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Spiritual Formation Course Descriptions

SPFM 5201 – Journey: The Story of Our Lives
This is the introductory course in spiritual formation at NPTS. Participants will be encouraged to reflect upon their formation history and celebrate their unique spiritual journey. In addition to class interaction there will be formation groups where we listen for God in the stories of others. The practice of spiritual direction will be introduced as each student will see a spiritual director.

SPFM 5211 – Intercultural Spirituality: Praying Together
This seminar styled course will seek to address the students' experiences of community and engagement with cultures other than one's own through the lens of prayer. The Lord's Prayer as a common and biblical Christian prayer will frame the conversation as together we explore its ability to cross divides of community, culture, and history.

SPFM 6209 – African & African-American Spirituality
This Spiritual Formation class will engage African American Spirituality and Religion as the means by which we seek to experience transformation that comes through deep study and immersion of the diverse spiritual practices of African Americans. Spiritual practice in and outside the classroom is required as are site visits to various religious and cultural institutions of black Americans here in Chicago.

SPFM 6210 – Discernment: Choosing Well
Living a life of discernment based on the recognition of the work of teh Spirit leads to decisions well made. Growing in awareness to the activity of God in one's life transforms the desires of the individual follower of Jesus. Personal wholeness, character, and integrity flow from this process. Discernment is a gift and also a skill to be learned and developed.

SPFM 6215 – Prayer and Life in the Spirit
Five northside Chicago theological schools comprise the Northside Chicago Theological Institute and jointly offer this course. Taught ecumenically in scope and intensively in retreat setting, it is designed to provide students and professors the opportunity to explore the roots and development of various Christian spiritual traditions through study and applied experience.

SPFM 6220 – Journaling: Reflecting on Our Story Pathway Toward God and the Self
Students will learn and practice specific journaling techniques that will help them encounter God's presence and their own interior selves in their writing or other journaling techniques. They will learn safe and helpful ways to share writing and responding to writing online. They will develop a deepened sense of self including faith story, emotional, spiritual, and physical self.

SPFM 6230 – Spirituality and Self-Care
The purpose of this spiritual formation course is to explore the interrelationships between spirituality and health from a personal faith perspective. The multiple dimensions of Christian well being will be considered, focusing on the individual with consideration given to spirituality and the health of families, congregations and communities.

SPFM 6240 – Welcoming Others, Welcoming God
The spiritual practices of solitude and hospitality together turn our attention toward God and those made in God's image. Love for friends, strangers, and enemies will be addressed through readings, discussions, and lectures. A day-long solitude retreat and service at a ministry of hospitality offer experience for further reflection.

SPFM 6250 – Faith and Food
Food is intensely individual, relational, and communal. Food connects us to God, one another, and all of creation. How we approach what and how we eat is a spiritual act, not only a physical one. In this course we will together explore the intersection of spirituality with food and how the act of growing, buying, making, and eating food can connect us to God and others.

SPFM 6303 – The Embodied Story: Dust and Spirit
This spiritual formation topic course is designed to develop self-awareness as to how people inhabit their longings. The focus of this study will be discernment as to how the body might experience and express longings for personal health, relationship intimacy, sexual integrity, and vocational satisfactions, in ways that embody the expression, The body is for the Lord and the Lord is for the body (1 Cor. 6:13).

SPFM 6304 – Spiritual Direction and Solitude
Students will be introduced to solitude as a spiritual practice and the discipline of spiritual direction as a personal spiritual practice. Through a required solitude retreat, an orientation to solitude and silence, and a review of the group silent retreat, students will be experiencing and reflecting on their own experience. An understanding of spiritual direction will be available through readings, course lectures, and four required sessions of personal direction with a designated director. Lecture topics include, but are not limited to, the history of spiritual direction, the similarities and differences between related disciplines, the use of the Bible in direction, the role of discernment in direction, the practice of group spiritual direction, and spiritual direction within a ministerial vocation.

SPFM 7190 – Special Topics in Spiritual Formation
This course will focus on various special topics in spiritual formation.

SPFM 7205 – From Hostility to Hospitality
The focus of this course is on the dynamic of the movement from hostility to hospitality. Hostility is the abusive violation of the otherness of persons, while hospitality is the practice of personal charity and public justice. How conflict, anger, and hurt can be transcended without being denied and how power can be used redemptively will be explored in this course.

SPFM 7215 – NCTI: Topics in Prayer and Life in The Spirit
Five northside Chicago theological schools comprise the Northside Chicago Theological Institute and jointly offer this course. Taught ecumenically in scope and intensively in retreat setting, it is designed to provide students and professors the opportunity to explore the roots and development of various Christian spiritual traditions through study and applied experience.

SPFM 7390 – Independent Study in Spiritual Formation
An opportunity for students to explore a topic of interest outside the regular curriculum. Instructor's permission required. Submission of course proposal/syllabus to the academic dean is required.

SPFM 7501 – Foundations of Listening & Discerning
As the first of five courses in a program leading to a certificate in spiritual direction, this course will provide foundational information, experiences, and processes for the participant's development and discernment as a potential spiritual director. Beginning with a day-long retreat, the course will focus on listening to God, the self, the other, the Word, and the world. Each participant will receive some individual spiritual direction, engage in a peer listening group, and begin a process of self-discernment.

SPFM 7502 – Listening & Discerning Practicum I
Practicum I is designed for program participants who desire to continue to discern their call and giftedness into the ministry of Spiritual Direction as begun in Course 1 of the program. Work will be done in the participant's home region with support from the course coordinator at the Center in Chicago. In addition to the core requirements of ten meetings with a spiritual director and the online journaling component, participants will have flexibility to study a topic of personal interest in Christian Spirituality. The course begins on the first day of the Seminary's fall semester and ends on the last day of the spring semester.

SPFM 7503 – Spiritual Directing: Listening to the Movement of God With Another
The middle year will focus on skill development as a spiritual director. In the classroom, program participants will give and receive direction from each other, developing skills through practice and evaluation by supervisors. Participants will be introduced to the practice of the Verbatim, which will be a requirement during Practicum II. The course will begin with a required retreat day.

SPFM 7504 – Spiritual Directing Practicum II
Practicum II is designed to develop experience and wisdom in spiritual directing through receiving spiritual direction, giving spiritual direction to others, receiving supervision for spiritual directing, reading and dialoging with supportive literature, and studying specific relevant issues in spiritual direction.

SPFM 7505 – The Ministry of Spiritual Direction: Listening to God in the Church and World
The final course will focus on developing a spiritual direction perspective for ministry in the church and world by developing further the sensitivities and capacities for spiritual direction ministry. We will consider special issues in spiritual direction such as group spiritual direction, considerations of cultural, class and gender considerations, managing a ministry, and leading retreats. Participants will offer spiritual direction and meet in peer groups with facilitators for supervision and encouragement during the week. Devotional, contemplative and reflective activities, including a day retreat, are an intrinsic part of the intensive.