Guided Day of Prayer … to where?

In 2002 the MB Conference began engaging in the discussion of contemplative meditation, centering prayer and spiritual direction from outside the church, and recommending spiritual practices based on Roman Catholic spiritual disciplines to its leaders. At that time courses on the occultic enneagram and retreats at monasteries were being recommended.[1] Around that time, MB church leaders attended a retreat at Stillwood camp in British Columbia where they were introduced to the practice of silent (contemplative) prayer.

Nothing much has changed since then. This year, according to the BCMB Convention 2013 Report, we read about another contemplative event to be held this month:

Cultivating Spiritually Healthy Leaders – One of the consistent and encouraging themes we hear emerging amongst pastoral leaders is a desire to cultivate intentional places for rest and hearing from God. Spiritual health and vitality is intimately linked to ministry health, so this summer and fall the PMC is inviting you to spend a day-long retreat with other leaders in a guided prayer setting. Facilitated by Cam Stuart (Mountain Park) and Kristen Kampius (Highland), we invite you join smaller clusters of leaders at Stillwood to practice silence, soul reflection and hearing from God in His Word. Information and registration will be available online at bcmb.org.
-page 40, BCMB Convention 2013
http://www.bcmb.org/downloads/sb_bcmb/CorrectedReport.pdf

On the BCMB (British Columbia Mennonite Brethren) website is the following promotion about this upcoming day of prayer:

Guided Day of Prayer 2013
Guided Day of Prayer for Pastors (and spouses)
Theme: “Withdrawing To Be Loved and Renewed”
This Guided day of prayer will be offered both June 10 and October 21 – 2013
At Stillwood Camp 9-4:30pm (lunch provided) 
Cost $25.00 per person 
Facilitated by Cam Stuart and Christine Kampen 
Sign up here: Guided Day of Prayer 2013
The key idea we are working with is “withdrawing to be loved and renewed.” We are shaping it after Jesus’ model who “often withdrew to lonely places to pray” (Lk. 5:16). I believe Jesus withdrew from the busy crowds and demands to simply enjoy His Heavenly Father and in so doing he was renewed in perspective and purpose.
We will blend the day with teaching/facilitating on a variety of ways we can listen to and enjoy God’s presence but also make sure those who come have lots of time to simply be with God. Most people like the idea of withdrawing but when they get there they often aren’t sure what to do with the time they have with God. We will be drawing ideas and practices from a variety of Christian traditions equipping people how to be with God in a variety of different life situations.

http://www.bcmb.org/page.taf?id=242

Which ideas and practices from a variety of Christian traditions will be used? What does it mean to practice silence and soul reflection? Who are these prayer guides and what else will they be teaching?

Christine Kampen, whose name was misspelled in the above BCMB Convention report, is a Pastoral Elder of Highland Community church in Abbotsford, B.C. (highlandcommunitychurch.ca/). She graduated from AMBS with a Master of Arts in Christian Formation with a concentration in Christian spirituality.[2]

Cam Stuart is Pastor of Adult Ministries at Mountain Park Community Church where he has been on Staff since 1997. In 2005 he wrote a book called “A Life Long Apprenticeship”[3] and a 7 session study guide series called ‘Description of a Growing Disciple.’ Promoted by the MB Conference, these contain lessons in imaginative and contemplative Bible Reading (visualization, Lectio Divina, Ignatius Prayer Examen). The book cover says that Stuart studied at Briercrest Bible College and Regent College (both colleges that promote contemplative spirituality), his graduate work being Spiritual Theology, and at the time of publishing he had recently completed studies in Spiritual Direction. Today he is listed as one of Soul Stream’s (soulstream.org) spiritual directors.[4]

Today, Cam Stuart’s church is promoting the following:

Spiritual Retreat
“Withdrawing to be Loved and Renewed”

Augustine, the great fourth century pastor famously quoted, “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in You.”
Just as our bodies need regular rest in order to function, so do our souls. Even Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray. (Luke 5:16) Taking the time to allow your soul to rest in Christ (Matt. 11:28-30) is a challenge for many of us. Fear, hurrying, sickness, pride, and uncertainty often block us from hearing God’s loving affirmation. He desires to bless and support us as we journey onward.
We want to provide a few sacred hours of learning how to enjoy God’s presence and find rest for our souls through this one day retreat. Will you take a risk and join us?
Date: Oct. 20, 9:00am – 4:30pm 
Cost: $20.00 per person (Maximum 20 people)
Location: Westminster Abbey, Mission 
For directions go to: http://www.westminsterabbey.ca/
FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO REGISTER: 
Pastor Cam Stuart

-http://www.mpcc.ca/adult-opportunities/equipping/

Here are the concerns. When a spiritual retreat’s description involves sacred hours, presence, and soul rest at a Benedictine monastery, it very likely has something to do with contemplative spirituality. This tells us more about what one of the prayer guides may be teaching the MB pastors this month. In addition, the contemplative connections of Highland Community Church and its ties to the Imbachs of Soul Stream[5] only increase the possiblity that pastors who attend this Guided Day of Prayer for Pastors (and spouses) are most likely going to be trained in the prayer methods of contemplative spirituality and guided through contemplation into the silence.

If so, this would not be the first time that MB pastors are being encouraged to learn from contemplative methods based on Roman Catholic spiritual practices. In May of 2007 the BC MB Conference invited Peter Scazzero to speak at their pastors and spouses conference in Harrison Hotsprings, B.C.[6]. Scazzero, who practices the Rule of Life (Benedictine Daily Office), often retreats to a monastery cell for one week of silence every year, waking at 3 am and 5:30 am to practice silence and solitude or chanting with the Trappist monks eight times a day. He has said that monastic rhythms of silence, solitude, and Daily Offices helps him to be rooted and grounded, because he needs to learn from other traditions.

Even before the Scazzero retreat, back in May of 2004, there was another one where BCMB Conference[7] pastors were introduced to the practice of imaginative or contemplative prayer originated by St. Ignatius. It too was a prayer retreat for pastors and their spouses, this one focusing on spiritual direction.[8]

You can’t really blame these MB pastors for attending contemplative retreats. Remember, they got the approval from their leadership a decade ago to explore contemplative meditation, centering prayer, spiritual direction from outside the church, mystical spirituality practices based on Roman Catholic spiritual disciplines, courses on the occultic anneagram and even a getaway at a monastery.

Since the seeds of contemplation were first planted they appear to have taken root. Only time will reveal what kind of fruit will grow from this spirituality. Pray that the pastors who attend the Guided Day of Prayer 2013 will love the truth more than the deception that awaits them in the silence[9], because even Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

Keep in mind that these concerns are not so much about these leaders and teachers but rather about what is being taught. By the way, if anyone reading here attends the Guided Day of Prayer next week and meets Christine Kampen, could they kindly ask her if it was just a slip of the tongue when she called the Holy Spirit a ‘she‘ in a recent sermon?[10] It’s important.

Endnotes:
[1] There once was a web link but it is no longer active.
[2] http://www.canadianmennonite.org/articles/six-canadians-graduate-ambs
[3] “A Life Long Apprenticeship” can also be found here:
http://www.mennolink.org/books/camstuart.html
[4] soulstream.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/LM-Spiritual-Directors.doc
[5] Disappointment in the MB Herald (UPDATED 2013)
https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/04/25/disappointment-in-the-mb-herald/
[6] See: CONFERENCE ALERT: British Columbia Mennonite Brethren Going Contemplative?
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=3241
[7] Contemplative Mennonite Retreats
http://rollovermenno.wordpress.com/2008/03/28/contemplative-mennonite-retreats/
[8] See:
Move Over Pastors – Spiritual Director: A New Gift from an Ancient Tree.
http://guardinghisflock.com/2010/09/16/move-over-pastors-2/
Is Your Church Teaching the Prayer Exercises of Ignatius Loyola?
http://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/is-your-church-teaching-the-prayer-exercises-of-ignatius-loyola/
Is Spiritual Direction Biblical?
http://muddystreams.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/is-spiritual-direction-biblical/
[9] What is The Silence?
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/thesilence.htm
[10] Listen to Kampen’s latest sermon where she is speaking about the work of the Spirit (where she talks very much about ‘the spirit’ but does not say ‘the Holy Spirit’). Right after a Parker Palmer (Quaker) quote (at 11:30), about the spirit she says (at 11:45) “If we give her space the Spirit loves to be at work redeeming and reconciling in those very difficult relationships.” Listen here:
http://highlandcommunitychurch.ca/multimedia-archive/may-19-2013/#play-audio

Related:

While there are many positive aspects of the Mennonite Brethren denomination, it is disheartening to see that they have continued to join the ranks of so many denominations on this same pathway. The Bible believing church that once left Rome is falling away from the purity of the gospel of Jesus Christ that so many have been martyred for. Here are only a few of the latest examples:

Shalem-Trained Contemplative Fil Anderson Member of Samaritan’s Purse “Spiritual Care Team”

Moody’s Pastors’ Conference Teaching Lectio Divina This Week

SPECIAL REPORT: Assemblies of God “Believe” Conference Makes Bold Move – Brings in Contemplative Key Player Ruth Haley Barton

Peter Scazzero’s Contemplative Bridge Crossing to Canada (to the Christian & Missionary Alliance)

Christian & Missionary Alliance Students Taught to Listen to God – Contemplative Style

Letter to the Editor: Concerns About Shalem Institute, Vineyard, and YWAM

NOTE: All views expressed on this blog are the personal opinions of this blog’s administration.

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