ECCSR Program

“The rise of contemplative practice today stems… from the desire to grow more fully into who we really are. We need to cultivate spiritual communities … where there is mutual support, challenge, and practices to foster the lifetime journey from the image to the likeness of God … Listening and responding together from the contemplative heart in all societal settings can further the maturing of human relationships, purpose, and inclusive societal well-being: the ripening of the communal kin-dom of heaven.” -Tilden Edwards, Oneing


Contemplative Renewal: An Ecumenical Experience for Clergy

The program of the Ecumenical Center for Clergy Spiritual Renewal consists of two components for each two-year cohort group of 19 clergy:

  • two immersion experiences on site at Holy Wisdom Monastery and
  • participation in an ongoing ecumenical monastery without walls, a spiritual companioning community.

The immersion experiences will take place at the Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton, WI, across Lake Mendota from Madison. The Retreat & Guest House has comfortable private rooms and conference spaces for presentations and group processing. The simple design and natural surroundings help create a peaceful setting for deep reflection and contemplation. In the Monastery building, participants will ground their daily experiences in the prayers of the community, and delicious group meals.  The beautiful grounds with restored prairie, woods, orchards, gardens and a glacial lake also invites participants into the blessing of spiritual renewal.

The scheduled immersions for summer 2019 (11 days) and winter 2020 (5 days) are:

  • Friday, June 21 at 3:00 pm – Monday, July 1 at 10:00 am
  • Friday, January 24 at 3:00 pm – Wednesday January 29 at 10:00 am

The scheduled immersions for summer 2020 (11 days) and winter 2021 (5 days) are:

  • Friday, July 10 at 1:00 pm – Monday, July 20 at 10:00 am
  • Friday, January 22 at 1:00 pm – Wednesday January 27 at 1:00 pm

Each immersion into the rhythms, people, and sacred space of Holy Wisdom Monastery focuses on these Benedictine practices: silence, listening with the ear of the heart, prayer (Liturgy of the Hours, Centering Prayer), worship (Sunday Assembly), lectio divina and work. Each immersion is saturated with the Benedictine values of hospitality, beauty, balance, simplicity, and respect for one another and all creation.

Time for deep personal reflection and renewal is built into the program through one-on-one spiritual direction, silence, solitude, walking the land, music, writing of a personal rule, and art.

Time for establishing a group spiritual companioning community will unfold through listening circles where participants will experience group contemplative dialog. In addition, the program will include time for conversations about call, the challenges posed by particular ministry contexts and setting, informal times for deepening friendships and time for silence and reflection.

The ECCSR is also excited to offer time with inspirational thought leaders who will serve as resources to the immersion experiences.

Ongoing support

A key element of the program is the ongoing support for clergy long after their immersion experience on site. To fulfill this commitment the Center has developed a monastery without walls that offers opportunities to:

  • Participate in Sunday Assembly through live video streaming, also archived for later viewing;
  • Listen to the monastery’s Liturgy of the Hours through a daily podcast;
  • Participate in video conferences for the monastery without walls members;
  • Receive daily readings from the Rule of Benedict and a monthly online Spiritual Companion Guide to support the conversation of the covenanted spiritual companions;
  • Participate in a monthly telephone call-in meditation.

Additional resources that foster clergy spiritual renewal, strengthen clergy relationships, and support congregational spiritual vitality will be developed throughout the life of the ECCSR.

Program requirements

Participants in the ECCSR will be invited through an application process. This program is open to those who:

  • Currently serve in a Christian congregation or community.
  • Hold a Masters of Divinity or equivalent graduate degree from an accredited Seminary or Pastoral Ministry Program.
  • Have approximately 3-15 years of experience in ministry since graduation and ordination.
  • Are able to commit two years to participate in the full scope of the program—both the onsite and ongoing community.
  • Participants will be asked to assess the areas of spiritual renewal they experience after the immersions.


Do I need to have been to a monastery and/or know much about Benedictine practices and theology?

No. There are no requirements for prerequisite knowledge or experience in a monastery. However, having an interest in and desire for the experience of silence and contemplative practice are important to the goals of the program.

How much does it cost?

This program is made possible through a generous Lilly Foundation Grant. There will be no expense for the residential program at the Monastery or for access to ongoing online resources. If an individual is unable to afford travel expenses, he or she can apply for assistance with those expenses.

Is there any degree or credit given at the completion of the program?

No. Participants will receive a certificate of completion that describes the nature of the program. In addition, the ECCSR will communicate with the congregations at which participants serve to outline the resources and assets that the pastors will be bringing back to their ministry settings.

I do not fit in the 3-15 years of experience time frame, can I still apply?

Yes. The ECCSR is designed for early and mid-career pastors. If you are close to the years of experience we listed, please do apply.

How much time will the program require?

Participants are expected to make a two year commitment. The first year will involve two required immersions—one for 11 days, June 21 – July 1, 2019 and the second for five days, January 24 – January 29, 2020. In addition, the second year of participation will require attending monthly meetings online, and completing an essay or project that outlines a Renewal in Ministry Initiative in the participant’s ministry setting.

Applications for the 2020 cohort
will be received from
October 1, 2019-January 15, 2020