Spiritual Renewal Grant for Clergy and Lay Ministry Staff, Fall 2023

August 1, 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 September 22, 2023, through the online request system: 

-> STEP 1:  Register for your chosen renewal opportunity from the list below 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 Fall 2023

**  Keep scrolling to view all offerings. **

Personal and/or Renewal Retreats

"YOU PROBABLY NEED A RETREAT:  Why should we take regular days apart for personal retreat? Douglas Steele, the twentieth-century Quaker spiritual writer, suggests one answer. Citing a Japanese translation of Hosea 2:14 ("I will entice you into the desert and there I will speak to you in the depth of your heart"), he comments, "The verse links solitariness with prayer in an almost inimitable way. For until I have been lured into the desert, until I have been brought in solitude to the very ground of my being, where I am beyond the grip of my surface self with all of its plans and distractions, I am not able to hear the divine whisper.  - Douglas V. Steele, Together in Solitude (New York: Crossroad, 1982), 92.

...The deepest formational rhythms of the day are listening to God, loving God, and Resting in God."

-- excerpts from the UM Camp & Retreat Ministries: Clergy Retreat Guide & Directory, with thoughts about preparing for a personal retreat, a suggested schedule and readings, lecto devina, a list of retreat centers, and more...

An unstructured, self-guided, personal retreat may be just what you need right now.  Renew your soul by journeying from your current environment into nature at a spiritual retreat center to encounter God, free of the responsibilities, demands, and schedule you routinely face. 

If you're looking for a structured program, you can find offerings at many of our local retreat centers.  Browse the Retreats for Sabbath Rest & Renewal page for options at multiple local retreat centers, including overnight renewal retreats, specials and programs, and virtual retreats! 

Here are a few highlights of upcoming retreats:

We kindly request you take your retreat at a Christian retreat center to support our partnering ministries.  Individually-created private retreats will need to be pre-approved by Kim Ingram - please email her and forward her confirmation approval to Marsha Patton to be processed with your application.  

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, and utilize the grant for your registration fees and mileage.

Deeper Journeys at Starrette Farm Retreat 

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!)  Check out upcoming trips, which may include a UMC trip to Colorado in October 2023! 

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 WNCC's Upper Room academies page, including a sample agenda, and links to register for upcoming academies.  (In-Person in North Carolina, Alabama, and Korea, with a few online-hybrid options!)

Spiritual Formation in Today’s World: A One-Year Online Community is also now available!  A series of short retreats run from February to October 2024, as a way to answer the questions: Where do you find rest and nourishment for your soul in the rapid pace and frequently changing landscape of 21st century life? What resources help you stay centered and grounded in the face of polarization and uncertainty?  Do you long for spiritual community that welcomes all of who you are, complete with your questions and doubts?

A full schedule can be found at the Upper Room's schedule page.

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.  

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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