Academy for Spiritual Formation provides life-changing opportunity to deepen discipleship journey

January 18, 2022

One of the life-changing ways the United Methodist Church deepens the journey of discipleship for both laity and clergy is through the Academy for Spiritual Formation, a program created and sponsored by The Upper Room. There are Two-Year and Five-Day Academy experiences. Two-Year Academies involve five-day retreats once per quarter. In recent days online offerings have emerged as well. Here are some upcoming Academy experiences available to North Alabama United Methodists:

  • “Spiritual Formation in Today’s World” is a One-Year Online Community starting February 24, 2022, and featuring four three-day online sessions. Click here to find more information.
  • The next Two-Year Academy for Spiritual Formation that will meet in person, involving eight five-day retreats, starts November 7, 2022, at Camp McDowell in Alabama. Click here to find more information.
  • “Journey to Wholeness” is a three-day online Academy for Spiritual Formation starting March 17, 2022. It is sponsored by the Florida Conference.  Click here to find more information. You may also contact Rev. Steve West, a member of the leadership team.
There are other virtual and in-person Academies emerging across the country each year. Visit the Upper Room website for a continually developing schedule and for extensive information on the Academy. "I find that participants appreciate seeing a sample daily schedule," Rev. West said. This information and more is posted for those who are curious.

What is the Academy for Spiritual Formation?

Rev. Marjorie Thompson, author of SoulFeast and one of the authors of the curriculum Companions in Christ, has said "The Academy for Spiritual Formation is the finest and most comprehensive, ecumenical non-degree program in spiritual formation in this country."

Academies for Spiritual Formation are for those who hunger and thirst for deeper spiritual experience. The Academy offers an intentional, supportive community in which laity and clergy immerse themselves in the depths of Christian spiritual tradition. Participants find depth in their love of God and neighbor, find grounding in scripture and spiritual traditions, find courage to submit to God, and find
healing and perspective for the Christian life.

A key to the Academy model is the balance of the head, heart, and hands. Participants enter a daily rhythm of prayer offices, faculty presentations, structured silence, plenary sessions, celebrating the Eucharist, and covenant group sharing. The Academy creates time and space to drink deeply from the well.

The Community of the Mantle is a covenant community in North Alabama that emerges from the experience of the Academy for Spiritual Formation. "I have the honor of serving as Prior and we are presently meeting virtually each month and periodically holding “day apart” virtual retreats," said Rev. West. For more information, email Rev. Steve West. "The Academy has changed my life. Perhaps it will do so for you, when the time is right and when the Spirit calls," he said.

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