Monday, January 09, 2017

Teaching Spiritual Formation at Savannah State University

Today Linda and I travel to Savannah, Georgia. From T-F I will be teaching my Spiritual Formation Class at Savannah State University to twenty A.M.E. seminary students. (African Methodist Episcopal)

This class is given through Payne Theological Seminary, where I have taught for the past seven years.

The class looks like this.

Course Description

This course is designed to engage participants in an exploration and expansion of their inner spiritual life utilizing the spiritual disciplines. Personal transformation is an internal process that occurs as the individual allows God access to the whole of one’s being and life. The course combines:

1.      Personal encounter with God

2.      Keeping a spiritual journal as a record of the activity of God in one’s life

3.      Corporate sharing of one’s experience with God

4.      Write a 5-page reflection paper on the book and one’s interaction with it.

5.      Biblical and theological reflection on key issues that arise in the life of one who seriously engages in the spiritual disciplines

Course Goals

1.      To encounter and experience God

2.      To experience personal transformation

3.      To deepen one’s prayer life

4.      To discuss issues of personal transformation with colleagues in ministry

5.      To reflect biblically and theologically on this experience, especially within the African American perspective of Howard Thurman and Martin Luther King, Jr. Special emphasis will be given to Thurman’s personal challenge to Dr. King to never lose his rooting in spiritual practices such as meditation, prayer, singing, celebration, and worship and silence, and that social change would only come through personal transformation and spiritual disciplines such as meditation.

6.      To understand personal spiritual transformation as the necessary foundation for all relevant church, urban, and global transformation.


1.      Attend and participate in class sessions

2.      Keep daily, structured devotional times with God for 30 days, one hour per day, five days per week, beginning the week of Monday, January 16, 2017, and ending Sunday, February 26, 2017.

    1. Use the following book as a guide to your prayer times: Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God, by John Piippo.

3.      Keep a Spiritual Journal that records what God is saying to you during these times.

4.      Type out your journal and e-mail it to me using Microsoft Word. This document should be sent to me no later than Monday, March 6, 2017.

5.      Read To Never Leave Us Alone: The Prayer Life of Martin Luther King, Jr., by Lewis Baldwin. Write a 5-page reflection paper on the book and your interaction with it. Submit this paper by e-mail, attached as a Word document, no later than Monday, Monday, March 6, 2017.

Required Textbooks

Baldwin, Lewis. Never to Leave Us Alone: The Prayer Life of Martin Luther King Jr.

Piippo, John. Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.

Recommended Readings

Fluker, Walter. Ethical Leadership: The Quest for Character. Fluker understands the spirituality of Howard Thurman and its influence on Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as anyone does.

Fluker. They Looked for a City: A Comparative Analysis of the Ideal of Community in the Thought of Howard Thurman and Martin Luther King. Jr.

Hayes, Diana. Forged in the Fiery Furnace: African American Spirituality. Hayes is not only a great scholar but an exquisitely beautiful writer.

Kelleman, Robert, and Edwards, Karole A. Beyond the Suffering: Embracing the Legacy of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction.

King, Jr, Dr. Martin Luther. “Thou Dear God”:Prayers That Open Hearts and Spirits. Lewis Baldwin, ed.

Paris, Peter. The Spirituality of African Peoples.

Smith, Jr., Luther E. Howard Thurman: The Mystic as Prophet.

Thurman, Howard. For the Inward Journey: The Writings of Howard Thurman (Harcourt Brace: 1984). An excellent anthology of Thurman’s spiritual writings.

Thurman. Jesus and the Disinherited (Beacon: 1996). If you’re going to read one book by Thurman this is the one to read. He is brilliant, insightful, and extremely relevant for even today. There s a timelessness about Thurman’s writings.

Thurman. Howard Thurman: Essential Writings. (Orbis: 2006) Edited by Luther Smith. Smith is one of our great, if not our greatest, Thurman scholars. His introduction to Thurman’s writing is very helpful.

Thurman. Meditations of the Heart. (Beacon: 1999)

Thurman. A Strange Freedom: The Best of Howard Thurman on Religious Experience and Public Life.

Thurman. With Head and Heart: The Autobiography of Howard Thurman.

Weems, Renita. Listening for God: A Minister’s Journey Through Silence and Doubt (Simon and Schuster: 1999).