Information of 2 Year Academy

Spiritual Formation

When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’” [John 1:38]

Silence is God’s first language. Everybody else uses a poor translation. In order to hear that language,we must learn to be still and to rest in God.
~Fr. Thomas Keating

Thou hast made us for thyself, and our heart is restless until it find thee. ~Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

People are seeking what the Church purports to offer – a way to God. God is actively seeking each one. And God is unwilling to let us be satisfied with less than the true life for which we were made. Christian spiritual formation is the overall process by which people seek God, come to know God in Christ, develop and mature as disciples of Jesus, and live expanding lives of love and service in the power of the Holy Spirit. [Stephen D. Bryant and Cherie Jones, Upper Room, Nashville]

The congregation is the primary context for our spiritual growth, the expression of the body of Christ. Within the congregation there are at least five contexts that are important to people’s spiritual growth:

  • Nurturing personal attentiveness to God

  • Encouraging spiritual companionship in small groups

  • Fostering spiritual life in families

  • Maturing as spiritual leaders

  • Connecting people in a worldwide network of prayer and ministry

The Rio Texas Conference offers Christian spiritual leadership development programs that support and encourage the process of transformation for individuals, small groups and congregations.

 For those yearning for a deeper spiritual life, the Academy® is a disciplined Christian community emphasizing holistic spirituality, nurturing body, mind, and spirit, through a rhythm of study/prayer, rest/exercise, solitude/relationship...a rediscovering of our rich spiritual heritage through worship, learning, common life, time and space to discern direction, make covenants and practice commitments. This is a series of eight 5-day sessions quarterly over two years (40-day experience) at Oblate Renewal Center, San Antonio.  

Academy for Spiritual Formation (Five-Day Model)
This is a time of deep drinking from a spiritual well for lay and clergy persons who hunger for growth through the practice of spiritual disciplines from the Christian tradition. Sit at the feet of two Upper Room Academy® faculty and learn techniques of spiritual leadership through small groups.

Also known as Spirit Streams, this academy model is a shortened version of the Five-Day Academy. Using the same Academy rhythm, presentations are by only one Upper Room Academy faculty on a particular focus of spiritual leadership and small group ministry.

A Day Apart (One-Day Model)
We offer a varied and comprehensive list of resource specialists and modules covering basic practices of spiritual formation. Congregations may schedule A Day Apart when it will work best for them. Choose the area of spiritual formation you need to focus on and make arrangements with the leader at your convenience.  

United Methodist leaders in the geographic bounds of the Rio Texas Conference who are serious about developing spiritual leadership are most positively impacted by the Academy for Spiritual Formation. Some scholarship is available through the generosity of contributing individuals and congregations to the Advance Special #2013 for "Academy for Spiritual Formation Scholarships." To contribute, send checks, payable "RTC Treasurer," to  United Methodist Center, 16400 Huebner Road San Antonio TX 78248-1693. In the memo section, mark your check "Conference Advance 2013." This gift can help your church reach Five Star status.

In 2007 the Spiritual Formation Committee purchased a portable canvas labyrinth for local church use in the Rio Texas Conference. A guild at Alamo Heights UMC will oversee its storage, maintenance, and use schedule. The Team has established care guidelines, instructions for use, and a scheduling policy so that we can connect this prayer tool to our communities.

The Labyrinth is a sacred symbol found in many faith traditions and many forms around the world. By walking a replica of the labyrinth that was inlaid in the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France around 1220, we are rediscovering an important tool for prayer and meditation.


A comprehensive list of retreat sites and conference centers conducive to spiritual formation retreats


Upper Room Ministries
Click here to link to today’s Upper Room devotional, as well as the many opportunities offered by Upper Room Ministries, General Board of Discipleship, The United Methodist Church.