Mission and Experience
The intent of Wellspring is to nurture laity and clergy in their journey toward spiritual wholeness, to encourage global consciousness, justice and compassion for all of God’s creation, and to prepare participants as spiritual guides, companions and servant-leaders (e.g., exploring the continuing call to Christian discipleship, pastors and lay persons as spiritual guides, retreat leading, etc.).
Wellspring (an institute of spiritual growth, sponsored by the New York Annual Conference) is a two-year Christian community; centered in Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit. The program offers specialized learning and experience in spiritual formation. It is designed to provide a setting for sojourners in Christ to focus on their faith journey in a systematic and holistic approach, to the end that they increasingly become Christian Disciples within the body of Christ.
Lay and Clergy persons who want to share a spiritual quest in community with other seekers; learning and practicing the spiritual disciplines, and open to exploring the meanings and call to Christian discipleship as servant-leaders.
The following definitions may be helpful in understanding the purpose and objectives of Wellspring:
Christian Community: the visible gathering of an interrelated group of people, gathering together in covenant as the family of Christ, encouraging and supporting one another with the intent of nurturing a Christian spirituality and discipleship.
Spiritual Formation: is a faith-journey of the total person (Mark 12:30-31) toward wholeness in Christ. It refers to the practice and exercise of all attempts, means of grace, and spiritual disciplines, intended towards deepening of faith and the development of a lifestyle that reflects the heart and life of Christ.
Spiritual Direction: a relationship of friendship in Christ between two people by which individuals are enabled, through personal encounters with their spiritual director, to discern more clearly the presence and will of God in one’s life, and to grow in discipleship.
Group Spiritual Direction: the intentional practice of guiding, supporting, and facilitating the process of spiritual formation in the context of a small group.
Christian Discipleship: the inward process of Christian Spiritual Formation in the heart and mind of Christ, and the outward effect of a lifestyle that is committed to following the living Christ in the world.
Elements of The Wellspring Experience
Covenant Groups and Christian Community
Participants will be part of an intentional two-year community, which forms the setting of personal spiritual growth and the development of servant-leaders. Small groups offer opportunities to ask, “What is happening in us, and between us, as we study, pray and play together?” Covenant groups form a setting for deepening relationships, processing the day, and group spiritual direction.
Solitude and Silence
Intentional time is provided each session for private reflection and prayer.
Journal keeping is encouraged to provide data for personal reflection.
Participants will be encouraged and guided in the process of selecting a personal spiritual director.
Historical Framework for Spiritual Formation
A theological foundation in Christian spirituality for our age, understanding our Wesleyan heritage, including the contributions of various racial and ethnic spiritualities of the New York Annual Conference are all parts of the framework.
Experiencing the God of the Mystics
An acquaintance with the Western Mystical tradition through the writings of such guides as the Desert Fathers and Mothers is a key to gaining such experience.
Spiritual Guiding / Spiritual Direction Practicum
Participants will practice skills for becoming spiritual companions, guides and servant-leaders (e.g., exploring the continuing call to Christian discipleship, participants as spiritual guides, retreat leading, and more...). Christian discipleship is the calling of every Christian. Therefore, participants will explore the relationship of personal and social holiness. Triads (director, directee and observer), will role-play the spiritual direction relationship, enabling holy listening in Christian friendship.
Group Spiritual Guidance / Instruction in Spiritual Disciplines
Participants will study and practice the classical spiritual disciplines; such as prayer, meditation and contemplation (lectio divina), study, simplicity, service and worship, as they relate to contemporary life. Celebration of Discipline, by Richard Foster, will be a primary text.
Spirituality, Psychology, and Inner Healing
An exploration of how God works in and through the depths of the human personality; through study of the insights of psychologist Carl Jung, and exploring prayer and personality temperament using the Myers Briggs Type Indicator.
Worship and Holy Communion
Scheduled into the each retreat weekend, Worship and Holy Communion is integral to who we are as Christian community, serving as a gathering point for the community; coming apart, to be together in the Spirit of Christ. Additionally, each weekend offers students opportunities to participate and lead in worship through Night Prayer, Morning Prayer, and the Eucharist.
Experiential Learning Experiences in Contemplative Prayer
Exploration of a variety of prayer forms appropriate for differing personality types. Experiences of creative art forms through which the Holy Spirit speaks to us — music, movement color and shape — and we, in turn, give expression to the presence of God within us.
Spiritual Formation in Our Communities
Exploring the local church, home and family, and the workplace as the settings of spiritual growth and Christian discipleship.
Christian Discipleship (Service)
In keeping with our Wesleyan heritage, there is recognition throughout that a contemplative spirituality of compassion must always be linked to social holiness and prophetic witness.
Participants will be expected to read selected assigned readings in preparation for the monthly sessions.
Participants will do two projects. In the first year, the project will focus on the inward journey of the participant. During the second year, the project will focus on the outward journey of Christian discipleship, relating the participant’s spiritual development to Christian service in the Body of Christ.
Additional curriculum will be introduced to address individual concerns and needs of the class.
The Wellspring curriculum has been designed in a holistic manner, in relation to the total person (body, mind and spirit), primarily for members of the New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church as set in the context of the larger Christian community.