RUAH School of Spiritual Guidance

ruah RUAH -- a Hebrew word meaning "breath" and "spirit" -- is a two-year course designed for laity and clergy who wish to discern, develop, and nurture a call to the ministry of spiritual guidance.

The faculty team and guest speakers present a number of topics using lectures, discussions, practicums, and peer groups. The program encourages the integration of personal experience with the presented material in a way that nourishes spiritual growth.

Each school year runs for ten months, September through June.  The program consists of monthly retreats in the context of the rhythm of life of the Richmond Hill Community. Prayer and faith sharing are a part of the discipline of all participants. One book is assigned each month on the upcoming  topic.  

On alternating years, a weekend school begins (open to laity and clergy), while the following year a weekday school starts (limited to clergy and church professionals).   Applications generally become available in the early part of the year and are due May 1st.

For further information or an application, contact the Rev. Janie Walker, Co-pastoral Director (804-783-7903).


Topics include Principles of Spiritual Guidance, Use of Scripture in Spiritual Guidance, Discerning Religious Experience, Depth Psychology, Presence Skills, History of Christian Spirituality, African American Spirituality, Spiritual Development, Dreams, Types of Prayer, Tools for Self-Understanding, Social Transformation, and Ethical Issues. The program is grounded in the Christian tradition, is ecumenical in focus, and welcomes all who are genuine seekers.

The RUAH School of Spiritual Guidance intends to be part of God's ministry in metropolitan Richmond. We believe that the local community will be transformed, as participants find deeper intimacy with God and develop bonds of deep spiritual friendship that nourish and challenge us to live out our call with faith and vigor.

  • Will provide a letter of recommendation by their pastor
  • Will be personally interviewed by members of the RUAH faculty
  • Are willing to explore their call to a ministry of spiritual guidance
  • Are willing to make a two-year commitment to the RUAH program
  • Are willing to have an experience of spiritual guidance, with a guide of their own choice

The first and last retreats of each program year are 48-hour retreats; all other retreats are 24-hours.

The Weekend RUAH program begins on the second Friday in September at 5:00 p.m. and lasts until 4:00 p.m. on the following Sunday. During the next eight months, sessions will take place from 5:00 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month until 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. The final retreat of the year will take place from 5:00 p.m. on the second Friday in June through 4:00 p.m. on the following Sunday.

For the weekday school, the 24-hour retreats are held on the third Thursday evening and Friday of each month.  The September and June retreats are 48-hour retreats and so extend from Wednesday supper through Friday.

Each participant is expected to schedule three days of individual directed or non-directed retreat for each year of the program.

The schedule for year two of the program follows the same format as year one.

The program is open to 24 persons. The annual cost is $1800. Scholarships are available. We will attempt to make certain that persons who are called to this program are able to afford it. Payment schedules can be arranged. Applicants will be selected after interviews. Please note that every effort will be made to create a group balanced by denomination, race, and gender.

For each RUAH school there are six faculty members representing various perspectives and experience with the ministry of spiritual guidance, as well as divergent denominational backgrounds. Some are ordained ministers, while others have extensive lay training and experience within the local church. All feel privileged to be involved with the RUAH school.

  • Paul Amrhein
  • Dennis Beeman
  • The Rev. Joel Blunk
  • DeBorah Cannady
  • Brenda Giannini, Dean, Weekend RUAH
  • Wendy Hudson
  • The Rev. Herbert Jones
  • John Schwenkler
  • The Rev. Janie Walker, Dean, Weekday RUAH
  • Mary "Mimi" Weaver
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