I’m forever grateful for the many and varied spiritual leaders who have accompanied me thus far in my life. Having trusted guides to help me delve more deeply into my relationship with God, in all seasons of my life, has been and continues to be transforming to my faith. It led me to ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church and most recently, it has given me the courage to respond to the call to pursue Certification in Spiritual Direction at Perkins School of Theology at SMU in Dallas, Texas, where I currently commute as a student.
My first experience with a spiritual director occurred over 18 years ago. At 26 years old, I watched death enter my first husband’s hospital room and embrace his final breath. I was unprepared for the visit and for the grief tsunami that followed. Chris had lived valiantly with an unrelenting form of cancer that invaded his body at an aggressive speed and refused to let go. After the shock of his death wore off, I became determined not to drown in my sorrow, and so I sought out a gifted grief counselor, I journaled, I exercised, I prayed, I wept, I laughed, sometimes all at the same time. I did everything you are supposed to do to help heal from heartbreak. But I found that on this journey, something was still missing. You see, a seismic shift had occurred in my faith. It was moving into an unfamiliar territory and my understanding of God was changing. I needed help navigating what all this meant for my own life.
The final piece of my healing work occurred when I began meeting with a spiritual director. We met monthly and he served as a guide for me as we entered holy space together keeping focus on tending to my soul as my relationship with God evolved and eventually deepened. And the work we did together forever changed my course of life. Even now, I continue to work with a spiritual director each month as I grow and mature in my spiritual life. After all, it is a life long journey, and I need all the help I can get!
And so I was thrilled when Mike Densmore, one of our gifted United Methodist pastors, and recent graduates of the Perkins off-campus program in Arkansas, shared with me about a year ago, his vision of bringing this two- year program to North Alabama so that fellow clergy and laity who feel called to pursue this specialized ministry would have the opportunity to do so without having to travel to Arkansas or Dallas!
In 2014, Mike and I teamed together to make this dream a reality. With the support and blessing of our Bishop and Extended Cabinet, and the Board of Ordained Ministry, we are pleased to announce that beginning this October, Perkins School of Theology will now offer the Certification of Spiritual Direction Program to North Alabama at our very own Sumatanga Camp and Conference Center.
This program is for spiritually mature United Methodist clergy and laity who feel called to spiritual direction. Details about the off-campus program are available at: www.smu.edu/Perkins/FacultyAcademics/spiritform/CSD/CSDOffCampus
For those interested in applying to this two-year program, please click here for details.
I cannot think of a more exciting opportunity to “discover, develop and deploy spiritual leaders to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Will you help us share the news with those you observe to have gifts for this ministry? Please also pray for this program and for the men and women who feel led to participate.
I’m grateful to be in ministry with you,