Educating imaginative, resilient leaders for God's changing world.

Let me introduce myself…

The conversation begins like this … Hi my name is Debra and I work with the Spirituality Program at Columbia Theological Seminary. From there the conversation may take many different turns … What is spirituality? Cool! What do you do in spirituality? The responses vary, but it’s rare that someone has nothing to say or is not interested. In new situations these conversations are always intriguing because I’m never sure of the person’s background or what their particular understanding of spirituality might be.

So the dance begins. I offer a little more description or ask what spirituality means to them, wondering if we will find a point of connection, that moment of stillness where God’s spirit seems to weave in and through the conversation and carry us along. This is one of the gifts of claiming a call to a deeper spiritual life, ordinary conversations deepen and people enter new territory with a sense of wonder, if not in the moment, then later when the memory of the holy moment returns and begs for further reflection.

Certainly most of my daily work is not in conversation with others about spirituality. It is engaged in creating opportunities and preparing content and space for deeper conversations to happen, though not with me, but within the context of the ‘beloved community’ that is created through our courses. In this setting, realities of life are shared and undergirded with a sense of hope and trust in God who is present and active in our daily lives, and who weaves in and through the rough as well as gentle terrain of our living. Through the process of study, prayer, action and reflection we are spiritually ‘formed,’ to live transformed lives deeply rooted and grounded in God.

I have been a part of life of this beloved community for the last five years serving as a course facilitator. I have taught courses on retreat leadership and embodied spirituality, a particular interest of mine since I have a background in dance. I recently served as co-leader for the pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Off campus I am a spiritual director, supervisor for spiritual directors and retreat leader. I serve as an Elder at North Avenue Presbyterian Church in Atlanta. My husband, Steve, and I have been married for 34 years and have two adult daughters. We welcomed our first grandchild in July. I enjoy meeting people from around the country and the world as my family had the wonderful opportunity to live in Asia for ten years.  I hope you will all feel welcome in this program.  Please say hello and let me know how I can assist you on your journey through the Certificate in Spiritual Formation. I look forward to serving this extraordinary community!  

Editor’s note- Debra has “hit the ground running” and is hard at work planning new programs, continuing favorites, and adjusting to both her new roles as a grandmother and here at the Center for Lifelong Learning- and we’re happy to have her. You can read Deedra Rich’s farewell letter where she welcomes Debra to the program here.