Programs and Retreats

Walk to Emmaus / Young Adult Chrysalis

The Walk to Emmaus is an experience of Christian spiritual renewal and formation that begins with a three-day short course in Christianity. It is an opportunity to meet Jesus Christ in a new way as God’s grace and love is revealed to you through other believers.  Young Adult Chrysalis is based on the Walk to Emmaus model, with a few changes designed to engage young men and women aged 18-26. Following the three-day experience, participants are joined in small groups to support each other in their ongoing walk with Christ.

The objective of Emmaus is to inspire, challenge, and equip the local church members for Christian action in their homes, churches, communities and places of work. Emmaus lifts up a way for our grace-filled lives to be lived and shared with others. Through the formational process of accountable discipleship in small groups and participation in the Emmaus community, each participant’s individual gifts and servant-leadership skills are developed for use in the local church and its mission. Participants are encouraged to find ways to live out their individual call to discipleship in their home, church, and community.

Academy for Spiritual Formation

The Academy for Spiritual Formation is an experience of disciplined Christian community emphasizing holistic spirituality—nurturing body, mind, and spirit. The program is ecumenical in nature and meant for all those who hunger for a deeper relationship with God, including both lay and clergy persons. Each Academy fosters spiritual rhythms of study and prayer, silence and liturgy, solitude and relationship, rest and exercise. Academy participants rediscover Christianity's rich spiritual heritage through worship, learning, and fellowship. In covenant community and at a personal level, participants find time and space to discern direction, make covenants, and practice commitments.

The Academy for Spiritual Formation recognizes that the Holy Spirit is the enabling power in all Christian spiritual formation. It is designed to provide a setting where a spiritually disciplined community of lay and clergy can open their lives to receive God's love and grace so that they increasingly may become spiritual leaven within the Body of Christ.

The Academy for Spiritual Formation has both a two-year program and a five-day program. Two-Year Academies meet in residence (in the same location) for five days each calendar quarter (40 days).The first year focuses on the inward journey with Christ; the second year begins to shift to outward aspects of spiritual leadership. Throughout the two years, participants engage in spiritual practices of body, mind and spirit in the context of a supportive community.

Silent Retreats

The North Alabama Conference supports multiple silent retreats each year. Two are held at the Benedictine Sisters Conference Center at Sacred Heart Monastery in Cullman, one in the spring and another in the fall. These retreats, led by Rev. Susie Knedlik and Deanna Shotts, are designed to allow participants to experience a deeper listening to God through the rhythm of Benedictine silence and prayer. Dates for 2017 are May 5-7 and September 7-9. Click here to download the brochure.

Silent retreats are also offered periodically at Camp Sumatanga, providing an opportunity to get away from the world and all its distractions and take time to listen to/for God in an environment that naturally lends itself to contemplation, meditation, and feeding the needs of our souls. The retreat allows plenty of time to wander or hike in addition to organized contemplative practices. Participants may arrive after lunch on the day the retreat starts. The retreat begins with dinner, and the silence is broken on the last morning with a time of sharing and Holy Eucharist.


Alpha is an opportunity to explore the meaning of life in a relaxed, friendly setting. The Alpha course usually meets weekly for 10 weeks, and includes an amazing one-day or weekend getaway. At each session, people enjoy great food, laughter and learning in a fun and friendly atmosphere where no question about life or God is seen as too simple or too hostile…questions like—Is there a God? Why am I here? Where did I come from? Where am I going?

Alpha is for anyone who thinks there may be more to life than meets the eye.People from all backgrounds, religions, and viewpoints attend the Alpha course. They come to investigate questions about the existence of God, the purpose of life, the afterlife, the claims of Jesus and more. Some people want to get beyond religion and find a relationship with God that really changes life. Others come for the close, long-lasting friendships that are built during the Alpha course.Many guests have never been to church, others may have attended church occasionally but feel they have never really understood the basics of the Christian faith. Everyone is welcome.

Discover, Develop and Deploy Spiritual Leaders to Make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World.