Spiritual formation and transformation happen ‘inside out and upward through’

Pilot Ministry Leader Formation cohorts will focus on spiritual practices and health

by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

Photo by Jon Tyson via Unsplash

LOUISIVILLE — Excited about what God is going to do through the new Theology, Formation & Evangelism Ministry Leader Formation Cohorts, Alicia Demartra-Pressley is looking forward to Presbyterians participating in spiritual formation and transformation work together.

Demartra-Pressley, who is developing the pilot groups for TFE, said the largest group being introduced is the Spiritual Practices cohort, which will gather for three months via Zoom. Every two weeks, facilitators will guide participants in a practice with space to ask questions via chat. On alternate weeks, cohorts will gather to work on the practice together, followed by open time in breakout rooms to reflect and share their experiences.

“It’s our most accessible cohort as people can come to any or all of the practices,” Demartra-Pressley said. “But we do ask that you attend both sessions related to a specific practice.”

In the Spiritual Practices cohort, facilitators will guide participants through practices via Zoom. (Photo by Chris Montgomery in Unsplash)

Other pilot cohorts include The Nine Essentials of Spiritual Health, which utilizes the groundbreaking God-Personal-Social (GPS) spiritual assessment and is based on curriculum from Soul Metrics. GPS is explained in this way:

  • God: trust, communication, intimacy.
  • Personal: learning to forgive, regulating emotion, allowing oneself to become vulnerable
  • Social: listening to others, feeling what others feel, loving others in a healthy way.

This cohort starts on October 21. Participants will take their GPS scores before and after the cohort to see their movement in the essentials of spiritual health.

“It will give people a chance to dig deeper into themselves to see how they connect with God, and to people in and beyond their ministry communities,” Demartra-Pressley said.

There are also two cohorts based on the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Matthew 25 vision, which invites congregations, mid councils and groups to build congregational vitality, dismantle structural racism and eradicate systemic poverty.

The Bringing Into Focus cohort will provide tools and reflection to support ministry leaders in their Matthew 25 work, while Anti-Racism as Spiritual Practice will help participants live more fully into dismantling structural racism by practicing ways of living into gospel values, relationships and commitments more intentionally.

Demartra-Pressley is also introducing a shared identity Black Women in Ministry Leadership cohort, which will be led by a spiritual director.

Most of these cohorts will begin in late October or early November.

A REvangelism Conference Connection cohort is also planned. Two weeks after the Nov. 1-3 REvangelism Conference, conference participants will meet to discuss interest. That cohort will begin in December or January.

Pilot TFE Ministry Leader Formation Cohorts will help leaders practice ways of living into gospel values. (Photo by Alicia Demartra-Pressley)

In introducing all of the TFE pilot cohorts, Demartra-Pressley uses this quote from the 8 Habits of Evangelism resource, which is the basis for the REvangelism Conference.

“We become what we practice. Practices shape and change our lives. God is changing our lives for the transformation of the world. Salvation is about the transformation of lives, relationships, communities, peoples, nations and Creation.”

 “I’m newer to the PC(USA) denomination but believe that spiritual formation and transformation happens inside out and upward through,” Demartra-Pressley said. “It’s both vertical and horizonal. Connectional work is both with each other and with God.”

 To apply for any of these cohorts, including one on how to lead a cohort, click here.

From these pilot cohorts, Alicia Demartra-Pressley hopes that additional cohorts of 8-12 weeks will emerge around shared Identity, conference connections and topical concerns.

 If you have any questions about these cohorts, contact Alicia Demartra-Pressley.

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