Transforming the communities of Essex & East London through Christ’s presence

The Scriptures gives us the model of being a spiritual companion or as it is otherwise known, a spiritual director or soul friend. Two disciples walking along the Emmaus Road when Jesus comes and joins them in their journey. As we journey in Christian discipleship, many people find that having a ‘companion on the road’ can help them to listen and notice where God is leading. Such a spiritual companion or director acts as a ‘life servant’  not a ‘life fixer’ to the other.

In order to resource this ministry, the Diocese of Chelmsford offers a modular course in Spiritual Companionship.

View the latest course modules

The Essex and East London Course in Spiritual Direction - Starting September 2023

The Essex and East London Course in Spiritual Direction has run at The Retreat House, Pleshey, since the 1980’s. Running once a month over five terms, with course days and retreats, the course has always offered both training in Spiritual Direction and a journey of deep personal and spiritual development for participants.

The Core Group and course participants come from a variety of Christian traditions and the course is part of the ecumenical Essex and East London network of Spiritual Directors. It is recognised by the Diocese of Chelmsford and other Christian denominations in the region. The Core Group are currently taking a sabbatical after completing the most recent course during the pandemic. After this time of review, a new updated course is due to be launched in September 2023, with applications opening in autumn 2022.

Anyone who is interested in finding out more or would like to be kept updated of developments please visit the course website where you will find contact details for the Core Group.

person reading the bible

The Chelmsford Diocese Modular Course in Spiritual Companionship  

The context for this Course, offered by the Diocese of Chelmsford, is the outworking of Transforming Presence. The Course is an emerging reality desiring to act in harmony with the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. It seeks to go where the Spirit is leading and also to be set within accountability to the Bishop of the Diocese and the Diocesan Vision, ‘Transforming Presence’.

The Course is:

  • Radical because it aims to encourage all Christian disciples to live out their core baptismal vocation to ‘walk alongside’ others in their faith journey through a ministry of spiritual companionship.
  • Empowering because the pedagogy it uses is about creating a secure space to take people into the deep waters of faith without being ‘overwhelmed’ to enable transformation and growth.
  • Liberating because it seeks to foster missionary discipleship as central to the baptismal vocation of all. It opens up possibilities for a ministry of spiritual companionship which can be offered in various different contexts
  • Affirming because it recognises, values and develops the pastoral skills students are evidencing

 Inherent Values

  • Modelling the dynamic interpersonal action which reflects the life of the Holy Trinity 
  • Modelling the hospitality which lies at the heart of Christian spiritual companionship
  • Modelling kingdom values through which we are formed into the likeness of Christ as individuals  and as His Body on earth
  • Increasing spiritual engagement in the Diocese by ‘placing a priority on becoming a people of prayer, whose daily lives are formed and punctuated by our relationship with God in Jesus Christ’ 
  • Developing discipleship and prayer life so that the Holy Spirit may move people into many new directions and enriched vocations through catching the culture of the Course
  • Deploying the resources we have ( financial and plant)  to the very best effect so that the Gospel of Christ can be proclaimed even more effectively

Embedded Knowledge

  • To grow in integrity of life through prayer 
  • To learn discernment through listening and the modelling of good practice
  • Being with God in prayer in order to accompany others in their faith journey 
  • To develop  godly wisdom (sapientia)
  • To integrate spiritual direction within the Church’s response to the Missio Dei and to learn how this ministry relates to evangelism


  • Deep and attentive listening
  • Discernment and godly wisdom
  • Humility 
  • Hospitality
  • Confidentiality: the ability to keep one’s own counsel

Desired Transformation

  • To empower Christian disciples to ‘walk alongside others in their faith journey’
  • To liberate Christian disciples to discover their gifts of spiritual companionship through the grace of God and the guiding of the Holy Spirit
  • To empower spiritual companions in a prophetic ministry which will seek to transform society
  • To be formed in order to be sent to be a transforming presence in each community

The Hermeneutical Tools
The Course uses the Hermeneutic of Juxtaposition in the way it draws on the Scriptures and the Christian tradition to develop inherent values, embedded knowledge, skills and transformational outcomes. 

Each module session includes some input, some reflective group exercises and some personal work within the context of prayer.

Individual modules can be undertaken to enhance the call to Christian discipleship. They can also be grouped together to provide formation as a spiritual companion in a wider context. Additionally they can be used as CPD for clergy or lay disciples already offering spiritual direction. 

To book a place or to get further information about any of the modules listed below, please contact Revd Ann Coleman by email or call 01277 821366.

The next Modules are:

Spiritual Companionship and the Big Life Questions

How can we walk alongside those who are asking the ‘Big life Questions’ about who we are and where we are heading and where do we belong.

Each session will contain some input and some reflective personal and group work all set in the context of prayer.

Dates Sat 28th May 10am - 2.30pm and then Tues 31st May and Tues 7th June 6pm - 8pm

Venue Diocesan office New St Chelmsford

Cost £20 for the whole module including resources

For further information or to book a place contact Ann Coleman by email or call 01277 821366

For more information please contact Ann Coleman
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