In Dr. John Morgan's book, The New Paradigm in Ministry Education: A Radical Philosophy of Collaboration, Dr. Morgan outlines the myths that have pervaded academia and which have ultimately produced individuals who have paid their tuition and served their school, rather than having the experiences of being served by the school. He suggests that educational institutions have spent so many resources on the grounds, library, and sports complexes that they have not been "freed up to concentrate" on what the institution ought to be in the first place: education.
Dr. Morgan advocates for educational institutions to offer the student opportunities to create their own programs that are based on the unique context from their professional sphere, rather than completing a checklist of university-deemed requirements that may or may not align with real and current needs. His solution is to facilitate multi-institutional collaboration where students can create a program based on their discernment of what courses and experiences are most valuable to them. This kind of institution becomes student and learning-based very much akin to Paolo Freire's model of education as liberation. Freire believed in informed and value-based action that leads to emancipation—from the self and oppressed systems.
The Spiritual Guidance Training Institute is honored to collaborate with The Graduate Theological Foundation, the educational institution of which Dr. John Morgan served as president and is a longtime faculty member. Participants in the SGTI certification program may fulfill all of a master's degree in Pastoral Counseling and all but a project (or non-project) for a doctor of ministry degree. You can read more here: http://www.gtfeducation.org/about-the-gtf/the-spiritual-guidance-training-institute.cfm
At the SGTI, we value justice and peace that promote the healing and transformation of people through spiritual guidance and friendship. We believe that through deep listening, curiosity, hospitality, respect, and compassionate action, we can "inter-be" with family, friends, and strangers, as well as all living and non-living things. Our hope is that our educational model promotes the freedom to make choices that work for the inter-connectedness and betterment of our world.
Jeanette Banashak, PhD, EdD
Co-founders and directors of SGTI share their thoughts on how important spiritual guidance is in today's world as our religious affiliations continue to shift and change. Drs. Banaskak and Lundy discuss spiritual guidance and the emerging need for genuine hospitality and deep spiritual care to foster understanding in diverse communities. They also emphasize the importance of professional training in spiritual guidance because of this need.
Listen to the podcast. Enjoy! (18 min.)
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Listen in on the conversation. "What is Spiritual Guidance?"
Nestled among hills and farms is a beautifully interspiritual and inter-religious city in southwest Michigan. Home to fewer than 10,000 people, Three Rivers hosts an intersection of three waterways: the St. Joseph River, the Rocky River, and Portage River. Since First Nations people first lived on the land, there has been noticeably significant spiritual energy. It is a gentle and peaceful energy that invites you in to silence, solitude, and connection.
In the area, there are five spiritual retreat centers, all neighbors and within walking distance of each other. These include St. Gregory’s Abbey, the Hermitage, Gilchrist, EarthSong Peace Chamber, and Apple Farm Community. One of only a few Episcopal monasteries in the US, St. Gregory’s Abbey is the oldest center in the vicinity, founded in 1946. The Hermitage is a Mennonite retreat center specializing in silent retreats, Gilchrist is an inter-religious retreat center operated by Fetzer Institute, EarthSong Peace Chamber is a First Nations retreat center where Nature and the inner world intersect, and Apple Farm Community is committed to psychological exploration in the vein of Carl Jung. Each center offers a unique contribution and retreatants may spend anywhere from a few hours to a month or more there.
Legend holds that “ley lines”, which are spiritual and mystical alignments of landforms, cross through the area. Each of the five non-profit organizations encourages seekers to wander through each other’s land and participate in open services or ceremonies. At St. Gregory’s you could attend one of seven daily liturgical services; at the Hermitage you could join retreatants in a silent sit or communal prayer time; Gilchrist has group meditation; at EarthSong you could participate in a drumming circle or fire ceremony; and at Apple Farm you could join a discussion around a topic about humanity and consciousness.
Most recently, while I was staying at the Hermitage, I took a walk through the property and made my way to the beautiful grounds of Gilchrist. On its land, Gilchrist has several sacred outdoor spaces with different religious and spiritual sanctuaries. These pictures reflect the diverse, yet unified spirit present in the in/visible world surrounding the five retreat centers.
Jeanette Banashak, PhD, EdD.
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Deepening the understanding, practice and importance of spiritual guidance across traditions.
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