Spiritual exercises

Towards a Reformed Evangelical Program of Spiritual Formation at Ryle Seminary, Ottawa

Author
Shaun Minett Turner D.Min.
Abstract
In this research portfolio the author seeks to articulate a form of reformed-evangelical spiritual formation and apply it to ministry formation training in both military and civilian ministry training contexts. The author sees spiritual formation as stripping off the old self and putting on the new self by looking to Jesus. Research is presented which shows that this formation often leads to greater resilience in ministry and life, as well as an increased awareness of, and dependence on, God’s sovereign grace, leading to a deeper sense of discerning God’s voice every day. The author used three parts: a personal spiritual autobiography, a model of spiritual formation in the reformed-evangelical tradition, and a field research project using appreciative inquiry to develop an integrated spiritual formation program at a reformed-evangelical seminary in Ottawa, Canada. The author was successful in using an appreciative approach to engage the students of the Seminary to design a program that was accepted by an expert panel of school administration, denominational leadership, and student leadership. This research portfolio provides both a practical model of spiritual formation in the reformed-evangelical tradition and a means of tailoring this model, through appreciative inquiry, to specific contexts.

Finding Peace in Union with Christ through the Practice of Contemplation

Author
Gary W Brouwers
Abstract
Believers in Jesus exist in a powerful unsion with the ecodn person of the Trinity. Through this union, believers have access to everything that Jesus is, including the ability to expereince peace regardless of circumstances. This thesis examinded how a growing awreness of one's union with Jesus affects one's experience of anxiety. Using a mixed method phenomenological study, 46 participants spent increasingly longer periods of time contemplating on thier union with Christ. Anxiety levels were tested using pretexts and posttests of Beck's Anxiety Indicator (BAI). Participants kept records of their experiences using Likert-style scales as well as written journals. Data from BAI, the individual records, and a focus group were triangulated and compared. The results indicated that anxiety levels were reduced in 63 percent of participants. In addition , the data revealed common themes among the experiences of the participants, including strong expressions of God's love, continuing effects of peace beyond the period of contemplation and an appreciation for the structure and accountability of the project. In addition, most participants reported experiences of frustration and confusion as they attempted to spend time in contemplation.

FROM ASHES RISE AGAIN: SPIRITUAL IDENTITY BASED RESILIENCY

Author
Charles Christopher Mason D.Min.
Abstract
The focus of this project was to consider the question of how to build and maintain resiliency. While the project was developed and implemented for chaplains in a health care system, the principles of spiritual identity based resiliency may be an answer for others looking for ways to be more resilient. Spiritual identity based resiliency at its core is a focus on understanding one’s personal value, meaning and purpose as a way to cope and be resilient in stressful and anxious situations. The project was designed to inform participants of the importance of orienting their lives on the basis of their spiritual identity, this is the means of being able to manage external and internal influential pressures that distort or confuse understanding of value, meaning and purpose. The result of a lack of focus on value, meaning and purpose is a lack of resiliency and may eventually lead to burnout.

CHRISTIAN CHARACTER FORMATION PROGRAM FOR PASTORS AND LEADERS IN SANTA CRUZ, BOLIVIA

Author
Diego Chuyma D.Min.
Abstract
Pastors and Christian leaders are supposed to be Christ-like in character as the Scriptures indicate, but this does not always happen. Christ-like character formation is a lifelong process, of course, but specific steps can be taken to engage in this process of transformation. The purpose of this project is to develop, teach, and evaluate a Christian character formation program for pastors and Christian leaders in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. The philosophical, theological, and biblical foundations of Christian character formation are reviewed. A Christ-like character formation program was developed and implemented. A focus group of pastors and Christian leaders was organized to test the effectiveness of this program. Pastors and leaders in this study developed a conviction that Christ-like character formation is possible, their relationship with God deepened, and they were willing to practice spiritual disciplines with the purpose of developing Christ-like character. This study reveals a need for mind renewal, heart transformation, and body subjection under spiritual disciplines to begin developing a Christ-like character.

The 21st Century Spiritual Disciplines of Chinese Pastors in Metropolitan Toronto

Author
Wai Kei Lee D.Min.
Abstract
This study is intended to explore the importance of spiritual discipline of pastors regarding their ministry and inner spiritual life. Without building a strong relationship with Heavenly Father, one cannot easily stand firm when facing the challenges from work or temptations from the world especially in this postmodern 21st century metropolitan Toronto. Interviews with pastors who are held highly in reputation and have long lasting ministry experiences have been conducted. Their rich and real life sharings definitely will serve as a precious resource for this dissertation. A list of spiritual discipline practices that are relevant and suitable for current 21st century setting at metropolitan Toronto will be provided at final.

Nature as a Means of Adolescent Spiritual Formation

Author
James D Thompson D.Min.
Abstract
The author researched what effect a ninety-day practice of journaling and guided contemplation of God in nature would have on an adolescent's sense of connection with God using the Convergent Parallel Mixed Method approach. Quantitatively, the intervention led to a statistically significant increase from the Daily Spiritual Experience Scale pretest to the posttest. Qualitatively, through student journals and reflections, five clusters of meaning emerged: the adolescent landscape, deeper connection with God, big questions, gratitude, and common nature. If God intends creation to point people to himself, then it is a significant problem if people have lost the capacity or the desire to pay attention to creation.

The Abide Project's Effect on Experiencing God's Presence in Daily LIfe

Author
Dean Wertz D.Min.
Abstract
The thesis seeks to answer: How will a three-month all-church focus on abiding in Jesus affect the participants' experience of God's presence in their daily lives? The Abide Project was facilitated in the fall of 2018 for children, youth and adults at Hope Community Church (Denver, CO0; included sermons, small groups and daily reminders; and was measured by mixed-methods. The quantitative assessment (compared pre and post-training scores from the Daily Spiritual Experience Scale by Dr. Lynn Underwood) and the qualitative assessment (8 phenomenological interviews) concluded that the project increased the participants' experience of God's presence in their daily lives. An invitation to abide from John 15:1-11 would increase the participant' attentiveness and experience God.

Embodied Contemplative Practices Within a High School Religion Curriculm

Author
Diane Mercadante D.Min.
Abstract
This thesis-project explores whether affective, embodied contemplative practices enhance cognitive learning in a Catholic high school religion classroom and encourage behavioral changes in students’ lives. The researcher introduced embodied contemplative practices to high school seniors using the lens of Appreciative Inquiry and Osmer’s four questions for practical theological interpretation, then offering students an opportunity to find meaning in their experiences using the Killen and de Beer theological reflection method. This thesis-project enters into a conversation with student experience, Gen-Z culture, and the Christian theological tradition to name the importance of embodied connection, affirm the practice of embodied Christian theology, and address the desire and need for embodied contemplative practices.

The Wisdom of Silence: Contemplative Practice for Adolescents in the Context of a Catholic Secondary School Curriculum

Author
Jan Rudolf Flaska D.Min.
Abstract
Let’s face it - contemporary adolescent life in the United States is filled with noise. Amidst the metaphorical and literal din of increasingly covert wireless technology, the heavy demand of social media and a cultural espousal of multitasking, the adolescent spirit can be a forgotten concern. There is, therefore, a need to reclaim the wisdom of silence in the lives of adolescents, inviting them to welcome these moments for the power they offer, and to embrace the call of Teresa of Avila in “turning the eyes of the soul… to the Lord.”

This project is intended to introduce and nurture contemplative practices, as presented in Christian literary spiritual classics, in the lives of adolescents in scholastic Catholic settings.
Offered in response to the frequent, unregulated noise of technology manifest in phones and other platforms for social media, adolescents will benefit in a multiplicity of manners from a regular encounter with spiritually grounded silence.

Laying a Foundation for Nurturing Experiential Communion with the Word of God for Soul Formation through Journaling and Inner Circle Relationships.

Author
Jeffrey William Roy Rev. D.Min.
Abstract
In this research portfolio, three projects form the basis in developing this new pathway to nurture formation. The author’s spiritual autobiography recounts his journey into two-way communion with the Word of God and gives readers opportunities to reflect accordingly. The AESA model (Awareness, Encounter, Surrender, Abide) is presented as a cyclical four-step process designed to help nurture experiential union and spiritual formation. This model incorporates the authors’ own experience, an analysis of how the Word of God is depicted by the Scriptures and in the writings of the Early Church Fathers, four existing contemplative models of formation, and the experiences of those who participated in his research project. The project tested follow up material designed to help people take home and form habits (Contemplative Prayer Journaling and Inner Circle Relationships) that would help them experience union with the Eternal Word of God throughout their day. The project found that these spiritual disciplines can be helpful in nurturing experience union with the Eternal Word of God throughout their day. Two months after the study twelve of the sixteen participants were journaling once a week and nine of the sixteen participants had established some form of weekly inner circle relationship with the desire to be more aware of God’s presence.
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