Servant Leader Training, 2018

Presenter formation in 2018 took place at the House of Prayer from 26 February to 2 March and was led by Jill Benet and Brenda Bayne. The attendees were Claire Carruthers, Sebastian Harries, Peter Bone, Val Harding, Jayne MacGregor, Judy Lown, Julia Richmond and Teresia Hasanova.

Teresia Hasanova had already completed the training in 2016. This year she attended the training to become a trainer and prepare people in the Czech Republic to teach the method of Centering Prayer. She has been really faithful to her practice and Centering prayer is growing in Prague and the surrounding area and in Slovakia. If you are in Prague and would like to “sit” with the group at the Cathedral contact Teresia.

At the House of Prayer we formed such a close community we forgot to take a photo, but below you will find a description of the week below as written by Peter Bone, one of the participants.

In February 2018 the so-called “beast from the east” froze the country and deposited the deepest snowfalls seen for many a year. At the same time, eight students and two leaders were “holed up” at The House of Prayer in East Molesey for a Centering Prayer presenters course. Some braved an occasional walk outside despite the weather forecast promising temperatures which would feel like -11oC. A few of us just stayed inside!

How would I describe our five days being prepared to deliver the introductory talks? The words intensive, hard-work, tiring and challenging come readily to mind. But we were also affirmed, inspired and encouraged as we learnt how best to present the method of Centering Prayer.

The curriculum was pretty straightforward. Namely each of us presented each of the four parts of the introductory course, always led off by either Jill or Brenda. After each talk, the presenter reflected on how they felt about it, and each of the listeners offered a brief critique too. This may sound rather scary, but the comments were kind and affirming and learning points delivered in a helpful way so they could be heard and received.

On reflection, I can see how very generously and graciously we were held throughout the five days. Held by the warm hospitality of The House of Prayer, where the food was good and the heating system able to keep us warm despite the icy winds which battered us. Held by the kindness, enthusiasm and know-how of our leader Jill Benet and her assistant Brenda Bayne. Held by the pop-up community and new friendships which were formed. Held by the wisdom of the well-honed material we were training to deliver, the initial authorship presumably from the pen of Thomas Keating. And held by the practice of Centering Prayer that we shared together morning and afternoon in the prayer room.

And so it was that, as well as being affirmed, inspired and encouraged I also came away even more excited about Centering Prayer. It offers a spiritual path which is rooted in the historic Christian tradition but which feels wonderfully contemporary as well. It is an accessible and, ultimately, transformative way that leads to personal experience of the Divine, rather than a set of beliefs about the Divine. A way that leads to relationship and knowing first hand, rather than second-hand experience and a set of propositional truths. And that’s good news irrespective of which bit of the church (or not) you come from!

The snowfall was greatest on the Friday that we completed the training and, with some having a long journey, a number stayed on to enjoy The House of Prayer’s hospitality for a little longer, preferring this to being stranded on a freezing station or stuck in a snow drift.