The ministry of Equipping Lydia seeks to provide Sabbath experiences of prayer that will help those who love God to hear the Gospel message. Through spiritual direction, retreats, and nurturing of leaders, we “gather at the river” to pray and hear the Gospel afresh. We seek to replicate the Acts 16 experience of Lydia for Christians who need to meet Christ in a fresh, restorative way. Equipping Lydia offers many spiritual formation experiences throughout the year. To see our current offerings, check out the Equipping Lydia calendar at www.equippinglydia.com.
Connection to Asbury Theological Seminary
In 1999, Equipping Lydia’s founder, Laura Baber, visited Asbury Theological Seminary, sat in on a class taught by Dr. Catherine Stonehouse, went to a chapel service, and knew ATS was the seminary she needed to attend. She had been trained as a spiritual director and then pursued ordination as a Deacon in the United Methodist Church.
Laura graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary in 2007 with a Masters of Divinity degree. She did much of her ATS coursework online and arrived on the Kentucky campus in 2006 to complete her requirements. Almost immediately, people began asking her for spiritual direction appointments. She responded to this floodgate of need and began meeting with women on the ATS campus and in Lexington. Each month the number increased. By her second year in Kentucky, she had over 180 spiritual direction sessions.
While sitting in an ATS class on Jeremiah taught by Dr. Lawson Stone, Laura experienced the presence of God and an impartation of wisdom which included the name Equipping Lydia, the guiding scripture of Acts 16:12-15, the vision for the ministry as a deep well of renewal through spiritual direction and retreats, its core values, and the concept of prayer midwives to guide the birthing of this work. Laura gathered a group of prayer midwives to test these words and discern whether this was a work of the Spirit. These women prayed regularly, and the ministry began to take shape.
ATS students, spouses, and alumni have continued to pour through Equipping Lydia in a steady stream. In 2011, Dr. Marilyn Elliott began a two-year term on the Equipping Lydia Board of Directors. Focused prayer began to find an office space. During this time, the conversation began regarding a center for caring for the needs of the soul in the seminary’s Office of Community Formation.
In July of 2013, Equipping Lydia and ATS signed a memorandum of understanding which allowed Equipping Lydia to do its work of spiritual formation through spiritual direction and leadership retreats within the Office of Community Formation space in McPheeters. This relationship has borne much fruit. Equipping Lydia has been able to offer training, spiritual direction, formation groups, and retreats to the ATS family and larger community. Interestingly, the Equipping Lydia office in McPheeters is located on the floor just under the classroom where Dr. Stone held the Jeremiah course where the vision for the ministry manifested.
Equipping Lydia expanded in 2017 by inviting Erin Benjamin into the role of Executive Director. Erin is providing leadership in trianing, administration, and pastoral care for the operations and people who are a part of this ministry. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.