Welcome to our new website! For the past several months we've been having significant and exciting conversations behind the scenes, praying, consulting, rethinking and reimagining the entire purpose, structure and scope of Sustainable Faith. Given the deep changes have taken place, it also seemed fitting to redo the entire website. We've come a long way from the small mom & pop retreat ministry we started out as in 2007.
We haven't wavered, however, from our larger vision: to positively "infect" and reshape the culture of vocational ministry and church life. We long for the day when leaders work from a deeply rooted identity as beloved children of God, not as technocrats and managers; where they know themselves and their limitations, operating collaboratively and from a posture of humility; where they have communal, embodied practices that ground them spiritually and provide a stable support for an active, loving and missional life; where they nurture the life of the spirit, mind and body. Nothing less will do.
And how exactly do we do this? Well, this is what our conversations have been about, and we've landed on three things: schools, a monastery, and "thin places".
Many of you already know about the School of Spiritual Direction. In seven short years it has flown from the nest of the Convent in Norwood OH to alight in nearly 20 American cities and Amsterdam, with over 200 participants in Years 1 & 2 and 10 teachers guiding the training. We are mobile, communal, experiential, practical, and holistic. We have a vision for 200+ new spiritual directors being released each year, and look forward to the day when this ancient and potent form of pastoral care will be a normal ministry of the Protestant church. (The gains within my tribe, the Vineyard, are already significant!)
But what if the School of Spiritual Direction is just one of many "schools"? What if there are schools that teach us about peacemaking, family spirituality, marriage, kingdom economics, etc.? We believe there's room for these to flourish as well, which is why we've created an umbrella called "Schools of Sustainable Faith."
Say what? A monastery? Yes! Jared Boyd, a dear friend and one of our Trustees, is in the process of launching a missional monastic expression within the Vineyard, complete with a well-articulated Rule of Life. Plans are underway for fundraising to build a 21st century monastery on a 300-acre farm in eastern Ohio. It's called the Order of Sustainable Faith (OSF), and we pray for the multiplication of these monasteries. I could spend pages telling you about the transformative impact of monasticism on the broader culture, but I'll let Jared say more about that in the coming months. Make sure to read about it on this newly designed website!
Thin places are those spots where heaven and earth seem to meet. Retreat spaces are like that for many people — sacred spots for rest, silence, solitude, prayer, reflection, reorientation, slow food and spiritual conversation. (The Convent, lying fallow for 2014, routinely took in over 600 people annually for these very things.) These are "Places of Sustainable Faith," and we're working to create a network of homes / retreat centers that nourish the contemplative life.
Schools of Sustainable Faith, the Order of Sustainable Faith, and Places of Sustainable Faith — these three umbrellas capture our new direction.
On a final note, you'll notice we've switched to Dwolla as our new provider for donations and payments. This move will cut down massively on credit card fees an save us thousands of dollars, helping us to steward our finances much better.
Peace to you,
Director, Sustainable Faith