Spiritual Renewal Week spring 2009
Golden Gate Seminary’s Spiritual Renewal Week
“Practice the Presence of God”
Spiritual Renewal Week was held at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s Northern California campus on April 20-24, 2009. Spearheaded by the Seminary’s Campus Life Association (CLA), the purpose was to encourage the campus community to practice the presence of God.
“The goal was to encourage people to commune with the Lord,” explained Tana Inskeep, CLA Student Ministry Director and organizer of this year’s Spiritual Renewal Week. “If we’re not praying and communing with the Lord, we’re missing a huge part of who we are with the Lord and we are living a dead orthodoxy,” she said. “We alone have no power – apart from Him we can do nothing.”
Daily activities included student-led chapel services. Each service demonstrated different
methods/models of prayer within the community. “In addition to the traditional posture of sitting with eyes closed and head bowed,” said Inskeep, “We wanted people to try out other methods such as a prayer response of calling out through songs, or singing out the prayer.” Students were also led through a meditative and prayerful journey with a scripture story. Seminary student and artist Dave Robinson demonstrated how the visual arts can be part of prayer time, as he created a large oil painting within 10-15 minutes.
The Northern California staff, faculty and commuter students received a daily email reminder to practice the presence of God. The residential students received the same daily reminders as notes posted on their doors. In addition, 2 x 3 feet scripture verses about prayer were placed in the halls throughout the academic building. Several students mentioned how much they enjoyed them as helpful reminders. The feedback included requests for these verses to remain posted.
“We wanted to know what it would be like if the entire campus prayed non-stop for 24 hours,” said Sara Heck, CLA president. She explained that students, staff and faculty were encouraged to sign up for 30-minute timeslots for the 24-hour prayer vigil, and could choose to pray individually, with friends and/or with family. The recently renovated prayer room was stocked with items offering a variety of different styles of prayer – encouraging those who chose to pray in this spot to find a comfortable and personal way to talk to God.
“Last year I was burdened to revamp the prayer room. I wanted a space that was comfortable – a warm, safe place,” recalled Inskeep. The prayer room renovation was completed only a month before Spiritual Renewal Week, and has already become a popular spot. The 15 x 22 feet room has a large window overlooking the San Francisco skyline. The room is segmented into spaces for intercessory prayer, group prayer, prayer for the lost, a private prayer space and an area encouraging prayer through art.
This interactive art area includes crayons, markers, oil-based chalk and a canvas. The original sketch book for drawings and written prayer was completely filled during the first month. There are prayer journals where others can pray for those who have written in the journals, as well as a journal for anonymous prayer requests.
Note cards are provided for those inspired to write an apology, an encouraging note, or a thank you. Music is softly playing and various lighting is offered in different parts of the room. New furnishings including chairs, pillows, afghans and a couch were provided by a student donor.
“I struggle with traditional prayer, the way it has been modeled,” said Inskeep as she explained her inspiration for renovating the prayer room. “If I struggle, I’m sure that others do too. I thought that if I could be vulnerable and share my difficulties, that would encourage others, and it could make a difference in others’ prayer lives.” She noted that Spiritual Renewal Week was an opportunity to model communing with God in ways that are biblical but that free people up to connect in a meaningful way.
“The prayer room is a symbol and a reminder of the importance of prayer in our lives,” said President Jeff Iorg as he encouraged students, faculty and staff to utilize the “warm, welcoming place to pray.”
Photos by Phyllis Evans
GGBTS Prayer Room with Tana Inskeep, Golden Gate Seminary student who spearheaded the prayer room renovation, and led the Seminary’s Spiritual Renewal week.
GGBTS Dave Robinson Golden Gate Seminary student and artist who demonstrated how the visual arts can be part of prayer time by painted the oil painting in 10 - 15 minutes