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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church

    news article

    How to Grow with God, Tend the Soul, and become certified in Spiritual Formation in Upper New York

    October 18, 2017 / By Shannon Hodson

    To become a disciple of Christ for the transformation of the world, the UNY Conference has identified 16 leadership competencies. 

    The first competency emphasizes the importance of a strong spiritual walk as a leader; a leader must tend to their soul and life. This includes a vital and vibrant devotional life encompassing engagement with the Scriptures, time for prayer, and additional spiritual disciplines. Also, the spiritual life of a leader must include a balance of physical, emotional, and mental health.

    Nancy Dibelius, the UNY’s Conference’s Associate Director of Spiritual Life for Vital Congregations, exemplifies a leader with a strong spiritual walk. Her supervisor, the Rev. Aaron Bouwens, the Director of Vital Congregations, said “Nancy is putting flesh to this competency; she embodies what it means to spiritually inspire the leader both in her own life and in other leaders’ lives.”

    The course of Nancy’s life has wonderfully prepared her for her role of Conference Associate Director of Spiritual Life and Vital Congregations. When the Tending the Soul program was offered in 2003, for the first time in the Troy Conference, Nancy’s District Superintendent at the time, the Rev. Janice Palm, and a couple of friends encouraged her to sign up. Nancy felt called to do so and did just that.

    Growing strongly in her faith, Tending the Soul became pivotal in Nancy’s direction in life.  Nancy then decided to earn professional certification in Spiritual Formation from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL.  Ultimately, there were six courses offered in her certification (prayer, worship, evangelism, Wesleyan history, and two courses in spiritual direction). Nancy was hooked!

    Nancy said, “I am one of those people who could take courses forever so I went on to pursue my Masters of Art in Spiritual Formation & Evangelism.” She traveled there frequently for weeks at a time and was also able to take some coursework online while still working as a financial consultant and raising her children. She earned her Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation & Evangelism in 2012.

    Nancy then gained approval in UNY to teach Tending the Soul and soon thereafter became the Director of Tending the Soul. In this role, Nancy said, “This role taught me to be quiet for more than five seconds and hear God’s invitation in my life.”

    Nancy continued, “I eventually received an invitation from God to become a deacon.”  She became a provisional deacon in 2017.

    Whether you are a lay person or clergy member, how is your spiritual walk? What can you do to improve it? Let Nancy help you.

    Nancy is offering two programs (Growing with God and Tending the Soul) in 2018 as well as Paraprofessional Certification in Spiritual Formation (similar, but less intensive than the certification she earned prior to pursuing her Master’s degree).  

    Growing with God is offered to clergy and laity seeking to deepen their relationship with God. This will offer them a sacred space to become more Christ-like disciples so they can invite others into that same relationship with God through one-on-one guidance and direction. This course is a series of eight mini-retreats offered in January, February, March, April, May, September, October, and November of 2018. Click here to register or learn more.

    Tending the Soul is offered to clergy and laity who are interested in spiritual formation both in one-on-one sessions and in classroom, small group, or congregational settings. This is a two-year program comprised of six retreats at Casowasco Camp & Retreat Center in Moravia, NY. This program begins in February of 2018. Click here to learn more.

    New to the Upper New York Conference is the United Methodist Paraprofessional Certification in Spiritual Formation. Through a partnership with Garrett –Theological Seminary, you can earn a similar certification to what Nancy earned without having to travel out of state! Click here to learn about the different types of certification. Click here to learn more about the UNY Paraprofessional Certification. What a fabulous way to become a leader in spiritual formation.

    Beginning in 2018, this program requires attendance at the Growing with God series, sponsored by the UNY Conference. Individuals who have completed the Tending the Soul training will utilize that experience toward two of the courses. People beginning the Tending the Soul program in 2018, will be able to use this experience to complete the course series.

    2018 will be here before you know it. Take some time to prayerfully consider these awesome opportunities to grow in your spirituality and to teach others how to do the same! The registration deadline for all three opportunities is December 1, 2017.

    Contact Nancy Dibelius at for more information, including cost, schedule, and application.

    TAGGED / Vital Congregations

    With more than 144,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 865 local churches and 91 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."