As our world experiences increasingly severe effects of climate change, more attention is being paid to the toll these changes are taking on our physical and mental health. And yet, we are also spiritual beings seeking meaning and purpose in these uncertain times. Spiritual direction and spiritual accompaniment have offered, in their long history, spaces in which to engage the great questions of one’s life, and in times of climate change those questions may be amplifying and changing in new ways.
At The BTS Center, we understand climate change to be directly rooted in spiritual crises, and we know that the effects of climate change are felt heavily by those who are deeply committed to spiritual work. We offered this gathering as an imaginative space for those engaged in the work of spiritual accompaniment who are feeling the weight of these deep and difficult topics – to come together to share and to learn in community. We hoped that this gathering – with three thoughtful presenters sharing talks as well as time for small group sharing – led to conversation and connection which nourished you and inform your work in spiritual accompaniment.
This gathering was intended for those who have some training and experience with spiritual accompaniment. We also welcomed students who are currently enrolled in a spiritual direction training program.
Rev. Daniel Wolpert, a healer and student of the spiritual life, worked as a research scientist, psychologist, spiritual director, farmer, teacher, and construction worker before earning his Masters of Divinity degree at San Francisco Theological Seminary (SFTS). Over the past thirty years he has taught in the fields of psychology and spiritual formation, led retreats, and delivered talks in such settings as the Art of Spiritual Direction Program at SFTS, the Youth Ministry and Spirituality Project, Luther Seminary, and the 5-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation.
In addition to having full-time and interim pastoral positions over the past two decades, he also pursues his spiritual direction and healing work in private practice. Daniel is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Minnesota Institute of Contemplation and Healing. He is the author of Leading a Life with God: the Practice of Spiritual Leadership (Upper Room 2006) and Creating a Life with God: the Call of Ancient Prayer Practices (Upper Room 2003); and co-author of Meeting God in Virtual Reality (Abingdon 2004), The Collapse of the Three Story Universe: Christianity in an Age of Science (MICAH 2013), and Creation’s Wisdom: Spiritual Practice and Climate Change (Orbis 2020).
Rev. Eileen Gebbie's professional experience includes teaching at the University of Illinois, serving as staff at an community organizing alliance, being the Executive Director of a Habitat for Humanity affiliate, and serving all that is holy as the first female and first queer senior pastor at two congregations in the United Church of Christ (a non-creedal Christian denomination pushing the boundaries of radical inclusion).
So, as she writes, "I have spent a lot of time with people in crisis, people who are being actively oppressed, people who are curious, people who are fearful, people who are being born, people who are dying. And I have confronted a great deal of sexism and homophobia in myself and in response to myself.” Eileen has come to understand that all persons are gifted with wisdom and we are part of wilderness, still able to hear creation's song, this creation that is irrevocably climate-changed.
Eileen earned her certificate in spiritual direction from the Des Moines Pastoral Care & Counseling Center and is a member of SDI Companions. Eileen is also completing a certification as a forest therapy guide with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides.
Rev. Maria Anderson-Lippert is an ELCA pastor and spiritual director currently living in the Twin Cities metro area. Her passion for walking with people in exploring the multitude of ways in which God’s grace shows up in the world – through poetry, and friendship, good meals, scripture, and social justice movements – brought her to ministry and she’s stayed a pastor for those same reasons. She is an aspiring gardner and enjoys leading people through communal singing experiences. Maria lives with her husband, Nat, their toddler son, Solomon, and their two cats.