By Debbie Eisenbise
For over a decade, spiritual directors from throughout the Church of the Brethren have met annually for a retreat and continuing education. Shepherd’s Spring Outdoor Ministry and Retreat Center in Sharpsburg, Md., provides a beautiful and quiet setting for this event, which includes opportunities for worship, prayer, silence, creative expression, peer supervision, and keynote presentations.
This year’s keynote speaker at the retreat held in May was Josh Brockway, director for Spiritual Life and Discipleship, who presented four sessions based on his upcoming book, “Becoming Prayer: The Contemplative Asceticism of John Cassian for Today.” Attention was given to the role played by John Cassian (360-435 CE) in establishing Western monastic prayer practices and spiritual understandings. Central was Jesus’ teaching in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.” Those present were challenged by Cassian’s admonition that “we should be, outside the time of prayer, what we are during prayer.”
The retreat offers Brethren spiritual directors a unique opportunity to meet with peers and explore the practice of spiritual direction from within a shared tradition. Speakers in previous years have included various writers, lecturers, and spiritual directors, most recently Phileena Heuertz and Roberta Bondi. Continuing education units are offered for participants, and opportunity is given for peer supervision and support.
Next year’s retreat will focus on creativity and prayer and will be held May 22-24, 2017, at Shepherd’s Spring. In the meantime, to experience sessions on various forms of prayer led by members of the network, attend the Jubilee Afternoon events at this year’s Annual Conference in Greensboro, N.C., on the afternoon of Friday, July 1.
The Spiritual Directors Network is open to all who are receiving or have completed training in contemplative practice and who offer spiritual direction to individuals and/or groups. An online application process is being developed to make it easier to sign up with the network, and to provide a comprehensive list of Church of the Brethren directors to districts, camps, and Bethany Seminary.
— Debbie Eisenbise is director of Intergenerational Ministries for the Church of the Brethren and a member of the Congregational Life Ministries staff. To find a Church of the Brethren spiritual director, or to express interest in joining the network, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-323-8039 ext. 306.