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Debra Weir, Associate Director for Spirituality of the Center for Lifelong Learning (CLL), announced her retirement at the end of the 2021-2022 academic year.
Debra joined the staff of the CLL in 2014 and has provided excellent direction to the spirituality programs of the CLL at Columbia seminary, including celebrating the spiritualty program’s 20th and 25th anniversaries. Debra initiated the Certificate of Spiritual Direction program, refined the Certificate in Spiritual Formation curriculum, and widened the reach of both programs through online courses.
Her experiences as program director are outlined below.
How has the spirituality program changed under your direction?
The Spirituality Program has certainly changed during my tenure; perhaps this can be named ‘growth.’ I have certainly grown here! Two areas of growth come to mind programmatically. The first and most significant change to the program was the addition of the Certificate in Spiritual Direction (CSD) in 2015. The CSD certificate program added another dimension or focus to the program.
The second area of growth is the embrace of online learning. Online courses have allowed people across the country and in some cases across the globe to participate in spirituality programs and courses.
In your own words, describe the Spirituality program at CTS?
The Spirituality Program is a well-known and long-standing program in the Center for Lifelong Learning at Columbia Theological Seminary and offers two certificates in Christian spirituality.
The Certificate in Spiritual Formation offers courses that nurture spiritual enrichment and growth in people desiring spiritual depth. This program’s classes and retreats are open to anyone interested (and often include) those completing the certificate alongside persons interested in a particular topic. We create a lovely and welcoming community when we gather.
The Certificate in Spiritual Direction is a cohort-based experience for those called or discerning a call to the ministry of spiritual companionship and guidance. This course of study’s practical training and formation includes gentle but rigorous supervision as part of the learning process. The application for the 2022 cohort is open through September.
What has been your greatest joy as the program director?
That’s hard! There have been so many joys, among them the many people I’ve come to know and love through the program! In addition, developing the spiritual direction program and witnessing the development of gifted spiritual directors formed through the program gives me pleasure and joy.
What will you miss the most?
I will miss the people – the CLL staff who are amazing, highly skilled and supportive, the CTS community, and the leaders and participants in all the programs. You all have enriched my life beyond measure!
How do you plan to continue with spiritual practices in retirement? Will this look different from what you do now?
Though I’m retiring from CTS, I’m not retiring from life or the discernment practices that led me here. The practices of prayer and reflection are a way of life now as I wait, watch, and walk into this next season. I hope to have time for additional practices that I have limited time for now, like gardening, making art with mandalas and textiles, long hikes, walks, and spending time with family and friends. I’m curious and excited about what will come!
What do you hope your legacy is as a spiritual director?
I have always approached this role from the stance of spiritual direction, being a spiritual director for the spirituality program. I hope that the program will retain a bit of my imprint on it, at least for a time.
On a more personal note, if my presence has encouraged some folks to seek and know God more intimately, or if my companionship has assisted them in discerning new directions or next steps in life that would be enough.
What would you say if you were asked to bestow a blessing or prayer for your successor?
May you be cloaked with a mantle of grace, seeking wisdom from the Source of all wisdom. May you guide these programs with clarity and gentleness, seeking the best for all. May you receive joy and satisfaction from each workday. When challenges mount, may the gifts of this community encourage your soul. And may you, this program and all who participate in it flourish during your tenure.
The new Associate Director of Spirituality Programs will begin work in the CLL on July 1st.
To watch an extended version of this interview, click here. To learn more about CLL spirituality program offerings, click here.
Chassidy Goggins works to support the needs of organizations and high performers enhancing their effectiveness through digital marketing and media communications. She believes collaboration, innovation, and strategy are essential when propelling people with a vision forward. Currently, she is the Media and Marketing Coordinator for the Center of Lifelong Learning. She enjoys the space it gives her to combine her faith and professional background to further the Great Commission. Her hobbies include spending time with her family, traveling, writing, searching for bakeries and binge-watching her favorite movies/shows on streaming services she vows to stop paying for.