Two-Year Academy #37 Begins

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

by Claire McKeever-Burgett

The 37th Two-Year Academy for Spiritual Formation recently concluded its first week of community-building and spiritual learning at Camp Sumatanga near Birmingham, Alabama with 67 participants—the largest Academy in history.

Traveling from nineteen different states and the United Kingdom, Academy 37 pilgrims represent about 50/50 clergy and laity, as well as a range of ages (early 30s up through mid-90s) and denominations, including Cooperative Baptist, Episcopalian, Disciples of Christ, Roman Catholic, and nondenominational. With Dr. Amy Oden and Dr. Roger Owens serving as faculty for the week, participants were invited into a relational way of learning about “Attentiveness to the Word: Spiritual Formation and Scripture” and “Traditions of Christian Spirituality.”

“With such a large group gathering, I was initially worried about the level of engagement between participants,” said Johnny Sears, Director of The Academy for Spiritual Formation. “However, I soon experienced an unabashed commitment to deep sharing and holy listening as the gathered community began caring for one another and creating a sense of belonging. It was powerful to witness.”

Early in the week, Owens shared a poem by Kaylin Haught entitled, “God Says Yes to Me,” reminding the community that God’s answer is always, “Yes, yes, yes.” This became a consistent theme for the community throughout the week and helped to ground worship, times of silence, and physical activity in an understanding of God’s openness and love.

Week Two of Academy 37 will meet October 27-31, 2015 with participants already making plans to help each other travel to and from Camp Sumatanga comfortably and affordably.

The Academy for Spiritual Formation is for those who hunger for deep spiritual experience. To learn more about how you can get involved with The Academy’s many offerings, visit: