June 2012 Worship Seminar: Worshiping with the Church Fathers

The next Worship Seminar, featuring Dr. Christopher Hall, will be held June 18-19, 2012, during the June Intensive. Dr. Hall is the Chancellor of Eastern University and dean of Palmer Theological Seminary. This event is open to the public, but requires registration.

Seminar description: Worship and “spirituality” have been hot topics over the past few years. In this seminar we want to explore a specific type of Christian worship and spirituality practiced by Christians living from roughly the third to the seventh centuries AD.

Register now online or by mail.

How, for example, did these early Christians pray? What were the other key spiritual disciplines that formed part of the rhyme and rhythm of their spiritual lives? How did they deal with temptation? What was their understanding of Christian character and how its development is nourished or starved? Who were the desert fathers and mothers? What is their particular contribution to the church’s understanding of worship and the spiritual life? How can the insights of these early Christians be translated into the context of the modern world? What possible mistakes did they make that can best be avoided by later generations of Christians? These and other questions and issues will form the heart of the seminar.

Seminar Schedule

Monday, June 18 Tuesday, June 19
7:30 am Breakfast 7:30 am Breakfast
8:30 am Chapel 8:30 am Chapel
9:15 am Seminar Session 1
The Call to the Desert
9:15 am Seminar Session 5
Prayer Patterns of Ancient Christians, Pt. I
10:30 am Break 10:30 am Break
10:45 am Seminar Session 2
Key Words for Understanding Ancient Worship and Spirituality
10:45 am Seminar Session 6
Prayer Patterns of Ancient Christians, Pt. II
12:00 pm Lunch (provided) 12:00 pm Lunch (provided)
1:15 pm Seminar Session 3
Silence and Other Spiritual Practices
1:15 pm Seminar Session 7
Challenges to a Life of Prayer
2:15 pm Break 2:15 pm Break
2:30 pm Seminar Session 4
Overcoming Sin
2:30 pm Seminar Session 8
Applying the Insights of the Church Fathers and Mothers
3:45 pm Free 3:45 pm Free
5:30 pm Dinner 5:30 pm Dinner
6:30 pm Practicum Presentations 6:30 pm Healing/Communion Service

Session Descriptions

Session 1: The Call to the Desert

In our first session we will explore the call to the desert—the home of some ancient Christians—as a learning space designed to facilitate listening to God, self-awareness rather than self-deception, and love for God and neighbor.

Session 2: Key Words for Understanding Ancient Worship and Spirituality

Four key words: ascesis (exercise); agrupnia (attentiveness); apatheia (indifference); agape (love) are very important for understanding ancient Christian worship and spirituality. How can these four words help us to respond to God in worship?

Session 3: Silence and Other Key Spiritual Practices

In this session we will explore the importance of silence or quiet as a key aspect of worship. We will also discuss other key desert insights concerning patience, fortitude, and our relationship to others and others’ sins.

Session 4: Overcoming Sin

Sin can surely be an impediment to worship. What were keys sins that the desert fathers and mothers addressed and overcame as they responded to God in prayer and worship?

Session 5: Prayer Patterns of Ancient Christians, Part I

How did these ancient Christians pray? How might their insights encourage and instruct us as we grow in prayer in a modern context?

Session 6: Prayer Patterns of Ancient Christians, Part II

In this session we will continue our discussion of prayer, drawing on the wisdom of Augustine and John Chrysostom, both great bishops of the church.

Session 7: Challenges to a Life of Prayer

Is it really possible to pray without ceasing or “continually” as Paul exhorts us to do (1 Thess. 5:17)? And what of the problem of distractions in prayer? In this session we will particularly draw on the insights of John Cassian as he addresses these two key issues in prayer.

Session 8: Applying the Insights of the Church Fathers and Mothers

How can we best translate the insights of the church fathers and mothers on prayer and worship into a modern setting? They are great coaches on some things and less so on others. How can we learn to apply their teaching in a discerning and wise manner?

Make it a Spiritual Retreat

You are welcome to craft your own schedule to incorporate additional time on campus to take in chapel sessions, visit classes, read and research in the library, or spend time alone with God. You may plan to come early and stay through Wednesday if you’d like. Let us know how we can help.


Cost: $175
Includes lunch on Monday and Tuesday

Register now online or by mail.

After you have registered, hotel and additional seminar information will be sent to your email address. Questions? Call the IWS office at 800. 282. 2977.

About the author

Alumni Director, Practicum Professor, and DWS graduate.