We Are Christianity and Beyond

I’m often asked what sort of a place Compassionate Heart Community is. Is it a church, a monastery, a meditation center, or…? To be honest, I have been trying to figure that out for some time myself. We aren’t a typical church – our space looks more like a living room than a church with pews. We are rooted in Progressive Christianity but open to spirituality in many forms. We aren’t a monastery, although many of us are very interested in the contemporary movement known by some as “new monasticism,” or the idea of being a “monk in the world,” coined by the late Br. Wayne Teasdale. We aren’t only a meditation center, although we do teach and practice the contemplative arts.

As I was reflecting on this a while ago, it came to me. We are Interspiritual, by which I mean we honor all of the great traditions and believe that they all represent a search for and movement toward that quality that many of us call Divinity, or God, and in which we grow into the people we are meant to be. That’s not a term that many people are familiar with, however, so we don’t use it in our promotional material very much. You might say we are in the process of discovering what lies beyond institutional Christianity. We won’t tell you what you should believe, unless what you believe is that it’s a good idea to hurt other people. We won’t pretend to have all the answers, because nobody does. We see ourselves as here to accompany you on the spiritual journey, here to learn as much from you as you do from us!


Welcome to the Compassionate Heart site!

The Contemplative (now Compassionate) Heart Community was founded when two men – Craig Bergland and Jack Pain – both of whom had been involved in experiments in what’s commonly known as New Monasticism decided to venture out on their own with a group that was more broadly inclusive and tolerant than most such groups which existed at the time. A few years later Jack passed away and Craig, who was involved in many other projects, decided to put Contemplative Heart on hold.

In the Spring of 2012, Craig began having conversations with his friend and colleague John Lowey. Both shared a love of contemplative prayer and meditation in the Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu traditions; both are ordained Christian clergy in the Universal Anglican Church who have also taken Buddhist refuge vows; both identify themselves as interfaith and interspiritual in perspective; and neither fits the stereotypical image of a member of the clergy. Together, they brought Contemplative Heart out of mothballs as Compassionate Heart and have breathed new life into it in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The mission of Compassionate Heart is both local and world-wide. Locally in Milwaukee Compassionate Heart began a non-sectarian meditation group in September, 2012. The group currently meets on the first and third Wednesday nights of every month at 7pm. We meet at the Marian Center for Nonprofits, 3211 S. Lake Drive, St. Francis, WI 53235 in Room 315 of the south building. We recommend you park in the south lot. As demand increases, so will the number of meetings!

Our devotional Interspirituality groupĀ meets in the same location, Room 315, on the first Sunday of every month at 1pm. Beginning in January 2013, we will meet on the first and third Sundays of every month at 1pm. Structured like a relaxed interfaith service, we use readings from different traditions and sing songs chosen around a theme for the week

The world-wide mission of Compassionate Heart is to provide information and support to people interested in meditation and/or contemplative prayer (we use the two terms interchangeably). We welcome your questions, concern, and discussions. If you are located in the United States and would like us to visit your meditation group or to consult with us in starting a group, please contact us. We would be happy to assist you!

Periodically we will be posting blogs on this site that have to do with issues and perspectives around meditation. If you have a topic you would like to see covered, please let us know!