On November 10th, 2018 we held a Visioning Day for CO London at the Prayer Centre in Hammersmith.
The purpose was to review what we are able to provide in terms of resources, groups, training, retreats and online communities and consider how best these might be developed and added to going into the future.
We are aware that many of you who would have liked to come were unable to, so we were very encouraged that 41 people were able to attend. A summary of each of the 4 sessions is provided below both for those who participated on the day and for everyone who may be interested in what took place.
The day was very much the start of an ongoing process to help support you in your practice of Centering Prayer, whether a beginner or someone who has been practising for some time.
SESSION ONE: RESOURCES
facilitated by Deirdre Anthoni, Margaret Philpot and Pauline Hancock
A short presentation was given on the Resources available to Contemplative Outreach London. We aimed to identify existing assets and future needs. Information was provided on Spiritual Practices, useful Websites, Books, DVDs etc. To download copies of the handouts circulated click on the links below.
Small groups were formed to look at some possible areas for development and improvement. Here is a summary of the outcomes from these sessions:
- To develop a ”skills bank” of all resources and make them more readily available to all who practice CP, including facilitators and presenters. We foresee that an administrator will be needed to organise and coordinate this.
- To be more outward looking and inclusive by:
- building and consolidating networks of people practising CP in local groups;
- using online connections and Apps;
- organising different patterns of retreats;
- drawing much more upon inter-faith perspectives and experience to deepen our practice.
An agenda is being set up to move these issues forward over the coming months.
Handouts from Session 1:
SESSION TWO: GROUPS, TRAINING & RETREATS
facilitated by Jill Benet
We considered the value of Centering Prayer groups praying and studying together to support our practice and how to overcome some of the obstacles that get in the way of starting a group. Several handouts were made available to help group formation. These can be downloaded at the links below.
Two formation programmes were introduced:
- Facilitator training (Non-residential). For new and experienced facilitators of Centering Prayer groups, these days are interactive providing essential skills for organising and facilitating small groups.
- Presenter Training (Normally residential). To prepare presenters to teach the method of Centering Prayer at Introductory Workshops, to small groups and individuals.
This training enables participants to gain an in-depth understanding of Centering Prayer and provides practice in communicating the basics and essentials of the method of Centering Prayer, as well as aiding in the ability to articulate the basic conceptual background for Centering Prayer.
For more information and pre-requisites, please contact Jill Benet (see below).
The purpose of all formation is to maintain the integrity of the method of Centering Prayer and to deepen the participant’s understanding of the practice itself.
Residential retreats offer the opportunity to spend extended time in prayer and silence with a group, as well as an in-depth study of background material — an essential way to deepen our practice. The need for non-residential retreats of one or two days was highlighted on the day. All retreats organised by CO London are listed on the Events page of this website.
Handouts from Session 2:
Value of Support,
SESSION THREE: ONLINE
facilitated by Tim Hamilton (locally) and Monica Wilson (remotely)
Centering online guide
These guidelines are for Centering online with one other person:
- You will need the use of an iPhone, iPad or Apple computer if using FaceTime. Skype works across most formats.
- Ensure battery sufficiently charged.
- Switch on aeroplane mode.
- Position phone. A stand can be useful. Landscape works well.
- Ring/receive call at the appointed time.
- Allow 5 minutes for greetings/catch up.
- Turn phone away to face icon/picture.
- Opening reading of 2-3 paragraphs from Thomas Keating or other material.
- Sound gong and press “mute” if desired.
- Sound gong after 20 minutes, not forgetting to unmute first!
- Closing prayer.
- Turn back phones to face each other and bow.
- Remain in silence and switch off the device to close.
Ideally, you should aim to complete the session in just over 30 minutes.
You will need to decide which of you will read the opening text and who will pray at the end. You will also need to determine who will keep time.
Centering Prayers by Peter Traben Haas is an excellent resource for closing prayers.
Should you also wish to join an online group, here are some useful links to the Peace Chapel -
SESSION FOUR: VISION FOR LONDON
facilitated by Carole O’Reilly and Chantelle Dusette
The final workshop of the day drew from the group foundational words/phrases to set up a Contemplative Outreach Vision for London, based on the premise that Centering Prayer is a response to what the city needs. The three key objectives focused on identifying the needs/hurts, discerning desire in response and exploring tools to meet them. The handouts which were given out to support and encourage dialogue and openness can be downloaded below. We were embraced with truly heartfelt responses, which we are drawing on to complete a draft vision statement for CO London.
Handouts from Session 4:
Prayers and Scriptures.
If you would like to know more about any of the sessions, please feel free to contact the respective facilitators:
Deirdre – firstname.lastname@example.org
Margaret – email@example.com
Pauline – firstname.lastname@example.org
Jill – email@example.com
Monica – firstname.lastname@example.org
Tim – email@example.com
Carole – firstname.lastname@example.org
Chantelle – email@example.com
We are encouraged following the session and are very much looking forward to supporting one another in the practice.