Charis Spiritual Director Training Program Invites Applications for Class 5

Date Posted: 1/12/2017

Since the program began in 2005, Charis has trained 60 spiritual directors who can provide spiritual direction throughout the Conference in countless ways.
 
Words heard repeatedly from previous members describing their Charis class include “deepening my spiritual journey,” “broadening my faith and understanding of the Holy,” “broadening my repertoire of ways to worship and to be with God,” and “learning to offer grace to others with an open heart and holy listening.”
 
According to Constance Bovier, the Charis Spiritual Director Training Program of the Texas Annual Conference is now accepting applications for Class 5, which will begin its three-year training in the fall of 2017. Application deadline is February 15, 2017.
           
Charis Coordinator Becky Oates says the program seeks men and women, lay and clergy, from the United Methodist Church as well as other Christian faith traditions.

“The ideal candidate for Charis training is an individual of personal maturity who yearns for deeper spiritual development and senses a calling to companion others on the spiritual journey.” She explains that the ministry of spiritual direction is an ancient Christian tradition that dates back to Jesus himself, and to the desert fathers and mothers of the early Christian era. “The training explores the historical streams of Christian spirituality, including our Wesleyan heritage. Beyond academic study, we devote extensive time to the convergence of personality and spirituality, to a broad spectrum of prayer experiences, and to the art and practice of spiritual direction.”
           
Members of Charis Class 4, who will graduate in June 2017, welcome the opportunity to share their experience and encouragement with others who may be discerning a call. “Charis has blessed me beyond words,” says one class member. “The readings of spiritual mystics through the ages, the times of contemplative silence, and the love and nurturing of our Charis community have all contributed to my ability to know and hear the Holy One in my heart and in the world more clearly and more dearly.”
 
“I have been searching for something for so long,” shares another. “Charis has provided me with a focus for my search and has deepened my understanding of the Holy and my relationship with Him.”
 
Class members also frequently express appreciation for the bonding among persons of widely diverse backgrounds who share this calling. One expressed it this way, “Charis has provided me with a community of friends that share my desire to learn and grow.” and another notes that, “together, we experience the Holy, discovering through our diversity how great our God is!”
 
One clergy class member notes that, “Charis has been one of the most important community connections that I have ever had in my life. It has expanded not only my spiritual life, but also my vision of myself as a minister.” Another clergy class member spoke of “increased confidence in myself when serving in the church.”

Charis board chair, the Reverend Glynden Bode, stressed that the program is not a leadership development tool appropriate for all church leaders. “This is simply not its purpose,” she said. “Both lay and clergy are drawn into the program through a calling to deepen their personal relationships with God, to deepen their self-understanding and to help guide and encourage others in that same kind of process.  This provides the ongoing motivation to stay with the three-year process.”
 
The training simultaneously offers fertile ground for personal development and prepares participants for the ministry of spiritual direction. One woman’s experience evoked this poetic summation: “When I came to the Charis program, the music in my soul was only a soft whisper. In this training I have discovered the beauty of myself, and now I know the song God has placed in my heart and I am dancing!”
 
Rewarding Commitment
Charis training encompasses 450 class hours over three years, including six three-day retreats at Lakeview Conference Center and 24 Saturday training days, hosted at a Methodist church which accommodates class demographics and regional diversity. Since the program began in 2005, Charis has trained 60 spiritual directors who are now available to serve throughout the conference.
 
The program is represented on the Faith Forming Relationships & Spiritual Formation Committee, TAC’s Center for Congregational Excellence, and frequently provides spiritual direction for conference clergy gatherings in coordination with the Center for Clergy Excellence. “In addition, Charis maintains relationships with Hearts on Fire, the Fellowship of United Methodist Spiritual Directors and Retreat Leaders (www.fumsdrl.org) and with Spiritual Directors International (www.sdiworld.org),” says Rev. Glynden Bode.  “These connections enable us to draw upon the wisdom of other experienced spiritual directors and training programs. We are deeply committed to helping integrate the ancient tradition of spiritual direction into the fabric of today’s United Methodist churches.”
 
Want to Request a Spiritual Director?
If you wish to find a spiritual director to companion you on your journey, contact the Reverend Cindy Serio, Coordinator of the Gathered Community at 832-330-3973 or cserio@m-sfm.org.
 
To learn more about Charis visit the website: www.charis-txcumc.org. For an application packet, contact Program Coordinator Becky Oates at 979-690-9193 or havenofrest@earthlink.net.  The deadline for Class 5 applications is February 15, 2017.