Spiritual Renewal for WNC Clergy and Lay Professionals

December 05, 2017

Leadership Development Team Spiritual Renewal Offerings
Spiritual leadership is important for a vital ministry. The Leadership Development Team wants to help ministry leaders foster their spiritual growth. You are encouraged to consider the opportunities below. The next Spiritual Renewal Initiative will be available in August and scholarships will be available at that time.



Art and Spiritual Direction with Katie Warren

Art and group spiritual direction invites us to open the pathways between art and prayer. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the art exercises can help us open more fully to God as we come to know God and ourselves at a deeper level. The confidential spiritual direction group provides a safe haven for discernment. Collage is the medium generally used for the art in response to Lectio Divina. Previous art experience is not required.  Directed by Katie Warren, spiritual director in the Blue Ridge District, in Asheville. 

The next cohort is January-May 2018, and is limited to five participants. The first meeting is Thursday, January 11, 2018, and the following February-May, groups meet the first Thursday of the month. Participants are asked to make a commitment to attend each session of the five-month cohort. 

To register and obtain additional details, contact Katie Warren at 828-275-3971 or katieswarren@charter.net. Registration deadline is Wednesday, December 27, 2017.

Program Fee: $225; a $50 non-refundable deposit required. 


Center for Courage and Renewal

Courage to Live Undivided: A Courage & Renewal Seasonal Retreat Series
Sanctuary for Humans and Horses – Franklin, TN – begins January 25, 2018

Exploring Courage in a Season of Transition
Mercy Conference and Retreat Center – St. Louis, MO – January 26-28, 2018

Courage to Lead, Living and Leading from Within Retreat Series
St. Mary’s: The Ayres Center for Spiritual Development – Sewanee, TN – begins April 4, 2018

5-Day Spiritual Academies

All Shall Be Well – Gallant, Alabama – February 25-March 1, 2018
Seeking Sabbath/Keeping Sabbath – Fruitland Park, Florida – March 11-16, 2018
Drawing from the Inner Well – St. Simons Island, GA – April 29-May 4, 2018
(or another academy of your choice)


Columbia Theological Seminary 

Register online in the “United Methodist” category at:
"Prayer: Deepening Your Experience with God"
February 5 - March 9, 2018
DescriptionScriptures instruct us to “pray without ceasing” and to “place our everyday ordinary life before God as an offering.” Yet, sometimes we find ourselves wondering how to pray or growing weary of our usual ways of praying. We might wonder, “What is prayer?” Or maybe we are thinking, “How can I manage to add one more thing to my already too busy life?”

In this class, we will explore and practice different forms of prayer including the prayer of examen, lectio divina, and contemplative prayer. Each week we will join in communal prayer and individual prayer practices as well as engage one another in dialogue regarding the weekly readings and our prayer experiences.

This is an online class. Participants will need to set aside time each week for a brief reading assignment, daily prayer and reflection (20-30 minutes), and participation in the weekly online discussion.  

Program Fee: $195
"On Desire and Flourishing: A Study of Ancient Israelite Wisdom"
February 8-11, 2018
Description: Desire animates the wisdom literature of ancient Israel. For centuries, and with exquisite poetry that evokes the Song of Songs and ancient Near Eastern love poetry, the sages sought to cultivate and direct people’s desire to that which enables their flourishing—first and foremost wisdom. Desire was not understood as limited to sexuality or personal want, as today is often the case. Rather, the sages engaged desire as a primary way in which people map the world and themselves in it.

Come and explore this ancient understanding of desire—its metaphors, objects, promises and perils—and consider how the sages’ insistence on the value and vitality of desire may inform our own searches for personal and communal wellbeing.

Program Fee: $285 
Housing: Housing is available on campus. Options include double occupancy $47.63 per person/night, tax included; single rooms $73.85/night, tax included; Queen suites $82.50/night.
"I have a room for a second life": Journeying by Heart with the Poet Rainer Maria Rilke
April 19-22, 2018
Description: You’re the miracle that happened in the desert for those who’d passed through.  [67]
Such a claim as this alerts us to the vital embers that glow within the language and imagery of Rilke’s “prayers.”  They often draw, as we see in these lines, from ancient stories and traditions—in this case, the account of the exodus from the Hebrew Scriptures.  Or is his reference to something closer to us, an experience we know in our own lives?  Image, gesture, memory:  these all take us to the depths of the “self,” where history and legend meet us in our own experience as of the “unconscious.”  Rilke and poets like him speak from that place, and toward that place in their readers. Read more of the description on the Columbia website above.

Program Fee: $390
Housing & Meals: At Montreat Conference Center, www.montreat.org/journeying-by-heart/

School of the Spirit 2018

The School of the Spirit is a one-year school of contemplative practices grounded in the basic practices of Jesus and the early church. School of the Spirit provides a powerful learning and living platform for those in pursuit of inner-change that manifest itself in outward acts of love and compassion in a hurting world.   

You will experience a place and a process by which clergy/leaders can intentionally come together as a community, to listen to the Holy Spirit and deepen their life with God. School of the Spirit is designed to help cultivate healing and refilling spiritual rhythms that are sustainable for the long haul.

The next cohort begins May 7-8, 2018 and is limited to 24 people: clergy, deacons, pastors, elders and Christian leaders. Early application deadline if February 1, 2018 and the final application deadline is March 1, 2018. 

More information may be found at www.SchooloftheSpirit.com, or by contacting Ann Starrette, Starrette@mindspring.com, 704-488-5825.

Program Fee: $400, for the year long program  

St. Francis Springs Prayer Center

Silent Directed Retreat
May 20-25, 2018    

The setting for this retreat is complete silence with an invitation for prayerful reflection, often accompanied by Scripture.  An assigned spiritual director will meet with each retreatant every day of the retreat.  The director supports the individual in the movement of God with her/him as they become aware of those movements through the silence and prayer of the retreat setting.  

Program Fee: $600 per person, single occupancy

Silent Retreat

July 8-13, 2018 

This retreat will have a reflection each morning in a group setting, liturgy, and spiritual direction if desired.  We provide a book which is the basis for the morning reflection and liturgy. Program Fee: $425 per person, single occupancy 

Center for Action and Contemplation

2018 Online Education Courses 
  • Immortal Diamond: A Study in Search of the True Self: Feb. 28-May 8, 2018
  • The Fransiscan Way: Beyond the Bird Bath: Feb. 7–March 27, 2018
  • Breathing Underwater:  A Spiritual Study of the Twelve Steps: January 24-March 20, 2018
Program Fees: $120.

Personal Retreats

Unstructured, no program, personal retreat center
Abbey of Gethsemani, Trappist, KY
Well of Mercy, Hamptonville, NC
$90/night or $125 for cottage
The Lydia Group, Starrette Farm Retreat, Statesville, NC
Quiet Space Fridays, the second Friday of each month
$20/day, reservations required, space limited

Spiritual Direction

Thomas Merton described Spiritual Direction as, “…in reality, nothing more than a way of leading us to see and obey the real Director—hidden in the depths of our soul.”

The Leadership Development Team would like to invite you to participate in a program of spiritual direction to deepen your faith as you engage with a specialized spiritual director.  The Spiritual Director engages with the individual, not as a counselor, but as one who helps the directee hear, with a greater sense of clarity, the voice of God speaking into his or her life.  Usually the directee meets with their Spiritual Director no more than once a month.

There are a number of spiritual directors in North Carolina who give this service for free, but there are also many who have a nominal fee for accompanying individuals in their spiritual life.  Click here for a list of Western North Carolina Spiritual Directors by District.

Spiritual directors are often found through recommendations of friends and others who have experienced that gift.  But if you have difficulty finding one, a listing of Spiritual Directors throughout the world may be found at http://www.sdiworld.org/find-a-spiritual-director/seek-and-find-guide, the web site for Spiritual Directors International.


Once you commit to participate, you should register for the event and then submit a participation form along with your registration confirmation or invoice.  Click here for a downloadable participation form
Please submit your participation form and supporting materials by January 31, 2018, to Kim Ingram at kingram@wnccumc.org .  If online registration is required and registration is more than $50, the Leadership Development Team will reimburse you the difference.  The preference is for WNC to pay the provider directly and we have been in touch with each of them.
Leadership Development Funds are provided through WNC local church apportionments. Funds are limited and will be made available on a first-come basis.
If you have an idea for a future opportunity, please email Kim Ingram at kingram@wnccumc.org. Questions? Contact Kim Ingram or Marsha Patton at mpatton@wnccumc.org (704-535-2260).
Follow Jesus. Make Disciples. Transform the World.