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Helping you explore and deepen your journey with God through retreats.

The Retreat Association Conference 2012

The Retreat Association Conference

The Retreat Association Conference is held every 4 years and is a significant event for anyone interested in Christian Spirituality.

Our 2012 conference was a wonderful celebration of Christian spirituality. Some 300 people gathered to listen, worship, share, network, learn and reflect along the desert theme.

2012 Conference 14-17 May
Re-imagining Retreat:

A spring in the desert

The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick


Guest speaker Graham Sparkes, President of Luther King House Educational Trust, opened up the desert theme, highlighting its significance and the gifts that it brings to our faith journey.

Fr Brendan Callaghan SJ, Psychologist of Religion and current Master of Campion Hall, Oxford, reflected on his experiences of participating in The Big Silence BBC TV series, exploring the transforming effect of silence in a world where noise is so predominant.

Fr Gerard J Hughes, Jesuit Priest and Philosopher, and Deirdre Johnson, Jungian Analyst and Psychotherapist, shared in a lively discussion about finding God in all things, from both the Ignatian and Jungian perspectives.

Ken Browne, from the London Centre for Spirituality, spoke about the challenges of spiritual accompaniment and how it is meeting the needs of our contemporary world.

A panel representing the Catholic, Anglican, Evangelical and Baptist traditions continued the discussion of spiritual accompaniment, what it means for different denominations, where it is growing and how it is becoming more universally understood.

A plenary session gave everyone the chance to voice their response to the conference.

Worship and prayer

Daily worship was led by Graham Maule from the Wild Goose Resource Group - leading participants through the desert with a mix of song, drama and reflection.

The final worship was a memorable interpretation of the desert springs in which all were invited to share.


Participants chose from an eclectic mix of workshops in the areas of traditional and contemporary approaches to spirituality, training, different approaches to prayer and coping with challenging areas of life.

Listening groups

'Wellspring' groups met daily to enable participants to reflect on their experiences of the conference.

Free time

A range of activities were on offer in the evenings – from singing, poetry readings, art and film, to relaxing in the bar or letting your hair down at a Ceilidh with local folk band The Knitters Jig.

A memorable poetry recital was given by Kenneth Steven, accompanied by the haunting sounds of the hang drum, played by Philip Roderick.

Resources and networking

There were plenty of opportunities to network, in formal groups or in the lunch queue.

Resources were available to browse including books, arts and crafts. An art room and a quiet room were available throughout the conference.

In the plenary session, it was acknowledged that the conference was about a gathering of people, each of whom had an important part to play. This spirit of celebration and encouragement was present throughout the event – a time of inspiration for all.

Our grateful thanks to all who made this such a memorable journey through the desert!

Click here for more photos of the conference.