ECCSR Experience

“The yoke of the pastor’s stole around my neck has become heavy the last several years. Never had I considered removing it, even for a short time, so that my load could be lightened and I could become reconnected with my core identity: Beloved of God. The ECCSR immersion has allowed me to temporarily remove the yoke, to set it aside briefly, and to become rested and refreshed. I am ready now to return to my vocational calling with a renewed spirit.”
-The Rev. Julie Wright, ELCA Pastor and 2019 Contemplative Renewal Cohort.

Contemplative Renewal: An Ecumenical Experience for Clergy

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

  • Contemplative Renewal: Onsite consisting of two immersion experiences at Holy Wisdom Monastery
  • Contemplative Renewal: Online offering resources to support an ongoing 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.

Scheduled immersions

Summer 2022 (11 days) and winter 2023 (5 days)

  • Friday, July 8 at 2:00 pm – Monday July 18 at 11:30 am
  • Friday, January 20 at 1:00 pm – Wednesday January 25, 2023 at 1:00 pm

Summer 2023 (11 days) and winter 2024 (5 days)

  • Friday, July 7 at 2:00 pm – Monday, July 17 at 11:30 am
  • Friday, January 19 at 1:00 pm – Wednesday, January 24 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 settings, informal times for deepening friendships and time for silence and reflection.

Ongoing support

A key element is the ongoing support for clergy long after their immersion experiences on site. To fulfill this commitment the Center has developed online resources that offer 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;
  • Access a wide range of resources in the areas of Listen, Pray, Study and Work.

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 Contemplative Renewal will be invited through an application process. This is open to those who:

  • Currently serve as an ordained pastor of a Christian congregation.
  • 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 their experience of spiritual renewal over the two years.


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

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 practices are important to the goals of the experience.

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?

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?

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

How much time will be required?

Participants are expected to make a two year commitment. The first year involves two required immersions—one for 11 days and the second for five days. In addition, the second year will require attending monthly meetings online, and offering assessments of the experiences of renewal during the two years.