Why soul friendship online?

We live in a time of great change. The route ahead is often unknown. This is especially true for leaders. We are entering what many are calling a postmodern and postchristian era. This is a time when people are looking for a counter culture that is experiential, spiritual and communal. Many are looking back into historic spiritual examples to discover a rootedness and rhythms that are more holistic and life-giving.

John O'Donohue, the Irish poet has said

“A friend … awakens your life in order to free the wild possibilities within you.”

Soul friendship is a practice birthed out of an ancient spiritual tradition in the Celtic Christian Church. It is when one person walks with another to help guide their path. Ray Simpson, founder of the Community of Aidan and Hilda says that "A soul friend is someone further along the journey of life who commits to helping another to discover his or her true self/soul and his or her path through life."

Soulfriendship online began when the covid-19 virus stopped all physical gatherings happening on Holy Island at the Open Gate retreat house. Scott Brennan, the retreat leader, and member of the Community of Aidan and Hilda had six people ready to go. It was decided to make the course Soul Friendship for Leaders available as a four week zoom based group. In the next three months over forty leaders from all over the world took part. This has now expanded into new courses and new friendships.

Happy Hiking

“Stand at the crossroads and look;
    ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
    and you will find rest for your souls." 

Jeremiah 6:16



Who We Are


Ray Simpson

Author, Founder of the Community of Aidan and Hilda


Simon Reed

Author, Guardian of the Community of Aidan and Hilda, Vicar


Scott Brennan

Church planter, missional coach, artist


Penny Warren

Guardian of the Community of Aidan and Hilda, Spiritual Director


Soul Friendship for Leaders re-ignited distant embers for me. I have had an ongoing interest in Celtic Christianity for years. That interest has ebbed and flowed a bit over time. These sessions re-ignited those dying embers and fanned into flame the idea of developing and establishing Soul Friendship as something relevant and appropriate for my own life and for the lives of other Christian leaders."

Don Currie, Senior Pastor, South Beach Baptist Church, Saltcoats

The road of discipleship simply cannot be walked alone - and isolation is a particular danger for leaders in any sphere. This short course was rich in content while remaining highly accessible, warm and inclusive. I was fascinated to learn more about the Celtic saints and to apply their wisdom to my own context. The value of Soul Friendship has been proven in the past and has the potential to meet a deep-seated need in our times. Highly recommended!

Amanda Quick, Assistant Pastor, Leven Baptist Church

It was a genuine honour to learn from the riches of the Celtic spirituality tradition, particularly about soul friendship and having a clear rule or way of life. The course was run with lots of interaction and discussion, and I found each session helpful and relevant to my own life as a leader. I would highly recommend it!

Daniel McGinnis, Vice Principal at St Hild College, Executive Director, Leeds School of Theology



White House, Holy Island, Berwick-upon-Tweed TD15, UK

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