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Experience Group Spiritual Direction

Do you desire a spiritual community to experience belonging, prayerful listening, and spiritual growth? Are you interested in strengthening the spiritual center of your workplace or social group? Join or create a group. 

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One of my deep passions is to companion alongside groups of people seeking to deepen spirituality. 

Quite often we experience division and hostility on a daily basis; it’s exhausting and discouraging. But when we gather as a sacred community — each with our own backgrounds and experiences — to share and listen to our stories and the Spirit in our midst, we experience growth, healing and hope. 

In eight or more monthly Group Spiritual Direction sessions of 90-120 minutes, we develop the spiritual practice of praying our lives, sharing our lives, and listening attentively to each sharer — listening for and offering the Spirit’s gifts. Review our Covenant Guidelines.

 

Read more on the experience, structure and participation of Group Spiritual Direction in FAQ below or download Introduction to Group Spiritual Direction document

 

The intimacy of this sacred trust can form a beautiful bond and reveal God’s love from so many more dimensions than we might have experienced alone. We are connected.

We cannot discern and carve out shared destinies in isolation.

- Barbara Holmes 

What have others experienced through Group Spiritual Direction? 
  • A shared experience of common ground 

  • A deepening relationship with God and other spiritual friends

  • Encouragement in, discernment towards, and confirmation of new directions

  • Inner peace through healing, renewal, restoration

  • Increased grace to offer and receive forgiveness 

  • Release from shame and intolerant peer expectations

  • Confirmation of belonging as God’s Beloved

  • Exploring past pain in a safe environment

  • Unexpected blessings and transformations

My background in leading groups: 

Through  extensive education and experience with groups, God has prepared me to facilitate with competence, creativity, and compassion.

Several experiences in my life have honed and developed my expertise, including master and doctoral studies, research, training in group spiritual direction, and opportunities for structuring and nurturing brave, caring spaces.   

My work with groups centers on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; I have been trained in Group Spiritual Direction, Courageous Conversations, Difficult Conversations, Restorative Circles and Colossians Way curriculum.

  • An 8-session virtual group experience on Fri mornings


    Starts Sep 6

    200 US dollars

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  • An 8-session virtual group experience on Thurs evenings


    Starts Sep 12

    200 US dollars

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  • An 8-session in-person group experience on Saturday mornings


    Starts Sep 7

    240 US dollars

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FAQ anchor
  • For group sessions, do you have a minimum or maximum number of participants who can attend?
    It depends on the topic; some sessions work better in smaller groups. But the number of participants can be flexible, depending on what type of group you are forming. It's best to contact me directly for more information: debrapaxbuursma@gmail.com
  • Where do consultations take place? Do you offer them online?
    We can arrange a location (in the West Michigan area) that is convenient for all attendees.
  • How does consulting differ from Spiritual Direction or a Retreat?
    As a consultant, I listen deeply — this practice happens across all spirituality services. The difference is that in consulting, I am more direct in offering information and resources. My role is more of a responsive teacher or guide, and it may involve content and strategies for assessing, learning and marking change. In Spiritual Direction, I help you to become aware and attentive to Sacred presence and Spirit’s leading. My role is more of a companion, responsive to your attending and directions. In a Retreat, I help prepare sacred space and create the optimal conditions for you to experience Sacred Presence. During a retreat where we explore a specific topic, there will be a teaching component, information sharing and interactive activity. My role is more of a facilitator.
  • What is your expertise in consulting?
    I earned a master's degree that focused on consulting, collaboration and supervision. I have been a school consultant on diversity and inclusion and consulted individuals and groups such as schools, mental health agencies, nonprofits, and churches. The topics reflect areas of deep research, coursework, study, and practice.
  • Why Group Spiritual Direction?
    Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.- St Augustine of Hippo God is always present and dynamically active; but, we may not be present to God. The press of the month, week, day or preceding moment can knock us off our intentions. We can benefit from a community that invites us into an intentional, prayerful process of settling and centering, listening and sharing. As we spend time together, engaging with one another and God’s Spirit, we become more attentive and attuned to one another and the Spirit. By God’s grace and through Christ’s Spirit, we hone the spiritual practice of praying our lives by sharing life stories, listening attentively to one another and God’s Spirit, and offering gifts received from the Spirit (Barton, 2004; Vest, 1998). As a result, we can experience extraordinary holiness, healing and wholeness within the grounded reality of our ordinary lives, deepening our relationship with God and others. GSD responds to a deep longing for Godly relationships. Many have lost, forgotten or never experienced the communal nature of Christian spirituality and the Spirit’s move in and through communion with others (Armas, 2021; Holmes, 2021; Palmer, 2009). In a world punctuated by division, we can deepen our sense of belonging, interdependent community, and common ground as a sacred gift (Nouwen, 1986, Thurman, 1971). As we deepen our experience of the Spirit through a body of diverse believers, we discover joy within the expanse of God’s radical love for and through us as a Beloved community (Holmes, 2017; Thurman, 1976). In GSD, we exercise spiritual humility, living life beyond self with spiritual friends by prayerfully listening for the Spirit as we enter and hold another’s story (Benner, 2011; O’ Donohue, 1997; Doughtery, 1995).
  • What do I need to participate?
    Invest 1.5- 2 hours for eight sessions. (See booking opportunities or contact Debra directly.) Desire for and openness to spiritual growth through intentional contemplative presence with God and others. Commit to attend & engage in the guided practice of prayerful listening presence by sharing life stories and gifts from God’s Spirit. Covenant with one another as a sacred entrustment. (Review Covenant Guidelines.)
  • When and where would we gather?
    As a group, we meet in person at a mutually-agreed upon location in Grand Rapids, MI. We can also meet virtually via Zoom or through an arranged In Person and Virtual hybrid. Feel free to organize your own group or join the next group that is forming. If you are joining a group, note the starting time will be determined when an appropriate group size has been met.
  • What might I experience in GSD?
    Whatever God wants to give you! As we discover prayerful presence with God within a sacred community, we may “receive, experience, and reflect God’s love” through the process of praying our lives (Fryling, 2009, p 87; Vest, 1998). During GSD, we gather as a small community, each from our own different experiences and place on our spiritual journey to experience Divine presence in and through our lives. Your Spiritual Companion welcomes and guides the sacred community through contemplative life-story practices that enhance prayerful listening to one another and Christ’s Spirit. Our first session provides a foundation for future sessions. We learn about our regular session structure, review our group covenant, explore features of our contemplative prayer process, pose questions, and get to know one another better as God’s Beloveds. During each regular session, the companion guides our sacred community in the practice of contemplative prayer in community through sharing and silence as we: Casually gather together (prior to the formal start time). Settle & center on God using a short lectio or guided meditation. Intentionally slow our fast pace in the company of spiritual friends, seeking and savoring the move of Christ’s Spirit in the stories we share and hold. Prompts may help a sharer decide what life story to share. We ask God’s Spirit to bless the sharer as we listen to a person’s story, asking clarifying questions if needed. Call on the Spirit to give us a small gift for that person - a word, phrase, image, song, or scripture passage. Share that gift and allow the sharer to respond. Give God thanks, reflect on our process and receive a sending blessing.
  • What is Group Spiritual Direction?
    Group Spiritual Direction uniquely recognizes God’s revelation through the Spirit’s move within a sacred community of people with diverse backgrounds and experiences. During individual or group Spiritual Direction (GSD), an experienced spiritual companion facilitates a prayerful sharing-listening process that awakens and deepens awareness of Divine presence and dynamic Spirit activity in hearts and lives. God directs spiritual encounters. As a companion, I create a sacred space and guide a process inviting a person/group to be open and responsive to Divine presence and move. GSD is not group therapy. We gather and share our vast experiences, practice listening attentively, and offer gifts from the Spirit. We do not advise, counsel or problem-solve.
  • Where do we meet? Do you offer sessions online?
    Once we make contact via email or a phone call, I will send you a specific location (in Grand Rapids, Michigan) so we can meet in person. We can also meet virtually through Zoom or Facetime.
  • How long does a session generally last?
    The spiritual companionship relationship grows through monthly 60-minute sessions.
  • What typically happens during a session?
    As your companion, I frame our time gently, allowing you and the Spirit to guide. Generally, I check in to see how you are doing. Then we enter a settling-centering time with a brief spiritual practice to shift our focus from life’s press to God’s pulse. After some settled silence, you are invited to reflect on our centering time or any topic that chooses you. I listen attentively, offering prompts or questions to support the deepening of your spiritual journey. We close our time turning outward with a prayer or blessing and a possible question or topic to explore. It is important you experience a sacred space that supports and stretches you on your spiritual journey. We are all created uniquely and different experiences shape our spirituality. I seek your feedback periodically so I might come alongside in ways that deepen your experience.
  • How do I find out more about an Individual Spiritual Direction session and if it's right for me?
    If you have more questions about the practice and experience of spiritual direction before scheduling, we can arrange a 15-30 minute Zoom consult for no charge. Contact me at debrapaxbuursma@gmail.com to set up an appointment.
  • What can I expect from our spiritual companioning relationship?
    Our first meeting focuses on getting to know one another. You will find some information about me on this About Debra page; feel free to ask any follow up questions. We will spend our time finding out more about your spiritual history, background and desire or purpose for seeking spiritual direction.
  • How much does a session cost?
    The fee for a one-hour meeting ranges from $50-75 depending on your resource capacity. You may pay by Venmo @Debra-Buursma or personal check. Payment is due at the time of each session.
  • What is your expertise in leading retreats?
    As a former educator in higher education, I have designed and facilitated numerous retreats and mini courses for adults for over 20 years. I have also participated in a course and practica in leading spiritual retreats.
  • What is the cost of a retreat?
    Retreat expenses vary widely due location, number of retreatants, and design factors. I work with you to find a fair market value that works for both of us.
  • How much input will I have?
    A lot or a little depending on your desired involvement. I love the creative process and enjoy customizing a retreat that is responsive to what you are seeking.
Debra facilitates a thoughtful, sacred space that is safe and healing. Without judgment, fixing, or offering advice, our group is able to hold space for one another, even in sharing our most vulnerable thoughts and experiences. The monthly meetings follow a familiar format and have newness sprinkled in through a variety of thoughtful meditations, scripture, and spiritual practices. Debra’s intentionality, leadership, and gentleness has created a beautiful space for our group to grow into a true sisterhood. What a gift!

Natalie, Group Spiritual Direction participant

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