Previous Gatherings

Summer 2015: A New Heaven, A New Earth

We live in an age when we can no longer ignore the ecological context in which all our personal and social actions play out. When we begin to learn more about the extent of our combined challenges—ecological degradation, social inequity, food insecurity, climate change—we quickly become overwhelmed. Our world is ill. We need healing. The magnitude of our generation’s challenges can easily lead to inaction, fatalism, and despair.

Yet the long arc of God’s redemptive work, as reported by the biblical writers, is a hopeful alternative to despair or naïve optimism. The world will be made whole, those biblical writers tell us, and we along with it. In the book of Revelation we discover a compelling set of images depicting that wholeness—the Tree of Life, the River of Life, the Heavenly Banquet Feast. This is a vision of heaven come down to earth. “See, the home of God is among mortals,” John the Seer reports. Far from simply a quaint picture of heaven, such imagery has to potential to help us reimagine how we live now, starting with our own bioregions.

Each morning during the course Dr. Rossing will explore these images from Revelation as touchstones for thinking about the life of faith and how we grow and share food. In the afternoon, skilled practitioners in permaculture, ecology, and community organizing will lead experiential learning workshops.

For people of faith in search of wisdom with which to respond to our current “ecology of injustice,” this course will offer knowledge, tools, and disciplines to help us “seek the peace” of the places in which we dwell.

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Summer 2014: Sabbath Economics and Watershed Discipleship

The interlocking crises of deepening climate change, resource exhaustion, and social disparity are stalking our history.  To truly face these crises is to commit ourselves, as Christians and citizens, to radical and urgent changes that are both profoundly political and personal.  The “Transition Movement” is shorthand for perceptions and practices that center on ecological and economic resiliency, restoration, and renewal.  What might a Transition Church look like in the coming decade? What does Christian discipleship have to do with  our local watershed, our farms and gardens, and the ecosystems on which all life depends? Using the witness of the biblical writers as our guide, this course considered these questions over the span of five days.

The course combined classroom learning, worship, eating together, and hands-on learning. Morning sessions will were led by renowned biblical scholar and activist Ched Myers, who focused on “watershed discipleship” as a guiding metaphor and theological frame of reference.  Afternoons featured outdoor experiential education in local food gardens. Each day was bookended with a short service of Psalms, music, and silent prayer (Lauds and Vespers) as a contemplative frame to begin and end days together.

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Summer 2013: Spirituality of Food, Field, and Table

How can we live at home in the world? Most of us have a roof over our heads, but we don’t often think of “home” in terms of our watersheds, fields, and communities. How can we learn to dwell within our local ecosystems in a way that sustains, rather than desecrates, God’s abundant creation? How do we become native to a place so that we can move outward from a center of ecological, emotional, and spiritual rootedness?

Whether you are a faith leader or a person who simply wants to go deeper into these issues in your own life, we invite you to join us for The Art of Homecoming, an immersion course from June 16-20.

The skills required to come home require the focus of the whole person—mind, body, and spirit—and it is your whole person who will benefit during this retreat. Following the 1,500 year old Christian monastic patterns of prayer, work, and study, we will follow a daily rhythm that combines spiritual disciplines and ecological practices, a rhythm that can sustain us for the long haul.

The course will take place on the campus of Warren Wilson College, in the lovely Blue Ridge mountains of western North Carolina. Mornings will feature experiential learning in the campus garden and surrounding area, with classes on biointensive gardening, permaculture, creating a community garden, and wild foods foraging. Afternoons will consist of lectures and discussion, engaging in both theological and scriptural reflection on the practices of field and table. After dinner a brief Vespers service of Psalms will conclude the day. Evenings are free to rest, read, or explore nearby Asheville.

For anyone interested in the intersection of Christian spirituality, ecological restoration, and redemptive agriculture, then this course is for you.

See more about the retreat. »