As an inherent part of their theological education, students at Candler look for God’s movements in themselves, in others and in the world around them. To assist in students’ processes of spiritual growth and discernment, Candler fosters opportunities both for communal formation and for individuals and small groups to learn new practices of prayer and meditation. Candler students engage in spiritual formation through their participation in worship, experiences in Contextual Education, activities with diverse student groups, and individual practices or disciplines. Through the Office of Student Programming, students have opportunities both to share and to learn some of the varieties of spiritual practices available in Christian traditions.
Creating a rule of life—an intentional pattern of spiritual practices that provides structure and guidance for ongoing spiritual growth—is especially important during seminary, when finding rhythm and balance in the demands of study, work, family, church and community life is a challenge. The OSP offers Candler students a range of opportunities to learn more about the richly diverse resources of the Christian tradition that can help them find a more life-giving shape to their days. In a new spiritual formation space created for such learning and practice, students can walk meditatively around a labyrinth, participate in silent contemplative prayer, share with a small group the highs and lows of a particular week, or enjoy a quiet mindful meal after Friday Eucharist.
Retreats and Quiet Days
The OSP sponsors times of retreat and quiet days for Candler students during each semester. During fall and spring breaks, students may attend a free retreat away from campus that invites them to experience sustained silence and spiritual direction. Shorter “quiet days” are offered on campus for students who are unable to participate in longer retreats.
During particular seasons of attentiveness throughout the church year, such as Advent and Lent, Candler students may participate in a weekly small group, meditate at prayer stations reflecting the themes of the liturgical season, and engage in special practices that enhance self-awareness, awareness of the holy and accountability to others.
Individual Retreats and Spiritual Direction
Candler students also may choose to take time for personal retreats or to explore and discern with a trained spiritual director, someone who is an experienced guide and trusted companion along one’s spiritual journey. Students who have not made personal retreats or who are not familiar with spiritual direction are encouraged to talk with the Assistant Dean of Student Life and Spiritual Formation Ellen Purdum, who can listen and help connect them to appropriate places and people. Information about nearby retreat centers and spiritual directors is available through the OSP.