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Methodist spiritual director expands care ministry with free class for laity

By Jessica Brodie

A retired United Methodist pastor passionate about clergy care is now hoping to bring some of that same wisdom to laity.

The Rev. Ken Owens, now a certified spiritual director, has put together a free class for congregations and small groups called “What is Spiritual Direction and Who Is It Right For?”

The 90-minute class is available via Zoom, and Owens is also willing to travel to churches to teach the class in person as well as offer a sermon.

Spiritual direction is the consistent ongoing work of examining our relationship with God, celebrating how God is growing us and identifying barriers.

“It is about feeding our souls so that we can answer and be sustained in our callings,” Owens said, noting that spiritual direction is for all Christians, lay and clergy, and is done in one-on-one meetings or in very small covenant groups. “As Methodists, we believe in sanctification. Our born again, or justifying grace, experience may be the formal starting line of our following God, but it’s only a starting line. We are invited and expected to keep growing in God.”

People of faith have already been struggling with a myriad of issues, and between the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, not to mention ongoing issues within the denomination, many are having a tough time maintaining a strong spiritual life in such volatility.

Last year, the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church launched Clergy Care, a ministry to help pastors and other ministers access resources and opportunities for support and personal growth.

But Owens and others are also feeling called to reach out to laity and offer similar classes and retreats for them.

Owens is also planning to offer free classes via his website on occasional Sundays from 2:30-4:30 p.m. On April 10, he will offer “What Does a Methodist Need to Know About South Carolina History?” to explore links from our past that influence how we do church today in South Carolina.

For example, Owens said, “Why do our various traditions select the music they choose? Or why are some strands of South Carolina Methodism big on social justice issues while others avoid social justice issues? Why is evangelism big in some places, but not others? Why do parts of our church respond well to authority and others are suspicious of it?”

In other words, he said, what are the blessings and the traumas from many years back, sometimes long-forgotten but still powerful, that have direct influence on how we do church today, and how might God be calling us forward for healing and joy and service?

These classes are available to laity and clergy. To learn more, Owens can be reached at 864-436-5158 or kenowenssd.com.

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