The Pacific Center for Spiritual Formation was founded in 1984 by a group of clergy and lay leaders of diverse spiritual backgrounds who shared the experience of being trained as spiritual directors at The Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation in Washington, DC. In the summer of 1984, Francis Geddes, Carol Saysette, John Stansbury, Bill Moremen, Joanna Macy, and Rich Byrne gathered every Wednesday morning to share contemplative prayer together. Through prayer and contemplation, they felt called to offer wider opportunities for contemplative practice and spiritual deepening throughout the Bay Area. From this initial commitment grew weekly "Pilgrimage Home" contemplative practice groups, inspired by the work of Gerald May.
As others were invited to the staff and board of Pacific Center, the location and variety of program offerings grew. In addition to local contemplative practice groups, Pacific Center for Spiritual Formation has offered workshops, retreats, guest lectures, and classes.
Pacific Center has enjoyed a special relationship with the renowned Jesus scholar Marcus Borg, who has been most generous in offering lectures, workshops, and retreats. Other spiritual leaders, such as Huston Smith, the late Gerald May, and Tilden Edwards, have offered retreats, lectures, and dialogues sponsored by Pacific Center.
Pacific Center continues to offer regular opportunities for contemplative prayer, retreats, and spiritual guidance to those seeking a deeper connection to the Holy. The following are currently serving as board members for Pacific Center: Rod Dugliss, Donald Felt, Joyce Harris, and Susan Murphy.
Leaders and Founders
Mary Anne helps guide people through life transitions and significant loss. Working with both individuals and groups, she uses a flexible approach tailored to individual needs, drawing on her background in counseling, mindfulness training, and the creative arts. Mary Anne studied at NYU’s School of Social Work, has a diploma in Spiritual Direction from the San Francisco Theological Seminary, and is trained in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. She works privately as a spiritual director and grief counselor, and is on staff at the Interfaith Counseling Center and the Mindfulness Care Center. She also provides grief support at Glide Memorial Church, and served as a volunteer at Hospice by the Bay, and with bereaved children and their families at Josie’s Place.
Rod is the Dean of the Episcopal School for Deacons, a working ground for the nexus of prayer and praxis, contemplation and action. He is a Shalem trained spiritual director, a member of the Shalem Society for Contemplative Leadership, and on the regional staff of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. He co-leads Pacific Center's annual summer silent retreat on Buddhist and Christian meditation practices.
Debbie is a spiritual director and retreat leader. She graduated from San Francisco Theological Seminary in the Art of Spiritual Direction is now on staff at the Interfaith Counseling Center on the San Francisco Theological Seminary campus where she practices spiritual direction and facilitates a women’s meditation group. She gives seven-day guided image and music retreats through the Personal Growth Project directed by Joan King.
Don is a long time contemplative and member on the Board of Directors for PCSF. He has completed a second career as an interim minister in the United Church of Christ, resolving conflicts and bringing hope and peace to troubled churches. Don and his wife, Priscilla, live in Ashland, Oregon.
Jane is Parish Partnerships Director for Catholic Charities CYO. She is a commissioned presenter of Centering Prayer by Contemplative Outreach, Ltd. and has offered introductory workshops and written about contemplative prayer and its positive effects on a person's health and spiritual life. She is interested in the intersection of contemplative practices and social justice as they contribute to inner unity and outer social harmony. Jane received her Doctor of Ministry in Faith and Health from Pacific School of Religion at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.
Richard is a psychotherapist in private practice who has had a lifelong interest for the integration of spirituality and the psychological healing process. His experience includes leadership for church liturgy, retreats, contemplative prayer and meditation groups and a daily practice of Centering prayer. Recently, he has become an oblate with the Camaldolese Benedictine monks at the New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur, California. He is also an associate at the Interfaith Counseling Center in San Anselmo, CA.
Francis has studied, practiced, and taught spiritual practices over the past fifty years. He retired as a spiritual director from the Lloyd Pastoral Counseling Center at the San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Anselmo. Since 1975, he led over seventy workshops in Christian healing in the context of contemplative prayer and has helped to develop healing ministries in fifteen congregations on the West Coast. Francis is a graduate of the Spiritual Guidance Program at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, in Bethesda, MD, and is one of the founders of Pacific Center. The title of his D. Min. dissertation at the San Francisco Theological Seminary is Healing Training in the Church. He is a retired United Church of Christ minister and a graduate of Stanford University and Yale Divinity School. Francis and his wife Virginia live in Santa Rosa.
Joyce is a meditation leader, group facilitator, and a professor emeritus in Computer Science. A laywoman in the United Church of Christ, her spiritual life has been influenced by Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu practices. She is interested in building bridges between different faith traditions and the relationship of depth psychology to religious life. She co-leads the weekly contemplative practice group in Los Altos.
Susan is a spiritual director and retreat leader, and Professor Emerita at San Jose State University in nursing and health professions. She is a Quaker and an ordained member of Thich Nhat Hanh's Order of Interbeing who actively practices and leads Buddhist and Christian meditation. Susan has served on the regional staff of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. She is also a Courage & Renewal Facilitator, offering retreats that foster personal renewal, professional integrity, and vocational clarity for educators, spiritual leaders, and others who yearn to make a difference in the world. Susan co-leads the PCSF contemplative practice group in Los Altos and our annual silent retreat that offers both Buddhist and Christian meditation practices for participants to practice and integrate.
Jan is a spiritual director and pastor. One of Jan's great joys is teaching the arts of prayer and meditation, self-reflection, and discernment—practices that lead to an inspired faith in the midst of everyday work, play, relationships, and service. She currently serves as Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of San Rafael, a multicultural congregation devoted to spiritual growth and social justice. She earned the Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction and her Masters of Divinity degrees from San Francisco Theological Seminary. Formerly, Jan was a business executive in marketing, strategic planning, and cultural change (organizational development) and a nonprofit consultant.
Carol is one of the founding staff members of Pacific Center. She was ordained in 1981 as a minister in the United Church of Christ, and began her training as a Spiritual Director through the Shalem Institute the same year. This was very formative in her ministry, both in the parish and at the Lloyd Center, at San Francisco Theological Seminary, where she serves as both a Spiritual Director and Pastoral Counselor. Her D. Min. dissertation was entitled, Dream Work in Ministry. Carol has led many of the retreats offered by PCSF for more than 25 years, and is especially appreciated for her leadership of silent retreats during the meaningful seasons of Advent and Lent.
Ruth specializes in interfaith integration of spirituality/religion and psychology. Her approach emphasizes bringing spiritual connection into daily life and all relationships. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, spiritual director, United Church of Christ minister, Certified Internal Family Systems Therapist, and a student of the Diamond Approach for nine years. She offers programs, groups, and retreats as well as individual sessions. She is the author of Spiritual Freedom. For more information, visit livingfromwithin.com.
Lorna is a retired teacher–school administrator of San Rafael City Schools. She received her B.A. at Whitworth College, her M.A. in Education Administration at San Francisco State University, and her Diploma in Spiritual Direction from San Francisco Theological Seminary. Lorna is a Spiritual Director at the Interfaith Counseling Center of the Bay Area. She meets with individuals and small groups accompanying those in discernment and seeking to recognize the Divine Presence in their journey. Lorna is former Clerk of Session at First Presbyterian Church of San Rafael and also teaches spirituality and child and adult education classes.