The Charis Spiritual Director Training Program is an ongoing initiative of the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. The purpose of Charis (Greek; kar - is, grace) is to provide a Wesleyan-base experience in spiritual formation and academic study that will equip lay and clergy to serve as trained spiritual directors.
Each year of the three-year program includes two annual three-day retreats and eight second-Saturday training days, coinciding with a ten-month (August-May) academic year. Our program has trained over 60 Spiritual Directors in this tradition over the last 12 years.
September through April classes are conducted at a First United Methodist Church that is geographically central within the conference area. The day includes worship, presentations, discussions, experiential prayer, small groups and fellowship. We begin our day at 9:00am and conclude at 4:00pm. In August and May Thursday through Saturday retreats are led by faculty or special presenters and are conducted at Lakeview Methodist Conference Center near Palestine, Texas.
THE CHARIS VISION
The Charis Spiritual Director Training Program combines the rich traditions of Christian spirituality with the spirituality of Methodism, offering academic information and personal transformation, equipping students to serve as a Spirit-guided companions for others.
The program curriculum is designed to enhance a participant's own spiritual journey as well as offering preparation to become a spiritual director. The first year encompasses discernment and self-discovery, emphasizing spiritual formation. Year two continues spiritual formation with academic exploration of the history of Christian spirituality. Year three continues spiritual formation with an in-depth practicum in spiritual direction. The program is undergirded by John Wesley's understanding of the philosophy of grace and the practice of accountability in the everyday spirituality of life. All years focus on diversity and embrace experiential paths of prayer.
2001 Texas Annual Conference Bishop Alfred Norris appointed Rev. Kathi Brun as director of Spiritual Formation and Teaching Ministries.
2003 Rev. Brun asked several United Methodist Spiritual Directors to begin meeting in hopes of creating a Spiritual Direction Training Program undergirded by Wesleyan theology.
2004 In the fall, the hard-working group was led in a discerning retreat by the Rev. Fredda Minick. Areas of interest were formed, tasks were divided, a board was created, and Rev. Phyllis Carey was elected as chair.
2005 (spring) Articles were placed in Cross Connection, application packets were sent out to interested participants, and interviews of candidates began.
2005 (early summer) The first 27 Charis participants were accepted into the training program.
2005 (August) The opening retreat was held at Lakeview as Hurricane Katrina headed toward the Louisiana coast. Dr, Tom Albin, with Upper Room Ministries, presented on John Wesley: His Spirituality and Theology.
2006 (spring) The three-year process of becoming a Spiritual Director is about discerning God's call. By early spring, 5 participants had dropped out of the program due to illness, relocation, or a shift in clarity of their call.
2008 (August) After 3 years of discernment, 450 hours of class, and 6 retreats, the Charis Board proudly presented 22 Spiritual Directors who answered God's call to Ministry. Class 2 began with 17 participants.
2011 (August) Class 2 graduated 15 new Spiritual Directors, trained in the Wesleyan tradition who answered God's invitation to ministry.
2011 (August) Fourteen Class 3 participants started their training with an opening retreat at the Lakeview Conference Center.
BOARD AND FACULTY
Board of Directors
Rev. Glynden Bode (Board Chair)
Rev. Dan Gilliam
Rev. Cindy Serio