Christos Introduces and Welcomes Vicki Howard
An Interview with Peg Ruetten
Vicki, please tell us where you grew up and comment on your childhood.
My early childhood years were spent on a small farm south of Terre Haute, Indiana. That area was home for our family until my dad was transferred to northwest Pennsylvania, and my high school years were spent there. I then returned to Indianapolis, where I worked, studied, and met my husband, Tom. My childhood was a safe, happy time for me, with lots of extended family, lots of music and a church family that cared for each other. I was very shaped by the solid values that were built into my life during those years.
Can you recall a time when you became especially drawn to prayer or contemplative practices?
I honestly can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love Jesus because I was surrounded with people who loved Him too. However, like many, by the end of high school I was troubled by the abundance of do’s and don’ts, and a seeming absence of a loving personal relationship with God. I so longed for more. An Episcopal rector graciously reminded me that God loved me just as I was, and for me, it was a life changing concept – unconditional love rather than a frowning, disappointed God. Later through a difficult journey with a child with serious physical handicaps, God began to teach me a new way to rest in Him and be renewed. And, through time spent in a very meaningful devotional book, I started learning about solitude, silence, meditation, fasting, and many other ancient practices that I hadn’t known existed. I am very grateful for those who have gently guided me to more deeply embrace the contemplative life, shaping my spiritual journey and bringing steady transformation to my life.
Please share how you came to Christos Center and where you’ve been involved in the ministry.
I had the privilege of attending a two-year program in the Transforming Center with Ruth Haley Barton, where one of the covenant requirements was to find a spiritual director. Though I wasn’t at all sure about doing so, I had the amazing blessing of meeting with Marilyn Stewart. After several years, she suggested that a right next step might be for me to apply to Christos. I did! I graduated from Christos, Chicago in May, 2016, and it had a deep impact on my spiritual life. I organized several Christos events, and then was asked to join the Board of Directors in September of that year. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the other Board members, learning from them and offering what I can bring to the conversation. In October 2017, the Board asked if I would be willing to serve as the Senior Director. I was surprised, and yet I sense this is what God has in mind for me now. I’m thoroughly enjoying both the people I am privileged to work with and the challenges this role brings.
Vicki, it is my belief that “at just the right time….” God brought you into your current leadership role. Please share some of the educational or work experiences that have contributed to you being in your current place of service at Christos.
In 1985, I accepted a position with Christianity Today, a Christian publishing company located near Wheaton, IL. I spent 30 years there, serving in many roles on the operational side of the ministry. Because I enjoyed the challenge of restructuring a department to better utilize the gifts and passions of staff and making it run more efficiently and effectively, I was asked to oversee almost every operational department over many years. Those assignments provided a broad base of hands-on experience across the ministry. I served as Sr. Vice President until my retirement at the end of 2015, due to family needs. Now, as I’ve begun to work with Christos, it almost feels as though God spent those 30 years equipping me to work with Christos at this time! It’s rather amazing all around, but here I am!
One final question Vicki … do you have something more you would like the Christos community to know, or could you comment on what you pray for around building forward on the rich history of ministry through Christos?
Christos has played a very significant role in my own spiritual formation, and I believe that the process of deep spiritual listening with another, spiritual direction, has profound influence on the life of both the spiritual director and the one seeking direction. I am very grateful to be allowed to play a part in assuring that Christos continues to provide the best possible training to those called to be spiritual directors and all those seeking contemplative Christianity.
My dreams and hopes, and what I’m praying around now is that 1) we continue to be faithful to the core mission and values on which we were founded: 2) we make this training available to more people by establishing new geographically targeted programs, like Fargo ND, and by thoughtfully expanding our Distance Learning Program; 3) we can share our message about what Christos has to offer, using tools and venues that will draw more and more young people toward both seeking spiritual direction and toward being trained as spiritual directors. There’s more…. but that’s enough for now!
Again, a warm welcome, and thanks to you Vicki!
If you wish to welcome Vicki directly, you may contact her at Vicki@ChristosCenter.org.