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Oasis meetings to begin in city

September 23, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

Harnessing the power of prayer is the goal of some local clergy and others as they prepare to launch Group Spiritual Direction.

Sponsored by Oasis Ministries for Spiritual Development, the group will meet the first Wednesday of each month from October through May.

The first gathering will be Oct. 2 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Hagerstown Church of the Brethren. After that, the sessions will be from 1 to 3:30 p.m.

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The Rev. Ed Poling, pastor of the host church, and Don Evason, chaplain at Western Maryland Hospital Center, are the facilitators for the Hagerstown group. Both are graduates of the Oasis Ministries spiritual direction for spiritual guides' two-year curriculum.

Evason explained it is a process where a small group gathers regularly to support each other in an ongoing response to God in all facets of life, based on the belief that in Christ, God enters our joy and pain.

Participants must be willing to commit themselves to an honest relationship with God, attend meetings regularly and enter into the group process through prayerful listening and response.

A veteran of many years of facilitating programs in the Carlisle, Pa., area, Poling said it is a unique prayer experience for a small group of people.

"The sessions allow you to create a space to help one be more fully open to the spirit of God," Poling said. "You can sort out or discern what and how God is involved in one's life and in our pilgrimage."

The facilitator keeps the group on track, beginning each session in prayer. He then lets the group open up and helps steer them back on course if sidetracked, Poling said.

"The group gets to share about things going on in their lives ... a crisis, something unsettling," Poling said. "The group isn't there to fix problems but to remind us that God is in our lives."

While summing up the concept is difficult for Poling, he said it can be described as dialoguing on a faith basis.

"Many people who have been through the program say it was the most powerful experience in their lives," Poling said.

The cost of the program is $230. Scholarship help and details of the Group Spiritual Direction are available by calling 717-737-8222.

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