Health and Spirituality: a retreat on spirituality and healing for people who have terminal or chronic illness and their families to be held in March


On the third weekend in March (March 19-21, 2010) the North Alabama Conference will sponsor a retreat on the topic of “Spirituality and Healing” at Camp Sumatanga.

Over the past two or three decades the importance of Spirituality has received great attention in healthcare. Everyone knows someone who has a serious diagnosis who gets a cure but never seems to get well. Likewise many persons with a potential terminal illness are not cured, yet they finish their lives as very happy productive people. Why is this? Americans today are spending some 35 billion dollars annually for alternative and complimentary therapies. When asked why the give spiritual answers such as a need to be in charge or more involved with decisions about there health. These therapies include yoga, meditation, massage, acupuncture as well as innumerable vitamins, supplements, and foodstuffs.

In the retreat John W. Simmons, MD will explore the relationship between curing and healing. He will share with the participants what the latest research shows as well as providing instruction and practice in some of the spiritual practices and mind/body medicine techniques that have been shown to be effective.

John was trained as a family practice physician. His undergraduate study was at Ga.Tech before attending the Medical College of Georgia. He completed his internship and residency at Spartanburg, SC where he remained for the past 42 years. In 1997 John went to study for a D. Min with Matthew Fox, an Episcopal theologian. His studies were in spirituality with a particular interest in spirituality and healing. John has done additional studies at he Benson Henry Center for Mind Body Medicine in Boston, and with Jim Gordon at the Center for Mind Body Medicine in Washington, DC. John grew up in Jonesboro, Georgia, is a life long Methodist, a great grandson of a Methodist Minister, and is married to a Methodist Minister’s daughter. That not withstanding he leads retreats that are more spirituality focused rather than a particular religious focus, and persons of all faith persuasions have benefited.

The retreat will be over a weekend with four sessions. During the first session we will explore the human condition to see just how awesome it is. We will look at how much bigger or world is and how much longer we live than just our time in this little corner of the cosmos.

In the second session John will lead an exploration of the “dark night”. We try so hard to resist the darkness and hold on to the light. However, all the way back to the middle ages, such saints as John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila have shown us the Divinity is revealed in the darkness as at no other time. Modern psychologist and psychiatrist have affirmed this to be true.

In the third session the participants will deal with their creativity. Someone has said the best antidote for despair is the creation of beauty.

The fourth session will address questions such as: What is just about illness? What is just about my illness? What is my role in creating justice in health care?

In each session there will be a sharing of information, story telling, music, poetry, dance, meditation and other practices and experiences to gain insight about spirituality and healing. Physicians, pastors, chaplains, Stevens ministers, marriage and family counselors, and laypersons with healthcare concerns should attend. Between sessions John will provide instructions and assignments for participants to help them explore privately the material covered and practices learned.

John can be reached at  or (864) 266-7164 if you would like to discuss you possible participation in the retreat. To register go to

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