photo by Gregory Bleck

All are welcome!


Join our Sunday Assembly at 9:00 am at Holy Wisdom Monastery where people  from various Christian backgrounds come together to worship.

Sunday Assembly is a unique worshiping community. Influenced by the Benedictine spirit and tradition, we welcome all to worship with us. We embrace unity around an open communion table, in fullness of equality for women and men, and we pray together in inclusive language that draws from the best of the Christian tradition. Members of Sunday Assembly seek God in prayer and worship, community building, social justice practices, ecumenical hospitality and care for the earth consistent with the vision and mission of Holy Wisdom Monastery.

A brief history

In the early 1970s, inspired by Vatican Council II and their experiences of praying with people of other Christian traditions, the Benedictine sisters of Holy Wisdom Monastery began an ecumenical journey. Embracing Christ’s vision “that all may be one,” the sisters began exploring inclusive, participatory worship that affirmed the bonds of Christian unity. With professional staff and liturgical advisors, we developed a simple and welcoming rite for the celebration of Eucharist that extended an open invitation to all.

Our mission

Our mission is to gather for worship, proclaiming and listening to the Word of God and sharing the Bread of Life. Seeing Christ in one another, we offer hospitality to all as we care and serve both within our Sunday Assembly and in our daily lives.


What to expect

We welcome you to our worship! If you are a newcomer, you may wish to know what to expect on a typical Sunday.

We are an open and affirming congregation that reverences the presence of God in one another. In every aspect of our worship we strive to use welcoming, inclusive language that reflects the dignity of each person.

We affirm the full equality of women and men and celebrate their gifts in leadership. You can expect to find people from diverse Christian traditions serving as presiders, preachers, greeters, communion ministers, lectors, in the choir or as instrumentalists. As members of the Sunday Assembly community, we hope that you will consider offering your own gifts with us in worship!


Worship begins at 9:00 am with a simple congregational hymn. We choose our music throughout the service with care, drawing beauty and inspiration from many Christian traditions. After singing together, the presider will offer a brief welcome and prayer before the reading of scripture.

Reading scripture together is a touchstone for our worship. Hearing the stories of women and men encountering God through the ages guides and inspires our lives together. Our scripture selections follow the Revised Common Lectionary, used by Christian churches throughout the world and including readings from the Hebrew Scriptures, Psalms, Epistles and Gospels. A time of silent reflection follows each reading to allow space for the words to seep into our imagination. Afterwards, the homilist preaches, engaging listeners in an exploration of scripture and its application to our personal lives and our world.

We celebrate communion every Sunday around an open table. Everyone is invited and welcome to receive the bread and wine. You will be offered a piece of bread from a bowl which is passed among the assembly. While holding your bread, take the bowl and offer a piece to your neighbor while saying “the bread of life” (or something similar). We then wait until everyone has received before we pray and eat the bread together. Similarly, everyone is welcome to receive from the cup, distributed at stations throughout the sanctuary and shared from one person to the next with the words, “the cup of life” (or something similar). With parental guidance, children are welcome to participate as well. (Gluten-free and dairy-free bread, as well as grape juice, are available as alternatives.)

The service ends at approximately 10:00 am with a closing song, a blessing, and an invitation to conversation over coffee, tea or hot cocoa in the guest dining room. We are honored and strengthened by the presence of visitors, and hope that you will join us this Sunday!

Children are welcomed and valued members of our community. Sunday Assembly strives to provide a family and child-friendly worshiping culture.

The primary focus of our energy, creativity and resources is on Benedictine hospitality and our desire to foster contemplative spirituality for all our members, regardless of age. We believe that when children and young people genuinely experience belonging and actively participate in the daily life of a community, they will learn what they need to learn when they need to learn it.

We currently do not provide formal childcare or Sunday School but the Gathering Space and Hospitality Room are always available for your use during worship. Both areas have access to the sound system from the Assembly Room. The Hospitality Room has toys available for your children.

Children’s Liturgy of the Word–Starts Sunday, October 11, 2015. We are very pleased and grateful to be able to offer this important ministry to our Sunday Assembly children and families! All children are welcome to participate. Sessions will be held twice a month during Sunday Assembly. Students will be dismissed from worship after the opening hymn and introduction to leave with Colleen Hartung and additional volunteers, to hear and learn about the scriptures readings at their level. All ages are welcome to participate– little ones with a parent, and older students as readers and helpers with the teachers. For more information contact Colleen at 608-825-2032 or kchartung@aol.com.

See upcoming Children’s Ministry events


How to connect further

Members and friends of Sunday Assembly, along with visitors and guests of the monastery worship together and share fellowship after Sunday worship.  Opportunities are also available for meals and socials, volunteer work, assemblies and retreats. For more information on any of the items below, please contact Lynn Lemberger, director of worship & music at llemberger@benedictinewomen.org, 608-836-1631, x138.

Hospitality Sunday. Hospitality Sunday is the last Sunday of the month. All are encouraged to bring food to share.  It is also a time for the Sunday Assembly community to meet and get to know other members and visitors.

Anointing of the Sick.  On particular Sundays throughout the year, we pray especially for healing. All are invited to participate in this special liturgy as we seek God’s help and pray with and for those in our community who place themselves in God’s loving care. The prayer, for those who choose to participate, is held in the oratory on the lower level of the monastery, immediately after Sunday worship, and lasts about 20 minutes.

Sunday Assembly Social Justice Group

The Social Justice Group shares information on many concerns: prison reform, immigration, health care, racism, hunger, poverty, and others.  The focus is to identify ways we can help and support others to be restored to equality and wholeness.  Meetings will be after worship on the first Sunday of the month and we welcome all who are interested to attend. 

Luke House 

For more than 30 years, The Community Meal Program has brought Dane County church groups and other faith-based communities together to help feed local people who are in need.  Faith is what motivates the volunteers who prepare and serve food, and then eat with guests who come. The Community Meal Program is an important and practical way of being church together. On the second Tuesday of each month members of Holy Wisdom Monastery participate in preparing, serving and sharing a meal at Luke House. For more information contact Mary Hoddy, 608-217-6664, mary.hoddy@wisc.edu or visit the Luke House website at www.lukehousemadison.org.

Vera Court

Vera Court’s programs and services are primarily for children, youth and families on Madison’s north side. After school and during the summer, children and youth programs provide a safe place to be and offer tutoring and skill development.  Kids who are part of these programs get healthy snack foods. There is also a Kids’ Café meal three times a week where residents of all ages are invited.

Sunday Assembly’s donations are a small gesture of sharing, once a month, with a community in need. On the third Sunday of each month people who want to donate to Vera Court write a separate check, designating it to Vera Court on the memo line. Cash is also welcome. There is a separate collection basket labeled Vera Court. The Benedictine Life Foundation will forward the designated money to Vera Court Neighborhood Center. For more information contact Janet Neurauter at jneurauter@benedictinewomen.org, 608-836-1631, x124.

MOSES

Madison Organizing in Strength, Equality and Solidarity (MOSES) is an interfaith organization that unites congregations to build a better community. MOSES brings individuals and congregations together to take action on issues of social justice, such as prison reform in Wisconsin and other issues related to criminal justice. Sunday Assembly is a supporting member and organizes around MOSES initiatives. 

Madison Urban Ministry Circles of Support

Circles of Support provides persons newly released from prison a respectful, positive and supportive environment as they adjust to the demands and challenges of everyday life back in the community. The circles meet weekly and consist of the newly released person and four to six community volunteers. Sunday Assembly members participate in these Circles, providing timely support and encouragement for people re-integrating into the Madison community.

Bread-Breakers

Join a small group for informal conversation and meals in member homes.  Whether you are new to Sunday Assembly or an old hand, Bread-Breakers is a great opportunity to get to know others in a congenial setting. Groups meet once a month, setting their own agenda and schedule for getting to know one another.  Sessions are Winter (January/February), Spring (March/April/May), Summer (June/July/August), and Fall (September/October/November). Anyone is invited to participate in all 4 sessions or only one.

Theology Book Group

This group focuses on taking a deeper look at important questions raised in contemporary theological studies.  It is a collaborative effort shared by all members of the group.  Each person is asked to bring one or two questions for discussion by the group each time.  Meetings are usually the second and fourth Thursday of each month at 1:00 pm at the monastery.  A specific schedule is worked out for each book.  Examples of books read include Elizabeth Johnson’s Quest for the Living God and Raymond Brown’s An Introduction to New Testament Christology. Contact Gail Shea if you’d wish to join this group: 608-836-6911, gshea@chorus.net.

Centering Prayer Groups

Learn more about this practice of silent prayer with a small group.  Wednesdays, 7:00 pm, Retreat & Guest House, Room 10.


Additional glimpses into the life of our ecumenical Sunday Assembly community: