Intensive Cohorts

What: The House of St Michael, a community dedicated to total conversion to the life of Jesus Christ, meets monthly to worship and discuss selections from the Church Fathers.  We have found these gatherings to be quite challenging, forming, and transforming.  Our exploration of the Church Fathers has deepened our reading, understanding, and devotion to Scripture along with expanding and strengthening our practice of the Faith.  Because of our valuable experience, we desire to include more friends in this journey.

The House of St Michael is excited to offer intensive cohorts: four Saturdays over the course of the year that guide participants into the Church Fathers.  While participants certainly gain knowledge of the writings of the Church Fathers, the gatherings center on the broader concern of continual transformation towards our radical calling in Jesus Christ.  In the cohorts, there is a consistent reading and discussion of The Philokalia (monastic writings on the inner life of prayer) as well as other selections from Church Fathers, with each meeting book-ended and anchored by worship and sung prayer.

There are two cohort groups: an introductory cohort and an experienced cohort. The Introductory Cohort aims to provide an environment that allows people to explore the Church Fathers slowly, perhaps for the first time. The readings  tend to be straightforward and the amount of reading is relatively light. We’ll focus on writings from the early 2nd century, essentially what came right after the New Testament. People can expect to be galvanized and encouraged in the Faith through the testimony of these early Christians.  This cohort is open to anyone who desires to receive their witness.

The Experienced Cohort will focus on readings that tend to be longer (though not much more than 30 pages) and more conceptually difficult. The discussions will aim to be up-tempo, encouraging people who are relatively familiar with the Early Church to wrestle deeply with the Faith of the Church Fathers. This cohort will have a three-year rotation that cycles through the Early Church and Scripture, the Early Church and Worship, and the Early Church and the Poor. The focus this year is on the Early Church and Worship. This cohort is open to anyone who is prepared and earnest to mine the riches of the Church Fathers, even if doing so requires some heavy lifting.

In an effort to promote healthy discussion and fellowship, we will cap the size of each cohort.

2013-2014 Introductory Cohort

Dates: September 14, November 2, February 8, April 12

Time: 9am-5pm

1st Saturday: Isaiah the Solitary (focus on holiness and prayer) and The Didache (early 2nd century writing)
2nd Saturday: Evagrios (focus on holiness and prayer) and Letter to Diognetus (early 2nd century writing)
3rd Saturday: Evagrios (focus on holiness and prayer) and Polycarp and Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity (early 2nd century writings)
4th Saturday: Ignatius of Antioch (early 2nd century writing) and 1 & 2 Peter (mid-late 1st century writing)

Required texts:
The Philokalia, volume 1 (AmazonChristianbook)

Recommended (for modern English translation; older translation available free online):
Apostolic Fathers (Amazon, Christianbook)

2013-2014 Experienced Cohort (The Early Church and Worship)

Dates: September 28, November 9, February 22, April 26

Time: 9am-5pm

1st Saturday: Evagrios (focus on holiness and prayer) and John of Damascus (focus on the life of worship)
2nd Saturday: John Cassian (focus on holiness and prayer) and Ambrose of Milan (focus on the life of worship)
3rd Saturday: John Cassian (focus on holiness and prayer) and the Liturgy of St James (focus on the life of worship)
4th Saturday: Ephrem the Syrian (focus on the life of worship) and the Book of Revelation (focus on the life of worship)

Required texts:
The Philokalia, volume 1 (AmazonChristianbook)
Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns on Paradise (AmazonChristianbook)

Where: The Upper Room, a store-front church in Pittsburgh, PA (

CostWe consider these cohorts to be an encouragement towards offering our entire lives to the Lord as a pleasing sacrifice.  And we desire that financial contributions to the cohort be a small part of that total offering.

So we ask for contributions within the framework of the Church, according to the Church’s logic of tithes and offerings. What we ask for is a contribution of 0.5% of one’s gross household income (1/20th of a tithe) from each participant (or each household if spouses participate together).

For example:

$10,000 = $50
$20,000 = $100
$30,000 = $150
$40,000 = $200
$50,000 = $250

Since the content builds and requires time to develop, we accept participants for the full-year only.  Costs include food for lunch, but not the cost of books, travel, or lodging (if you come from out-of-town). For more on the House of St Michael’s approach to finances, see here.

Participants are welcome to offer their financial contributions by check or cash, in person at the first meeting or beforehand through mail. If by check, please make it out to “Open Door,” with “House of St Michael” in the memo line (Open Door is a local church that has graciously received us under their 501c3 non-profit status). And if by mail, please send contributions to:

House of St Michael the Archangel
c/o Open Door
801 N. Negley Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15206

Registration: Register online at

Upon registration, you will receive more detailed information on the cohort reading schedule.

Facilitators: Tim Becker, Director of the House of St Michael the Archangel, will convene and guide each gathering.

Shea Cole will facilitate worship at each gathering.  Shea is the melodist of the House of St Michael and has written a number of the songs used during the worship of the House of St Michael the Archangel. To hear some of Shea’s music, go here.

Contact: Tim Becker: