a ministry of Westhope Presbyterian Church
Rev. Erik Swanson
Executive Leadership Team
Training & Experience: Erik graduated from San Francisco Theological Seminary in 1998 with a Masters of Divinity and a concentration in Spiritual Formation. He received his Certificate in the Art of Spiritual Direction from the Spiritual Life Center in Bloomfield, CT. in 2004 and has been offering Direction ever since. Prior to Westhope, Erik was a Pastor in Colchester, CT for four and a half years and a co-founder of MICAH (Minnesota Institute of Contemplation and Healing) in Crookston, MN for a year and a half.
Denominational Affiliation: Erik was born and raised Presbyterian (PCUSA) and openly respects all religious backgrounds and affiliations.
Specialties: Erik offers individual and group spiritual direction and leads spiritual retreats. He is well known for his familiarity with Taize prayer style and the labyrinth.
Style of Direction: Erik has been described as a skilled and deep listener who tries to work with the directee to help him/her be aware of all the fingerprints of the Spirit throughout his/her life. Often Erik will suggest prayer practices or ways of listening between sessions when appropriate. Erik will seek to engage spirit, mind and body in the process of listening in a holistic approach.
Personal Information: Erik is passionate about listening for the calling of God in people’s lives and helping them find freedom from that which binds them from relationship with God, self and others. He is the pastor of Westhope Presbyterian Church. Erik loves being married and spending time with his wife and three boys. He also loves woodworking, flyfishing, gardening and most activities in nature. A very formative event in his life was the year he spent living in studying sacred Community in the Taize monastery in France. Clearly his focus on prayer and community stem powerfully from that experience.
Brooke Maffia Wang
Executive Leadership Team
Training & Experience: I received my masters in Spiritual Formation and Soul Care from and training for spiritual direction in 2005 from The Institute for Spiritual Formation at Talbot. Falling in love with the gift of spiritual direction and spiritual retreats, I’ve been studying, receiving and offering both ever since. Working in youth ministry in the local church for years, I saw the need within pastors and lay persons - and myself - for space and time to slow down and listen to God. I began offering short 4 hour Soul Care Retreats quarterly to provide it. Currently, I am on the ELT of the CCSV, an ordained Presbyterian Elder, wife, and being drastically transformed in the school of motherhood.
Denominational Affiliation: I'm a bit of a Christian mutt. Having to pick one doesn't quite feel right. I was raised Catholic. Went to a Baptist church until college. Attended a non-denominational college and seminary. Worked in a mega-church, as well as a small Presbyterian church. I deeply respect all religious backgrounds and faith traditions on the journey each takes towards the Holy.
Specialties: I have experience with those who are disillusioned with and/or hurt by church (both pastors and lay), especially those in or from an Evangelical faith tradition. In addition to working with both individuals and groups, I delight in creating and holding space for others to slow down and listen to the Holy. I have much experience with working with those who are new to the practice of spiritual direction.
Style of Direction: Everything is spiritual. Life is beautiful, and heartbreaking. I offer my gentle, loving presence and thoughtful questions while attending to the Spirit within both of us. When appropriate, I suggest prayer practices. I encourage my directees to use our space at the CCSV (labyrinth, prayer spiral, benches) by coming early and/or staying later to prepare for our session or continue to process after.
Personal Information: My favorite place to run is West Cliff drive in Santa Cruz. I feel most at home at the beaches or in redwood forests of NorCal. I enjoy hiking, riding bikes, yoga, and, before most of my time went to my littles, surfing and reading. I'm Italian-German heritage married to a first generation Chinese American. Our incredible and beautiful daughters are only a year and a half apart and frequently serve as my daily training in how to love and live well.
Executive Leadership Team
Desiree received her Masters in Spiritual Formation and Soul Care from The Institute for Spiritual Formation at Talbot School of Theology in May 2009. She feels profoundly grateful to have had the opportunity to study how God grows the soul over the course of a lifetime and how we can cooperate for our flourishing. Desiree considers it a privilege to sit with another, listening to their story and discerning together what God may be inviting them to next. She also enjoys helping people find prayer practices that fit their lives now.
Given Desiree’s background and education, she is especially attuned to the needs and challenges of those in the Evangelical tradition. She find herself concerned for those who have given much of themselves to the church, i.e. pastors and their spouses, church workers & faithful volunteers, and those who have despaired of ever finding the living waters. Desiree is experienced working with men and women, groups or individuals. When she’s not chasing after her toddler, she’s practicing yoga, reading, drinking coffee and enjoying nature.
Training and Experience: Debra graduated from the 3-year Mercy Center Art & Practice of Spiritual Direction program in 2014.
Denominational Affiliation: She spent many years in Protestant churches and was this year confirmed in the Catholic Church. She respects and receives guidance from all spiritual paths and denominations.
Specialties: Individual spiritual direction.
Style of direction: I offer deep and loving listening to help directees discern what is most important in their lives. I may offer the perspective of a fellow seeker, but have complete trust in the ability of others to build conscious and constant loving relationship with God.
Personal information: I have three main “homes:” my spiritual path, which is my foundation; my work path as a coach and leader developer in high tech; and my friends and family, who are as diverse as can be. My favorite ways to relax is on a long hike with my camera, silent retreats, and writing both fiction and nonfiction. I am divorced and have been through family rifts – and while they were hard I believe they also made me more compassionate and honest. God uses everything!
Paul is passionate about seeing others come to new understandings and freedom about how deeply known and loved they are by God. His practice includes providing spiritual direction for pastors. Paul transitioned from a thirty year career in banking to full time ministry where he served as an elder and pastor for six years. He received his BSC from University of Santa Clara and Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction from San Francisco Theological Seminary. Paul serves on the Leadership team for SoulCARE and on the Board of Directors for Wellspring. He is an ordained elder serving at Westhope Presbyterian Church.
Paul offers individual and group spiritual direction.
Roz is passionate about offering a safe arena for candid dialogue with a loving God. She is delighted to have discovered a love for spiritual direction, where it never ceases to amaze her how tenderly and yet pointedly God shows up—treasuring each of us for the distinct creatures we are, nudging us to move that much further into the mystery that is our life with the Holy. Roz is a graduate of San Francisco Theological Seminary where she was awarded a Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction. She is an ordained Presbyterian deacon.
Roz offers individual spiritual direction.
Training and Experience: Graduate of the three year Mercy Center, Burlingame, Spiritual Direction Institute program in 2001 and have been practicing retreat and individual direction for 15 years.
Denominational Affiliation: Have served in Pastoral ministry in Independent, Baptist, Non-denominational, Evangelical Free, Congregational, congregations for 45 years. Adjunct Staff –men’s spirituality program Mercy Center for 3 years.
Specialties: Don and his wife Charlotte co-direct Eagle’s Wings Ministries, providing spiritual practices and support for transformative living. They specialize in Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, and contemplative retreats, for pastors, lay-leaders and seekers. They provide retreats for churches – leadership, young adult, youth, all-church. Don also works with men at Mercy Center and in one-on-one direction.
Style of Direction: Don uses the contemplative model of direction that Mercy Center espouses. Helping the directee in listening for the movements of the Spirit and discern the movements of their own hearts.
Personal Information: Don is married to Charlotte, his wife of 40 years. They have two adult daughters with 4 grandchildren, who live too far away. He loves sports, exploring, outdoors, exotic cars, movies, antiquing and good food. He is actively engaged in his own formation and sees monthly his own spiritual director as well as seeking out workshops, pilgrimages, retreats to support his spiritual work toward greater wholeness and freedom.
Rev. Portia Mather Hempler
BA, M.Div., DASD
Portia is a passionate listener and companion on the journey to the heart of our loving God. She enjoys companioning others as they encounter and grow in God’s grace in their daily lives. She is an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of El Camino Real. She earned her Masters of Divinity from The Church Divinity School of the Pacific in 1984. She has over 20 years of parish ministry experience and 12 years as a spiritual director. Portia received her initial training in spiritual direction at Mercy Center, Burlingame, CA and earned the Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction from San Francisco Theological Seminary in 2008.
She specializes in working with women and those going through times of grief or transition in their lives. Portia offers individual and group spiritual direction and leads spiritual retreats.
Rev. Russel M. Ikeda
BEd, MDiv., DMin.
Training and Experience: Russ graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary in 1977 with a Masters of Divinity and received a Doctor of Ministry in Spiritual Formation with a focus on Ignatian Spirituality from Azusa Pacific University Graduate School of Theology in 2002. After serving as Associate Pastor at Saratoga Federated Church from 1978 – 1999, he launched Emmaus Ministries of Silicon Valley in 1999 where he brings a pastoral presence in the marketplace offering spiritual direction and pastoral guidance. Since 2000, Russ has been the Chaplain for the Los Gatos/Monte Sereno Police Department. Also, he is an adjunct professor with William Jessup University. He also serves on the Board of WellSpring Ministries in Menlo Park, where is part of the leadership team for SoulCARE – a ministry for pastors and ministry directors in the greater Bay Area.
Denominational Affiliation: Russ is ordained with the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference (CCCC).
Specialties: Russ offers individual spiritual direction, facilitates renewal retreats and occasional workshops on salient aspects of spiritual formation.
Style of Direction: Russ offers an easy pace and a safe place for conversation that allows an individual to notice God’s activity in his/her every day life. Useful and appropriate practices are offered to help an individual become more aware of God’s presence and work.
Personal Information: Russ was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, and has lived in Los Angeles, Salem, OR and now resides in the South Bay where he has been for the past 37 years. He is married to Linda (Marriage Family Therapist) and has two grown sons. He regularly enjoys rigorous physical workouts, playing the guitar and ukulele, following the 49ers, Giants and the Golden State Warriors and perusing good books and weekly periodicals – Sports Illustrated and The Week.
BS, SDI, MA
Liz is passionate about helping people recognize and respond to God who is present and initiating in their lived reality. She supervises and trains spiritual direction interns at Mercy Center in Burlingame, CA. After 25 years in high tech as a program manager, she transitioned to full time ministry building a bridge for the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises into a variety of Christian traditions. She completed the Spiritual Direction Institute at Mercy Center in Burlingame. She completed her internship in retreat direction and in supervision at Mercy Center. Liz received her Masters at Santa Clara University in Pastoral Ministries with a focus in Spirituality.
Liz offers individual and group spiritual direction, contemplative retreat direction, Ignatian Exercises retreat direction, supervision for spiritual directors, and trains small groups in the art of group spiritual direction.
Barbara Milligan loves to watch for God’s movements in the lives of others while helping them explore the stirrings of their souls. Whether they’re discerning a transition in their lives, facing a crisis, or simply seeking more of God, Barbara’s goal is to provide a safe, nurturing environment where they can experience God’s love, grace, and guidance. Barbara completed the Spiritual Direction Institute and the Internship in Retreat Direction at Mercy Center. Her website is www.togetherlivingwithcancer.com.
Barbara offers individual and group spiritual direction and leads retreats.
BA, MA, MS, Ph.D., DASD
Training & Experience: San Francisco Theological Seminary, Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction program, 1996-1998. I have been providing spiritual direction for nearly 20 years, and supervision of directors for 15. I co-lead occasional retreats with colleagues of Soul Work Studio and the Contemplative Center of Silicon Valley, and am doing small group facilitation and teaching in three northern California spiritual formation programs.
Denominational Affiliation: Christian identity and Presbyterian affiliation within that. Yet I practice from an ecumenical and inter-faith perspective, welcoming all.
Sociodemographic Location: Retirement age, male, Northern European origin.
Other Perspectives: As a youth I came to believe the “the question of God,” as I put it then, was the most important question of life. Though the form of that question has shifted much over the years, I still hold it with the same primacy, and it is now reflected in my life as a spiritual director in particular. I hope to assist other seekers after God to wrestle with and come to their own understandings about ultimate values and relationships. I trust in the wisdom held within each person, and trust the Spirit to provide ways for that to emerge and shape life.
Style of Direction: As a spiritual director I am listening for the presence, movement, and invitation of the mystery we call God in the stories and experiences the directee brings for sharing. I see the Spirit as the true director, and my role is to tune into both the directee and the Spirit and respond (with comments, observations, tentative perspectives, and occasionally questions) in cooperation with the Spirit as I discern that. My only agenda is to assist the directee in becoming more aware of God’s Presence, and responding ever more faithfully to God’s love and invitations.
Personal Information: I am married and have an adult son and daughter, and two grandchildren with whom we love to spend time. In many ways they are my other, and informal, spiritual directors, opening me up to wonder and joy. I enjoy hiking, dabbling in art and photography, reading books on spiritual formation, and mystery novels.
A Director of Spiritual
Retreats and Groups
Susan is committed to creating spaces of stillness and quiet for deep listening. Attention is given towards healing, transformation and deeper connection with one’s unique spiritual identity. She delights in encouraging those interested in developing personal contemplative practices.
She has a private practice in Marriage and Family Therapy in San Jose. She is certified in Labyrinth facilitation through Veriditas as well as certified in “Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats” through the Shalem Instititute.
Susan offers retreat direction for individuals and groups, contemplative prayer groups reflecting on the seasons of the liturgical calendar and facilitates Soul Space – a monthly day of silence and prayer.
Kenton W. Smith
M.Div., D.Min., DASD
Training & Experience: In 2011 Kent graduated from San Francisco Theological Seminary with a Doctor of Ministry degree focused on spiritual direction as a metaphor for pastoral leadership. In 1998 he earned the Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction at SFTS and co-founded Soul Work Studio (a spiritual direction practice for individuals and organizations). Prior he graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary and pastored four PCUSA congregations from 1974-2009. He is an occasional staff member and faculty associate for the graduate Program in Christian Spirituality at SFTS and serves on the PCS Advisory Board. During two interludes he worked as a consultant for ExecutivEdge of Silicon Valley (executive coaching) and Vesper Society (a private foundation focused on health and justice). Kent is a board member of the Contemplative Center of Silicon Valley.
Approach to Spiritual Direction: The art of Christian spiritual direction is to welcome all seekers through conversation and listening. It takes place in a confidential setting of caregiving and prayer. A spiritual director is a faith companion who listens to our life stories with an ear for discerning the gracious movement of the Holy Spirit to the end that we may reach the faithfulness, freedom, and place of God’s leading. In truth, however, God is the director and like a coach or midwife, the human director’s role is to assist others in noticing and responding to the inner voice of God. A director is primarily interested in our experience of God and how we can follow God’s call. That process is a spiritual journey into the truth about ourselves, our relationships, our work, and world.
Fee: $50-95. Directees are invited to determine their own range based on personal budget. The initial session is free. Kent practices in a private office in his home.
Personal: Kent and Elizabeth have been married for forty plus years with three grown children and five grandchildren. He is a road cycling enthusiast, member of Vertical Cycling, and an amateur photographer. He is an ordained Presbyterian minister (PCUSA) honorably retired.
BA, M.Div., SDI
Nan loves God and people and loves connecting the two. She is a retired Presbyterian minister. She received her Spiritual Director Certificate from Mercy Center, Burlingame, CA in 1984. Her training for supervision of Spiritual Directors from San Francisco Theological Seminary in 1985 and earned her Master of Divinity degree from San Francisco Theological Seminary in 1991.
Nan offers individual and group spiritual direction, leads spiritual retreats and is available for one-to-one retreat direction.
BSN, MSN, MBA, M.Div.
Linda is an Episcopal priest and former nurse who experiences her ministry as spiritual midwifery, providing support, guidance and presence as people give birth to deeper awareness of God’s grace and love. She completed the Spiritual Direction Institute at Mercy Center Burlingame in 1997 and graduated from Church Divinity School of the Pacific in 1999. She specializes in vocational discernment, support for lay and ordained ministers and life transitions.
Linda offers individual, couples and group spiritual direction. She leads spiritual retreats and is available for one-to-one retreat direction.
Sharon enjoys helping people create space to meet with God in the midst of everyday life. Sharon has a masters degree in Cross Cultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, with course work in spiritual formation. Her special interests include multi-ethnic issues and leadership development in church and non-profit ministries. She completed her training as a spiritual director at the Mercy Center. She serves on the board of directors of WellSpring and is on staff at Vineyard Christian Fellowship of the Peninsula.
Sharon offers individual and group spiritual direction.
BA, MA, SDI
Charlotte joyfully offers time and a safe space for individuals to draw near to God, welcoming those seeking to experience God more fully in their everyday lives as well as those in transition or times of crisis. She loves accompanying people as they uncover and nurture their unique, God-given dreams and desires. As a knitter and a mother of three, Charlotte delights in the wild beauty of God's creative handiwork. She hosts art sessions at the Contemplative Center and leads spiritual direction groups for parents in all stages of parenting, helping them to discern the Spirit's work in their family relationships.
Charlotte completed the three-year Spiritual Directors Institute at Mercy Center, Burlingame and offers individual and group spiritual direction, as well as contemplative retreats.
Scroll over or tap each Director for info