Saturday Workshops

Participating in the workshops of the Seeking Connection conference will be a transformational experience where ancient truths are celebrated and new insights are discovered. SDI offers a variety of workshops to match the learning styles and needs of participants. The percentages after each workshop are intended to help you choose experience that will suit your learning style:% Presentation, % Discussion, and % Experiential. CEUs are available for workshop participants. Come to engage, participate, and learn from the SDI global learning community. To learn more about a presenter, click on his or her name.


S1. Deep Speaks to Deep:  Exploring the Practice of the Clearness Committees
(Valerie Brown, JD, MA, ACC, and Kirsten Olson PhD, PCC)

As spiritual directors, we engage in practices of spiritual discernment, listening, and deeply connecting with the experiences that shape our spiritual directees. This experiential session, explores the sixteenth century Quaker practice of Clearness Committees to draw on the collective and communal wisdom within a small group of people to "hold the soul of another." The pacing, sense of not-knowing, and reverence for the soul makes this an extraordinary healing practice of individual discernment within community.

20% Presentation, 40% Discussion, 40% Experiential


S2. The Transformation Story: The Truth of our Connectedness
(Sue Dunbar, BSc, DipEd, MA)

At the heart of the spiritual direction relationship is the process of transformation. The story of transformation is a truth that reveals itself in myriad ways. The workshop will explore this truth through the prism of human becoming, the paschal mystery, earth wisdom, and aboriginal knowing. There is a deep thread of connection that weaves through us, in and out with the whole cosmos. Together we will explore this for ourselves and discover the gifts it offers for our spiritual direction practice.

40% Presentation, 30% Discussion, 40% Experiential


S3. Media Divina: Connecting the Contemplative Heart to the Heartbeat of the World
(Margaret Gunnell, JD)

Contemplative practices like lectio divina connect our deepest contemplative prayer to the heart of God. Extending these contemplate practices into the modern world, I have created Media Divina™—a  contemplative practice that connects, through contemporary print media, our prayer to the joys and suffering of our world. Participants will learn this process including creating a prayer card from print media, and are encouraged to bring a newspaper or magazine to the workshop.

35% Presentation, 25% Discussion, 40% Experiential


S4. Turning Toward Genuine Meeting
(Diane Millis, PhD)

Martin Buber (1878–1965) believed that whenever we turn with our whole being toward whomever or whatever presents itself to us, we simultaneously encounter the ever-new presence of God. Learn more about Buber’s spirituality, relational stances (I/It versus I/Thou), relational realms for encounter (with persons, nature, and artistic forms), and the elements of turning toward the other. Together we will increase our capacity to connect genuinely with more of the persons and things we encounter in everyday life.

40% Presentation, 30% Discussion, 30% Experiential


S5. Spiritual Direction as an Enabler of Social Change
(Igal Harmelin Moria)

Can spiritual directors, who mostly work with individuals, be enablers of social change? Participants in this workshop will learn about emerging voices in social change movements that call for enabling change through spiritual direction. They will be given a taste of new methods of dialog and group interactions that they may be in a unique position to grasp and embrace.

50% Presentation, 25% Discussion, 25% Experiential


S6. Cultivating Earth’s Hope: Addressing the Call to Ecological Conversion in Spiritual Direction
(Yvonne Prowse, MA)

Religious leaders and leading scientists are urging us to change how we relate to the natural world. Ecological conversion is by definition about developing healthy and intimate relationship with creation, which includes humans and the “non-human” world. Taking up the theme of Earth as our common home, and the Holy’s dwelling place, we will explore how spiritual directors can help spiritual directees foster a deeper relationship with nature as part of their relationship with the Divine.

65% Presentation, 10% Discussion, 25% Experiential


S7. Into the Woods: Harvesting Nature’s Wisdom for Listening and Leading
(Samuel Rahberg)

Dependent upon electronic screens and digital realities as we too often are, the encounter with nature remains remarkably out of the ordinary. For our good and others’, spiritual directors need to enter the woods and harvest the wisdom found there. This workshop equips spiritual directors with a compass for immersing themselves in various landscapes, integrating those experiences into their listening and leading, and supporting others in finding healing and transforming connections through the natural world.

40% Presentation, 30% Discussion, 30% Experiential


S8. Connecting to the Divine Within: Using the Appreciative Way to Uncover the True Self
(Rev. Karl Ruttan, PhD)

This workshop will introduce the philosophy and methods of appreciative inquiry, a gift-affirming process that honors each person as a reflection of the divine. This appreciative way offers tools to deepen spiritual conversations in order to open the heart to the true self where the divine is encountered. This workshop will explore the dynamics of the true and false self and provide specific strategies for using the appreciative way in spiritual direction and supervision.

40% Presentation, 25% Discussion, 35% Experiential


S9. Can We Talk: The Spiritual Response of Community Companions to the Disconnection of Trauma
(Colleen Sharka, MA, LMHC)

A pervasive sense of disconnection is the worst symptom of trauma. Within such excruciating vulnerability, we encounter the most profound desire for reconnection to self, others, and Divine. Presence, relationship, and responding to this desire become the pathways of healing and transformation. This workshop will include learning from the community companion experiences of a Boston church’s trauma program. A framework for spiritual directors accompanying trauma survivors individually and in group settings will be offered.

30% Presentation, 40% Discussion, 30% Experiential


S10. Between Us: Engaging Interconnection in Art and Poetry
(Melaine Joy Weidner, MDiv)

Bring your heart and wisdom for a spontaneous experience of interconnection and creative expression. We’ll explore the interdependence and belonging that invite us into relationship with the Sacred Presence, each other, and the whole of creation. This group spiritual direction workshop offers inspiring conversation sparked by images and poems, brief personal reflection in words or simple drawing, and a gentle collaborative poetry activity to weave our insights into a beautiful new collective expression.

25% Presentation, 30% Discussion, 45% Experiential