Pilgrims on a Voyage of Discovery

February 14th, 2018

Spiritual Direction is growing in Birmingham’s churches, and you could be part of the journey.

You might not hear much about it in the press, but the practice of Spiritual Direction is flourishing, both nationally and across Birmingham.  Sometimes called Accompaniment or Companioning, it involves individuals being paired with a director or guide to reflect on their story and grow in their faith.  Often this involves going beyond the boundaries of one’s own faith tradition, and in all cases becoming more aware of God’s work in and around us.  The prophet Samuel models this attitude perfectly when he says “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

Spiritual Direction is also an ecumenical movement.  Canon John Austen, a retired Anglican Vicar from Handsworth, oversees the Forum for Spiritual Directors in Birmingham, and has seen the transforming effect the practice has had on both individuals and churches.  He says “Whatever your church background, having a Spiritual Director can be a precious gift to receive and a way into some of the riches of the Christian spiritual traditions.”

Pilgrim Boats ©Jake Lever www.jakelever.org

A Course for New Spiritual Directors

John and others from a range of denominations run a training course to train future spiritual companions.  If you are the sort of person who finds others naturally turn to you to talk about their life and faith, then this vocation might well be for you.  It is fully ecumenical so members of every denomination are welcome, lay and ordained.  However participants need to be stable and open to learning in their Christian faith, keen to develop their knowledge and discipleship and already have, or be prepared to have, a spiritual director.

If you think this could be you, why not reflect on the following questions?

  • Do others come to share with you their hopes and fears about their Christian pilgrimage?
  • Have you felt that God may be calling you to ‘companion’ others in this way?
  • Have you considered whether training might develop your gifts?

How does the Course Work?

The course consists of 14 Tuesday daytime meetings over three terms, beginning in September, plus a weekend non- residential retreat.  Each day includes teaching input, prayer and discussion, small group sharing and skills practice.

The course offers knowledge, critical awareness, and skills, and aims to encourage each person to grow and develop gifts for spiritual accompaniment.  By the end of the course you will have broadened and deepened your understanding of prayer and Christian spirituality, learnt how spiritual traditions can encourage growth and personal fulfilment, and developed skills and a reflective approach in being a spiritual companion.

Course places are limited to 20, with the deadline for applications 25th March 2018.  For more information and to apply please contact John Austen at

[email protected] or on 0121 554 8882.

(Published in Birmingham Ecumenical News, February 2018)

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