2015 ESR Spirituality Gathering "Discernment" As A Way of Life: Seeking The Guidance of The Holy Spirit Featuring Sr. Meg Funk

Saturday, February 28, 2015

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Who, where or what is the Holy Spirit? How do we know it’s the Spirit and not our ego or simply the voices of others in our midst? Can we rely on our traditional practices to have confidence on our Spiritual Journey? Religious Traditions offer a way of living that is wise and without fear. Is our teacher the voices of traditions, or some charismatic leaders alive in our midst? How can we have an on-going practice of discernment that is useful in daily living and in major decisions of vocation? Can we trust our elders, or do we have to be cautious and have our own experience of right discerning? Or is it a combination of our inner listening, our tradition, current teachers and/or an encounter with the New? What would be confirming signs that we are going the way of The Spirit?

Sister Meg Funk, a Benedictine nun from Our Lady of Grace Monastery of Beech Grove Indiana will give the Keynote Address. She is the author of five books in the Matter Series from Liturgical Press. The fifth book, Discernment Matters is a comprehensive teaching on the Holy Spirit and practices of discernment that is an essential part of the spiritual journey. Sister Meg brings her credentials from Catholic University, Indiana University and is the author of seven published books. She was Director of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis Religious Education Office, Prioress, Director of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue Board, and has given retreats in Europe, South America and Asia. She resides at the Monastery in Beech Grove and provides opportunities for spiritual direction and on-going dialogue with Orthodox, Buddhist, Hindu and Christian monastics.


Sister Meg Funk & Sister Jennifer Horner: Discernment As A Practice

Discernment is a practice. This practice is a learned skill that, like prayer, starts spontaneously but most often becomes habitual with intention and reflection on lived experience. Daily we make decisions through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This session will be an opportunity to explore how discernment is used for decisions like employment, commitment in relationships, and outreach in ministry. This opportunity for dialogue will bring the topic of discernment from a title of a book to the test of living into the questions by real people in real situations. 

Sr. Jennifer Mechtild Horner, OSB is a member of Our Lady of Grace Monastery. Currently she serves as the Vocation Director for her community and is a spiritual director. Previously she has served as Director of Spirituality at the Benedict Inn, Parish Life Coordinator at St. Paul the Apostle Parish and Chaplain at the University of Indianapolis. She has a MA in Theology from St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN. Sr. Jennifer loves to read, pottery, enjoys time with friends and loves spending time outdoors, especially camping.

Pat Thomas: Obstacles On The Way To Discernment

God did not create puppets. He created individuals capable of thinking, reasoning, and discerning. As Creator He laid out for us ways and things that are good for us. Call these laws, principles, or values, they are what will work best to make our lives work well. The choices are ours to make. Discernment causes us to look at those choices, consider those choices in view of what God has offered us, and then take action on what we decide, fully aware  that we are accountable for those decisions. But in the  process of discernment there can be some obstacles that  might influence us to make the wrong choice. Today we  will look four of those obstacles and the wrong choices that were made by several characters in the Bible. We will  be using the process of Midrash Journaling, so please  bring your imagination and your sense of adventure. 

Pat Thomas is a retired Camp Director. She studied for three years at Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, IN. in the Ministry as Writing Program, and was awarded the Mullen Fellowship for the Spring term of 2014. She is experienced in facilitating workshops, retreats, and Bible studies, and has worked in youth ministry, church leadership, and Biblical Counseling. She is the founder of  Cloistered Soul Ministries, offering retreats and workshops on Contemplative Living and Spiritual Growth.

Travis Etling: Contemplative Writing As A Devotional Practice

“Why, then, do I set before You an ordered account of so many things? It's certainly not through me that You know them. But I'm stirring up love for You in myself and in those who read this so that we may all say, great is the Lord and highly worthy to be praised. I tell my story for love of Your love.” – Augustine of Hippo, Confessions
Contemplative writing can be a powerful form of prayer, self-examination, confession, discernment and ultimately transformation. As we write, we gradually come to recognize what was hidden, hinted at or masked. Through writing, we begin to give form and substance to the material that rises from the “beyond that is within.” In this session, we will explore a variety of ways that journaling can support and enhance other contemplative practices such as waiting worship, centering prayer, lectio divina and gratitude meditation. We will read, discuss and practice a variety of methods and models of contemplative writing as devotional practice.

Travis Etling is a student at Earlham School of Religion. Before coming to ESR, Travis worked with students with  emotional disturbances as a special education teacher, special education supervisor and principal. He has been using the journaling process to support his “rule of life,” and as a method for prayer and discernment for the past several years.

Susan Flynn: Declutter With Discernment

Stuffed attic, junk drawer, filled basement, unorganized office, we all have something that could be a little more organized. Whether you are a Neat Nick or a Messy Bessy, everyone has clutter in their life. Find out the benefits of decluttering in this practical workshop; learning how to transform feelings of overwhelm, stress and stuck-ness into ease, joy, and motivation. You will be given user-friendly tips to approach clutter; and learn how to use discernment as a spiritual discipline to  declutter your space and life.

Sue Flynn is currently an ESR seminary student pursuing her M. Div. She studied psychology at Earlham College because of her love of people. She came back to Richmond to attend Earlham School of Religion with a desire to combine her joy of life with an enthusiasm for people’s personal connection with the Divine. Sue worked in non-profit for 12 years, advocating for human rights and healthcare for people with mental and physical disabilities as an Employment Specialist. Due to an interest in exploring how to create and honor sacred space, she attended and graduated from The New England School of Feng Shui in 2008. Sue also studied the energy healing methods of Reiki and became a Reiki Master in 2009.

Lonnie Valentine & Genevieve Baird: Singing the Psalms

The ancient Psalms of the Hebrew Bible have been used for millennia in Jewish and Christian spiritual practices. They offer lament and joy for us and praise and pleas to God. Today the Psalms are less used in liturgy and for personal devotion, especially in Protestant worship. This workshop offers ways to recover the use of the Psalms through theological reflection, reading aloud, chanting, and singing the Psalms. Participants are encouraged to come with at least one Psalm with which they connect and find valuable for their spiritual work. In addition, participants are asked to bring one Psalm they find difficult to engage. Come ready to read aloud, chant, and sing!

Genevieve Baird holds a Master of Fine Arts and is a musician with classical training in flute and piano. She has played for many churches and with the local civic theater. She is a Quaker who believes that Friends need to embrace the arts as a way to connect with God. She is also a visual artist and art conservator, working at the interconnection of the arts and spirituality.

Lonnie Valentine is the Trueblood Chair of Christian Thought at the Earlham School of Religion. He has no musical background, but his spouse, Genevieve, is helping him understand and appreciate music beyond rock and roll. He teaches a course called Bible and Violence and Nonviolence that addresses the use of violent and nonviolent imagery in the Bible, including the Psalms.

Schedule of Events

8:15 am

Registration & Breakfast

9:00 am


9:45 am

Keynote Address with Sr. Meg Funk

11:30 am


1:00 pm

Workshop Session I

2:15 pm

Refreshment Break

2:30 pm

Workshop Session II

3:45 pm


4:00 pm

Closing Gathering

Online Registration form coming soon.

Contact Mandy Ford, ESR Director of External Relations, at fordma@earlham.edu or call (800) 432-1377 for more information.

Event Date: 02/28/2015 - 8:00am - 5:00pm