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Spiritual Disciplines: An Ancient-Future Path for Empowering Children on the Spiritual Journey

Day and Date: Friday, September 27
Times: 9:00 AM-4:00 PM

Location: United, Strobel Room (McMillan 209)

Cost: $25.00 (covers lunch and materials)

Description: During much of the 20th century, the church’s understanding of spiritual formation was limited by increased emphasis on rationality and the articulation of distinct stage theories to explain cognitive, psychosocial, moral and even faith development. As a result, because of their limited capacity for abstract thought and linguistic expression, children were viewed as potential people of faith rather than people of faith. Recent research has affirmed that children have the capacity for genuine and meaningful encounters with God; they do not need to wait until adulthood to develop a genuine relationship with God, nor do their spiritual encounters need to be mediated through an adult. However, the innate spiritual capacities of children can be nurtured and their spiritual lives enriched with sensitive guidance. Children can be empowered to develop and/or deepen an awareness of God’s presence and activity in their lives. Adults journeying with children play a key role in this process. This workshop is for those adults: parents, pastors, children’s ministry professionals, Sunday school teachers, mentors and others.

Together we will explore: 

  • the history and development of thought about childhood and childhood spirituality, drawing on theology, educational and developmental theory, and social science research;
  • the nature of childhood spirituality, including a discussion of the innate spiritual capacities of childhood;
  • the concept of spiritual styles;
  • the role of adults and the church in affirming and nurturing the spiritual lives of children;
  • how spiritual practices can nurture the spirit of the child without squelching the Spirit;
  • a variety of specific spiritual practices and how they might be introduced to and used with children in a variety of settings.

Presenter: Rhonda Pittman Gingrich is ordained in the Church of the Brethren. She currently coordinates ministry with children and youth at Open Circle Church of the Brethren in Burnsville. She also serves as adjunct faculty for the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, teaching courses in educational ministry, children’s ministry and congregational spirituality. Previously she served as a pastor, freelance writer, workshop leader, congregational consultant and director of the Resource Center for Churches. Rhonda lives with her husband and two daughters in Minneapolis. She is pursuing her Doctor of Ministry from United, focusing on children and spirituality. This workshop is part of her final project.

Registration: Register Online or contact Renee Flesner, 651.255.6138.

United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cites and the Resource Center for Churches are collaborating to host this event.

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