Spiritual Renewal Grant for Clergy and Lay Ministry Staff, Winter/Spring 2023

January 10, 2023

And [Jesus] said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while.”  For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 
And they went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves.  
Mark 6:31-32 

The WNCC Leadership Development Team (LDT) invites you to intentionally seek the presence of God in a space, and in a posture before God, that you can receive what God has to offer you, away from the myriad of needs in your community! 

This season and time in which we live has been hard on ministry leaders and ministry workers.  The LDT wants to help nurture your spirit in order to be renewed and restored in life and in ministry. 

WNCC clergy under appointment and lay ministry professionals can receive one grant per calendar year.  We are asking for your personal investment of $50 to one of these offerings, and the LDT will provide the rest of the funds up to $500!   

Funds are limited, so please apply early!

To obtain Spiritual Renewal funding, please follow these steps, submitting your request by February 15, 2023, through the online request system: 

-> STEP 1:  Register for your chosen renewal opportunity and obtain confirmation
-> STEP 2:  Complete the online request form (the "Request Funding Now" link below)
-> STEP 3:  Provide proof of registration and cost 


Please read these details about funding:

  1. Spiritual Renewal grant funds can be requested once a year by participants.  
  2. An invoice or registration confirmation/email will be required to process your request.  
  3. If you wish to request mileage reimbursement, please include the estimated calculation when you submit your form.  (The 2023 mileage rate is $0.655 per mile.)  
  4. The preference is for WNC to pay the provider directly; travel will be paid by reimbursement to your church or to you after your program.
  5. If online registration is required and registration is more than $50, the Leadership Development Team will reimburse you the difference.  Please be sure to note this on your application.
  6. Please be aware, the Conference Council on Finance and Administration has adopted a policy, endorsed by the WNCC Cabinet, that a church requesting a grant from the Conference, District and even General Church agency, must be progressing toward 100% payment of all 2023 apportionments.  This applies toward churches and clergy.  If your church doesn’t meet this qualification, a grant application should not be submitted.  We are endeavoring to work with churches that are striving to meet apportionment payment goals and will consider on a case by case basis.

~ Re-Investing Local Church Apportionment Dollars into Leadership in Western North Carolina ~ 


Spiritual Renewal Offerings for Winter/Spring 2023

**  Keep scrolling to view all offerings. **

Personal and/or Renewal Retreats

An unstructured, program-free, personal retreat may be just what you need right now.  Renew your soul by journeying from your current environment into nature or a spiritual retreat center to encounter God. 

Some of our local retreat centers also offer structured programs, such as the Catholic Conference Center, St. Francis Springs Prayer Center, and the Well of Mercy

Browse the Retreats for Sabbath Rest & Renewal page for options offered at multiple local retreat centers, including overnight renewal retreats, specials and programs, and virtual retreats! 

If you are looking for a structured program for your renewal retreat, here are a few highlights:

We kindly request you take your retreat at a Christian retreat center to support our partnering ministries, and do not schedule an individually-created retreat.  

Day Retreats

Day retreats are opportunities for renewing your soul away from the hubbub of life.  This might be the option for you, if you yearn for a retreat, but can't leave home overnight.  Options may include:

If you feel drawn to one of these choices, we encourage you to schedule multiple day retreats through the year. 


Sabbath Life Ministry

Sabbath Life Cohorts provide monthly retreats on a local farm, for clergy and lay ministry professionals to experience the life-giving rhythms of work in the garden, worship around the table, shared silence and rest, reflection together, and prayer.

2023 Cohorts will be held at:
@ Dinner Bell Farm, Snow Camp (Piedmont/Triad Area) - Third Mondays, Feb-Nov
@ Osprey's Rest, Concord (Charlotte Area) - Second Mondays (except April and August), March-Nov


Deeper Journeys at Starrette Farm Retreat 

School of the Spirit Cohort 14
In the flurry of living life, building ministries, and caring for others, how do we cultivate intimacy with God?  School of the Spirit is an online and in-person twelve-month journey into contemplative practices that bring the seeker closer to God, grounded in the basic spiritual practices of Jesus and the early church.  Through the living process of placing ourselves before God to be schooled by the Holy Spirit, we trust God’s grace to rewire our minds (Romans 12:1-2) and revive our spirits.  Apply early and save.  Onboarding begins early June 2023.  Retreats take place July 2023 - May 2024.   

The Sacred Invitation is a 12-month soul-shaping curriculum for those who long for something more, answering yes to the questions:
- Do you long to deepen your relationship with God?
- Do you hunger to respond to the Spirit's invitation to live out your sacred purpose?
- Do you yearn to be a part of a kindred community to nurture you in the process?
This specialized program includes eleven retreat days, and two optional student work-day retreats designed for those who hunger for a holistic approach to the inner-work that deepens their life with God.  Application process begins in the fall of each year.


In ministry we seldom know how tired our soul is and, unfortunately, it's often too late by the time we find out.  The result is a weary soul, burn out, moral failure, a broken marriage, depression...the list can go on and on.  RPLNISH is designed to help you live a replenished life, a ministry of pastors serving other pastors and ministry leaders, with 4-day retreats, follow-up cohorts, and many ways of staying in contact.  WNCC clergy Cole Altizer shared this takeaway from his 2022 trip experience: "During the trip I connected with other clergy, had time to take deep breaths, I was given tools that I’m still using months later (effective, easy to remember, challenging and deeply spiritual tools). I laughed, cried and made relationships that are still feeding me.

Retreats are free - travel costs are on you (or WNCC!)  Upcoming trips include:

  • In March 2023:  Homosassa, Florida  |  Wavy S Ranch - Gilmer, Texas  |  or Table Rock Lake-Kimberling, MO
  • In April 2023:  Wavy S Ranch - Gilmer, Texas  |  Denver and Jefferson, Colorado
  • In May and June 2023:  Kooskia, Idaho  |  Denver and Jefferson, Colorado  |  Cabo San Lucas, Mexico (two retreats: Couples, or Guys)  |  Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - Couples
  • And a UMC trip to Colorado is in the works for October 2023! 

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 invites 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.  WNC Spiritual Directors by Districts
Application Details: Please contact your chosen director and request an agreement indicating an anticipated number of sessions at the set rate.  This agreement will be needed to process your funding request; then the spiritual director will need to send invoices after sessions take place. 

Note: All payments must be issued by year's end, from the 2023 budget. Please plan accordingly as you schedule sessions.  

Upper Room Spiritual Academies

A “taste” of the Two-Year Academy for Spiritual Formation, Shorter Academies (formerly the 5-Day Academy) invite participants to spend time apart in a Christian retreat setting with worship shaping the heart and soul of the retreat.  Throughout the week you will meet in a small, covenant group, reflecting on your spiritual journey and sharing how God is working in you during the Academy.  Faculty presenters, chosen for knowledge of a certain topic and integrity as faith practitioners, will provide the primary content of your Shorter Academy. 
Find details on our Upper Room academies page, including a sample agenda, and links to register for upcoming academies.  Full information can be found at http://academy.upperroom.org/.  Upcoming local/virtual academies include:

Five Day Virtual/In-Person Hybrid in Fruitland Park, FL: Then and Now, All Will Be Well
March 5-10

Virtual Day Apart: Praying the Psalms in Lent and Beyond
March 18 


Questions or ideas for a future opportunity? Contact Kim Ingram at kingram@wnccumc.org or Marsha Patton at mpatton@wnccumc.org (704-535-2260).

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