2023 ESDA Annual Gathering
Holding the Soul:
Exploring God's Design for Transformation

Franciscan Renewal Center  |  Phoenix, AZ
  January 27 - January 30, 2023

We Invite You to Join Us!

Testimonials from 2022

"The ESDA gathering is a wonderful time of fellowship and learning. I come away enriched and encouraged each year. It's good to have friends on the journey and see the work God is doing through these amazing spiritual directors."
“I almost didn't come to The Gathering this year because I questioned my calling and equipping for the ministry of spiritual direction. The gentle support of other directors in the Visio Divina exercise and table fellowship were so encouraging. Communion together on our last evening included anointing with oil; the light trace of the cross on my forehead sparked in me a sense of being commissioned by God. The retreat was both restful and energizing.”
“Again, it was a profound spiritual experience that grounded and rooted me ever more in Christ to be a person manifesting a lifestyle of discernment in more and more of my daily interactions with others.”

We are excited to return to the beautiful Franciscan Renewal Center in Phoenix, Arizona for our 2023 ESDA Gathering. The Franciscan is located in the heart of Paradise Valley, has easy access to Phoenix Sky Airport, and is about 15 minutes from downtown Phoenix.

  • What: ESDA's 2023 Gathering 
  • When: January 27 - January 30, 2023
  • Topic: Holding the Soul: Exploring God's Design for Transformation

Together we will focus on deepening our understanding and experience of how God designed us for transformation in order to more attentively hold the souls of our directees before God.

As an association of Christ-centered spiritual directors, we seek to partner with God and invite the Holy Spirit to do the real work of transformation in our directees' lives. But can we bring more of an awareness to areas of resistance, pathways for healing, issues of attachment, and so many other important considerations in how transformation actually takes place?

Our weekend together will include professional development, community dialogue, reflective worship, alone time, and opportunities to engage in relational (and transformational) experiences with other spiritual directors.

Whether you’re coming to the gathering because you need a quiet place to rest, or you’re thrilled to reconnect with other spiritual directors from ESDA, or you want to learn more about the ways we are made for transformation, or you want to apply new understanding to your practice of spiritual direction, or all of the above, your experience will be with God and with others who genuinely care about you.

The slow work of transformation is a journey to be enjoyed in community, so join us in this sacred space. Allow your soul to be held before God; offer to do the same for another. Bring your curiosity to the conversation.

We’ll be right there with you!

2023 ESDA Gathering - Event Overview

List of Presenters & Topics:

Debbie Swindoll is the founder of Grafted Life Ministries and a seasoned spiritual director. Throughout our Gathering she will be presenting Biblical scenes of attachment and assisting us to see God’s design for us in deeper ways.
Dr. R. Neal Siler is the Director of HCM International’s Spiritual Direction Program, Pastor Emeritus of First Shiloh Baptist Church and an author. He will help us explore the ways we can partner with God in the reorienting of our attachments.
Dr. Dianna Kubacz is a family practice physician and served in overseas missions for 8 years. She will help us understand how the discoveries around brain science impact our relationship with God and others and answer the question, “What is neurotheology?”
Danny Mullins is a teacher and Board Member with Sustainable Faith, a seasoned pastor, author and spiritual director who will lead us in an experience on the power of healing prayer. Danny will engage us in Immanuel Prayer, an approach to inner healing, and has witnessed its impact in the lives of people all over the world.
Marilyn Vancil, author of Self to Lose, Self to Find, will show us how the Enneagram can be a tool for understanding how we are showing up to God and others and why it matters. Her latest book, Beyond the Enneagram: An Invitation to Experience a More Centered Life with God was released in October 2022.
Adam Ormord, Executive Director of Grafted Life Ministries, will lead us in worship and encourage us in the care of relational souls.

Daily Schedule:

Friday Evening
January 27

Friday is a day for arrivals, settling in and a time for connection.

  • Arrivals & Registration from 4pm-5:30pm
  • We officially begin the Gathering with dinner together at 5:30pm.
  • After dinner we will gather for a time of connection and fellowship with other spiritual directors.

Saturday and Sunday January 28-29

Saturday and Sunday will include time to hear presentations around our topic, opportunities to discuss with one another, networking with other spiritual directors, guided personal reflections and community worship. Each evening there will be a closing spiritual exercise and an opportunity for social engagement.

January 30

Monday will provide time to reflect with others in small groups to review new ideas and identify what you are taking home from the week. We close the Gathering with Communion together as we celebrate what God has done.

We will conclude our Gathering by noon followed by lunch. We appreciate you booking your travel in order to be with us through our closing time, which is after lunch.

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Payment Options

Payment for registration:

  • Pay in Full: Registrants may register by paying in full now. Fees include accommodations, meals, and all materials
  • 50% Deposit: Registrants may put a 50% deposit down now to reserve their place with final payment to be completed at a later date.

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Three accommodation options are offered during registration:

  • Single Occupancy: Select this option if you are interested in staying in a private room.
  • Double Occupancy: Select this option if you are interested in staying with another spiritual director and/or spouse. ESDA will do its best to accommodate roommate requests.
  • Commuter: For people who live in the Phoenix area, or who are managing their own accommodations, the commuter option includes meals and the Gathering fee, but an overnight room at the Franciscan Retreat Center will not be reserved.

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ESDA Member Registration:

Our 2023 ESDA Gathering has sold out. You can add your name to our wait list by emailing Kelly at kelly@graftedlife.org 

Should a space open up they will be offered by the order the requests come in, and on a first come, first serve basis.


ESDA 2023 Gathering - Member Price

Name/Email of Partipant Besides Yourself


Non-Member Registration:

ESDA 2023 Gathering - Non-Member Price

Name/Email of Partipant Besides Yourself


2023 Gathering Refund Policy

  • Full refunds are offered for cancellations prior to 60 days of the event. 
  • Within 60 days of event date, providing the spot can be filled, a refund of all but $175 is possible.
  • After January 13th no refunds are possible.


Click here for information about ESDA Membership

Click here for directions to the Franciscan Renewal Center

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