Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats
Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats: The Group Leaders Program Overview
“The ultimate leader of the group is God’s Holy Spirit blowing through us… If people come ready to be vulnerable to God’s life in them and the world, if they desire more than fear God’s call to deepening liberation, intimacy, and compassion, then we can trust that grace will abound.”
Today people are increasingly seeking spiritual groups and retreats, searching for community, meaning and ways of touching the Living Presence of God. Shalem’s Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups & Retreats Program is designed to equip, encourage, and support those called and gifted to assist the Holy One in nourishing those spiritual seekers.
Begun in 1984, this Program provides resources for leadership of both short-and long-term contemplative groups and retreats and attracts a mix of men and women from a variety of professions and faith traditions. Shalem’s Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups & Retreats Program offers an ecumenical program combining extensive academic reading and reflection with experiential support. Its two residencies include seminars interwoven with participant-led prayer groups and provide opportunities for both learning about God and experiencing God in prayer. Always, the focus is on deepening communion with God and contemplative awareness of God’s immediate presence in all of life.
In 1973, Shalem began with a particular kind of contemplative group, meeting weekly over many months, and has continued to offer such groups in various forms ever since. These groups are grounded in a careful rhythm of silence, small-group reflection, and guided plenary times. There is exposure to a number of different practices or “ways in” to becoming present for God with our whole being. The practices involve our senses, feelings, imaginations, minds, wills, and bodies as well as our image-less, silent presence.
In 1987, a major program was begun for spiritual formation leaders, and this was the prototype for the current Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups & Retreats Program. Some of Shalem’s learnings about these groups and their leadership have been published in Tilden Edwards’ Living in the Presence: Disciplines for the Spiritual Heart (HarperSanFrancisco 1987, 1995).
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