Friends General Conference

Nurturing faith and Quaker practice

Spiritual Deepening Program eRetreats

Mike Goren

Spiritual Deepening Program eRetreats invite newcomers and Friends to build an online spiritual community through an exploration of Quaker thought and practice.


Upcoming eRetreats:

- 2017-

September 24 - November 17, 2017 Silence & Light eRetreat (8 weeks)

- 2018 -

January 14 - February 10, 2018 Beloved Community eRetreat (4 weeks)

March 4 - April 13, 2018 Silence & Light eRetreat (6 weeks)

May 6 - June 1, 2018 Beloved Community eRetreat (4 weeks)

September 9 - November 2, 2018 Silence & Light eRetreat (8 weeks)

October 14 - November 9, 2018 Beloved Community eRetreat (4 weeks)

What is it like to participate in an eRetreat?  Learn more about the eRetreat expectations, time commitment, and the experience of building spiritual community online.

The fall 2017 Silence & Light eRetreat will be facilitated by Greg Woods.  Greg is a lifelong Quaker and still holds his membership at Columbia (MO) Friends Meeting of Illinois Yearly Meeting. He now attends First Friends Meeting in Greensboro, NC where he lives with his wife Jenn Bonsall, their 14 month-old daughter Margaret Rae Bonsall, and their cat Tuesday.  Greg is dedicated to and passionate about Quaker service and the role that Young Adult Friends (YAFs) have in its formation and actualization, which led him to be a founding board member of Quaker Voluntary Service and his working in campus ministry.

Join the Spiritual Deepening mailing list to receive announcements when registration opens for future eRetreats!


"Reading about [other participants'] experiences and ideas was an awe-some experience in itself for me. I truly appreciate the community who succeeded in going deeper individually and with each other. It is a rare opportunity for Friends to join together in this way."  - Spiritual Deepening eRetreat participant

"This eRetreat has been a gentle reminder to 'wait to feel the Spirit' and listen more closely for it....This was a perfect combination of a mini retreat, communal sharing and learning experience." - Spiritual Deepening eRetreat participant

About the Spiritual Deepening eRetreat Program

Spiritual growth is linked to community, and a Spiritual Deepening eRetreat connects you with other curious seekers in an online exploration of Quaker thought, a deepening of your own spiritual practices, and the sharing of stories from your life and your personal journeys.  

Each week, there will be a new topic with videos, quotations, and activities, and you'll be able to engage at your own time and pace. You'll connect with other participants through discussion boards and one optional video chat session.  Participants are encouraged to explore a personal spiritual practice during the eRetreat.

The 8-week Silence & Light eRetreat focuses on the topics of Silence & Expectant Waiting and The Light, Seed, Christ Working in Us.  The 4-week Beloved Community eRetreat addresses the vision of Beloved Community, the patterns of marginalization and exclusion that distort this vision, and steps Friends can take to act toward justice and building the Beloved Community.

Frequently Asked Questions about Spiritual Deepening Program eRetreats

Who is a Spiritual Deepening eRetreat for?

A Spiritual Deepening eRetreat may be for you if:

  • You are curious about Quaker thought and practices and want to go deeper in your own spiritual journey
  • You are seeking to build a relationship with others and explore Quaker practices and faith together
  • Your meeting isn’t participating in the Spiritual Deepening program and you’re interested in the experience
  • You live far away from a Quaker meeting or church or are not connected to a Quaker community and you’re looking for spiritual companionship

We encourage participants to consider the eight weeks as a personal retreat and to make the program work for their individual lives.  Within the Spiritual Deepening eRetreat content, you'll find opportunities to build relationships, deepen your personal spiritual practice, learn from others, and explore Quaker thought.  Remember that spiritual growth often involves stretching, so invite yourself to try new things and consider new perspectives.  


Do I have to be a Quaker to participate?

Not at all!  Newcomers and curious seekers are very welcome to join a Spiritual Deepening eRetreat.   You don’t have to have any experience or expertise to jump into the Spiritual Deepening program.


What is the time commitment?

Each Silence & Light eRetreat runs for eight weeks and the Beloved Community eRetreat is four weeks long.  You can expect to spend 3-5 hours each week engaged in discussion and activities both online and offline.  The group does not have scheduled meeting times, so you can log-in and participate at a time that works for you each week.  Participants are invited to commit to a personal spiritual practice during the course and to offer support and encouragement to each other throughout.

Each week's retreat materials is published on Sunday of that week and participants receive weekly emails with reminders and announcements.


What can I expect from the eRetreat Experience?

Each Spiritual Deepening eRetreat is an experiment in building spiritual community online.   Learn more here.


How do I sign up?

Registration for each eRetreat session will open about three weeks before the start date.   

Sign up for the Spiritual Deepening email list to receive announcements about registering for an upcoming eRetreat.


What is the cost to participate?

The suggested fee for participating in each eRetreat is $20/person.  This fee registers you for the online experience that will explore exercises and activities on the topic of Silence & Light or Beloved Community.  The fee is offered on a "Pay-as-Led" basis because we do not want there to be economic barriers to participation.  We also know that some people may feel led to pay more than the suggested $20.

This Pay-as-Led participation fee supports the ministry of the eRetreat facilitator and contributes to the development of the Spiritual Deepening program materials, allowing Friends General Conference to continue to support, develop, and grow the Spiritual Deepening Program and to make it broadly available over time, with the ultimate goal of increasing the depth of Spirit and the strength of our Quaker communities.


How is an eRetreat different than the Spiritual Deepening Program in-person small group experience?

Building community, transforming lives, and going deeper into the life of the Spirit together -- these are the things that Quaker meetings and other spiritual communities do well together.  The Spiritual Deepening eRetreat program seeks to create virtual opportunities for connection and growth by adapting the Spiritual Deepening program content for an online format.  While exploring text, activities, and spiritual practices, your interactions with other participants will be through written discussions and sharing.  Like the in-person program, the online group is lead by an experienced facilitator.


What is the content of the online program?

The program content for each eRetreat focuses around foundational readings, activities for sharing spiritual stories, and exploring spiritual practices in order to strengthen and deepen both individual and communal experiences of spiritual connection. 

Grounding exercises help you explore the roots of Quaker faith and give context to Quaker practices and beliefs.  Sharing exercises invite you to share your spiritual stories and listen deeply to each other’s truth.  Practicing exercises offer new ways of connecting to Spirit.

The Silence & Light eRetreat content is organized around two topics:

  • Silence & Expectant Waiting - Explore the Quaker experience of worship, silent waiting, and vocal ministry.
  • The Light, Seed, Christ Working in Us - Explore the experience of being led by the Inner Guide

The Beloved Community eRetreat explores the following themes:

  • Living into Beloved Community
  • Community Call Us to Justice
  • Patterns of Exclusion and Marginalization
  • Tools for Transformation and Vitality

Exercises include texts and videos, activities for discussions, art, and spiritual practices.

The content has been compiled from Friends from across the U.S. and Canada and includes materials drawn from high quality existing curricula and resources, as well as newly developed activities.


What are the technology requirements?

You will need access to a computer with internet connection.  There is also a mobile app for iPad and Windows 8 tablets.


I’m part of a group that would like to go through a Spiritual Deepening eRetreat together.  Can we form our own online group?

Yes, individuals with a shared interest can choose to request and register for a Spiritual Deepening eRetreat together.  These online groups could be made up of folks who know each other but live too far apart to meet regularly, affinity group such as young adults or people of color, or any other group of people who would like to share a deepening experience together. 

Your group could connect with each other as a small group within the larger eRetreat session.

Contact the Spiritual Deepening Program Coordinator ([email protected]) to discuss the possibilities.  


Other Questions?

Please contact [email protected]



Silence & Light eRetreat Schedule

The Silence & Light eRetreat invites you to explore and practice the experience of Quaker worship and silent waiting, for an inward encounter with Inner Teacher who leads, guides, and transforms us every day.
Week 1: Welcome, Introductions, Personal Spiritual Practice
Week 2: Stillness and Silent Times
Week 3: Deep Listening
Week 4: The Light Working in Us
Week 5: Rhythms of the Inner Life
Week 6: Relationships & Spiritual Community
Week 7: Discernment
Week 8:  Our Life is Love


Beloved Community eRetreat Schedule

The Beloved Community eRetreat invites you to explore and practice what it means to live into Beloved Community, the ways we are called to recognize patterns of marginalization and exclusion and to act toward justice, and tools for transforming and vitalizing our meetings and communities.
Week 1: Living into Beloved Community
Week 2: Community Calls Us to Justice
Week 3: Patterns of Exclusion and Marginalization
Week 4: Tools for Transformation & Vitality