Young Leaders Retreat – April 2012

“A really interesting mix of personal reflection on our own spiritual lives, + inner transformations through ritual and conversation, plus a little dash of strategic planning for world transformation” 

“Deepening relationships, deepening connection with the urgent needs of our time in history.”

“authentic sharing; artistic outlets; small group discussions; inter-generational engagement; culture of giving…”


These are some of the comments from attendees of the WSF Young Leaders Retreat held April 26-29 at The Lodge at Simpsonwood outside Atlanta. For three days, we were an intergenerational and interfaith community, with 21 diverse young leaders ranging in age from 19-42 and a cluster of eight ‘seasoned leaders’ bringing the life experience of six decades and more.  The group gathered with the intention to both build a hub of engaged young women leaders and to expand the leadership structure for the WSF organization.

Young women leaders from across disciplines including activists, theologians, feminists, writers, non-profit and for-profit business leaders and religious leaders gathered to explore the following themes:

• To name young women’s needs and desires for enhanced leadership development in both the professional and interpersonal realms, and to cultivate a network for support and collaboration.

• To identify trends and themes in women’s leadership and spirituality of particular consequence to the future of interfaith activism, feminism, scholarship and women’s empowerment.

• To vision a world more supportive of women’s full participation/inclusion in religious and spiritual leadership and to draft a plan of action or collective statement declaring such.

• To explore the nuanced bonds and edges of women’s friendship through conversations about trust, competition among peers and the exploration of new paradigms of feminine power, leadership and spirituality.

• To prepare for Alchemy 2013 (the follow-up conference to Alchemy 2011) and in preparation for the 2014 Parliament of the World’s Religions.

• To model an alternative form of leadership that promotes trust, support and community among women through a collective and collaborative process.

• To create a safe and compassionate space for young women to develop and amplify their voices.

The agenda included circle dialogues, visioning experiences, ceremony and focused working groups.

Funded by a grant from the Kalliopeia Foundation, the gathering is one aspect of an on-going WSF initiative to nurture and connect young spiritual leaders from diverse faith perspectives. WSF will support the many new relationships and creative collaborations that were seeded at the Retreat over the next year, including hosting a series of conference calls for attendees and launching new social media platforms.