Spiritual Formation

Iowa Five-Day Academy

2017 - 5 Day Academy Promo from Bryan Johnson on Vimeo.


Planted Beside Still Waters - Leadership That Lasts
with Roger Owens and Grace Imathiu

Oct. 8-13, 2017
American Martyrs Retreat Center
Cedar Falls, Iowa

The building up of congregations through program and ministry can take a toll upon church leaders who have either not enriched or just simply sacrificed their own spiritual practices for the sake of task management. This leads to hollow leadership and the erosion of a personal call. We see evidence of this in loss of great lay leaders for local congregations and in high attrition rates of clergy in parish ministry.

The Iowa 2017 Five-Day Academy will focus upon Spiritual Leaders Who Last. It is intended to provide help for participants who see a need to reconnect with their call and sustain spiritual disciplines.

Recommended Readings: “What We Need is Here - Practicing the Heart of Christian Spirituality” (Roger Owens), and “A Testament of Devotion” (Thomas R. Kelly).

Roger Owens received his Ph.D. in theology from Duke University where he was awarded a Lilly Fellowship for the Formation of a Learned Clergy. Before that he completed his M.Div. at Duke Divinity School. He served both urban and rural churches as co-pastor with his wife, the Rev. Ginger Thomas, before coming to Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Books include What We Need Is Here: Practicing the Heart of Christian Spirituality (Upper Room Books, 2015), Pastoral Work: Engagements with the Vision of Eugene Peterson (edited with Jason Byassees), Abba, Give Me a Word: The Path of Spiritual Direction, and others. Owens has preached and lectured across the country, and his work has appeared in The Christian Century, Currents in Theology and Mission, The Journal of Religious Ethics, and elsewhere. Owens serves on the faculty for the Upper Room’s Academy for Spiritual Formation, where he lectures on postmodern spirituality and traditions of Christian spirituality.

Grace Imathiu, Community UMC (Naperville, IL) lead pastor was born and raised in Kenya and has one brother and three sisters. Her father is a retired Bishop of the Methodist Church in Kenya and received the 2005 World Methodist Council Peace Award for confronting Idi Amin’s regime and South Africa’s apartheid system. Her mother, a retired teacher, is a Local Preacher and has served in many leadership roles in the church. Grace was educated in Kenya, the USA (Methodist Theological School in Ohio and Vanderbilt University in Tennessee), the University of Cambridge, and spent a year at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She was ordained in the Methodist Church in Kenya in 1988 and served six years in Kenya, and has since served in Washington, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
Grace is married to writer and science photographer David Hay Jones. They have one son, 14-year-old Erik, and a dog named Jack. David and Erik are devoted skiers. Grace and Jack do not ski.

Two-Year Academies


First of eight quarterly sessions begins July 29, 2018

San Damiano Retreat, Danville, California


First of eight quarterly sessions begins August 27, 2018

Sumatanga Camp & Conference Center, Gallant, Alabama

Go to http://academy.upperroom.org/events/two-year-academies for additional information and application.

Scholarships available from various sources, including the Iowa Spiritual Formation Steering Committee of the Board of Discipleship (contact Rev. Jerry Oakland) – matched by the Upper Room


Iowa Three-Day Academy in 2018

A Three-Day Academy will be held at Wesley Woods Camp and Retreat Center, Indianola, Iowa, from the afternoon of Monday, September 24 until the afternoon of Thursday, September 27, 2018. Dr. Frank Rogers will be our presenter and Karlene Neal is retreat leader. Others on the leadership team are Gayle Wilcox, Rose Blank, and Jerry Oakland. Save the date!

Scholarships available from various sources, including the Iowa Spiritual Formation team of the Board of Discipleship (contact Rev. Carol Kress) – matched by the Upper Room