast, and always poised for the cutting edge. It’s presumed we must always have a quick, witting response in our back pocket – and a bullhorn at the ready. 

However, we believe that faithfulness means resisting these oppressive assumptions. We long for a better way.

  • What if, rather than increasing effectiveness or maximizing efficiency, our churches and neighborhoods really need friendship, humility, and wisdom? 
  • What if we are starved by our lack of curiosity? 
  • What if we need fewer words and more silence? 
  • What if our moment begs for courageous voices emerging out of a lifetime of fidelity rather than a reactionary impulse? 
  • What if we long to be a people whose gifts emerge out of postures of prayer and lament and hope? 

For Eugene Peterson, being a pastor was unflinchingly about God (and he lamented how this most basic truth needed to be reclaimed). The pastor’s essential job – above every other responsibility – was to stand amid this beleaguered, beautiful world and point one direction, say this one word: God.



The Common Rule is a commitment to live our vocation of pastor in a particular way. Structured after monastic communities that live, work, and pray together by means of a common rule, the words below guide our interactions with each other, the communities we steward, and God.

{Our Prayer}

God, give us eyes to see the wideness of your world, shimmering with beauty and holiness. Stimulate our imaginations, infusing us with courage and hope. Surround us with friendship. Plant us as seeds of resurrection. 

Seeking to live our prayer with courage and humility, we commit to our Common Rule, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

We reorient ourselves to God, by sharing a beautiful and peculiar way of life together:

  • We will gather around our animating center: God. We will live in the ancient stories of our faith, grounded in Scripture and the creeds.
  • We will belligerently resist the prominent, idolatrous narratives of self-absorbed success and all the evils this soul-sickness breeds: comparison, competition, and the compulsions of runaway ego.

As friends, we will embody prayerful play and playful prayer:

  • We will cultivate beauty, simplicity, spaciousness, and generosity. We will guard the sacramental reality—the sensual grace—of our shared life. We will seek to follow Jesus by nurturing community that is both human and holy.
  • We will bring our true selves, open-hearted, into our space and conversations. We will ask good questions of one another. And we will listen. We will open ourselves to being known and will seek to know another. We will not allow “shop talk” to dominate.
  • We will tell the truth to one another. We will work to be a trustworthy circle, recognizing how being for one another is a seminal sign of genuine friendship.

We reorient ourselves to God, by pursuing a beautiful and peculiar pastoral vocation in the world:

  • We will practice fidelity to our baptism, bending only to Jesus as Lord and renouncing the seductive powers of our age: lust for recognition, addiction to power, clamoring for relevance, and the acclaim of the crowd. We reject subservient loyalty to any national, religious, racial, philosophical, or political idolatry that would lure us from the Jesus Way and seduce us back into the way of Caesar or Herod.
  • We will be witnesses to Christ, the world’s true King. We will, like John the Baptist, point away from ourselves toward the Living Word. We will return again and again to this truth: In the beginning, God… God speaks first, and we answer. We will remember that we do not save the world—Jesus does. We will rediscover the joy of being drawn into the Trinity’s healing, redeeming action in the world, even as this posture will often make us seem unnecessary and irrelevant according to the expectations and assumptions of the cultures we inhabit.
  • We will pursue those most essential (and often unnoticed or misunderstood) angles of pastoral work: Scripture, prayer, and spiritual direction.

We will love the Church, Jesus’ body:

  • We will be purveyors of beauty and goodness. We will look for the sacramental potential in each person we pastor and in the world that God creates, loves, and sustains. We will remember that grace is everywhere.
  • We will resist idealism and abstraction. We will remember that those we pastor (like ourselves) are sinner-saints whom Jesus has made good and lovely.
  • We will embody an unhurried, unbusy pastoral posture. We will love people, not use them. We will seek to live and speak the truth, often subversively, so that we might be faithful witnesses to the Resurrection.
  • We will join the ancients who have gone before us by submitting our bodies (vow of chastity), our resources (vow of poverty), our power (vow of obedience) and our aspirations (vow of stability) to Jesus Christ.


ways to belong

ONE | Kingfisher Annual Gathering

Following the Peterson Center's annual Doxology conference, we will host an Annual gathering for the Order of the Kingfisher community. This space will be a focused space for pastors, renewing our shared vision (Common Rule) and welcoming new members of the Order. We hope these days will foster a sense of connection to a larger community of like-minded pastors. Space will be limited to 40.

Dates: Wednesday, Oct 2 (4pm) – Friday, Oct 4 (11am)

Cost: $200 / Please let us know if the cost is a barrier, and we will do our best to help.

Where: We will start and conclude with a large group gathering at Pillar Church in Holland, Michigan. Then, we’ll break into smaller gatherings in various rented houses for prayer, meals, and leisurely conversation.


Wednesday, Oct 2

3:30pm – Gather at Pillar for Opening

4:15pm – Gather in Groups

5pm – Dinner at Pillar

6pm – Depart for Houses

7pm – Leisure and Evening Prayers in Houses

Thursday, Oct 3

9am Breakfast in Houses

10am – Morning Prayer and Conversation

11am – 5pm – Free Time

6 pm – Dinner in Houses

7pm – Evening Prayers

8pm – Free Time

Friday, Oct 4

8am – Breakfast in Houses

10am – Morning Prayers and Conclusion at Pillar

11am – Finished

TWO | kingfisher groups

Throughout the year, we dream of small communities of pastors gathering to share in friendship, prayer, and encouragement. What holds the group together is a desire to journey with other pastors who have committed to the common rule.

  • Order of the Kingfisher groups can look a lot of different ways. They can span vast distances and meet primarily on Zoom or they can be local gatherings that meet in person. They can get together often or not as often.
  • We suggest meeting either for group retreats (at least a 24-hour period—but preferably 2 nights—at least twice per year) or for more regular group conversations (monthly would be a minimum suggestion for this option)—or some combination of the two. There is a lot of flexibility here, but the quality of space we create together may prove the most formative part of what we do.
  • We suggest a simple structure: prayer, Scripture reading, and a meaningful question (What are you carrying with you today? What do you need? Where are you encountering sorrow—and where are you encountering hope?, etc.). While we won’t emphasize formal content, groups may need help being formed into this countercultural pastoral imagination. One of Peterson’s pastoral works, or something from a like-minded voice, may be useful. But we want to be cautious about too easily defaulting to our times together focusing on information.
  • It’s vital to be attentive to opening our space to every kind of pastor. Bi-vocational pastors or pastors without church resources for continuing ed/spiritual development need to be considered in the planning (and if you cannot figure this out in your own group, the Peterson Center will work to help). Further, we want to do all we can to invite the diversity of God’s Church (gender, ethnicity, class, theological convictions) into our communities. We are impoverished without the full spectrum of God’s pastors.


Do I have to be a pastor?
The Peterson Center also enthusiastically creates spaces for those who give their lives to God’s world in other beautiful ways, but the Order of the Kingfisher is designed for the particular complexities and joys of pastoral ministry.

Do I have to be ordained?
The Peterson Center serves the whole church, and so we serve all pastors. Matters of ordination and other ecclesial specifics are a matter between pastors, their churches, and their ecclesial bodies.

Do I have to attend the Doxology Conference to attend the Kingfisher Gathering afterward?
We have intentionally placed these two gatherings together and being present for both is how we’ve imagined the time. The full stretch of days will create a more leisurely, present posture. Also, the spirit of Doxology will feed into our Kingfisher gathering. However, being present for both is not an absolute requirement.

If I attend both Doxology and the Kingfisher gathering, is there a discount?
Everyone who attends Kingfisher automatically receives a “discount” through our fundraising that offsets the actual cost of the event (the registration fee does not cover the cost). The same is true for Doxology as well.

How can I belong to an ongoing group? Is there a sign up list?
We have several pilot groups already in place, and we will form more groups out of our October gathering.

Does a Kingfisher group have to be composed of people who live in the same area?
While in-person groups are always preferable, some groups consist of pastors from different locales and either meet for scheduled retreats twice a year or meet via Zoom (or both).

How can I start a group?
Begin by starting a conversation with Sam Gutierrez, our Associate Director. You can email him:

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