Spiritual Direction at Saint James

Deepening our intimacy with God

A spiritual director is one who sits with and listens to your story and experience with the expressed purpose of discerning, with the help of the Holy Spirit, where God might be moving and speaking in your life. Spiritual direction can be a beneficial process for you if you desire to deepen your awareness of God in your life – in the profound experiences, mundane activities, suffering, transitions, and disillusioned aspects of life and faith. Your spiritual direction session may include some exploration of different spiritual practices that may help you increase your intimacy with God.

Spiritual Direction is:

  • An ancient practice in Christianity dating back to the Desert Mothers and Fathers.
  • A spiritual process in which you are invited to notice, savor, and deepen your ability to listen to God’s direction for your life.
  • A personal relationship characterized by a foundation of mutual trust, respect, warmth, genuine care, honesty, and openness
  • A contemplative, confidential relationship grounded in God-centered, mutual listening to the unique spiritual unfolding in all aspects of your life.

Spiritual Direction is not:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Counseling
  • Theological teaching

Spiritual Directors at Saint James

The Rev. Allison St. Louis, Ph.D.

How shall we respond to God’s invitation to profoundly intimate and life-giving relationship? One way is by intentionally engaging a regular practice of listening to the Spirit’s movement in our lives. Doing so with the help of a spiritual director – one who listens alongside us to our story and to God’s story with us – creates space that is conducive to hearing and responding to the Spirit’s activity in fresh, faithful and ultimately transformative ways.

My discernment regarding serving as a spiritual director began when I was in seminary over twenty years ago. I had begun a practice of meeting with a spiritual director, a practice that I continue to this day. With the help of my director, I found myself listening more attentively to where, when and how the Spirit was moving in my life. Spiritual direction also gave me the gift of discerning what faithful responses to the Spirit’s work might look like.

After seminary, I occasionally offered spiritual direction to seminarians from Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) and Yale Divinity School (2001-2009). Since joining the full-time faculty of VTS (2010-2019), I have served as a director to VTS graduates and other clergy in the Washington Metropolitan area. During that time, I also participated in monthly meetings of a Spiritual Directors’ Peer Supervision group. Two years ago, I participated in more formal training through a year-long spiritual direction program led by a nun and a laywoman.

I currently live in Hellam, PA. I meet with directees who live in the area at my home and with those who live at a distance by Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or phone. If you are interested in exploring the possibility of working together, feel free to be in touch with me. Email Allison or call (703) 475-8290.

The Rev. Dr. Howard Kempsell

Today, there are a number of good books,YouTube videos and websites that describe what spiritual direction is all about, such as Introducing Spiritual Direction by Peter Ball; but spiritual direction resources were scarce during my undergraduate years, so I sought to glean all I could from Religion and Personality and Psychology of Religion courses. Fortunately, as I began my Master in Divinity studies, the Anglican priest Kenneth Leech’s book, Soul Friend, was published; and as I was graduating from seminary, the Episcopal priest Tilden Edwards’ book Spiritual Friend: Reclaiming the Gift of Spiritual Direction became available. From these books I gleaned many insights.

I did my doctoral studies in spiritual direction at the University of the South (Sewanee) and the Graduate Theological Foundation with a special interest in spiritual direction in an age of rapid communication. I was especially blessed to study with Ewert Cousins, editor of the Classics of Western Spirituality.

I’ve served on the faculty of the Washington National Cathedral’s year-long certificate program, ‘The Art of Spiritual Companionship’. I have served as a spiritual director for three Clergy Residents in the Lily Foundation sponsored two-year residency program at Christ Church, Alexandria. Virginia. For many years I have offered spiritual direction to Virginia Theological Seminary students, spouses and couples, both on and off-campus. I offer spiritual direction at the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia’s Roslyn Retreat Center in Richmond, Virginia, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Virginia, at Ware Episcopal Church in Gloucester, VA and in the St. Thomas’ Spiritual Center in Lancaster, PA. I offer in-person spiritual direction to clergy and laity from a variety of religious traditions, as well as at-a-distance, via FaceTime, Skype & Zoom. I am a member of Spiritual Directors International and the Spiritual Directors of the Great Lehigh Valley, PA.

My spiritual pilgrimages include a number of ‘high’ and ‘thin’ places around the world, among them: The Isle of Iona, Scotland; Paris, France; Lhasa,Tibet; Machu Picchu, Peru; The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador; The American Southwest; The Upper Amazon River, Peru; the Dominican Republic; Costa Rica; Canada; England; Scotland; Switzerland; Germany; and Tanzania.

I have had the opportunity to provide spiritual direction for military officers and civilian employees with security clearances. I have provided spiritual direction for university students, faculty, staff and administrators. I have provided spiritual direction for employees and executives serving in business and industry. And I have provided spiritual direction for those in discernment about a vocation in ordained ministry. In all cases, I have taken great care to maintain confidentiality. Typically, spiritual directors do not participate in evaluative processes, so as you might imagine directees feel comfortable sharing at a deep level soon after beginning spiritual direction. Having a spiritual director is like having a physician of the soul — someone to help you listen carefully, and discern the leadings of the Spirit. Email Howard or call (703)927-4200.

Put quite simply, I would describe spiritual direction as an act of prayer. When I say “an act of prayer,” I am referring to those times when we consciously choose to put ourselves in the way of grace, or to enter the sacred space of our True Self, or open ourselves to the Indwelling Mystery of our souls. In speaking of spiritual direction as an act of prayer, I might also describe it as a time of intentional availability to God on the part of both the director and the directee for the sake of the deepening discernment of the directee. This shared act of prayer is the acknowledgement that the Holy Spirit is, indeed, the spiritual director and that the time together is about creating an atmosphere supportive of detached listening and fresh seeing.Rose Mary Dougherty, SSND

Kimberlee Pieffer

Kimberlee leads weekly meditation groups in the World Community for Christian Meditation tradition, teaches classes and workshops on spiritual practices. Kimberlee hopes to help others uncover the multiple ways we can enter into the gift of contemplation while learning to be more rooted in the present, more conscious and more compassionate. She is certified in spiritual direction, formational prayer and yoga instruction (RYT200). She also has her BS in kinesiology and master’s degree in health education from Penn State University. In addition to reading, gardening and learning about herbalism, she enjoys continuing to create and discover the rhythm of life that works best for her.