A Life in the Spirit seminar helps participants to establish or deepen their personal relationship with God. When people receive prayer for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit, their experiences include peace, a deep conviction of Gods love for them, a revitalised prayer life, a hunger for God’s word and an increased understanding of it, spiritual, emotional and physical healing, charismatic gifts, a new ability to love and forgive others and a deeper appreciation of the sacraments. What a gift you have to offer other I received this gift in 1984 when I was invited to an eight week Life in the Spirit seminar organised by the Whangarei parish Charismatic Prayer Group. I was very impressed by the prayer group members’ strong faith and close personal relationships with Jesus. During the seminar God used the words of many of the songs to break down some of the barriers that I had built up. I also developed a strong desire to read God’s worrd.We were all encouraged to continue attending the prayer group after the seminar ended. My attendance was sporadic at first, but members continued to invite and encourage me. After the seminar I read a lot about the Charismatic Renewal so the next year when I attended a second seminar run by the same prayer group, I was more open to the Holy Spirit and ready to invite Jesus be Lord of my life. Through the seminars, healing ministry, and other Charismatic events, my relationship with God was healed and strengthened.
What a gift you have to offer other
I received this gift in 1984 when I was invited to an eight week Life in the Spirit seminar organised by the Whangarei parish Charismatic Prayer Group. I was very impressed by the prayer group members’ strong faith and close personal relationships with Jesus. During the seminar God used the words of many of the songs to break down some of the barriers that I had built up. I also developed a strong desire to read God’s worrd.We were all encouraged to continue attending the prayer group after the seminar ended. My attendance was sporadic at first, but members continued to invite and encourage me. After the seminar I read a lot about the Charismatic Renewal so the next year when I attended a second seminar run by the same prayer group, I was more open to the Holy Spirit and ready to invite Jesus be Lord of my life. Through the seminars, healing ministry, and other Charismatic events, my relationship with God was healed and strengthened.
The Whangarei prayer group, then led by Maxine Russek, ran regular Life in the Spirit seminars and we were all encouraged to grow. Many participants have since become involved in various Renewal and parish ministries including leadership roles in Charismatic Renewal, Dove and Joshua throughout New Zealand. This prayer group in Whangarei continues to offer seminars and is putting on a seminar His Promise is for You at the present time.
Since moving to Auckland 14 years ago, I have been involved with organising a number of Life in the Spirit seminar. We have run a one day seminar for youth before World Youth Day, weekend seminars for parishes and for youth, and we have supported prayer groups holding seminars over 6-8 weeks.
From my personal experience I would like to encourage all prayer groups to organise Life in the Spirit seminar. The 6-8 week seminar gives prayer group members opportunities to use their gifts and to develop their leadership skills. It gives participants more time to learn and ask questions about what the New Life in the Spirit is all about. And it also means there will be a prayer group (and support group) that participants can join after the seminar, or return to from time to time, for prayer and encouragement.
Some of the positive outcomes of a seminar run by the prayer group at St Joseph’s Centre Takapuna were spiritual and leadership growth of prayer group members, renewing of commitment by some ‘older’ Charismatics, and the involvement of parish priests - one gave the fifth talk on Forgiveness, Healing and Reconciliation, and two assisted with Reconciliation. Afterwards they said that because of what they had heard during Reconciliation, we must be doing good work.
On the 8th night of a Life in the Spirit seminar put on by the Epsom Prayer Group, participants were invited to share what they had got out of the seminar. They mentioned: fellowship and acceptance, stronger faith and trust in God, new or deeper understanding from the readings and teachings. Participants had been particularly impressed by Roger and Rita Petersen’s teaching because they had shared testimonies of how God is at work today, and in doing so, witnessed to their own strong faith and obedience to the promptings of the Holy Spirit Leadership
It is important to have a core group who meet to pray and plan before a Life in the Spirit seminar. For example in 2005 we were invited by the parish priest in Avondale parish to run a seminar for the youth group. The youth were already actively involved in parish liturgies and outreach, but they wanted to do this in the power of the Holy Spirit, guided by the gifts of the Spirit. We found the usual eight week or weekend seminar formats did not suit so we went away to pray, discuss, and prepare. Three Spirit filled mums joined our core group. At each meeting the Holy Spirit guided and encouraged us through words and visions. God called on us to trust in him and to put our nets out into the deep. He showed us that he would pour his grace and healing on all who came to the seminar.
On the weekend, the Avondale parish hall was filled with clapping, praising and dancing as we were led in praise and worship by Antonio and his team. Around 50 youth from Avondale, Blockhouse Bay and other parishes participated in the weekend. They heard teachings and testimonies.
On the Saturday evening Betsy Rego and her family led a very prayerful session on forgiveness, healing and reconciliation. The Blessed Sacrament was exposed and it was a very sacred time. It was exciting for us older Charismatics to see the young people participating so fully and enthusiastically in the seminar.
Following this, the Mother’s group in Avondale parish requested a retreat so we organised a Life in the Spirit seminar for them too. Members of the Avondale Divine Mercy prayer group were involved in leading, helping and giving testimonies. Before the seminar Flo Loheni was reminded of the Woman at the Well, with the message that Jesus is the fountain of living water and all who thirst should come to him. The intercessors also got the scripture from Isaiah 55:1-3. Oh, come to the water all you who are thirsty; though you have no money, come. …Pay attention, come to me; listen, and your soul will live. Everyone had the opportunity to receive healing prayer in their small group. One woman who came in on Sunday had some misgivings about the gift of Tongues but she joined a small group for discussion and was later blessed with tears and joy. Another person came in towards the end of the seminar and was very blessed by the prayer support she received. Guidelines
Last year Pakuranga prayer group organised an eight week Life in the Spirit seminar. The seminar was advertised throughout Auckland but people from the nearby parishes were especially invited.
Like other groups, Pakuranga prayer group followed these guidelines when preparing for the seminar.
1. Lots of prayer (and fasting) and listening for the Spirits guidance.
2. Select a core team and allocate tasks based on people’s gifts.
3. Choose leaders and speakers who are led by the Spirit and actively using the Gifts of the Spirit.
4. Choose a Spirit filled worship leader.
5. Choose small group leaders who will listen to and encourage others.
6. Ask people to share their testimonies as these are a powerful way to encourage people’s faith.
7. Arrange intercessors for the seminar. Another prayer group or individuals can be asked to be intercessors during the preparation time and it is good to have intercessors present at the meetings to bring forward words of scripture and prophecy, and to help discern what the Lord is doing.
Each meeting started with praise and worship, followed by a teaching and sometimes a testimony. Then there was small group discussion led by prayer group members. The meeting concluded with song, fellowship and a cup of tea/coffee.
Although Mary Waldron and her Team were nervous about leading a seminar, Mary says the blessings of the seminar far out weighed any anxiety before the event. Mary involved members of the prayer group in tasks such as greeting, fellowship, hospitality and leading small groups. She invited Helen Reynolds from the Dove team (and her husband John) to lead the praise and worship, and she invited speakers from Renewal groups such as Dove, Joshua and Lamb of God. Only the Lord knows all the fruit that will come from this seminar. Testimony
The following is a testimony from Anil Baptiste, vice-chairperson of the Auckland CCR Service Group, which shows some of the fruit of a 2002 Life in the Spirit seminar:"It was the Pentecost of 2002 that I attended my first Life in the Spirit seminar at St. Joseph’s Centre in Takapuna. For me this was a whole new experience. I was a normal Sunday Catholic and was not ready for what I was to experience at the weekend. That weekend was a turning point in my journey of faith. As I went through the weekend listening to all the talks and praying, I was baptised in the Holy Spirit. I found a new love of the scriptures and began to spend time in personal prayer. I also became actively involved in my prayer group. I have attended many more Life in the Spirit seminars since, mostly in a leading role, and I still discover something new about myself and God each time. I am now a core group leader of my prayer group and vice-chairperson of the Service Group of the Auckland Catholic Charismatic Renewal. I recommend a Life in the Spirit seminar for anyone looking to deepen their relationship with the Lord."
I challenge all prayer groups to start praying and planning for a seminar. You may be led to combine with a neighbouring prayer group. And don’t stop after one seminar, remember people take time to grow in this new life and they need continuous opportunities for this to happen. Don’t forget also the importance of fellowship and walking alongside those who are new to your group.
Materials are available for running seminars. Check with your Diocesan Service Group or contact ACCR office for more information. I have used:
1). New Life in God’s Spirit (available from the Auckland Catholic Charismatic Renewal office.)
Leaders pack (a little outdated but with useful material)
New Life in God’s Spirit - an eight week seminar participant’s guide, and a reduced version of the participants guide suitable for a weekend seminar.
2). This Promise is for You: Published by GoodNews Videos, London, 2004.
This a six week programme which comes in video format with a booklet of daily reflections for each participant. The presenters are Charles Whitehead and Michelle Moran from England. Michelle is currently President of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services based in Rome, and Charles is a past-President. The content is similar to a Life in the Spirit seminar.
This Promise is for You resource has been used by Orewa parish, St Josephs Takapuna, and Whangarei prayer groups. It has solid teaching and is used instead of speakers. However, it is important that you still provide the personal touch through fellowship, praise and worship, testimonies, small group discussion and supper.