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Adult Education Opportunities

Spiritual formation at St. Paul’s encourages, develops, and supports disciples for ministry in the world. Below are opportunities to deepen your faith, explore God’s Word, and engage in enlightening discussions with fellow parishioners.

Adult Forums

St. Paul’s offers Adult Forums at 10 a.m. every Sunday during the program year (Labor Day through Memorial Day), featuring notable speakers and a wide variety of engaging topics. Come listen, learn, and ask questions.

Click here to watch or listen to previous forums.

Often Christians discount the Old Testament as too remote, too full of anger, violence and judgment.  Maybe we wonder why the Old Testament God feels so different than what we see in Jesus. During this three-week series, the Seminary’s best Old Testament minds will share their love for this part of scripture and their wisdom for how it can be part of our spiritual lives. Week 2: Discuss the Psalms with the Rev. Melody Knowles, Ph.D.

Often Christians discount the Old Testament as too remote, too full of anger, violence and judgment.  Maybe we wonder why the Old Testament God feels so different than what we see in Jesus. During this three-week series, the Seminary’s best Old Testament minds will share their love for this part of scripture and their wisdom for how it can be part of our spiritual lives. Week 3: Discuss the prophets with Professor Stephen Cook, Ph.D.

Annual Lecture Series

Each year, we welcome celebrated speakers to honor the legacy of two important figures in St. Paul’s history.

Each year, St. Paul’s hosts a lecture honoring the legacy of architect Benjamin H. Latrobe. Latrobe played a significant role in the design of St. Paul’s Church, which was completed in 1818. Since that time it has been modified, expanded, and renovated, always preserving the basic integrity of Latrobe’s design. The annual lecture typically features an acclaimed church architect and takes place in mid-winter.

For the 2019 lecture, we welcomed Calder Loth, Emeritus Senior Architectural Historian for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, on Wednesday, January 23, 2019.

The Martha J. Horne Lectures were established to recognize and celebrate the significant contributions that Dean Horne has made to the education and formation of many women and men for service in the Church. Her efforts to prepare students have been significant and far-reaching. These lectures strive to honor the commitment she made to the Virginia Theological Seminary during her 13 years as Dean and President and to St. Paul’s through her long-standing ministry as a Parish Associate. The lecture typically takes place in late winter.

The 2019 Horne Lecture (Sunday, January 20, 2019) featured the first female Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Bible Study

The weekday adult Bible study group meets Mondays at 11:00 a.m. in the Bishops’ Room at Goodwin House Alexandria (4800 Fillmore Avenue).
Questions? Contact Allen Stuhl – 703-451-3474

Book Group

This group meets on the third Tuesday of each month (unless otherwise noted) during the program year to discuss a pre-selected book. Check the Events Calendar to find out the next book and meeting details.
Questions? Contact the Rev. Dr. Rosemary Beales

Men’s Bible Study

This group meets on the first Thursday of each month (unless otherwise noted) during the program year at 7:30 a.m. in Norton Hall. Check the Events Calendar to find out the next meeting details.
Questions? Contact the Rev. Oran Warder

Pious Pint

This group meets the last Sunday of every month (during the program year) following the 5 p.m. service for conversation about the intersections of faith and daily life. Check the Events Calendar to find details of the next meeting.
Questions? Contact the Rev. Alyse Viggiano – 703-549-3312 x19

Inquirers’ Class

New to St. Paul’s or the Episcopal Church, or just want to further explore your faith? Then the St. Paul’s Inquirers’ Class is for you. The six-week session meets during Lent, Sundays at noon. All are welcome, particularly adults seeking confirmation, reception, or reaffirmation of baptismal vows.
Questions? Contact the Rev. Alyse Viggiano – 703-549-3312 x19

Faith Seeking Understanding

St. Paul’s adult education offering Faith Seeking Understanding is a 7-week course that helps us ask questions of faith, seek God, and build friendships.
Questions? Contact the Rev. Alyse Viggiano – 703-549-3312 x19

Stay tuned for an announcement about the next Faith Seeking Understanding (FSU) course in 2019. All are welcome to participate, especially folks new to St. Paul’s and anyone looking to deepen their understanding of Christianity. Email Alyse to learn more and sign up.

A multi-week course (typically six weeks) that offers a survey of pertinent topics of the Christian faith from the Anglican/Episcopal perspective. It’s also a chance to get to know other parishioners and form lasting community. Think of it as part theology, part spiritual formation, part history and part practical faith.

Think of the content like an upside down funnel. We begin the first class broadly asking questions like “Is there more to life than what we can see?” “What does ‘God’ mean?” and “How do we respond to atheism?” From there, each week, we go deeper. How do we know what God is like? We look at the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. How do we account for this? We are entrusted with Scripture. How can we read Scripture and be mindful of its original context and how it operates as a living Word of God today?

Then we uncover how the Holy Spirit acts in the world, how the Church acts on behalf of the Spirit, and by the time we get to the seventh class, we have funneled down to a specific presentation and discussion on being Episcopalian in today’s world – how we worship, why we do what we do and believe what we believe given all that has come before.

It is designed to be appropriate for long-time parishioners as well as new parishioners, so that people at different points in their faith journeys can share and discuss these matters together and help each other form theological opinions, engage with Scripture, perhaps look at their own faith with new perspectives and possibilities, and strengthen our St. Paul’s community. Participants should commit to attending all classes, to the extent possible.

The format is simple: dinner, presentation, and discussion in small groups/tables. All three components are essential to the design of the course.

Email the Rev. Alyse Viggiano to sign up. Course cost is $20 to cover cost of materials. In certain circumstances the cost of the course can be waived.

Center for Spiritual Direction

St. Paul’s Center for Spiritual Direction, established in September 2016, serves as an extension of our pastoral ministry and as a resource for spiritual guidance to the parish and to the larger community. To be paired with a spiritual director, contact any of the directors directly or complete the form below. We recommend three sessions with a director to discern if it is the right pairing for both members. The charge for spiritual direction is on a sliding scale, depending on the directee’s ability to pay, but we recommend between $50 and $100 per session.
Questions? Contact the Rev. Oran Warder – 703-549-3312 x18

Spiritual direction is a professional dedicated relationship between a director and a directee to explore a conscious experience of God’s presence in our daily lives. Spiritual direction is less about being directed and more of an encouragement to explore self and our relationship to God.

We each have times when we wonder about the greater meaning of life, our place in the grand evolution, and who God is. We want to find meaning and connect deeply to God and one another. Is a peace that passes all understanding truly possible? Spiritual direction helps you understand and clarify your own inner wisdom. It is a journey about you and your relationship with God.

Thomas Merton in New Seeds of Contemplation explains it best: “Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny…to work out our identity in God.”

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor 3:16). Setting the premise that each person already has a spiritual life, spiritual direction provides a safe place and time to allow God to act within you.

It is normative to begin by committing to three sessions to figure out if the relationship between director and directee is right for both of you.

The first session (usually about an hour) involves telling the director about yourself and your story. All of life is spiritual but the focus of your spiritual story (or “journey”) is about how God may be shaping you through your experiences.

The ongoing process of spiritual direction may also include various methods of prayer including silence, resource information, simple rituals to begin at home, or perhaps an assignment to notice God’s presence between sessions.

Together you and your director will discern if an ongoing direction relationship is right. Spiritual directors are trained in programs whose approaches vary. It is helpful to find a spiritual director whose approach suits your personality, spiritual leanings, and perceived needs. The important part is to find the one who will help you grow at this time in your life.

Growth in the spiritual life is looking at the fruits of the spirit, as Paul tells us in Galatians 5:22-23 — “By contrast the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” If over time you find yourself living deeper into these virtues, then you will also begin to notice how your life is in alignment with God’s hope for you.

Meet St. Paul’s Spiritual Directors


alignnone size-medium wp-image-1456Dr. Amelia J. Gearey Dyer is the James Maxwell Professor of Christian Education and Pastoral Theology at Virginia Theological Seminary, and Director of the Seminary’s Ministry Resident Program. Amy earned her B. S. from The State University of New York at Plattsburgh and her M. S. and Ph. D. from Florida State University. She has done additional graduate work in Christian Education, Bible, Church History, and Theology. Amy’s interests include working with children, travel, and reading. During a recent sabbatical leave, she spent time in Ireland studying early Celtic Spirituality.



Howard Kempsell is an Episcopal Priest who has served in parish/cathedral, university, and hospital settings. He completed his doctoral studies in spiritual direction at the University of the South (Sewanee) and the Graduate Theological Foundation, with a special interest in spiritual direction in an age of rapid communication. He studied with Ewert Cousins, editor of the Classics of Western Spirituality. In addition to offering in-person spiritual direction, he is able to offer St. Paul’s parishioners spiritual direction at-a-distance via FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom. He is a member of Spiritual Directors International. Howard has provided spiritual direction for military officers and civilian employees with security clearances; persons serving in business, healthcare and industry; and those discerning and engaged in vocations in ordained ministry. Having a spiritual director is like having a spiritual friend — a physician of the soul — to help you listen carefully, and discern the leadings of the Spirit in real-life situations. Howard’s spiritual pilgrimages have included a number of ‘high’ and ‘thin’ places around the world, among them: the Isle of Iona, Scotland; Paris, France; Lhasa, Tibet; Machu Picchu, Peru; the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador; the American Southwest; the Upper Amazon River, Peru; Canterbury, England; the Dominican Republic; Costa Rica; and Canada.



alignnone size-medium wp-image-1456The Rev. Sam Mason, ObJN, is an Episcopal priest, an oblate of the Order of St. Julian of Norwich, and St. Paul’s own Artist-in-Residence. Sam served as part of St. Paul’s clergy for many years following early retirement from full-time parish ministry. While with us at St. Paul’s, Sam already had a quiet ministry of spiritual direction, which is expanded with the opening of this center.





spiritual-director_lisa-richardLisa Richard is a graduate of the Spiritual Guidance Program at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, a discernment facilitator for the Diocese of Virginia, and a member of the program team at the Center for Spiritual Deepening at St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church in Alexandria. She is also a member of Spiritual Directors International. At the heart of Lisa’s own spiritual development is a desire to maintain a receptive stance, open to signs of the Spirit at work. She is honored to be a companion to other seekers on their journeys, creating space for their stories and experiences.



alignnone size-medium wp-image-1456Regina Roman is a long-time parishioner of St. Paul’s and a long-time experienced spiritual director. She is a 1997 graduate of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation and later served on its board and as an associate member of its staff, and has been a member of Spiritual Directors International since 2002. In addition, she is a retreat leader, pilgrimage guide, photographer, and has published numerous articles on the topic of spiritual formation.

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