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 years ago, when Perkins first offered the certification program, I was very interested, but was not in a place professionally or financially to attend. When it was announced that the program was going to be offered at Camp Sumatanga, I was thrilled and couldn’t wait to sign up. I have not been disappointed – it was what I expected it would be: excellent teaching and processing through the whole course.
As a pastor, I was and am often called upon for spiritual direction in an informal way as part of my job. However, I realized that I needed more knowledge and practice in a structured and credible way. I have received that and more.
I have grown personally in my own faith walk with God. I have been led to examine spiritual disciplines I had not tried before, such as centering prayer. I have learned which spiritual practices work for me and which don’t. This will be valuable when I direct others – I can lead them into these practices and understand what they are going through as they grow in their spiritual lives. I can also help them discover and develop their own spiritual muscles.
The instructors we have had so far have stretched me, guiding me into learning more about spiritual formation and direction, instilling in me the desire to know more and to grow deeper in my faith journey, personally and professionally. One of the best things has been the relationships I have formed with members of my cohort. We have shared so much of our spiritual lives with one another, and I have observed and learned from them things that have deepened my faith. As in seminary, these are relationships that will remain for a lifetime.
—Rev. Patsy Carlberg