Higher Education & Student Affairs

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Reflections on the First Year Part 2: Billy Baker

Hello, Friends!

Billy Baker, GA  for Spiritual Formation

Billy Baker, GA for Spiritual Formation

My name is Billy Baker, and I a current student in the HESA graduate program at Baylor University with a Graduate Apprenticeship in the office of Spiritual Formation, where I work with retreats and training.  The Spiritual Formation office is located in the Bobo Spiritual Life building, alongside Pastoral Care, Baylor Missions, and Worship and Chapel.  Although my graduate apprenticeship is with Spiritual Formation, I get the unique privilege to work with many different programs throughout the Spiritual life Department.  For example, I get to work with worship and chapel services throughout the school year helping them increase their effectiveness.  Since there are four departments housed in the Bobo Spiritual life building, there is no shortage of students coming and going through the office or the hangout areas in the Great room.  This provides me with opportunities to talk with students from all over campus and different walks of life.

The Spiritual Formation Office seeks to provide a spiritual growth resource for all students–from freshmen to graduates–to encourage theological exploration through studies, retreats, and meals that foster connection with God and the Baylor community.  In working with the Spiritual Formation office, I have gained incredible experiences that help me to aid  students’ formative endeavors.  Spiritual Formation uses cross-cultural engagements, spiritual practices, retreats, and youth ministry teams to disoriented students, and then reorient them in a new and profound manner.  This reorientation process is formation, and all of the staff work together to ensure there is an environment appropriate for this to take place.  One of the largest reoccurring programs Spiritual Formation provides is the cross-cultural dinners, where students come from all over campus and eat dinner, and partake in storytelling activities.

Now enough about Spiritual Life and Spiritual Formation at Baylor, it is time to get to the specifics of my graduate apprenticeship—coordinator of retreats and training.  In this particular role, I get the privilege of working alongside a student leadership team to plan and implement  retreats for different students across campus.  The largest of these retreats occurs every fall semester within the first few weeks of classes.  This semester I will be taking 200 first-year Baylor students to Camp Buckner for a 36-hour retreat experience.  There is a great deal of energy and planning that goes into making this retreat work, because we implement large group sessions and small group sessions, alongside free time activities.  I am excited to be the lead staff member on this retreat because I get to work with different departments across campus and with 35 small group leaders.

Although the New Student Retreat is the largest I get to plan throughout my graduate apprenticeship, the other retreats are no less incredible.  Following the New Student Retreat in the fall semester, I get to work with Baylor Outdoor Adventure and co-lead a backpacking trip over Fall Break as a retreat.  I will also be working a with Male Spirituality group to plan a fall retreat, where they get time to meditate, reflect, and connect to one another and the Baylor community.  Then in the spring semester, I work on planning a Winter Retreat, which takes place within the first four weeks of the semester.  The Winter Retreat is followed by a Spring break retreat, where Spiritual Formation has traditionally taken a group of students to a retreat center in the mountains of New Mexico for an entire week.  Beyond these traditional style retreats, I have also been able to work with my student leader team to implement mini retreats for students during midterms and finals.  These mini-retreats occur in the Bobo Spiritual life building, where students get to come and find activities to help them re-center and focus on the real meaning of life.

My time as the Coordinator of retreats and training for the Spiritual Formation Office has been one that I will remember for years to come.  I have the space to be creative and flexible in my job description as long as I fulfill the required duties.  In the end, this position has been one that has elicited challenges and development in the way I view myself as a professional and as a person in the global community.

yolande_graham • July 28, 2016

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