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Adult Discipleship

Benedictine Silent Retreat scheduled for Sept. 7-9


In 1988, the late Claude Whitehead, UMC pastor, counselor and spiritual director, began the Silent Retreats at Sacred Heart Monastery in Cullman. Since then, Silent Retreats have been offered twice a year as a means of spiritual formation. This year, the Fall Retreat is scheduled Thursday-Saturday, September 7-9, so that clergy who are interested can attend without missing a Sunday in church.  The Benedictine Silent Retreats continue to follow the format Rev. Whitehead created. The theme of the...

New retreat format offers "Taste of Silence"


If you've ever wondered if a silent retreat is right for you, there's an opportunity to find out at Sumatanga's new retreat, A Taste of Silence. "It's for those who are fearful of silence but would like to try," says Rev. Judy Shepherd, retreat leader. "It's for those who want to experience a silent retreat but don't have time, or for extroverts who hate silence but crave time with the Lord." A 24-hour experience, A Taste of Silence offers the same amenities as the full silent retreats offered...

What Is Spiritual Direction?


What Is Spiritual Direction? [Jesus says,] “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8 NIV) Shortly after I first began to long for spiritual direction, an imaginary picture temporarily dampened my soul’s deep longing. It was the image of a symphony orchestra. In my imagination I saw many musicians together with their instruments arrayed in sections—strings, brass, ...

40 Days of Lent: Find your own spiritual path


A Feature by Joe Iovino* During Ash Wednesday services on the first day of Lent, many United Methodist pastors will invite their congregations “to observe a holy Lent: by self–examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self–denial; and by reading and meditating on God's Holy Word” (from the United Methodist Book of Worship). While you may be aware of this season leading up to Easter, you may wonder how you might “observe a holy Lent.” There is no one prescribed way. Instead, we...

Second Spiritual Direction Certification course scheduled


Through the efforts of Rev. Mike Densmore and Rev. Denise Mullaney, the Perkins School of Theology at SMU offered a Spiritual Direction Certification course at Camp Sumatanga beginning in October of 2015. The two-year program trains clergy and laity called to this specialized ministry. As the course to draws to a close, two participants in the program were asked to share their thoughts. I graduated from Perkins with an M.Div. in 2002, so I knew first-hand how excellent the school was. A few ...

Adult Discipleship Team produces Advent study


The North Alabama Conference's Adult Discipleship Team has created an Advent study for churches to use this year. The study is called advent[ure]: A Journey through the Christmas Story. The four-week study is based on four journeys found in the familiar story we hear, read and sing about each year at Advent. To stress the Wesleyan beliefs espoused by the United Methodist Church, the studies utilize the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, which is a method of Bible study based on John Wesley's belief that ...

Workshop offering techniques for teaching and facilitating Bible-Based groups to be August 6


As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. —Proverbs 27:17 Those who lead an adult small group or Sunday School class often face common scenarios such as: the participant who dominates every conversation the participant who never speaks up although others in the group know s/he has much to offer to the discussion a group/class who meets regularly but doesn’t seem to truly connect with each other a group/class who meets for years but never participates in the overall mission and ...

Registration open for Five Day Academy for Spiritual Formation


Goodness Gracious, Good and Light! A Note from Linda Holland, Director of Connectional Ministries   Years ago, when writing Grand Ole Opry ads for Martha White Foods, I promised cooks light and flaky biscuits if they would use our flour. Those radio spots probably should have included the warning, “Results may vary.”    Similarly, I could try to convince you to attend a Five Day Academy for Spiritual Formation by using concepts such as peace, clarity, restoration and breathing room. While you ...

Adult Discipleship Blog: Context Gives Meaning


The story goes that in the 1600s a fire burned down much of east London. Some years later, an architect by the name of Christopher Wren laid the foundation stone for Saint Paul’s Cathedral. It took him 35 years to complete it. Pause for a moment, and consider your own vocation. Can you imagine working on a single project for 35 years? What would that mean for you? What would that be like? How would you feel when you were finished? When the cathedral was complete, Christopher Wren had the ...

Beyond fasting: 10 tips for a more meaningful Lent


A Feature by Joe Iovino Lent is a time for self-reflection and deepening one’s relationship with God in Jesus Christ. For many this season leading up to Easter will be weeks of giving up something they enjoy as a sign of contrition for mistakes they have made. Others will spend extra time in devotions and prayer, while a few more will carry a cross or nail in their pocket as a reminder of the sacrifice Jesus made for them and the whole world. If those practices work for you, wonderful! ...

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