THECENTER01 centerlogo umcaffiliate09

45 South West Street, Carlisle PA 17013

Contact us at:

Center Faculty

Russ Hart

Russell Hart, Director


Russell, a native North Dakotan, has spent forty-five years as a ministerial member of the Susquehanna Conference of the United Methodist Church.  He served parishes in Three Springs, Altoona, and the Harrisburg/York area. He became director of the Center for Spiritual Formation in 1995. He and his wife Dorene have been married since 1969. Their daughter Linda lives in Florida.  They have one grandchild.


Dr. Hart received his Ph. B. from the University of North Dakota, M. Div. from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D. C., and D. Min. from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.  In 1984 he perceived a call to become an iconographer and received instruction from Charles Rohrbacher at Mt. Angel Abbey, Oregon, and in 1991 at l’Ecole Russe de St. George from Egon Sendler [Pere Igor]  in Meudon, France. In addition to being of the faculty of the School of Spritual Direction, he leads retreats and local church consultations and is editor of The Center Quarterly.

Russell’s publications include:


The Icon Through Western Eyes, Templegate Publishers, Springfield, IL, 1991 ISBN: 0:87243-186-X. 


Crossing The Border:  An Introduction To The Practice of Christian Mysticism, Templegate, 1993, ISBN: 0-87243-197-5. 


Communing With The Saints, Templegate, 1994, ISBN:0-87243-203-2. [In 2002, Communing With The Saints appeared in Spanish under the title, En Comunion Con Los Santos, Neo Person, Madrid ]


Reclaiming Your Calling:  A Guide For Managers & Supervisors in The Health & Human Service Field with Dr. Stephen Holoviak, Open Minds, Gettysburg, PA, 2012. ISBN: 1-59423-160-5 


He is a contributor to The Upper Room Dictionary of Christian Spiritual Formation, and A Guide To Prayer For All Who Seek God, Upper Room, Nashville 

Laura Beach1

Laura Baber -


Laura is an ordained deacon in the Susquehanna Conference-UMC. She is the Director and Founder of Equipping Lydia, where she guides individuals and groups through the process of spiritual formation. She journeys with others as they explore their understanding of God’s love, healing and restoration.


She received her M.Div. from  Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky; a B.A in English Literature from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, and completed the Ministry of Spiritual Direction Program through the Center for Spiritual Formation.


She is a member of the Susquehanna Conference and an Affiliate Member of the Kentucky Conference-UMC.

Alison Grove

Alison Grove -


Alison is an ordained elder in the Susquehanna Conference-UMC, currently serving the Friends in Faith Parish in the Scranton-Wilkes Barre District. Previously, she served churches in Hallam, Curwensville, Millersburg and Sugar Creek, all in the Susquehanna Conference.


Alison is passionate about helping people grow in their spiritual journey of faith and the connection between church and community. Her philosophy for ministry follows the model found in Acts 6: being devout in prayer, engaging in service for the proclamation of the Word, equipping the congregation for ministry, and developing leadership through guidance and service.


Alison received her M.Div. from Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore KY in 2000, her Instructional I Teaching Certificate in Elementary Education from Lycoming College, and a B.A in Speech Communications and Broadcasting from Mansfield University in 1984.

Jay House 


Jay is a graduate of Lycoming College, Drew Theological Seminary, and received a DMin from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, OH.


He has pastored churches in what are now Williamsport, Altoona, York, and Harrisburg Districts and served the Central Pennsylvania Conference as Assistant Council Director and Council Director.  Jay

is a Spiritual Director and teacher of Spiritual Directors.  He and his wife, Marjorie, have retired to Mechanicsburg, PA.

Kathy Harvey Nelson -


Kathy is an ordained Elder in the Susquehanna Conference-UMC, currently serving the Martinsville Salem Charge, a small, rural congregation.


She has been a Spiritual Director for numerous people since being certified by the Center for Spiritual Formation in 2006. As a director, Kathy is committed to walking the journey of deepening spiritual relationships and exploring creative ways of practicing the presence of God.


Kathy is married and mother of two grown children. In her spare time she enjoys reading, travel, and hand-crafts. She is also the author of a children's book, "Eva: The Perfect Little Puppy," a reflection of the love brought into her life by her current fur-baby.

Kathy Harvey Nelson

Richard Kohr -


Richard is a Psychologist, Licensed for independent practice since 1984. He is an active member of Ridgeway Community Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg.


Richard received a B.A. (Psychology) from Lycoming College (1963); his M.S. (Educational Research) from Bucknell University (1965), and his  Ph.D. (Educational Psychology) from The Pennsylvania State University(1970).


Richard worked for the PA Department of Education, Division of Evaluation & Reports (1971-2002, retired). He also practiced with Knestrick & Sleber and Sleber Associates from 1999 until his retirement in 2005. He is a Consultant for Statewide Assessment for Data Recognition Corporation.

Richard Kohr1

Barbara Lemmel -


Barbara is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church.  She the coordinator of the New England Conference Parish Consultants, and works with corporate clients through the Coaching Center of Vermont.


Barbara studied conflict mediation and family systems theory with the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center in Chicago and with the Center for Pastoral Effectiveness in New Orleans. In 2003, she developed Tending the Fire, reaching more than 300 pastors, five judicatories and several churches. She has served congregations in Vermont and upstate New York. As Troy Conference Minister, she facilitated conference re-structuring and offered programming and spiritual guidance to churches and pastors.


Barbara lives in Vermont with her husband and two children. She is committed to learning that is transformational and fun.

Barb Lemmel

Kimberly Preske -


Kimberly received her Master of Social Work (MSW) from Temple University(2014) and a B.S. in Environmental Forest Biology from the State University of New York (1992). She is a Licensed Social Worker (LSW).


She blends her personal experience as an adult school shooting survivor with her professional training as a social worker and spiritual director.  In 2008 she completed the Center for Spiritual Formation’s Ministry for Spiritual Direction. Increasing awareness and providing pre education about school disaster planning, trauma, self-care and mental health are her primary focus.


Kimberly has practiced as an outpatient and school based outpatient therapist. She is the Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Pennsylvania York County.

Kimberly Preske1

Lois Shellrude -


Lois Shellrude serves as pastor of Community Life at Bedford Community Church, Bedford Hills, NY where she oversees all Adult Ministries including Bible and Spiritual Formation electives, recovery programs, small groups, retreats and seminars, and outreach projects.


Lois’ studies include Music Education, Music Therapy, Crisis and Abuse Counseling, Biblical Studies, Spiritual Direction, and the MBTI. She has taught K-12 vocal and instrumental music in the public schools, and has served throughout her adult life in pastoral or music ministry on the staff of churches in Colorado, Scotland, the Philippines, and NY.


Lois’ eclectic nature includes love of family, music, travel, animals, nature, reading, poetry, and studying people and personality.  Since 2000, Lois and her husband, Glen, have lived in New York's beautiful Hudson Valley surrounded by Glen's rose garden.

Lois Shellrude1

Double click to insert body text here ...

Bill Stewart -


Bill has served as a District Lay Speaker and is an Associate of Holy Cross Monastery in West Park NY.


Bill is a 1979 graduate of the Culinary Institute in Hyde Park NY and for many years worked in  Business Dining. Since 1997 has worked in full time food service ministry at The Tuscarora Inn, a large Christian conference center in Mt Bethel PA, that is owned by the Lutheran Brethren Church.


Bill grew up with his wife Peggy, attending grade school , church and confirmation together. They were married in the church where they grew up in 1986,and moved to the Poconos. They  have three grown children.

Bill Stewart1

Bob Stoudt -


Bob retired from pastoral ministry  in the United Church of Christ in 2014. He served as Pastor of the Penbrook United Church of Christ, Harrisburg for over 40 years.


Bill received a B.S. in Secondary Education with a Major in English from Bloomsburg University (1970); an M. Div. from Lancaster Theological Seminary (1973); a D.Min. from Lancaster Theological Seminary (1979), with an emphasis in the area of spirituality. His doctoral project was the development and testing of an original retreat model by which to foster spiritual growth; M.S. in Community Counseling, Shippensburg University (1997).


He also served private clients as a Board certified and licensed Professional Counselor in the State of PA; and completed a Jungian-oriented training program for Spiritual Guides (1993), at the Guild for Spiritual Guidance, Rye, New York.

Bob Stoudt1

Cynthia Willis -


Cynthia oversees and coordinates visitation for limited activity members of Wesley UMC, Bloomsburg PA.  She maintains accurate listings of home bound members; initiates personal contact with members as needed; coordinates ministry or regular visitation; recruits, trains, schedules volunteers; provides continual updates to pastors on emerging needs; and coordinates lay/clergy shared home communion ministry.


She also directs choirs ranging in age from 3 through teen, and prepares two worship services for local nursing home residents each month.


She has completed training for NODA (No One Dies Alone), a volunteer program at Geisinger Hospital in Danville, PA and has worked in this position as a volunteer. Cynthia is also a certified Safe Sanctuary Trainer for SUSUMC.


Cynthia  studied at Western Michigan University, Goshen College, and Drake University in Florence, Italy. She has worked as a graphic artist, portrait photographer, manager, and district training manager.

Cynthia Willis1 JayHouse