Spanky Moore and Jemma Hartley uncover a hunger for spiritual direction amongst young adult Christians
ne weekend this February, over 250 Cantabrian young adults from more than 35 churches of various denominations (and none at all) packed their tents and gas burners for The Festival of Salt and Light. Set on a farm at Gore Bay, North Canterbury, the weekend offered a smorgasbord of odd things happening in unexpected places – with plenty of room for general lazing and socialising. The festival had a lineup of great guest speakers, including the Pakeha Dean of St John’s College, Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, and
many of us … have forgotten the basic skills of how to disciple people.
Rev Darryl Gardiner, as well as workshops covering topics as broad as ‘how to choose a job that honours God’ through to Christian meditation. But on the Saturday afternoon, while most people wandered to the beach to swim or sunbathe, an experiment took place. The Revs Megan Herles-Mooar and Ian Smith and set up two chairs at opposite ends of the main meeting marquee, and made themselves available during the afternoon for ‘Speed Spiritual Direction’ sessions. Was anyone interested? Yup. Big time. To their surprise, a steady stream of young adults lined up for the chance to explore, question and lament their faith with a safe stranger. “What struck me about the experience at Salt and Light was the eagerness with which the young people entered the process.” Says Megan. “There is little time for messing about – they sit down with you and in a short time are sharing with profound depth the spiritual issues they are wrestling with. Unresolved guilt, uncertainty about the future, the difficulty in hearing God's voice in a new way, the trauma of being wounded by the church. I was profoundly aware of the need and desire among these amazing men and
women to connect with another and talk about what was happening in their lives with God, and was deeply moved by the experience.” “I’m left with a great sense of need in this age group.” Globally, there’s an emerging realization that many of us in the Western Church have forgotten the basic skills of how to disciple people. Sure – we know how to run worship services, small group discussions, community outreaches and theological lectures – but that relational skill of helping someone younger in faith navigate a world of consumerism and competing voices in the Way of Jesus has pretty much lapsed into a long lost art form. Which begs the question, could Spiritual Direction be one way for the Anglican Church to engage young adults where they’re currently itching? Last year Jemma Hartley, a 21 yearold student at Canterbury University, had hit a wall with her faith, which lead to a profound experience with a Spiritual Mentor from her church. Here’s how she tells the story. Spanky Moore
Magazine of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand.