Reverend Don Chatfield

All Souls Interfaith Gathering Lead Pastor

Rev. Don is an interfaith minister who comes to All Souls from the Osage Forest of Peace, where he served as executive director.  The Forest of Peace is an interspiritual contemplative retreat center near Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Don established a robust schedule of interfaith events and founded a School of Spiritual Direction.

Don holds a Master of Divinity degree, a master’s degree in counseling, and a Ph.D. with a focus in community development.  As part of his doctoral research, Don spent time studying at Los Horcones commune in Sonora, Mexico, to learn about their system of governance, known as “personocracy.”

He has a deep commitment to social justice, honed during his service as executive director at a large nonprofit serving the homeless and working poor in Tucson, Arizona.  During his tenure, the nonprofit was successful in pressing for legislation to limit predatory lending and to establish fair practices for day labor halls.  He also operated a training program to teach construction trades to homeless persons.

Don’s commitment to environmental protection is equally as strong, as evidenced by his experience as chief operating officer of a Western conservation organization.  He supervised environmental programs in offices ranging from Bozeman, Montana, to Glenwood Springs, Colorado, to Mexicali, California, with an emphasis on collaborative conservation to find shared environmental solutions.

Don and his wife, Karen, established La Cholla Center for Integrative Spirituality in Tucson, through which they taught contemplative practice and led interfaith retreats.  Also in Tucson, Don became a board member at Sanctuary Cove, an interfaith retreat center adjacent to Saguaro National Park.

A certified spiritual director, Don finds great fulfillment in being a companion with others on the spiritual journey. His interests in the field of spirituality include the development of an interspiritual liturgy, eco-spirituality, contemplative spiritual practices, and developing interspiritual curriculum resources for training ministers.

Don and Karen fell in love on the slopes of Killington and spent much time skiing, camping, and hiking in Vermont while they were dating.  They have been married for 31 years and are relocating to Vermont with their Bichon Frise, Lily.

Don said, “I am delighted to join the All Souls community and to continue the interfaith tradition established by Mary Abele.  Along with all of you, I look forward to expanding the opportunities for meaningful interfaith expression and spiritual connection at All Souls.”

Reverend Don Chatfield (right), Karen Chatfield (left), and Lily (center).

Don was born in Phoenix, Arizona where his father served in the Air Force.  Both his parents were from Kansas City, Missouri where the family returned.  Don’s early years were spent surrounded by grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins.  He has fond memories of live jazz concerts at the Nelson Atkins Gallery and his first baseball game (Kansas City A’s vs. Boston Red Sox).  He remembers helping his grandfather prepare communion at church and watching his mother practice organ for Sunday services.  Don loved fishing with his dad and uncles in the lakes and streams of Missouri.  When Don was nine years old, his father’s job was transferred to Ponca City, Oklahoma.  His parents were dismayed by the lack of opera, ballet, and sports, but Don loved the newfound freedom of riding his bicycle to the movies and countryside.

Rev. Don Chatfield

Progressive Biography: Part One of Five

On a retreat at 14 years old, Don sensed a strong call to ministry.  He told his pastor, “It’s a call to something non-traditional.”  Don signed up for the high school debate team to develop research and public speaking skills for ministry.  He made it to the state speech tournament, held right before the senior prom.  Don went on to collegiate debating while he majored in rhetoric and persuasion, reaching the semifinals of the national debate tournament.  During his senior year in college, he served as a student pastor in Oklahoma City, preparing him to serve two churches in Kansas City, Missouri as a staff minister during his Master of Divinity studies.  It was during this time that Don fell in love with skiing while leading a youth retreat at Welch Village, Minnesota.

Rev. Don Chatfield

Progressive Biography: Part Two of Five

Don’s studies led him to Drew University where he met a lovely pastor’s daughter, Karen Bender, and they fell in love on a weekend ski trip to Killington.  While dating, Don served as staff minister at a Methodist Church in New York and Karen worked as a book editor in Manhattan.  Don wanted to engage faith with public policy, so he applied for environmental studies at the University of Arizona. Don and Karen were married at his church in New York and, after a Bahamas honeymoon, they moved to Tucson where Don finished another master’s degree.  Karen became a technical editor and Don became a consultant with a firm that assisted communities in the Southwest develop policy visions for the future. Don then accepted a position in community development with a rapidly growing suburb of Tucson, where he wrote environmental and public arts ordinances.  He continued to provide pastoral counseling and to fill-in at area pulpits.

Rev. Don Chatfield

Progressive Biography: Part Three of Five

Don completed his Ph.D. in Santa Barbara and was recruited to serve as executive director of a Tucson nonprofit serving the homeless and working poor. There he developed programs to train the homeless in construction skills while building 30 affordable homes each year. Karen joined a regional behavioral health agency as proposal manager and began developing cultural competence training. Don then joined a west-wide nonprofit organization focused on collaborative conservation. Don also served as Associate Pastor at a Methodist Church in Tucson, where he led the contemporary worship service with a rock band and video boards. Feeling called to a larger vision of spirituality, he began studies for interfaith ministry. Once ordained as an interfaith minister, Don and Karen opened La Cholla Center for Integrative Spirituality, offering meditation classes, retreats, and study series.

Rev. Don Chatfield

Progressive Biography: Part Four of Five

Don completed a master’s degree in professional counseling and became a therapist providing addiction treatment services.  Karen became a board member of the Coalition on African American  Health and Wellness and planned a statewide mental health conference for the LGBTQ+ population.  Don and Karen continued to offer meditation, spiritual studies, and retreats through La Cholla Center.  They enjoyed vacations to western ski resorts and Mexican beaches.  Don accepted the position as executive director at Osage Forest of Peace, a contemplative interspiritual retreat center near Tulsa.  There they founded the School of Spiritual Direction to train spiritual companions.  Don built an annual calendar of workshops and retreats and coordinated weekly services.  Last December Don received an email about the Lead Pastor position at All Souls and immediately felt drawn to apply.  Don and Karen arrived in Vermont on July 8 and were welcomed at a community picnic on July 14.  They both love Vermont and being part of the All Souls Community. 

Rev. Don Chatfield

Progressive Biography: Final Part