Help me become a spiritual director

Dear Friends & Family,

I'm writing to share exciting news & to ask for your support. 

I've been accepted into San Francisco Theological Seminary's certificate program for spiritual directors, which begins in January 2018. Embarking on the journey to become a spiritual director is a deep-seated dream of mine, & I'm thrilled about this opportunity!

As a transgender & queer Christian who has experienced deeply painful rejections from my faith community due to my identity, I know how empowering it can feel to make a connection with another transgender or queer person of faith. I have yet to meet or hear of any other transgender spiritual directors (though there likely are a few!) & I look forward to becoming one. 

However, the SFTS training program does not meet the requirements to offer financial aid, so funding my training will be a challenge despite my full-time job.

So here's my ask to you - if you are able, will you please consider sending a few dollars my way? Your support will make a real difference to me.  

In gratitude & love,
Jamie

.......................................................................................................................................

What is Spiritual Direction?

Good question! Many people haven't heard of it, although there is a long tradition of the practice in Christianity, as well as in Buddhism, Judaism, and other faith traditions. 

Here's what the famous Trappist contemplative Thomas Merton wrote about spiritual direction (taken from the Spiritual Directors International website) : 

"The whole purpose of spiritual direction is to penetrate beneath the surface of a person’s life, to get behind the façade of conventional gestures and attitudes which one presents to the world, and to bring out one’s inner spiritual freedom, one’s inmost truth, which is what [Christians] call the likeness of Christ in one’s soul."

What draws me to the ministry of spiritual direction is a deep desire to create space for profound and holy listening in service of connecting people with the sources of meaning in their lives, in all the beautiful & myriad forms that meaning takes.  

How do I plan to practice this ministry?
Several ways. In the short term, I will intergrate the concepts I am learning with my work in a seminary admissions office. In the long term, I am most drawn to working one-on-one with other transgender & queer people, people who define themselves as spiritual but not religious, & people who do not have access to spiritual directors living close to them (something I experienced pre-Skype while living in my rural hometown). While I am Christian myself, I hope to work with folks from various faith backgrounds. Yes, atheists meet with spiritual directors too!

How long will the training take?
The SFTS program has two parts: coursework & practicum. The coursework portion of the training involves four weeklong courses on the campus of San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Anselmo (two weeks in January 2018 + two weeks in January 2019). The practicum portion involves 24 months of meeting with spiritual direction clients under the supervision of experienced directors. 

What does the training cost?

I've estimated the total program cost at $7164.
That estimate came from the following numbers:
$5000 -- tuition 
$2164 -- associated costs*

*Associated costs = SFTS fees, textbooks, transportation, & practicum supervision expenses. 

Here's how that breaks down:
$10 per day
$69 per week
$298 per month
$3582 per year

How can I support you if I'm not able to make a financial gift? 
Words of support mean a great deal, so please let me know that you're thinking of me either in person, below in the comments, or via sharing this page. And if you are someone who prays, prayers are deeply appreciated too! 

Any other questions? 

Sure, I'd be glad to answer them. Just get in touch!
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Organizer

Jamie Nelson 
Organizer
El Cerrito, CA
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