Community for Spiritual Formation

Covid-19 has disrupted life as we know it across the world.  At this time we hold in prayer all who are suffering sickness and bereavement as a result of the virus and we pray for those who on the front line in health care and scientific research.

In Britain and Ireland, the Community for Spiritual Formation had to cancel a number of events in 2020.  However we are now very hopeful that the following two events will go ahead in November 2021 and July 2022.

Waiting on the Word: 7th – 12th November 2021, Cliff College, Derbyshire

  • A full Five-Day Community focussing on poetry and images for the Advent season. Our two presenters will be Dr. Malcolm Guite, well-known contemporary poet (and much else besides) and Sister Margaret Crinyion OSM a Roman Catholic nun who lives as a hermit.
  • For more information download the flier here.
  • Registration is now open and places are filling up fast.  If you are interested in attending, please email the Registrar at fivedaycsf@btinternet.com to request a registration form and enquire about availability.  

Divine Intimacy, Ordinary Holiness: 10th – 15th July 2022, St, John’s College, Durham

  • Picking up from the June 2020 cancelled event, Gemma Simmonds CJ, a well-known author and broadcaster on spirituality has again agreed to be with us to explore this fascinating theme.
  • The second speaker will be Rev. Dr. Andrew Walker, well-known spiritual director, teacher, lecturer and author.  
  • Registration will open for this event during 2021.

Registration forms will be added to the website in due course.

General Information about the Community

Through a programme of teaching, silence, worship and reflection based on a Benedictine monastic pattern,

the Five-Day Community for Spiritual Formation 

aims to

  • root spirituality in Christian faith and tradition
  • provide opportunity for participation in community life
  • form people for life in a changing world

Community policies: Up-to-date Safeguarding and Health and Safety Policies for the Community for Spiritual Formation can be downloaded below.

Core Values and Ethos: The Community is linked to the Academy for Spiritual Formation, based in the US. Below you can also download the full Core Values of the Academy, as well as a summary sheet, Community Ethos and Values.

Online Community

As part of our response to the recent pandemic, an experimental online Community day, entitled ‘Learning to be God’s People’ was held in May 2021. (find out more about the day from the flier, downloadable here).

The day went extremely well, with excellent presentations by Community member, Rev. Dr. Roger Walton and the Community plans to hold similar events in the future… watch this space!

Participants in ‘Learning to be God’s People’ at the end of a great day.

Keeping in touch with The Community for Spiritual Formation

The Community for Spiritual Formation is a rare opportunity to participate in a small, short-term community experience with excellent teaching.

To keep in touch with the Community and receive occasional newsletters by email, with details of forthcoming events, please send your name and email address to the Secretary, Jill Baker, fivedaycsf@btinternet.com

Membership of the Community is open to anyone resident in Britain or Ireland who has attended a Community for Spiritual Formation event.

The Community is run by a small board of volunteer trustees and holds an Annual General Meeting each year to which all members are invited.

The Community for Spiritual Formation is a Registered Charity: Number 1188824.

Divine Darkness, Divine Light

The most recent Five-Day Community event offered by the Community for Spiritual Formation took place just before Advent began in 2019 at Cliff College, Derbyshire (Sunday 24th – Friday 29th November 2019).

The theme was highly appropriate for that season, as we looked at both darkness and light; how they interplay and how both can reveal more of God to us.

The retreat followed a Benedictine style rhythm incorporating times of silence amongst the worship, teaching, listening and eating, as we lived together in this short-term community.

5 Day Community


The two speakers for ‘Divine Darkness, Divine Light’ were:

  • Rev. Cathy Bird, Methodist minister in London and author of The Divine Heart of Darkness
  • Rev. Steve Radley, Anglican priest in Cambridgeshire and photographer. Find out more at his website.

Both gave us outstanding presentations around the themes of darkness and light – and how each needs the other, each brings out the best in each other, and each plays its part in our lives.

5 Day Community


Community in a Fragmented World

Our 2nd UK “Five-Day Community for Spiritual Formation” met from 13th-18th May at Hinsley Hall, Leeds, under the theme “Community in a Fragmented World”.  Several photos of the community members can be found below.

Our two presenters, Rev. Dr. Roger Walton and Dean Elaine Heath both gave us a great deal to think about, reflect on and absorb; amidst the community pattern of worship, silence and listening.


Community in a fragmented world

Community in a fragmented world

Wherever I go at the moment I find people talking about community… about the need to build, or re-build community spirit, about the need for church to offer community to people who feel isolated, for the world to develop a sense of global community…

One of the best experiences I had last year was to be part of the “Five-Day Community for Spiritual Formation” which took place in Northern Ireland.  Around 35 folk gathered for a 5-day happening, based on a Benedictine rhythm – with teaching, worship, listening circles and silence.  It was so good that the small leadership team, of which I am a member, have decided to offer it again this year – with different speakers and a different theme.

Picking up this cry for community, our theme will be Community in a fragmented world and the event (part retreat, part conference, part simply, as the name says, community) will be at Hinsley Hall, Leeds from Sunday 13th to Friday 18th May 2018.

We are delighted that our two presenters are both well-known, well-respected and much-loved teachers in their fields, and that both are currently exploring themselves what community is, how it can be created and how it can be missional.  They are Elaine Heath, Dean of Duke Divinity School, North Carolina and an elder in the United Methodist Church and Roger Walton, Ex-President of the Methodist Conference, Britain, and chair of the Yorkshire West District.  Both have written and published extensively and are renowned as excellent teachers and facilitators.  We feel honoured to have them both.

077016_heath030Roger Walton

Registration is now open for this event; you can find out more by downloading the flier here and the registration pack here or by emailing fivedaycsf@btinternet.com

Please note that bursaries or grants towards this kind of Spiritual Formation experience are often available.  Suggestions about accessing such funding can be found here.

Jill Baker, Vice-President, Methodist Conference 2017-18

Five-Day Community 2018

Following a wonderful week for the first-ever Five-Day Community for Spiritual Formation to be held in Britain and Ireland in May this year, the team are delighted to be able to announce details of the next Community happening – in May 2018.

The dates: Sunday 13th May (evening) – Friday 18th May (lunchtime)

The venue: Hinsley Hall, Headingley Lane, Leeds

The theme: Community in a fragmented world

The presenters: Dean Elaine Heath, Duke Divinity School, North Carolina and Rev. Dr. Roger Walton, Ex-President of Methodist Conference and Chair Yorkshire West district

The flier with much more detail can be downloaded here.

The registration pack can be downloaded here.

Questions or comments can be emailed to fivedaycsf@btinternet.com


Ireland calls…

This morning I booked my ferry crossing to Larne for the Five-Day Community for Spiritual Formation which takes place there from 28th May – 2nd June this year.  I am excited about the event, the first of its kind in the UK, having attended a similar gathering in Atlanta USA two years ago.

It is hard to describe the experience – something between a retreat and a conference, with excellent teaching (in this case from Pádraig Ó Tuama and Amy Oden) but also plenty of time and space to reflect on the teaching, and generally on our walk with God.  “Formation” is a word much-used at present and always makes me think of how God “formed” Adam from dust; God is still at work shaping us – so it will be good to have some space to allow that to happen.

Blue skies all year round…

The following are individual testimonies from some of the others in the team, after their first experience of this “Community” experience.  Do read on, and if you are interested in attending this year, please contact me as soon possible – we do still have places remaining – or download the Community flier Drumalis or drumalis-registration-pack directly.  Both documents give more detail about the programme, but please email me at the link above if you have any other questions or comments.

Jill Baker

‘In the eighteen+ months since my first experience of the “Academy for Spiritual Formation” I find that it is still influencing my Christian discipleship.  The practice of silence and of using silence to reflect on teaching, on the Word, on worship and on the world around has enriched my own walk with God as well as (I hope) filtering through my preaching and leading of worship and my engagement with others, both inside and outside the church.’

‘The pattern of silence and reflection and the use of listening groups have all impacted me in ways that have transformed my interior life and in the practice of ministry. The themes of the academy have also had a profound impact in helping me think more deeply about following Christ and what it means to live a good life.’

‘The rhythm and authenticity of the Academy/Community/Five-Day have been life-giving to me – and I return to them whenever I feel overwhelmed by the demands of superintendent ministry and need to re-connect with God.’ 

‘The structure, teaching and silence on the Five Day Community contributed immensely to my continued Spiritual Formation. I came away both refreshed and renewed, which has stayed with me in my own personal life and in my professional work as a Spiritual companion.’

Living lightly…


Now that 2017 is under way, the countdown has begun to “Living lightly in today’s world” the first UK-based Five-Day Community for Spiritual Formation.  It is going to be an exciting event.

We have two world-class presenters,

  • the Irish poet and theologian Pádraig Ó Tuama (have a look at his stirring website “In the Shelter“) and
  • American theology lecturer Amy Oden (read more about Amy here).

In a world of excess, the theme can speak to us on so many levels, which will be explored daily in an hour’s teaching from both Pádraig and Amy.  The remainder of each day will provide times of silence, of worship, of small group sharing of excellent meals, and of space and time to explore the beautiful grounds of Drumalis soaking up the presence and love of God.

Don’t miss out – some places still remain for this special week of teaching/retreat/community.  Download the Community flier Drumalis for more information, or email the registrar, Jill.  (Please note there may be some delay in response between 27th January and 11th February, but all messages will be answered as soon as possible).

A place of welcome

I have just been browsing the website for Drumalis – the wonderful retreat centre in Northern Ireland where the first UK-based Five-Day Community for Spiritual Formation will take place in May-June next year.

I discovered (at this page) a little PowerPoint presentation of the Drumalis Vision Statement; do have a look and see the excellent and beautiful facilities on offer.

To find out more you can email me for the registration pack, or download it at this link:  drumalis-registration-pack.

Jill Baker