Lay Ministry Blog: Spiritual Help


As complex as the world is today, it is paramount that programs emerge to help individuals, churches, and other religious groups have additional opportunities to deepen their spiritual lives.

There has emerged across Methodism organized programs to help further define spirituality and offer spiritual support and direction to people as they seek to deepen their faith. The value of such programs is that they help churches in their ministry to God’s people inside and outside of the church.

Some of the programs offering ways to deepen our spirituality within our denomination include: The Academy of Spiritual Formation offered by the Upper Room, seminaries, retreats, and small groups within the church.

In addition, I am excited to share about a program coming to our very own Camp Sumatanga: the Certification of Spiritual Direction Program. The North Alabama Board of Ordained Ministry has partnered with Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, to offer this exciting program for both United Methodist clergy and laity.

Two of our clergy, Rev. Mike Densmore and Rev. Denise Mullaney are serving as Spiritual Direction Coordinators for the North Alabama Conference. They both have been a part of the training program at Perkins School of Theology for Certification in Spiritual Direction.

The North Alabama Conference Board of Ordained Ministry voted on September 25, 2014, to sponsor this program, which is administered by Perkins. The vote by the Board was unanimous in endorsing this new program. The Bishop’s Operational team then also unanimously endorsed this program on September 29, 2014.

Two Definitions are important to understanding this program.

Spiritual Direction: “Help given by one Christian to another which enables that person to pay attention to God’s personal communication to him or her, to respond to this personally communicating God, to grow in intimacy with this God and to live out the consequences of relationship”.

Spiritual Formation: “A process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others”.

Here is an overview of this program that will begin in October at Camp Sumatanga. Again, this program is open to clergy and laity.

  • A two year program requiring six long weekends (Friday evening through Sunday lunch) over a two year period.
  • All graduates would be certified by Perkins School of Theology as Spiritual Directors.
  • Program meets the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry requirements for certification in Spiritual Formation for elders and deacons. Others seeking this certification would be required to take the Methodist Studies courses at an approved seminary.
  • Application is made to Perkins via essay registration and references.
    • Requires active relationship with a Spiritual Director (once/month).
    • Requires letter of approval from either Mike Densmore or Denise Mullaney and a recommendation from applicant’s District Superintendent
  • Preference will be given to persons who have attended The Academy of Spiritual Formation.
  • Cost per participant: $350/session plus room and board at Sumatanga.
  • Cost to the Conference: Travel expenses for instructors estimated at $1000/session or $3000/year.
  • Recommended class size is 20.

Core Courses:

1st year
  • Introduction to Spiritual Direction
  • Direction and the role of Spiritual Disciplines
  • Holy Listening
2nd year
  • Stages of Faith Development
  • Spiritual Direction, Pastoral Care, and Therapy
  • Spiritual Direction Practicum

Perkins currently is holding the following dates for North Alabama at Camp Sumatanga.

  • 2015: October 23-25
  • 2016: March 4-6, July 8-10, October 21-23
  • 2017: March 3-5, July 7-9

For more information please go to the Perkins School of Theology Website at or call or email Mike Densmore or Denise Mullaney.

This seems to be the natural fit to our Conference vision of “Life-giving churches led by spiritual leaders for the transformation of the world.”  Plus, all who participate would grow spiritually while satisfying continuing education requirements.

Congratulations to Mike and Denise for their work in becoming Certified Spiritual Directors!

Blessings of grace and peace to each of you and especially to those that participate in this great program of Spiritual renewal.

Until next time,
Steve Lyles
Conference Lay Leader

Denise Mullaney:; 370 Rich Acres Rd Centre, AL 35960; (205) 516-7606

Mike Densmore:; 10903 Hwy 119 Alabaster, AL 35007; (205) 663-0509

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