NEW DATES! Friday, April 12, 2024 – Sunday, April 14, 2024

Registration is closed as of Wednesday, April 10, 2024 / Registration Fee: $75-125 sliding scale, work grants available

Join us for an online spiritual retreat to explore our experience of the Light, held by Friends General Conference.

Encountering God is a key experience of our Quaker faith. What can Early Friends teach us about finding Truth? Where does encounter happen? How do we open ourselves to the gift of direct relationship?

This April, join Quakers and newcomers as we explore these themes through online worship and workshops, offline spiritual practices, and various opportunities to learn from each other.

This online retreat is a new experimental “unconference” inspired by the spirit of FGC’s keystone program, the Gathering, but more spontaneous and less structured than the Gathering.

The Encountering Spirit Retreat was developed in response to our shared spiritual hunger for deep understanding and powerful experiences of spiritual truth. When we come together in community, we not only encounter The Light, we encounter each other. This retreat will be a deepening event, a weekend for sharing together the experience of being in community with God and for exploring the Quaker understanding of Encounter. We expect our time together to be profound; we hope you will be moved.

Friends are called to expectant waiting, to anticipate the Eternal Presence, and to know(or to hope to know) God as immediate and real. Whether in blinding visions or gentle, intuitive nudges on the heart, we can hear the Spirit and let the Spirit guide our feet as we listen, attend, and be witnesses to the availability of the Spirit to all people. How hard that can be! How easy that can be! How varied the experience is among all who share this globe.

Marge Abbot, Friends Journal, 2006

FGC’s First “Unconference”

Structured Offerings

Join pre-planned Zoom sessions, including worship, workshops, sacred text / Bible study, plenaries, small groups (Seed Groups), and more!

Building Our Retreat Together

Following the model of an unconference, we’ll create parts of the agenda together. Each day you will have opportunities to join or convene impromptu peer-to-peer sessions on the theme of encounter. A peer-to-peer session could be a time for sharing spiritual practices, meeting together in affinity groups, grappling with spiritual questions, discussing Quaker history, or whatever topic participants are led to explore. All sessions are welcome.

Intentional Offscreen Time

There will be plenty of time away from the screen for movement, art, journaling, spiritual practices, one-on-one conversations, rest, and going deeper into the theme of encounter. We invite you to prioritize your personal spiritual needs during the retreat.

Retreat Schedule

A Flexible, Build-Your-Own Retreat Experience

The Encountering Spirit Retreat is meant to be spacious and customizable. Don’t be alarmed by the very FULL schedule above! To fit the lives of folks in different time zones and with different sleep schedules, the Morning Flex-Time and the Evening Flex-Time contain the same offerings scheduled earlier and later in the day. You’re welcome to attend any retreat event. Sessions labeled (early) or (late) will be duplicates of the same content.

During Encountering Spirit, join the scheduled events of the Afternoon Programming Time (plenaries and workshops) and use the Flex Times to create the schedule that nurtures your spiritual condition. Don’t pack your day too full — choose the events that energize you as well as bring you peace.

  • Crave some time in contemplation? Turn off your Zoom, take a walk, write in a journal, or choose one of our Offline Activities to support your spiritual practice!
  • Excited about listening and learning through spontaneous affinity groups, conversations, or interest groups? Join a peer-to-peer session or convene one yourself!
  • Open to hearing and sharing spiritual reflections in a small group setting? Participate in a Seed Group for worship sharing! Or volunteer to be a Seed Group facilitator.
  • Want to hang out and chat or make art? Stop by the Lounge (main Zoom room) and join a breakout room.

Workshops and Plenaries

We are excited to offer interactive sessions on the theme of Encounter from a variety of perspectives.

Three Friends on Encounter

Friday Plenary

Encounter Through Spiritual Practice

Saturday Plenary

Encounter in Community: The Gathered Meeting

Sunday Plenary


Participants can attend any of the sessions scheduled for Encountering Spirit.  We’re not asking folks to choose specific workshops ahead of time. Rather, you’ll have access to all of the Zoom links and can join any of the workshops or sessions or other events.

Dedicated Offline Time

A key part of any retreat experience is making time for silence, time away from screens, spent engaging in prayer or rest or personal spiritual practices. We encourage you to set aside time during Encountering Spirit to nurture yourself and your Spirit, and we will be providing resources to support this dedicated offline time. Some examples include:

  • Rest
  • Practices of Body Prayer
  • the Quaker process of Experiment with Light
  • Journaling prompts and queries for contemplation
  • Spiritual conversations with another participant
  • new Spiritual Practices to explore
  • Recommended sacred texts and resources, such as Friends Journal articles, QuakerSpeak videos, and materials from FGC’s Spiritual Deepening Library

Interested in Convening a Peer-to-Peer Session?

Participants will have the opportunity to add sessions to the agenda each day. Think of these as spontaneous interest groups or affinity groups, or even spontaneous workshops. Is there a conversation you’d like to share with likeminded Friends? A spiritual topic you’ve been exploring that feels alive and timely?

Examples of possible peer-to-peer sessions:

  • Gardening as a spiritual practice
  • Affinity group for Friends of Color, Young Adults, Quaker parents, LGBTQIA+ Friends, nontheist Friends….
  • Let’s talk about Margaret Fell!
  • Responding to the Urgency of Climate Change
  • Continuing a conversation after a workshop
  • Mutual Support for Quakers in the “Sandwich Generation”
  • How do you center down in worship?
  • Roundtable Discussion of Questions with Quaker Newcomers
  • and more!

The topics for the peer-to-peer sessions will be decided during the event and participants may join whichever sessions they choose. Learn more about attending an unconference and preparing to convene a session.

Hang Out in the Lounge

The Lounge is a Zoom meeting that will be available throughout the Encountering Spirit Retreat. You’ll always have somewhere to go if you’d like to spend time with other participants. Come hang out, do some art, talk about the events of the Retreat or find a shared interest. The Lounge is also where you’ll find the Info Desk when you have questions or need tech support.

Connect One-on-One with a Buddy

Looking for a new spiritual companion? Encountering Spirit participants will have the option to opt-in to being connected with a “buddy” for reflecting and connecting during the retreat. This may be through phone, text, email, or even old fashioned letter writing. 

Invite Your Friends!

Please consider sharing information about this retreat with your meeting and other communities. Below is an 8.5×11″ PDF that you can print to place in your meetinghouse or give to f/Friends. Thank you for helping us invite more people to this program!

Volunteer during Encountering Spirit

This retreat will be an experiment in community and many hands make light work! On the registration form, you’ll find several volunteer opportunities to sign up for, including:

  • Lead a “seed group” for daily worship sharing.  FGC will provide facilitation guides.
  • Help as the Zoom host in a workshop where you’re a participant (set-up breakout rooms, help with screen sharing, monitor chat)
  • Spend time in the Open Connections Space as a Friendly Presence (hang out, be social, encourage artistic expression, create breakout rooms as needed)

Some volunteer roles are compensated by a fee reduction (work grant). 

The Details: Fees and Work Grants

FGC incurs costs for our virtual events, including staff costs and modest honoraria for presenters. With our projected attendance and budgeted costs, we anticipate the approximate cost per attender to be $150.  

We are asking that all Friends who are able pay $125 for the retreat. Friends whose income is more limited are asked to pay a minimum of $75.  If this amount is still too much of a stretch, please ask your monthly or yearly meeting if there is support for you, and if you still need aid, do not hesitate to reach out to FGC staff at   We do not want anyone to stay away because of a lack of funds.  Additional donations towards our programs are always welcome and appreciated.

Cancellation Policy

Cancellations are accepted up to one week before the event begins. Friends who cancel their virtual event registration on or before April 12 will be charged $25 per person or 20% of the sliding scale  amount, whichever is less. Please allow us two weeks to process your refund.

For cancellations on or after April 13, there will be no refunds.  Some exceptions may be made for extraordinary circumstances. You may transfer your registration to another Friend.  Please email to make the substitution.  Once the conference has begun, no refunds or substitutions will be allowed.

All cancellations must be submitted in writing to .

Donations are not refundable.

Online Event Expectations

FGC Online Events seek to be a community of Friends living in the discipline of the Spirit. They offer a rare opportunity for personal spiritual growth and sharing. We endeavor to balance the opportunity for individual seeking with the challenges of growing together. We respond with respect and support to the best efforts of FGC staff, volunteers, and registrants alike. Read More

Join Us!

Registration has closed

Want to hear about more upcoming programs? Join the Spiritual Deepening mailing list!

Translate »