Traditions of Christian Spirituality: An Overview

A Spiritual Formation Required Course

DATES / Synchronous Sessions

March 7-10, 2021, 7:00-9:00 p.m.

March 8 and 9, 2021,  9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. and 1:30-4:00 p.m.

March 10, 2021, 9:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Note: The above are dedicated class times, however, not all of this will be online as reflection periods are built into each morning and afternoon session.



The course will introduce participants to key figures, themes, and practices from the history of Christian spirituality, providing space for the participants to relate the material of the course to their own spiritual lives. Participants will become acquainted with spirituality in the early church, especially the development of monasticism; developments in the Middle Ages, including Celtic spirituality; Protestant spiritual traditions; Quaker spirituality; and 20th Century feminist and liberation spirituality. The format of the course will include lecture, silence for prayer and contemplation, and group sharing.

Course Outcomes: Participants who engage interestedly and actively in all aspects of the course and complete the reading should, by the end:

  • Have an increased familiarity with figures, themes, and practices from the history of Christian spirituality;
  • Possess a deeper understanding of the origin of popular spiritual practices;
  • Discover which traditions of Christian spirituality most deeply resonate with their own lives; and
  • Understand the contextual nature of Christian spirituality.


If you are taking this class for personal enrichment, you are encouraged to read the books, but it is not a requirement for participation. For those enrolled in the Spiritual Formation Certificate Program, please read the required books (listed below) prior to your arrival. A one-paragraph statement on a point from each book that connected with you will be due by the first meeting.


Bradley Holt, Thirsty for God: A Brief History of Christian Spirituality (the newest edition)

Thomas Merton, The Wisdom of the Desert

Thomas R. Kelly, A Testament of Devotion

Gustavo Gutierrez, We Drink from Our Own Wells: The Spiritual Journey of a People


A schedule of times when the class will meet synchronously (all at the same time) are listed above. Registrants should plan to commit these hours for class work and guard against interruptions. Portions of each session will be (1) online, face-to-face presentation; (2) dedicated individual reflection work; and (3) open discussion forums with the instrudtor. Other content will be made available for download or viewing at the student's convenience. 


The Rev. Dr. L. Roger Owens received his Ph.D. in theology from Duke University where he was awarded a Lilly Fellowship for the Formation of a Learned Clergy. Before that he completed his M.Div. at Duke Divinity School. As an undergraduate he studied philosophy and Bible/religion at Anderson University in Indiana. Owens is an ordained elder in the North Carolina Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. In North Carolina he served both urban and rural churches for eight years as co-pastor with his wife before joining the faculty at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. His newest book is Threshold of Discovery: A Field Guide to Spirituality in Midlife (Church Publishing, 2019.) Owens serves on the faculty for the Upper Room’s Academy for Spiritual Formation, where he lectures on postmodern spirituality and traditions of Christian spirituality.


  Registration fee: $250


E-mail or call 412-924-1345.