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Northeastern Seminary Spiritual Resource Center

Spiritual Formation is one of the six values of Northeastern Seminary. We affirm that the indispensable foundation for Christian ministry is a vital relationship with God through Christ, and so we seek to provide a nurturing community in which genuine Christian faith can deepen and thrive.

Spiritual Gathering

Once a year, the Northeastern Seminary community sets aside time to gather and reconnect with ourselves, each other, and God. The most recent community gathering was led by Rev. Dr. Rebecca Letterman and Professor Marlena Graves.

Join the Lent Journey for Spiritual Formation Week

Lent is a season of renewal and repentance celebrated during the 40 days leading up to Resurrection Sunday. Roberts Wesleyan University and Northeastern Seminary have partnered together to bring you a series of events and resources to honor this season leading up to Easter.

With a special focus on contemplative practices, you can participate in daily meditation or mindfulness sessions, engage in silent prayer or reflection, read spiritual texts or scripture passages, participate in a Lenten retreat, and journal about your spiritual journey and insights gained during this period of introspection. These practices can help you deepen your connection with your faith, cultivate inner peace, and foster personal growth. 

Check out the Northeastern Seminary Podcast

Northeastern Seminary has its own podcast which dives into the conversations our students are having in the classroom.

The first season of the podcast will feature workshop recordings from the Rebuild Conference. The conference took place in June and held over 20 different workshops that dove into the hard and beautiful conversations you are having in your church communities.

Find the podcast feed at the button below and be sure to subscribe to never miss an episode. You can subscribe and listen to the Northeastern Seminary Podcasts on SpotifyApple Podcasts, or anywhere podcasts are available.


Spiritual Formation

Each semester, Northeastern Seminary holds a week of Spiritual Formation where students are encouraged to take a break from their studies and engage in practices that reconnect them to themselves, others, and God. Below you will find a list of ways you can practice spiritual formation.

The practices are separated into four different areas. We encourage students to try one from each area or choose the ones that would typically be more of a challenge.

1. Spiritual Formation in Place

2. Silence. Solitude. Simplicity. Rest.

3. Engage: Love of God

4. Engage: Love of Others and Self

"Not to Rest is Not to Trust God" - Dr. Barbara Peacock

Spiritual Practices for Soul Care with Barbara Peacock

This video is a podcast recording by Unhurried Living with Dr. Barbara Peacock. 

Dr. Barbara L. Peacock is a spiritual director, author, teacher, and preacher. Dr. Peacock is the author of the award-winning book Soul Care in African American Practice. She also wrote Psalm 119 Scriptural Journal and Called to Teach. She is passionate about the disciplines of prayer, spiritual direction (soul care), lectio, and visio divina. In 2013 she founded Barbara L. Peacock Ministries. This ministry is committed to providing safe spaces for encounters with God.

Spiritual Formation in Place

1. Visit a Roman Catholic/Eastern Orthodox/ecumenically Christian monastery or retreat center. They are peaceful and serene. Staying at a monastery is very affordable - usually under $100 a night (if they have overnight guests). You don't have to go overnight; you can go there for several hours. Here are some websites that list the locations of monasteries throughout the U.S. and Canada. If you do not live in the U.S. or Canada, please look up your closest Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or ecumenically Christian monastery/retreat center. Here are a few helpful links:

  1. Find the Divine Catholic Retreat Centers
  2. Monasteries in the U.S.
  3. Catholic Retreat Centers in Canada
  4. Community of Jesus 
  5. Holy Wisdom Monastery
  6. Genesee Retreat (Local to the Rochester, NY area and where Henri Nouwen stayed for a while.)
2. Declutter your home and life. Start with one area.
3. Go on a leisurely walk.
4. Pilgrimage: go to a place that is spiritually significant for you.
5. Spend at least one hour in nature.
6. Take a nap in your home.

Silence. Solitude. Simplicity. Rest.

  1. Take some time to really listen to God either alone or with a group of people who know you and love you.
  2.  Read a children's book. 
  3. Download the 'Pray As You Go' app and pray along every day this week.
  4. Limit your social media time. Consider: Do you feel better? OR if you do not normally engage in social media spend time on a platform engaging with others
  5. Get 8-10 hours of sleep.
  6. Do nothing. Nothing. Chill. Give yourself permission.
  7. Read a spiritually refreshing book. 
  8. Go play in whatever way you do. Have fun!
  9. Listen to music, create art however you can, or dance.
  10. Don't read anything. Don't watch or read the news.

Engage: Love of God

  1. Actually read your Bible or listen to an audio Bible. Not for a sermon or for an assignment. 
  2. Fast if you are able. 
  3. Give money to a person or organization that you believe in. Examine your checkbook and bank account. Do they reflect your stated values? That is, if you say you care about something, are you giving what you are able even if it is a widow's mite? 
  4. Start going to church again. Or ask someone to stand in for you so you can go to a different church-where you are ministered to and are refreshed. 
  5. Read a poem.
  6. Pray. Be an intercessor alone or with others. Maybe journal your prayers. Ask God for what you need (Matthew 6:32). Maybe say the Jesus prayer throughout the day this week: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner." 
  7. Obtain a spiritual director if you do not have one. 
  8. Repent. Forgive. Make amends with God and others. 

Engage: Love of Others and Self

  1. Eulogize people while they are alive. Contact someone you love, appreciate, and admire, and tell them how much they mean to you.
  2.  Serve somewhere this week among the poor. And observe how the poor serve you.
  3.  Listen to others without trying to fix them.
  4. Think about and perhaps actually practice ways of loving (not necessarily liking) your enemies. That might mean praying for them or something else. It takes wisdom to discern how to love our enemies (and even our friends!).
  5. Practice the discipline of not having to have the last word in a conversation or argument (via Dallas Willard).
  6. Spend as much time with your loved ones as you can.
  7. Pay for someone's meal or coffee.
  8. Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed (James 5:16)
  9. Confide in someone trustworthy so that they might bear your burdens, joys, and dreams.
  10. Contact a long-lost friend or family member. 
  11. Exercise according to your ability.
  12. Start going to AAA or another 12-step program.
  13. Obtain/see a mental health therapist/counselor.

Conversations on Spiritual Formation

The following is a set of video recordings from people in the wider Northeastern Seminary community (alumni, administrators, trustees, etc.) who offer encouragement for you as you seek to keep your relationship with God central during the very full season of seminary study.

Professor of Spiritual Formation Marlena Graves on Flourishing

Professor Marlena Graves is an alum of Northeastern Seminary and the newly hired professor of Spiritual Formation. She shares with us her wisdom of how to grow and flourish in Christ.

Dr. Malene Collins-Blair

Dr. Collins-Blair is the new Assistant Chief Academic Officer and Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs. Dr. Collins-Blair has extensive administrative and academic leadership experience in the areas of online courses, degree programs and initiatives, and strategic and operational planning, previously serving as the Dean of Houghton College Online.  

She shares with us her thoughts on where she finds herself in her walk with God.

Rev. Gerald Coleman on keeping your spiritual life alive

An alumn of Northeastern Seminary, Reverend Gerald Coleman (affectionately known as “Pastor G”) serves as the Campus Pastor at Roberts Wesleyan University as well as the Director of the Office of Spiritual Life. Additionally, he serves as the Senior Pastor of Mount Carmel Church in Chicago, IL.

In this video, Pastor G. shares from his own experience what it means to keep your spiritual life alive while in seminary, especially in the context of being assigned a lot of readings that are not ones you would normally pick! He also shares the importance of allowing seminary to form you not only in terms of what you know, but who you are becoming.

Janet Balajthy on three seminal spiritual practices she uses

Janet Balajthy serves as a trustee of Northeastern Seminary and Roberts Wesleyan University, and has also served as an adjunct professor in spiritual direction classes. Having retired from decades of leadership in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Janet currently serves as a spiritual director (especially for women in leadership). In this video, Janet shares three seminal spiritual practices that have supported her in keeping her life in God central, even in the midst of a very demanding ministry.

Dr. Deana Porterfield on seeking ministry within your gifts

Dr. Deana Porterfield encourages students to persevere in their education (even when it doesn’t come easily), sharing her own challenges in college and graduate studies. She encourages you to lean into knowing who you are and seeking a ministry within your giftings, remembering that God has ministry for each of us. She also shares her own set of regular practices that keep her resourced to be the leader God has called her to be in this season.

Bishop Karen Horace on an authentic relationship with Jesus

An alum of Northeastern Seminary, Bishop Horace pastors at Harvest Time Sanctuary in Rochester, New York. 

In this video, she shares her heart for ministry in the city – connecting with people outside the four walls of the church and introducing them to an authentic relationship with Jesus. She also shares some of her own practices for keeping Jesus central in her life, and some of her own experiences for getting through college and seminary with a special commitment she felt called to make.

Dr. Wayne McCown on finding spiritual nourishing

Dr. Wayne McCown was the founding Dean of Northeastern Seminary. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Roberts Wesleyan University and Northeastern Seminary. 

Now in his 80s, Dr. McCown shares in this video not only the many administrative and pastoral ministries in which he is still heavily involved, but also some tender ministry to family members and friends that are part of his life in this season. Towards the end of the recording, he shares what he finds spiritually nourishing – note his call to very “simple” practices in the midst of his very active life. 

Alum Kellie Barbato on persevering when challenges come our way

Kellie Barbato is an alum of Northeastern Seminary with an MA in Transformational Leadership. She serves as the Director of Library Services at Golisano Library. Kellie’s ministry settings have been in the context of Higher Education, serving as a librarian at several different schools. She encourages us to persevere when life (and studies) are challenging and to receive encouragement from others along the way.

Spiritual Formation Exercises

Northeastern Seminary's Spiritual Formation week takes place each semester. Dr. Rebecca Letterman has offered resources and ideas for how students can spend the week. This page will act as a resource center to house the exercises, videos, and interviews around the topic. 

Praying in Color

Dr. Letterman's video on prayer will give you some ideas on how to linger in prayer in a new way. You’ll need about 20 minutes — and a notebook or paper and some writing utensils — to explore this way of praying. Watch Dr. Letterman's video, and then give it a try!

Visio Divina

Dr. Letterman's video on Visio Divina explains the approach to prayer that nurtures receptivity to God’s presence and voice. You’ll need about 20 minutes — and a cell phone with a camera — to explore this way of praying. Watch Dr. Letterman's video, and then give it a try!

Engagement and Rest

Many seminary students (and other Christians) struggle with having extremely full (over-full) lives, and long for “work-life balance.” This video provides some biblical perspectives on the ways engagement with God in ministry and engagement with God in rest can support each other. It also invites you to check in with your “visceral responses” to rest and engagement, so that you can begin to explore the longings of your own heart around these topics.