As participants in the work of Venn, you’re invited to a Prayer Retreat with John Dennison and Rachel Kitchens


Venn exists to help people embrace the depths and riches of the Christian tradition for the good of their homes, universities, workplaces, churches, and communities in Aotearoa, New Zealand. To this end, we’re excited to open registration for our upcoming Prayer Retreat: Living and Working from a Place of Rest.

Held in Auckland and Wellington, this will be two days of prayer, rich learning, conversation, and hospitality.


Prayer is a central part of our life with God. But for many prayer has become an irrelevancy, a religious habit that is unconnected with the hum and rush of everyday life; or, it is a chore—we think of it as one more thing that God asks of us, along with everything else! And so, we go through the motions of praying, all the while feeling resentful, or secretly ashamed.


But this need not be. Followers of Jesus are called to learn to pray: to learn to abide with God. In our friendship with Jesus, prayer becomes a wellspring of God’s life in us and through us. As we abide in prayer, we find that our everyday lives wake up to God’s presence, love, and initiative. Instead of resting simply to recover from work, we find ourselves living and working from a place of rest in God.


This two-day non-residential retreat is for those who want to learn to pray and deepen their prayer life. We’ll be exploring these questions:

i.  What does it mean for me to abide in God’s presence?

ii.  How might I live and work from a place of spiritual rest?


It will include both teaching about prayer and opportunities to practice different ways of praying and reflect on these together. Whether you’re wanting to integrate better your prayer and your everyday life, or you simply want to go deeper in prayer, you are welcome. Numbers are limited to 20 people for this course; be sure to register early so you don’t miss out.



4-5 March, 2022

Registrations for Auckland’s Prayer Retreat have now closed. Get in touch to be added to the waitlist. 



3-4 June, 2022

Please register by Monday, 23 May, 2022


Friday, 9:30am – 5:00pm
Saturday, 9:00am – 4:00pm


$115 per person, covering all teaching, materials, lunch, and snacks.



St. Francis Retreat Centre

50 Hillsborough Road, Hillsborough, Auckland



Our Lady’s Home of Compassion

2 Rhine Street (off Murray Street), Island Bay, Wellington


We will be operating under government guidelines.



DR. JOHN DENNISON is Director of Resources and a Senior Teaching Fellow at Venn Foundation. He is passionate about helping others to trust God in the whole of life, in work, thought, and prayer. He pays particular attention to the role of Scripture in shaping our imagination and action, and is often seeking ways to help men and women grow in their lives of prayer. In this he draws on his background as a University Chaplain, where he had a particular interest in the spiritual formation of postgraduates and staff, and the training of new chaplains. Initially, John pursued an academic career, studying English Literature and Theology in New Zealand before completing a PhD at the University of St Andrews. That research resulted in a book, Seamus Heaney and the Adequacy of Poetry (Oxford, 2015). He’s also a poet: his first collection of poems, Otherwise, was published by Auckland University Press and Carcanet Press in 2015, and he has a lively interest in the role language plays in our relationship with God. Reflecting his skills as a writer and editor, John has recently stepped into the role of Venn’s Director of Resources, where he oversees the online magazine Common Ground, along with other offerings. He lives in Wellington with his wife, Jannah, and their three sons, Theo, Emmaus, and Blythe.

RACHEL KITCHENS is originally from Atlanta in the state of Georgia, USA. She has a B.A. in Dance and Psychology from Hollins College, and a Master of Arts in Christian Studies from Regent College in Vancouver, Canada. For most of her adult life she has been interested in the interplay between the arts, the human body, and Christian faith. Her interests lead her to complete a Master’s Thesis at Regent in a Theology of the Body, based on Pope John Paul II’s works. In recent years, between raising three children, Rachel has trained to become a Spiritual Director and to continue learning the art of prayer. She is particularly influenced by the life and prayer of Teresa of Avila. Rachel enjoys finding places where rest, embodiment, beauty, prayer, hospitality and the calling of the Church collide. She has recently entered the discernment process to become ordained in the Anglican Church. Rachel is married to Andrew Shamy and they are parents to Ella, Georgia, and James.