Spiritual direction is a covenantal relationship between fellow travelers on a journey of faith, mindfully and humbly conducted in the presence of the spirit. RCWMS has been encouraging folks in their spiritual development for more than four decades.
The RCWMS Feminist & Womanist Spiritual Direction Project connects folks with the formal practice of spiritual direction. A spiritual director acts as both companion and mentor to the directee. Spiritual directors typically enter their role with the blessing of a community who recognizes their received gifts and training for holy listening and spiritual wisdom.
Feminist spiritual direction gives special attention to the character of being a woman* in our culture and seeks to empower women in their unique spiritual journeys, and thus the rest of their lives. Womanist spiritual direction, rooted in the experiences of Black women, explores love and survival as spiritual practices. In their emphasis on women’s wholeness, feminist and womanist spiritual direction implicitly seek justice and wholeness for all of creation.
We want to help people find their own paths to the divine, explore spiritual connection, and bring with them their whole selves. To this end, we provide workshops and resources. RCWMS also maintains a list of a few feminist and/or womanist spiritual directors.
*We invite all women, including trans women, to participate in our programming, seek spiritual direction, and take part in our community. Each spiritual director listed has verified that they welcome and affirm LGBTQ+ folks.
Finding a Feminist and/or Womanist Spiritual Director
RCWMS provides the following list of feminist and/or womanist spiritual directors whom we know. Each of the spiritual directors listed below has confirmed that they welcome and affirm LGBTQ+ folks.
April Allison is a Quaker (Religious Society of Friends) and a spiritual director who lives near Lansing, Michigan. She was on the staff of the Leaven Center for ten years. She travels as an elder and companion through the Friends General Conference Traveling Ministries Program. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alyssa Storrs, (they/she), MEd, is a dyslexia educator, spiritual director, writer, and Associate Director of Energetic Justice. They live and work on Anishinaabe land, also known as Grand Haven, Michigan. In their spiritual direction practice, Alyssa focuses on white folks desiring to integrate their anti-racism work with their spirituality. To find out more about Alyssa’s practice, visit their website or email them at email@example.com.
Beth Bartlett, PhD, is Professor Emerita of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth. She is an ecofeminist spiritual director who is also trained in Somatic Experiencing and Indigenous Focusing-Oriented Trauma therapies. She welcomes all spiritual seekers. Her website is Beth Bartlett Duluth. You can also reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christopher T. Copeland, M.Div., J.D. D.Min. is an ordained minister, Enneagram teacher, and spiritual director living in Winston-Salem, NC. With a Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction from San Francisco Theological Seminary, Chris has been practicing spiritual direction since 2004 with people of diverse identities — faith, age, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. To learn more, visit www.illuminatingpaths.com or contact Chris at email@example.com.
Liz Dowling-Sendor, MDiv, is an Episcopal priest, writer, editor, and spiritual director in Chapel Hill, NC. To explore spiritual direction, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kyndra Frazier, LMSW, M.Div, is the Founder and CEO of KYND Consulting Inc., a mental health boutique supporting people in living thriving lives. She is a clinician, spiritual director, and executive coach licensed in New York and North Carolina who integrates womanism within her way of living, which flows into the sacredness of her work. Kyndra specializes in spiritual direction and couples counseling, as well as trauma-informed training for churches and other organizations. You can reach her at email@example.com or 914-740-8436.
Sallie Gentry is a spiritual director, bodywork therapist, and artist. She received a Master of Arts in Christian Studies at Duke Divinity School and training in the Art of Spiritual Direction at the Hesychia School. Sallie sees the inextricable connection between all living beings and between body, spirit, and mind. This deeply shapes her holistic approach to spiritual direction. She lives in Durham and welcomes all people and all experiences in her practice. Contact her at salliegentry.com.
Patty Hanneman, MDiv, is an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister who has served as campus minister for Duke University and as parish minister for the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Hillsborough, NC. Now a full time spiritual director, Rev. Patty offers individual spiritual direction, as well as workshops and retreats on topics she is most passionate about: spiritual care for community activists, spiritual care during the second half of life, and spiritual care based on personality type. Visit her website at soulfuljourneycollective.com and contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kaudie McLean, PhD, helped RCWMS create our Feminist Spiritual Direction program. She is a certified spiritual director, writer, editor, and artist who lives in Colorado. To explore spiritual direction, contact her at email@example.com.
Diann L. Neu, DMin, is co-founder and co-director of WATER, the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual. She is a feminist spiritual director and psychotherapist licensed in Washington, DC and Maryland. Diann specializes in spiritual direction and individual counseling, as well as liturgical and ritual planning. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-589-2509.
Pamela Ayo Yetunde, Th.D., is a spiritual director and pastoral counselor. Ayo is a co-founder of Center of the Heart. Ayo received her training in spiritual direction at Mercy Center, her chaplaincy training at Sati Center for Buddhist Studies and CPE at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center. Her pastoral counseling training was at Care and Counseling Center of Georgia. Ayo is the author of several books and articles.
Nancy Powell is a spiritual director who received her training through The Listening Center and Soul River in Durham, NC. She also has received training in Dream Work with Jeremy Taylor and has facilitated a dream work group for several years. She is a feminist and inter-spiritual director and is open to working with any interested person, regardless of beliefs, etc. You can reach her at 919-937-8246 or email@example.com.
Therese Taylor-Stinson is a spiritual director and the founding managing member of the Spiritual Directors of Color Network, Ltd. She is an ordained elder and deacon in the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) and she embraces womanism in her spiritual direction practice. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Schools & Organizations for Spiritual Directors
The spiritual direction training programs and organizations we hear mentioned most often include the following:
Center of the Heart is a wellness practice that includes spiritual direction, pastoral counseling, conflict resolution, yoga and educational programs.
The Hesychia School of Spiritual Direction focuses on the ancient art of Christian spiritual direction in a multi-faith context. Hesychia means “watchful, inner stillness, silence” and offers contemplative study and practice designed to prepare lay professionals, clergy, and the vowed religious for a ministry of spiritual guidance within the diverse context of contemporary life. This school is located in Arizona.
The Haden Institute Spiritual Direction training program is a two-year program, offered through large group on-site intensives, and distance learning. Small groups enter the programs each spring and fall in North Carolina, every two years in Canada, and each small group is guided through the program by a Haden Institute mentor. The group interaction provides a support community throughout the two years. In addition to reading and writing assignments, lectures, and discussions, participants share spiritual direction case studies as the teachings are put into practice. The North Carolina site is Camp Kanuga in Hendersonville.
Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation — Nurturing the Call: Spiritual Guidance Program offers both academic resources and experiential support for the ministry of spiritual direction or holy listening. At the heart of this program is the radical conviction that spiritual companionship is a form of prayer and that contemplative listening comes from being grounded in one’s relationship with God. The Shalem Institute is located in Washington, DC.
SoulRiver, a spiritual center based in the Triangle, offers a Certificate in Spiritual Direction. The reasonably-priced, 16-month program incorporates monthly meetings one Saturday per month at Oak Lodge in New Hope Camp and Conference Center and bi-monthly virtual meetings via Zoom. SoulRiver’s unique certification program is grounded in the Christian contemplative tradition with additional enrichment from interfaith spirituality. The faculty draw from the treasure of Benedictine, Ignatian, Franciscan, Protestant, and Quaker traditions, the mystics, ecospirituality, depth psychology, dreamwork, the arts, and more. Certification includes a multi-month guided practicum in the art of spiritual companionship. For more information, contact Rev. J. Mark Davidson at soulriverspiritualcenter@gmail com.
The Spiritual Directors of Color (SDC) Network, Ltd. is a nonprofit in the Washington, D.C. area founded by Therese Taylor-Stinson. The SDC Network expands representation and resources for people of color in contemplative-focused organizations and at related events, and offers peer groups, learning circles, and more. The SDC Network fully embraces the lived experiences of people of color and celebrates the richness of diverse cultures, faith traditions, and spiritual practices. SDC offers an alphabetized directory of spiritual directors of color. For more information, contact SDC at email@example.com.
Spiritual Directors International (SDI) is an inclusive, global learning community that advocates for and celebrates the service of spiritual companionship, also known as spiritual direction, spiritual accompaniment and spiritual guidance. They provide short training classes and other resources as well as listing spiritual directors/companions available around the country.