Center for Spiritual Growth

 

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
Matthew 5:6

The St. David’s Center for Spiritual Growth seeks to offer Spirit-filled experiences to all who desire a deeper encounter with God in Jesus Christ. The practices offered by the Center cultivate deep, nurturing connections and community and all are welcome. The Center supports individual and group spiritual direction with trained spiritual directors and offers educational series throughout the year, retreats, Centering Prayer groups, Exercise in Faith, Mindfulness Experiences, the St. David’s Labyrinth and Yoga with Spirit classes.

For seasonal updates from the Center for Spiritual Growth, approximately three times annually, please sign up for our email list below.

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For more information about St. David’s Center for Spiritual Growth, please send an email to centerforspiritualgrowth@stdavidschurch.org.

Come Explore the Center!

We are located on the lower level across from the Choir Room in a lovely, comfortable, warm space perfect for spiritual conversation, quiet spiritual reading and prayer. Pray in solitude or with friends. Listen to sacred music, pray with icons. The door is always open.

Come Explore Our Library!

Our library is stocked with writers from C.S. Lewis to Max Lucado to Richard Rohr to Henri Nouwen. We have a book waiting for you to encourage you wherever you are on your spiritual journey.

Center for Spiritual Growth Offerings

Spiritual Direction (Individual and Group)

Spiritual direction is an ancient Christian practice offering companionship on the journey of faith and a deeper relationship with the spiritual aspect of being human. At St. David’s, we have trained spiritual directors who meet with others for individual spiritual direction as well as group spiritual direction.

In these sessions, the Holy Spirit is the director. The role of the Spiritual Director is that of a companion, one who walks alongside others helping to notice the movements of God in our everyday lives. A spiritual direction session offers a safe, peaceful and confidential space to become aware of a more conscious experience of God’s presence and love. Spiritual Direction invites you to a closer relationship with God.

Individual spiritual direction sessions take place once a month. You will meet for an hour with your spiritual director, and s/he will listen to whatever you choose to share that day and help you to notice the movements of God. Spiritual directors are not teachers or therapists. They are not there to solve your problems or answer all your questions. The spiritual director acts as a pointer, pointing you in the direction of God and helping you to notice what God might be inviting you to in your life and shared relationship.

Spiritual direction groups also meet once a month. The group consists of three or four people and a spiritual director. We are together for one and a half to two hours during which time we have a rhythm of silence, sharing and reflection. Each group member has a chance to share what is on her/his heart that day, and the rest of the group then reflects what they have heard both from the person and from God in the silence that surrounds the sharing. In group spiritual direction, we listen to God for and with each other.

If ever there was a journey when companionship would be helpful, it is now in this time and place of pandemic. When it’s hard sometimes to even remember what day it is, it can be helpful to have someone with whom to share your thoughts, uncertainties, losses, joys, and wonderings. A spiritual direction relationship is a safe place to tell your truth. If you’re not sure what that is, it is also a safe place to wander together and seek that truth.

Spiritual direction offers a safe, peaceful, and confidential space to develop a more conscious experience of God’s presence and love. St. David’s is blessed to have a group of trained directors willing and ready to meet with you.

If you feel that group direction is more your speed, please reach out. We are keeping a list of people interested in joining a group. No matter the format, spiritual direction invites you to a closer relationship with God. If you have questions or would like to know more, contact Amy Dolan.

Meet our Spiritual Directors

Buff Barnes

Buff Barnes

Spiritual Director

Contact Buff
Buff has been on staff at St. David’s in varying capacities since 1999 and has been offering spiritual direction since 2004. She meets for spiritual direction with individuals as well as groups. She has a certificate in Spiritual Direction from Oasis Ministries for Spiritual Development and a Master’s Degree in Holistic Spirituality and Spiritual Direction from Chestnut Hill College. Companioning others in their lives of faith is a privilege and gentle joy in her life. She is married to James. They have four grown children and six wonderful grandchildren … more joy (though perhaps not always gentle) in her life!
Amy Dolan

Amy Dolan

Spiritual Director

Contact Amy
For 20 years Amy has loved helping people find ways to draw spirituality into their daily lives. Amy completed a 2-year training program in spiritual direction through Oasis Ministries in 2008. She is in the 2023 cohort at the Center for Action and Contemplation’s Living School. In addition to being a spiritual director for individuals and groups, Amy offers the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. She teaches Yoga and Philosophy at a local university, is a regular blogger about living a contemplative life, and is a published author. She lives with her husband, two dogs, two cats, and an ever-changing mix of three mostly-grown kids. You can find her online at https://yogawithspirit.com/.
Leigh Murray

Leigh Murray

Spiritual Director

Contact Leigh
Leigh feels so honored to accompany sincere seekers, from any spiritual path, on their interior journey to know themselves and God. Leigh offers all who come sacred space and deep listening that supports intimacy with the Divine. She trained as a contemplative spiritual director at the Kairos Spiritual Direction program in Lancaster, PA. She leads retreats and has a particular interest in esoteric teachings and mysticism, offering experiential journeys into the teachings of Saint Teresa of Avila. Leigh also has deep understanding of, and willingness to support, those in spontaneous awakenings, or spiritual crisis. Leigh has availability for individual and group direction. You can find her online at https://www.leighamurray.com/.

Gillian Waldron

Gillian Waldron

Spiritual Director

Contact Gillian
Gillian is a 2019 graduate of the Shalem Institute’s “Nurturing the Call” spiritual guidance program, a trained Stephen Minister and Stephen Leader. While serving on the Adult Formation/Discipleship Commission at St. David’s, Gillian led Lenten studies on Praying with the Mystics and the Rule of St. Benedict. She is also a former leader of the St. David’s Centering Prayer groups. She received a B.A. from Wilson College and a J.D. from the Dickinson School of Law. Please contact her if you are interested in pursuing conversations about the contemplative life, individual spiritual direction, or in group spiritual direction.

Endré Witthoeft

Endré Witthoeft

Spiritual Director

Contact Endré
Endré trained as a Spiritual Director through Oasis Ministries. Endré serves in several ministries through the Center for Spiritual Growth, including Exercise in Faith – a ministry that strengthens body, spirit, and fosters community; Centering Prayer – a silent meditation consenting to God’s present and movement of the Spirit; and Men’s Group Spiritual Direction – companioning with men looking to strengthen, with clarity, peace, and action, their walk with Christ.

Centering Prayer

Mondays
} 7:00pm
Zoom
Wednesdays
} 8:15am
Zoom & Harrison Room

Centering Prayer is our coming to Christ in stillness and silence, with the intention of fully opening Centering prayer is silent prayer. It offers a time to BE with God rather than a time to DO with God. We come to Christ in stillness and silence with an intention of opening our mind and heart to him and deepening our relationship with the living Christ. We experience God’s presence and action within us, beyond breathing and thinking and closer than consciousness itself.

Father Thomas Keating, founder of the Centering Prayer movement, said, “The principal method of centering prayer, really, is to sit down … doing it is the primary discipline.” Fr. Thomas always said that the only way to fail at Centering Prayer is to get up and leave the prayer time. Centering prayer is a time for non-judgment. As long as our intention is to be with God in the silence, we believe that God honors that intention. It is a time to receive the gift of God’s grace.

All are invited to explore Centering Prayer at either or both of our weekly gatherings. The facilitator is happy to offer instruction to anyone. We start with a short opening reading, share 20 minutes of the silence of centering prayer and close by saying the Lord’s Prayer together. We hope you will join us!

MONDAY, 7:00pm
Meeting ID: 817 2768 9648
Passcode: 015753
WEDNESDAY, 8:15am
Meeting ID: 940 0643 9521
Passcode: 153011

 

Mindfulness Meditation

Tuesdays
} 9:00am
Zoom
Fridays
} 9:00am
Zoom

Mindfulness Meditation is a path to building awareness of ourselves as well as our communities and the world around us. Our sessions are suitable for all levels of experience with meditation practice, and include a short talk followed by a guided meditation and a period of sharing among those present.

Our sessions include teaching and meditations on such subjects as finding focus through mindfulness of the breath and the body, mindfulness of emotions, gratitude, lovingkindness, self-compassion and compassion for others, and forgiveness. Our virtual sangha is a safe, supportive, and inclusive community – your presence is welcome as often as you choose to show up. We meet Tuesdays & Fridays at 9am for 30-45 minutes (depending on the time spent in group discussion). Please join us!

Join on Zoom (Tuesdays) Join on Zoom (Fridays)

 

Exercise in Faith

Saturdays
} 10:00am
Knewstub Parking Lot (by St. David’s Episcopal Day School)

“Did you know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you…” In Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians, 6:19 he informs us that our bodies are like a house that is a home, an indwelling for the Holy Spirit to live. Everyone has the Holy Spirit living in us; therefore, a sturdy house should be built, a solid body for the Spirit to live in. When physical bodies are healthier, Christ and His larger body, the Church are better served.

Contemplating on this scripture-inspired Endré to start Exercise in Faith twelve years ago. Exercise in Faith is a total body strength training class using trx-straps (body-weight strength training) and bands, while listening to upbeat music. The group starts off with a prayer, an active stretch/warm-up, and then two to three circuits are performed, depending on attendees’ fitness levels. All levels are welcomed. In fact, everyone is encouraged to listen to their bodies and train in their comfort zone. Exercise in Faith is a fun bunch, friendly, and supportive of one another…join this group and strengthen your body, mind, and Spirit.

Yoga with Spirit

Classes are currently on hold.

Yoga With Spirit classes are designed to nurture body, mind and spirit. Practicing yoga improves flexibility, balance, strength and muscle tone while quieting and focusing your mind. This practice in contemplation helps to develop the skills to live a more peaceful, contented, meaningful life right here, right now. All are welcome in these classes. Amy makes it her job to help each student find healthy and safe modifications in all of the postures. We sincerely hope you will come explore this moving meditation. For more information, email Amy Dolan.

LEARN MORE

“I have and will continue to recommend Yoga with Spirit classes to people I know. Truly, Amy’s yoga classes have changed me from the inside out beginning with teaching me how to breathe and to listen to my breath. While I love how the yoga exercise has made my body stronger and healthier, what I treasure most is how the practice has calmed my mind and made me so much more aware of stopping the negative, unhelpful chatter in my mind.”

Ignatian Spiritual Exercises

Returning in Fall 2022 – Contact Amy Dolan to join

The Ignatian Spiritual Exercises grew out of Ignatius of Loyola’s personal experience as a man seeking to grow in union with God and to discern God’s will. He kept a journal as he gained spiritual insight and deepened his spiritual experience. He added to these notes as he directed other people and discovered what “worked.” Eventually, Ignatius gathered these prayers, meditations, reflections, and directions into a carefully designed framework of a retreat, which he called “spiritual exercises.”

We can tone our spiritual “muscles” just as we work with our physical muscles as we exercise our bodies. The Ignatian Spiritual Exercises are a 30-week intensive course through which we explore our relationship with God and the choices we are making in life. For the period of the Exercises, you commit to one-hour of prayer and meditation with provided materials six days per week. On the seventh day, you will meet with your spiritual director, Amy Dolan, for an hour to review your prayer times and to receive the materials for the coming week.

Labyrinth

The Labyrinth is a meditative walk along a circular or spiral pattern ending at a center place. There is one way in and one way out. The Labyrinth, used by Christians since the Middle Ages, is a reflection of our need to return to our spiritual center and a metaphor for our spiritual and life journey. Before entering the Labyrinth, we breathe deeply and clear our thoughts. As we walk, we allow the thoughts that arise from our hearts and souls until we reach the center and either leave what is no longer needed to God or act on what we were given during our walk. On our way out, we reflect on our journey. This quiet reflection after the walk often offers more insights than what we had during the walk and these insights can occur days after the walk. The beautiful canvas Labyrinth used at St. David’s throughout the year offers us the opportunity to delve into a deeper relationship with God and ourselves.

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We are a church on a mission to know God in Jesus Christ and make Christ known to others.