The Center for Christian Spirituality

The Center for Christian Spirituality (CCS) at General Theological Seminary is dedicated to cultivating attention to the Spirit's presence in people's lives. It offers several programs of study to train lay and ordained Christian leaders in the ministry of spiritual direction. It also serves as a resource for those within the GTS community who wish to receive spiritual direction. Finally, the CCS sponsors events and public lectures to enrich the spiritual formation of all people.


Spiritual Direction is available to the entire GTS community.


General Theological Seminary students, faculty and staff are invited to sign up for spiritual direction through the Center for Christian Spirituality. Personal spiritual direction can help you to listen for the voice of God and live more fully in Christian faith.


About Spiritual Direction

Spiritual direction is the practice of guiding someone as they attempt to deepen their relationship with God and grow in their own spirituality.

This process — lead by a Spiritual Director — was perfectly described by Thomas Merton: “A spiritual director is then one who helps another to recognize and to follow the inspirations of grace in his [or her] life, in order to arrive at the end to which God is leading.”


Discerning a Potential Call

Discernment is the art of listening to our inner selves and learning to recognize (discern) movements that rise from the Holy Spirit. The dictionary defines the verb “discern” as “distinguishing with the eye or the mind.”

Discernment Questions

What are the signs that I am called to this ministry? What are the gifts I bring to spiritual direction? What are my limitations, or growing edges, at this time? What are my basic suppositions about... God?  Christ?  the Holy Spirit?  spiritual experience?  human relationships with God?


Studying Spiritual Direction at General Seminary

Since 1976, the General Theological Seminary, through its Center for Christian Spirituality, has offered programs and courses designed to develop and nurture the gifts of women and men, lay and ordained, in guiding others in the life of the Spirit.

Combining academic and experiential learning, the General Theological Seminary offers the following programs and options for pursuing study in spiritual direction:

  • Certificate in Spiritual Direction

  • Master of Divinity (MDiv) with Certificate in Spiritual Direction

  • Master of Arts (MA) in Spiritual Direction

  • Master of Sacred Theology (STM) with Certificate in Spiritual Direction

  • Elective or “General Learner” study

Courses include an academic Foundation course (Introduction to Christian Spirituality), several Practicum courses (combining academic study with in-class practice and/or practice-oriented assignments), and several Supervision courses (for which students offer spiritual direction outside of class and reflect on their experiences in a group supervision format).


Interested in taking a course?

The Center for Christian Spirituality offers courses in ascetical theology and spiritual direction. Courses have two main formats: traditional, which meet weekly throughout an academic semester, and intensive, which typically meet for a number of hours each day over the course of one weekend or week. For intensive courses, students complete reading and practical work in advance and then submit final papers or projects within several weeks after the course.


More Information

To learn more about the CCS, please contact the Center for Christian Spirituality at or (212) 243-5150, ext. 271.

Application and Enrollment

For information on applying and enrolling in a CCS certificate or degree program, please contact the GTS Admissions Team at


Kay Butler Gill Lecture

The Kay Butler Gill Lecture in Christian Spirituality, hosted by the seminary's Center for Christian Spirituality, is one of General Seminary's two named lectures. Begun in 2003 as the Annual Lecture in Christian Spirituality, the lecture heralds the place of Christian spirituality as a scholarly field within the theological academy.

Bringing eminent scholars and spiritual teachers to the seminary is made possible by donations to lecture's endowment, established by a generous grant from the estate of Kay Butler Gill, a graduate of General Seminary and the Center for Christian Spirituality.

Kay Butler Gill started attending the program in Spiritual Direction at the Center for Christian Spirituality in 1987. Over the course of five summers, she complete the academic work required and in 1992 began a second career in Spiritual Direction.  Kay cared about the spiritual life: After her education and formation here, she spent many years serving the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, offering retreats and quiet days and holding, as she so eloquently described it, “spiritual conversations with others.”

Her husband, the Rev. Jim Gill, Class of 1954, describes her graduation in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd as a highlight of their fifty-four years of marriage. Kay died on September 30, 2008 and in thanksgiving for her education at General she designated the legacy gift establishing the fund for the annual CCS lecture.


The 2019 Kay Butler Gill Lecture


Previous Lectures in the Series:

as the “Annual Lecture in Christian Spirituality.”

2003    Sandra Schneiders

2004    Martin Smith

2005    Tilden Edwards

2006    Roberta Bondi

2007    Alan Jones

2008    Margaret Guenther

as the "Kay Butler Gill Lecture in Christian Spirituality"

2010    Janet K. Ruffing

2011    Robin Jensen

2012    John Philip Newell

2013    James Martin, SJ

2014    Bishop Steven Charleston

2016    John A. McGuckin

2018 Chris Heurtz