Our conference was a wonderful celebration of everything that lies at the heart of our work as we explored the theme of silence through talks, discussion, reflection, worship and prayer. Our thanks go to all contributors, facilitators and participants for making this such a memorable and inspiring event.
Our Chair of Trustees, Barry Preece, opened up the conference on behalf of the Retreat Association.
Executive Director Alison MacTier spoke about the value of the conference within the work of the Association.
Patron Graham Sparkes spoke about the significance of silence and what it can teach us.
Graham introduced the three main speakers who would be exploring the theme of silence further.
On the first morning, writer Sara Maitland spoke about silence in the desert, the Hebrew Scriptures and her own experiences of living in silence.
Peter Tyler, theologian, later explored the origins of mindfulness alongside the mystical Christian tradition of silence.
On the second morning Graham Sparkes facilitated a panel discussion on silence in the context of retreat, end of life, the Quaker movement and social action.
Malcolm Guite, poet and academic, spoke very movingly about how poetry can accompany us through the grief process.
Our worship was led by Frances Novillo throughout the conference.
Frances encouraged delegates to participate in weaving a net of blue cloth.
The room was prepared for our final worship with artwork from the art room and a cloth woven with 1000 strips of blue cloth and 250 silver fish.
Our final worship included a ceremony to hallow the icon, which featured the anointing of the icon by Rev Barry Preece.
As participants left the worship they were invited to take one of the silver fish to remind them of the conference.
Recordings of the talks are available from Agape Ministries.
This poem was written by participants at Malcolm Guite’s poetry workshop.
Please see our Conference 2015 report and review below.
The Retreat Association for the UK