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Gateway 2017 for Prospective Courage & Renewal Facilitators

Thursday, October 19, 2017 - Sunday, October 22, 2017

IslandWood - Seattle, WA

DATE: October 19 – 22, 2017 Thurs. 4:30 PM to Sunday 1 PM

VENUE: IslandWood, Bainbridge Island, WA

COST: $1,200 for 4 days/3 nights; includes tuition, room & board

Click to register now
Applications are due by July 15, 2017


If you are interested in becoming a Courage & Renewal Facilitator and learning how to facilitate the Circle of Trust® approach, the Gateway Retreat is your next step. In large group, small group, and solitary settings, we will explore the intersection of our inner journeys and our work in the world, making use of personal stories, reflections on ”soul and role”, and insights from poets, storytellers and various wisdom traditions. We will experience and talk about the principles and practices that form the foundation of the Circle of Trust approach, the dual roles of the facilitator, and address questions regarding the Courage & Renewal Facilitator Preparation Program (see brief description below and also see the Program page). What sets this retreat apart from others is the additional focus on learning more about how we prepare facilitators, about the broader work of the Center for Courage & Renewal and the leader-rich network of Courage & Renewal facilitators who engage with each other as an ongoing community of learning and practice. Toward the end of the retreat participants will have the opportunity to explore next steps regarding their interest in pursuing facilitator preparation. Join us at the Gateway retreat

WHENThe retreat begins at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 19th, 2017, and concludes with lunch on Sunday, October 22nd.

WHEREThe retreat will be held at IslandWood, a beautiful 255-acre retreat and outdoor learning center on Bainbridge Island, Washington in Puget Sound (an easy 35 minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle.) Gateway participants are housed in comfortable lodges, in double accommodations. Each lodge features a cozy great room with fireplace. IslandWood’s innovative chefs use organic produce and sustainably raised meat to create regional, seasonal meals. Vegetarian and gluten-free meals are available with advance notice.

FEES AND TRANSPORTATION, AND SCHOLARSHIPS: The program fee of $1,200 covers tuition, room, and board. You are responsible for your own transportation costs. Participation is limited to 25 people. A modest fund is available for partial scholarships based on demonstrated financial need. To apply for financial assistance, complete our online form: To set up a payment plan, contact (206) 466-2055 or See our cancellation policy here.

APPLYING FOR THE GATEWAY RETREAT: To apply, please use this link to register for the retreat. You will then be prompted to complete the rest of the application that includes:

1. A personal statement addressing:

  • why you want to participate in this retreat and how you hope to benefit;
  • previous experience with retreats or programs using the Circle of Trust approach (e.g. participation in Circle of Trust retreats, Courage to Teach® or Courage to Lead® retreats)
  • your experiences around cultural competency/humility and the capacity to work with diverse audiences;
  • your interest in pursuing next steps as a Courage & Renewal Facilitator; and
  • your capacity and commitment to garner interest and support in your community or profession for this work

2. A brief professional vitae/resume outlining relevant academic and professional experience, including experience in facilitating, teaching, and leading groups (2-3 pages)

These should be completed and uploaded with the online application by JULY 15, 2017. Please do not send any payment until you are notified of your acceptance.

SELECTIONS AND NOTIFICATION: Due to the growing interest in this work—and in our facilitator preparation program—there are often many more applicants than available slots for the Gateway Retreat. Many factors go into our selection process, including an individual’s personal qualities, prior group facilitation and/or retreat leadership, interest and capacity to offer retreats to others, and previous experience with retreats based on the Circle of Trust approach. Preference will be given to individuals with more retreat experience. Applicants will be notified of selection decisions by August 15, 2017. Payment will be due by September 1.

ABOUT THE COURAGE & RENEWAL FACILITATOR PREPARATION PROGRAM: Skilled facilitators are at the heart of creating safe and trustworthy space for participants in Circle of Trust retreats and other programs, and preparing them is one of the Center’s most important functions. The Center’s facilitator preparation program is a leadership and mentoring program for preparing people to lead circles of trust and to assist them in establishing personal and professional renewal programs in their professions or communities. Facilitators create institutional and/or community partnerships from which to “grow” this work (i.e. they do not “work” for the Center). Thus, being a Circle of Trust facilitator combines leadership and facilitation with responsibility for program development in the facilitator’s community or profession.

There is a careful discernment and selection process for each new facilitator cohort. Once accepted, cohort members attend a two-year Facilitator Preparation Program involving two five-day retreats in the first year followed by a mentoring relationship with an experienced facilitator during the second year. New facilitators also engage with, and commit to, participation in an ongoing “community of practice.” Information and application for the 2018-19 Courage & Renewal Facilitator Preparation will be available at by late spring 2017. We anticipate accepting 16-20 individuals into the next facilitator cohort.

Note: There is a high degree of subtlety and sophistication to this type of leadership, and in our years of preparing facilitators we have found that the more personal experience with the Circle of Trust approach that a potential facilitator has, the better. Our facilitator preparation program is not a “train the trainer” model.


John FennerJohn Fenner is Director of the Facilitator Preparation Program as well as Programs for Clergy and Congregational Leaders for the Center for Courage & Renewal. He has been facilitating Courage & Renewal retreats since 2003 with people from a variety of backgrounds and professions. Previously, John worked as a consultant to nonprofits, churches, and communities on conflict resolution, dialogue, racial equity, and organizational/community change processes. Between 1989 and 2006, John served as Executive Director of the Center for Dialogue, a community-based nonprofit dedicated to the promotion of peaceful communities and positive change in individuals and organizations.



The facilitator’s role in a circle of trust is easily defined: to be first among equals in creating and protecting a space where everyone’s soul can feel safe. But that role is not so easily played. It requires grounding, training, mentoring and experience. Deeper still, a facilitator must understand the solemn responsibility that accompanies a work in which people are invited to make their souls vulnerable and promised that they will be done no harm. —Parker J. Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness

The Center for Courage & Renewal admits participants of any race, color, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities and does not discriminate in administration of its programs, admissions policies, scholarships and financial assistance.

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