North Carolina Retreat

Thresholds as Invitations:
A Contemplative Retreat
in the Manner of Friends
at the Avila Center in Durham, NC
October 26-29, 2023O

Thresholds, those moments of in-between, of possibility, of endings and beginnings are not always easy but are integral to our journeys. There are not just physical thresholds, doorways to walk through, or concrete decisions to make, but spiritual thresholds as well that, as Joyce Rupp says, “mark the division between who we are now and who we will become, between the present awareness of the Holy One and how this relationship develops in the future.” Opening to change and unknowing as gifts takes faith and practice and community. We invite you to come and explore contemplative practices that can make thresholds more welcome invitations.

During the next retreat at the Avila Center, participants will experience the distinctly Quaker manner of knowing solitude in community. There will be silent time for prayer and reflection, walks among the trees, and contemplative interaction with scripture.

Meals will be eaten in group silence, and evenings will be spent in “active silence” – sitting together while engaged in quiet activities like handwork, sketching, reading, or journaling.

There will also be opportunities for speaking out of the silence. We will gather in worship and worship sharing, and participants may, if they wish, meet one-on-one with a retreat leader. Sinking down into the silence, we may give voice to what is encountered there, longing to be heard. In our sharing, our souls touch and we find ourselves gathered in blessed community.

Retreat Leaders

April Allison

April Allison is a spiritual director and an experienced retreat leader. For a decade, she was on the leadership team of The Leaven Center, a retreat and study center in mid-Michigan whose mission was to nurture the relationship between spirituality and social justice. She has led contemplative retreats under the care of the School of the Spirit in Wisconsin and Michigan since 2012. April recently moved to Durham, N.C., from Michigan, where she is a member of Red Cedar Monthly Meeting (Lake Erie Yearly Meeting).

Jan Blodgett

Jan Blodgett is a former member of the School of the Spirit Board and a graduate of the The School of the Spirit program On Being a Spiritual Nurturer. She has facilitated retreats for the School of the Spirit and participated in contemplative practice and mediation groups.

Scott Wagoner (mentee)

Scott presently serves on the Board of the School of the Spirit and is the pastoral minister at High Point Friends Meeting in High Point, North Carolina. He has served as Quaker pastor for over thirty years and has been involved with both programmed and unprogrammed Friends. He has received training from the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation in contemplative practice and leading groups/retreats and regularly offers guidance in contemplative practice through his pastoring, facilitating, and coaching both individuals and congregations. Scott enjoys sharing in conversation around each person’s unique spiritual journey and loves hearing stories of how the Divine is present in each person’s life.




First day:
3:30-5 pm Arrival and settling in
5 pm Opening worship
5:30 pm Dinner

Final day:
11 am Closing worship
12 noon Lunch followed by departure

Times are approximate. A detailed schedule will be sent in advance by the retreat leaders.



About Avila




The Avila Center for Community Leadership lies a few miles north of Durham, NC, and sits on 51 acres which includes hiking trails. It is a nonprofit community center, where people and groups connect, deepen their work and rejuvenate.


Flexible Fees 


Full Cost*/Minimum
Single (large) $525/$325
Single (small) $500/$300
Double (per person) $400/$250

* This is the cost per person of the event to SotS.

Discernment questions regarding what to pay:

  •  Is the ‘Full Cost’ of this event within your means?
  •  If yes, can you pay a little more to support another?
  •  If the ‘Full Cost’ is not within your means, what can you pay?
  •  Have you considered asking your meeting or church for financial assistance?
  •  If the ‘Minimum’ is still too much, please contact us at or call (410) 705-5129. Scholarships and payment plans are available!

Registration ONE SPOT LEFT!


STEP 1: Click here to register. The form will ask for your personal information, your room and dietary preferences, and what you can pay.


STEP 2: Our administrator will contact you to confirm payment details. You can either pay through PayPal at this link, or you can send a check made out to the School of the Spirit Ministry, for the amount you selected. Mail your check to: The School of the Spirit Ministry, 4 Long Shoals Rd. Ste. B484, Arden, NC 28704.

Cancellation Policy

30 days or more prior to the event, full refund less $20 processing fee. 14-29 days prior to the event, 50% refund. Less than 14 days, no refund.


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