Community for Spiritual Formation

Through a programme of teaching, silence, worship and reflection based on a Benedictine monastic pattern The Community for Spiritual Formation creates transformative space for people to be in communion with God, self, others, and creation for the sake of the world.

Dates for your diary

‘Who are you? Living a Godly life’.5pm Tuesday 18th – 1pm Friday 21st July 2023.

Three-Day Community, July 2023 To be held at Ripon College, Cuddesdon, Oxford with Rev. Dr. Sam Wells.  A few places remain on this event – book now to avoid disappointment!

Recognising that we live our lives in multiple identities, Sam Wells will explore six identities and how each is vital. While showing and extensively illustrating what is entailed by each identity, he accepts that almost no one fulfils all six. Nonetheless, articulating the six helps surface and clarify difficult questions, like how those we greatly admire turn out to be flawed in troubling ways. Having set out the six identities, he will finally explore how these six may become an agenda for faithful living.

Revd Dr Sam Wells has been Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields since 2012. He has served as a parish priest for 25 years – 10 of those in urban priority areas. He also spent 7 years in North Carolina, where he was Dean of Duke University Chapel. Sam is also Visiting Professor of Christian Ethics at King’s College. He is a regular contributor to Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. He has published 44 books, including works on Christian ethics, ministry, liturgy, and preaching. Among his recent books is Humbler Faith, Bigger God (Eerdmans 2022).

The flier for this event with more information can be downloaded here

The registration form for this event can be downloaded here or email the Registrar.

Part of the buildings (and view) at Ripon College, Cuddesdon

‘From the broken middle’

with The Rev.’d Canon Dr. Rachel Mann

Registration is now open for another Three-Day Community to be held in March 2024 at Cliff College, Derbyshire.

5pm on Tuesday 12th – Lunch on Friday 15th March 2024

Rachel writes: ‘The world in which we live feels increasingly fragile and can leave us anxious, tired and over-exposed. Across five sessions, she will explore how it is possible to more richly and hopefully inhabit what she calls the ‘broken middle’: the facts and promise to be found in a messy, complex world. By treating with and embracing the broken middles of body, self, faith and world, it is possible to find joy and goodness in fragility’.

The Rev’d Canon Dr Rachel Mann is a priest, writer, theologian and broadcaster. She has written fifteen books, including the acclaimed ‘Fierce Imaginings’ and ‘Dazzling Darkness’, as well as a poetry collection and novel. She regularly contributes to Thought For The Day, Pause For Thought and a range of radio programmes. She is a member of the Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission and a Visiting Fellow at Manchester Met University

More information on the flier which can be downloaded here.

The registration form can be downloaded here.

Finding rest in God in a chaotic world

The next online Community Day will be on Saturday 18th November 2023 with Margaret Sentamu.

More details will appear here in due course.

Keep in touch

To join the Community mailing list, please email fivedaycsf@btinternet.com

Recent events:

Saturday 18th March 2023. Online Lent Day: Celtic, Incarnate, Relational: a spirituality for today. Around 25 participants shared in an online day during Lent 2023 led by Ruth Harvey, Leader of the Iona Community. Ruth Harvey is Leader of the Iona Community, ‘an international, ecumenical Christian movement working for justice and peace, the rebuilding of community and the renewal of worship.’ With a background in mediation and conflict transformation, she has a passion for reconciliation from the inside out.

Ruth shares more about the theme “Iona, an island on the fringes of modern-day Scotland, was at the heart of the early Celtic Christian church. Whatever the land on which we sit, whatever the stories that nourish us, how might we continue to find ‘new ways to touch the lives of all’? Drawing on the story of the Iona Community, we explored together how our heritage, our story, informs our spiritual practice today.”

  • Saturday 19th November 2022. Online Advent Day: Treasures of Darkness.  This Advent themed Online Day attracted 25 participants on Saturday 19th November. It was facilitated by Edel McLean, a facilitator and spiritual director who currently works for the Learning Network of the Methodist Church.
  • Edel led the participants in reflection and exercise around darkness, light and hope, interspersed with times of silence and the Community liturgies for Morning, Midday and Night prayer.
  • All in all a day well spent in this busy period of preparation and anticipation.
Members of the Durham Five-Day Community outside St. John’s College

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 and Rev. Dr. Andrew Walker, well-known spiritual director, teacher, lecturer and author led the Community in exploring this fascinating theme.  

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 with Rev. 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.
  • A wonderful pre-Advent gathering in which 30+ participants enjoyed stimulating teaching, thoughtful worship and preaching and a sense of forming, not merely individual spirituality, but spirituality in community as well.  

Financial help with Community events

Please download this attachment for some ideas about finding financial help to attend a residential Community event.

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.

Constitution: The Community is a fully registered charity, number 1188824. The constitution can be downloaded below.


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