The Bible and Spirituality
Fall Retreat

San Francisco Theological Seminary | September 15-17, 2023

How might the Bible inform and further the work of justice? What if the Bible was not a source of fear, anxiety, and bewilderment, as it has become for many? And what if our reading of Scripture led to kindness, generosity, and abundance? 

Join us for a weekend retreat in beautiful San Anselmo, on the San Francisco Theological Seminary campus, for a rich time of learning and community building!

“The Bible and Spirituality”

We will explore how the Bible can be a source of wisdom for Christian spirituality during our time together. Recognizing how the Bible has been a tool of manipulation and exploitation, we will ask how these ancient texts can still speak hope to some of the most intractable challenges facing humanity today. Together we will learn how reading faithfully can lead to a more beautiful, expansive, and liberating vision of Christian faith in the world.

We are grateful to be joined by Pete Enns (a professor of Old Testament), Jennifer Kaalund (a professor of New Testament), and Wendy Farley (a professor of Christian Spirituality). 




Our gathering begins at 7:00 pm Friday and concludes at 11:30 am on Sunday. Day tickets for Saturday (9am-3pm) are also available. Sessions 1-5 and the Panel Discussion will be streamed. 

4:00  Registration and Check-in begins

7:00  Welcome, Orientation, and Reception 

8:00  Session 1 (Pete Enns) | THE MESSINESS OF SCRIPTURE: WHY IS READING THE BIBLE SO HARD? Based on his work as a biblical scholar, podcast host, and author of popular books on the Bible, Pete Enns will talk about why reading the Bible is so hard, why it has wreaked so much havoc in the world, and why it’s more important than ever to engage in deeper, better readings of the Bible. 

8:30  Coffee and Light Breakfast (provided)

9:30  Opening Prayer 

10:00  Session 2 (Pete Enns) | THE BIBLE AND THE LIFE OF FAITH: RETHINKING FAITH ACCORDING TO LIFE’S EVIDENCE. How can we read the Bible in a way that acknowledges world tragedies, devastating personal losses, the incomprehensible vastness of the universe next to the fragility of our planet, and many other sobering realities of our world? Pete Enns will talk about his latest book, Curveball, his personal journey of faith, and some of the titanic questions he has wrestled with along the way.

11:00  Break

11:15  Session 3 (Jennifer Kaalund) | READING THE BIBLE WITH JESUS: HOW THE NEW TESTAMENT POINTS BEYOND THE OLD TESTAMENT. How did Jesus read the sacred texts of his religious tradition to confront the issues of his day? And what does a book from the ancient world have to say to our world today? By examining how the New Testament is inextricably linked with issues of politics, history, economics, and culture, we will learn how reading the scriptures can help navigate contemporary challenges like poverty, climate change, and systemic racism. 

12:15  Lunch (provided) 

1:30  Session 4 (Wendy Farley) | SPIRITUAL PRACTICE AND BEAUTY: HOW THE BIBLE POINTS BEYOND ITSELF. How can spiritual practice become a powerful ally in the work for justice? And how can we faithfully expand ‘spiritual practice’ to include more of life in the world? In this session we will talk about the practice of beauty, frequently found in the Bible, as a way of opening to the divine and to the sacred worth of all beings, to nourish the soul even as we delve deeper into the loveliness and heart-break of the world. 

2:30  Panel Discussion with Speakers: Pete Enns, Jennifer Kaalund, Wendy Farley, Peter Choi

3:00  Afternoon Activities 

6:00  Dinner (provided)

7:00  Session 5 (Pete Enns) | THE BIBLE AND THE FUTURE: WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? What does an ancient book filled with mystery and contradictions have to do with our world today and where we’re headed tomorrow? How might the Bible speak to our longings and our world’s needs? We will grapple with reading the Bible in a chaotic, uncertain world. 

8:00  Faith and Justice Fellowship Reception (for fellows participating in cohorts) 

9:00  Coffee and Light Breakfast (provided) 

10:00  Small Groups 

10:30  Worship and Session 6 (Peter Choi) | THE BIBLE AS SOURCE OF HOPE: THE GOOD NEWS IN UNLIKELY PLACES FOR A HURTING WORLD. How do we shake the overwhelming sense that wrestling with a difficult book (or library of books) like the Bible is an exercise in futility? In a world of so many needs, is reading an ancient text a luxury most of us can ill afford? This session will introduce practical techniques and tools for reading the Bible to deepen hope and further justice. 

11:30  Check-out and Departure

Details (Cost, Travel, Covid Safety…)


  • Full Weekend (with lodging), by 9/1: $449 (double) / $549 (single) | includes on-campus lodging with private showers; four meals (Saturday breakfast+lunch+dinner, Sunday breakfast); access to recordings of sessions until 12/31 
  • Full Weekend (no lodging), by 9/1: $189 | includes in-person participation; four meals (Saturday breakfast+lunch+dinner, Sunday breakfast); access to recordings of sessions until 12/31


  • Saturday Only, by 9/1: $79 | includes in-person participation for Sat. daytime sessions; two meals (Saturday breakfast+lunch); access to all session recordings until 12/31

Streaming Pass: $49 | includes livestreams of Sessions 1-5 and Panel Discussion; access to session recordings until 12/31 

The nearest airports are San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Oakland International Airport (OAK). Both airports are accessible by BART.

Thanks to the generous support of San Francisco Theological Seminary, we are grateful to enjoy accommodations on campus. Please note that rooms are dorm style with private showers and communal bathrooms. Single and double occupancy available. 

Car Pool from SF to San Anselmo
Due to the significant number of out-of-town attendees anticipated, we will have a designated car pool start location in the Marina / Cow Hollow area of San Francisco, with departure times between 2-5 pm on Friday and return times between 12:30-1:30 pm on Sunday. Option to request carpool available on registration form. Contributions of gas money to driver encouraged. 

We are committed to creating an event experience that keeps everyone as safe as possible. In the face of pandemic fatigue, we also recognize that Covid is still a concern; we will continue to monitor the situation in San Francisco and will update our safety policies as needed to align with local guidance.

  • VACCINATION (recommended): Following CDC and WHO guidelines, we strongly encourage full Covid vaccination.
  • TESTING (recommended): Please consider taking a Covid test within one day of your participation in the gathering, and refrain from attending if you have a positive result or have Covid symptoms. (Order your FREE tests from the U.S. government here.)
  • MASKS (optional): Please do what feels safe and right for you! We strongly encourage mask-wearing while in indoor public spaces. 

Thank you for helping us prioritize the safety of every participant. 

Full refund by 11:59 pm PT on Thursday, August 10, 2023. 50% refund by 11:59 pm PT on Friday, September 1, 2023. No refunds after September 1, 2023. 

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