CHRISTIAN FORMATION

Practicing Resurrection: Intro to Christian Spirituality

This course offers a holistic and practice-based introduction to Christian faith and spirituality that blends the "inward" journey of spiritual healing and transformation with the "outward" journey of participating in God's dream for a transformed world. Whether you have been a faithful church member all your life, or you remain skeptical about the Christian faith, this course offers a freshly nuanced and broadly ecumenical approach that invites participants to step into the radical paradigm shift at the heart of Jesus' proclamation of the "Kingdom of God," through a critical examination of our 21st-century cultural lenses, and a deeper understanding of the social and psychological patterns that keep us stuck. 

This interactive, group-based learning experience is designed for people who are interested in embarking on a deep journey of self-discovery, and learning how to integrate their faith more fully into their everyday lives. This will include weekly reading assignments from modern authors like Walter Wink, Parker Palmer, Henri Nouwen, Ched Myers, Thomas Keating, and Richard Rohr, as well as readings from throughout the history of Christianity that speak to the contemplative dimension of the Christian faith. The course also introduces a number of spiritual disciplines, and provides opportunities to practice building deeper and more authentic relationships with others, as we learn to actually apply the ancient teachings of Jesus in the context of modern, everyday life. 

Note: This course can be taught in as little as 6 weeks or as many as 12 weeks, depending on the availability, needs, and goals of the group. It can be offered as a small group study (as few as 5 people) or as a larger class (as many as 30 people).

Spiritual Disciplines Series

Learn about a variety of spiritual disciplines from the Christian tradition. This can be offered as a 8- to 10-week series that briefly introduces all of the spiritual disciplines, or a shorter class or workshop focusing specifically on one or more practices of your choice. Each discipline is situated within a larger framework of Biblical theology and Christian history. Participants will receive instructions for each discipline and have the opportunity for guided practice, questions, and reflection. 

The Daily Office

Lectio Divina (meditation on Scripture)

Contemplative Prayer/Centering Prayer

Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius

Praying with Beads (Rosary)

Chant & Singing

Walking the Labyrinth

Iconography & Art 

Liturgical Spirituality

Liturgical traditions are often perceived as being rigid, repetitive, and rote. Are we just "going through the motions"? This 4- to 5- week course looks at the history, symbolism, and deep spirituality of the Christian liturgical tradition, highlighting ways that ritual works to transform us at the level of mind, heart, and body. We'll look at the structure of our Sunday morning gatherings, The Daily Office, and the spirituality underlying the yearly cycle of "liturgical seasons" (Advent, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost). We will see how liturgical form functions on a deeper psychological level to point us in the direction of healing, growth, and transformation. Discover how structure and repetition can create the conditions for spontaneity, creativity, and freedom. This course includes a number of practical suggestions for how to spiritually engage more fully in liturgical worship. 

Servant Leadership: Faith in Action

"Servant leadership" is a posture of faith that is lived in obedience to God's call for a transformed people and a transformed world. This course inspires participants to reflect on their own sense of call, through holistic engagement with a variety of social justice issues, including poverty, systemic racism, immigration, education, health care, housing, food justice, and the environment. Each week, participants will hear from local "servant leaders" - people of faith working in each of these areas - and will have opportunities to brainstorm faith-based approaches that bridge the gap between responding to the immediate needs of individuals and addressing these issues in a larger and more systemic way.  

Note: This topic can be offered as a 6- to 12-week class.

Let Your Life Speak: Listening for Call

What is the "call" of your life? What do you care about most? What are your strengths? What is the particular piece of God's dream for a transformed world that has been specifically entrusted to you? What role can you play right now, given your current life circumstances? Are you being called to change your life circumstances? Drawing from Parker Palmer's Let Your Life Speak, we will explore these and related questions in this six-week course. Through prayer, reading, reflection, and a guided exploration of our unique gifts, we will support one another in our discernment as we begin to release our anxieties over "possessions, prestige, and power," and bring our lives into greater alignment with Divine will and purpose.

Bible Study Topics: Gender & Sexuality

Are women and men created equal, or are they meant to have different roles? Does God desire gender hierarchy in human relationships? Are Christianity and the goals of feminism antithetical to one another? What is "Biblical marriage"? Are women supposed to be in positions of leadership? Is homosexuality a "sin?" What does the Bible say on these topics? This course/guided bible study examines a variety of topics relating to sex and gender from within an ancient historical context, unpacking some of the nuances and complexities of statements concerning sex and gender in the Bible. We will look at the problem of proof-texting, and the importance of reading Scripture contextually, as we critically examine the most-discussed controversies relating to gender and sexuality in modern culture and the Biblical texts and interpretations that are most frequently used to defend various positions. The goal of this study is to help participants become better equipped to engage in the social discourse on these topics in a more educated way. 

Note: This topic can be offered as a lecture or taught as a 5-week class.

Bible Study Topics: Science & Ecology

This course/guided bible study explores the agrarian context and ecological subtext of the Bible, offering a radical paradigm shift in terms of our understanding of what the Biblical narrative teaches about "the environment" and our relationship with the natural world. Through a careful reading of the Book of Genesis (particularly the stories of Creation, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah, and the Tower of Babel), as well as excerpts from Exodus, the Gospels, and the Book of Revelation, we will begin to hear God's call for us with regard to our planetary home, particularly in light of climate change and humanity's widespread habit of overconsumption and environmental destruction. How does Jesus' proclamation of the "Kingdom of God" point us towards a different kind of relationship with the Earth and the entire material world? How do the teachings of Scripture both support the position of scientific materialism, and challenge us to move beyond this perspective? 

Note: This topic can be offered as a lecture or taught as a 5-week class.

Professional Background

Kristen earned her Masters of Divinity (M.Div.) from Union Theological Seminary in New York City in 2014, where she studied Biblical interpretation, theology, vocational discernment, Ignatian spiritual exercises, contemplative prayer, lectio divina, the labyrinth, and other spiritual disciplines. She also holds a B.A. in Communication Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. From 2015-2017, Kristen served as assistant director and adjunct faculty at The Servant Leadership School of Greensboro, a program that teaches a wide variety of Christian spiritual practices. 

 
 
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©2021 by Kristen Leigh Mitchell