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Retreat Association
Conference Workshops June 2022

Monday Workshops - available on Monday only


Ageing: Blessing or Burden? – James Woodward

This workshop will offer an overview of some of the thinking about the spiritual journey of older adults in their third and fourth age. We shall explore what shapes our own and others ageing.

The Call of Anchorhood – Emma Pennington

Why does Julian of Norwich’s life as an anchoress and her writings about God so deeply resonate with spiritual seekers in these unprecedented times? This is the question the workshop will be exploring as it looks at the life of a fourteenth-century anchoress in the light of our recent lockdown experiences and delves into Julian’s text, Revelations of Divine Love, to consider what she has to say to all who seek the inner and outer space for prayer and contemplation in active, busy lives.

Courage to find words: On daring to Write the Divine - Rachel Mann

Poetry writing workshop.

The impact of Covid 19 trauma on human flourishing, leadership & Christian mission – Dr Gillian Straine

Based on the recent paper ‘Resilience, Trauma and Pastoral Recovery: A briefing for faith communities’, this workshop will invite you to explore the impact of trauma on your mental and spiritual health. The session will introduce concepts such as a major collective trauma, theologically grounded trauma response theory and research around post traumatic growth to address key questions and offer space for personal reflection.

Tuesday Workshops - available on Tuesday only


Befriending Death: embracing loss and change on our spiritual journey – James Woodward

This workshop will explore how our spiritual traditions might enable us to support others in their handling of loss and change in living and dying. How might with embrace both Lament and Hope in these pandemic times?

The courage of seeing suffering – Lya Vollering

In this workshop we will explore how we can face the climate and environmental crisis we are in and find life. Jesus was abandoned by most of his close friends. Mary and other women had the courage to stay with him in his time of great suffering and death. They were also the first ones who saw and recognised him after the resurrection. Using contemporary examples of people who are able to face suffering (particularly of the crucified earth) and find life, we will explore how we can apply this in our own lives.


Flesh That Needs to be Loved: Writing the Body with Hope and Courage - Rachel Mann

Poetry writing workshop.


Julian of Norwich as Spiritual Director - Emma Pennington

In her autobiographical book, Margery of Kempe recounts a visit she made to the anchoress Julian of Norwich in around 1413 to consult her on the validity of her visions. She was probably one of many who sought out the anchoress for the spiritual advice she offered from her anchorhold window. This workshop will explore what Julian’s text, Revelations of Divine of Love, reveals about her ministry of spiritual direction and what insights it offers to all who seek to deepen their prayer life today.

The place of Contemplative Prayer as the medium of facing healing from the wounds that divide – Ian Mobsby

This workshop will explore different prayer practices and traditions of the ‘Via Positiva’ and ‘Via Negativa’ as means of encountering God, and the pursuit of the true self in world increasingly subject to egoic selfish consumerism.  This will draw on my PhD ethnographical and theological fieldwork exploring a new old model of understanding spiritual seeking and spiritual development in the context of an increasingly unchurched post-secular world.

Repeated Workshops available on Monday & Tuesday


Art and Prayer workshop: Take heart, Take hope, Take Courage – Carol Marples

The workshop combines practical artwork (in its broadest sense - a blob of colour or scribbly mark) image, music, word and silence: no artistic experience is needed. Art and Prayer is not about learning to draw or paint but about how to use art as a tool to listen and pray in a non-verbal way. Also, being artistic is not a restriction for these workshops! Participants will be encouraged to share their reflections on the theme and the work of the day but please note no one has to speak if it feels uncomfortable or inappropriate for them

With open hands: Etty Hillesum and the way of dialogue –
Christopher Chapman

Etty Hillesum, a young Jewish woman, set out in search of a more integrated and productive life in the context of the Nazi occupation of her homeland. Her inner search challenged her to find a way of meeting uncertainty, restriction and aggression without being driven into hostility and fear. She was led by God into the difficult way of dialogue, both with her own feelings and the violence of others – the way of open hands rather than clenched fists. We will explore the relevance of her insights for our own challenging times.

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