I began as a Welsh non-conformist, but was outside the Church for twenty years. I studied transpersonal psychology, which I found a very good way of exploring the spiritual dimension. I also found it essential to do some embodied activities such as intuitive massage and have found qi gong nourishing.
I gradually found a welcoming place at St James’s Piccadilly. Over 20 years ago I co-founded the Centre for Creation Spirituality and the associated UK network and magazine, InterChange, which have now developed into Greenspirit. I then returned to work in the cancer support field.
I also became PCC Chair then Church Warden at St James’s, handling the transition from Donald Reeves to Charles Hedley. I also co-ran Chartres labyrinth walks for ten years at SJP.
For over twenty years my main work was running Paul’s Cancer Support Centre at Clapham Junction and developing and adapting the Healing Journey Programme (HJP) in the UK. HJP is a psycho-spiritual programme which helps people deal with stress, build resilience and experience greater wellbeing, find deeper meanings, and enhanced quality of life. Relaxation, meditation and imagery are key practices that are taught. It is a privilege to be able to work with spiritual themes with people affected by cancer from very diverse backgrounds.
Since stepping down from my role as Director of Paul’s Centre, I have focused on Living Spirituality Connections and our Journeying Together group as ways of contributing to the renewed visions that are very much needed for spirituality and religion today.
Heather-Jane’s qualifications and early professional life were in sociology, research, social and community work, in inner city London. When faced by the pressing concerns of human life in extreme circumstances she engaged with the question,’ what difference does spirituality make?’ She also developed her interest in ‘community’ and subsequently worked in a community setting where she began to explore the ideal of community life.
For more than a decade Heather-Jane has undertaken training and developed her work, in the areas of spiritual accompaniment and spirituality, peace and reconciliation. This includes: working in retreat houses, facilitating workshops and retreats, working with an organisation known as Jerusalem Peacemakers and setting up a charity called Spirit of Peace, of which she is CEO. (See www.spiritofpeace.co.uk.)
She is currently developing a training course – Pathways for Peace, based on her work and experience in community and social work and her partnership with International peace builders. Heather-Jane is also on the Core Group of CANA (Christian Awakening to a New Awareness) and co-authored with Janice Dolley the collection Stories of Contemporary Christians.
Linda Courage is in her fifties. Being good and clever were important drivers in her early life. She became a nurse with a life sciences degree and a PhD and has used elements of these throughout her professional life.
She has had a number of lecturing posts at home and overseas – helping to equip students and health professionals with knowledge for practice. She made a modest contribution to the knowledge base used for mouth care and infection control through researching these areas, and enjoyed supervising students working on their dissertations for first degree and post-graduate studies.
Two week-long courses in community development and art therapy brought life and re-orientation in her forties.
Working for the then Royal College of Nursing Institute as a tutor and writer brought a deep appreciation of the importance that we value and use different types of knowledge for life. Becoming a Non-Executive Director of a Primary Care Trust helped her realise that she needed to go back into nursing practice to complete something important.
A two year experiential course in Personal and Spiritual Development at St Bede’s Pastoral Centre in York, UK helped her to explore and integrate deeper ways of engaging with life. She now works part-time at a local hospital in the Out-Patients Department, loves silence, and helps to lead contemplative services locally.
Using art to uncover insights for life is important to her – she has run expressive art workshops in Selby, and then St Bede’s Pastoral Centre, where she was a development worker for a time.