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Habits of the Heart for Healthy Congregations: Making Our Home with the Other

Monday, July 31, 2017 - Thursday, August 3, 2017

Techny Towers Conference and Retreat Center - Techny, IL

Thank you for your interest! We are currently full. To add your name to the waitlist, please click on “Register” below. We will be in contact with you if a spot becomes available. Thank you!

July 31-August 3, 2017

Techny Towers Conference and Retreat Center
(25 minutes from O’Hare)

$450 Tuition before May 1
$550 Tuition after May 1
PLUS lodging & meals costs
Please see details below

Click to register now

Habits of the Heart for Healthy Congregations is an annual retreat for clergy and faith leaders who seek renewed sense of purpose, courage to lead from within, and practices for better belongingOur focus for the 2017 Habits of the Heart for Healthy Congregations retreat is on the habit of appreciating the value of “otherness.”

At this retreat you will learn new skills for fostering leadership – both within yourselves and among others – for the sake of revitalizing faith communities locally and globally.

Join like-minded peers from across all denominations and discover ways to renew your spirit and the spirit of your community of faith. Teams are encouraged to attend together to be able to apply shared learnings in your local contexts.

This retreat welcomes people from all religious traditions and walks of life, although most participants are clergy and congregational leaders from the Christian faith.

"quote-L "quote-RBecoming people who offer hospitality to strangers requires us to open our hearts time and again to the tension created by our fear of “the other.” That is why many wisdom traditions highlight the creative possibilities of a heart broken open instead of apart. Only from such a heart can hospitality flow – toward the stranger and toward all that we find alien and unsettling.

Parker J. Palmer, Author, Activist and Center Founder

habitsoftheheart-parkerpalmerWhat are Habits of the Heart?

Parker J. Palmer’s “Habits of the Heart” are deeply ingrained ways of seeing, being, and responding to life that involve our minds, our emotions, our self-images, our concepts of meaning and purpose.

Click to learn more:
Read the five habits at a glance
Watch videos of Parker Palmer discussing the five habits

During the four-day retreat:

  • Parker Palmer will lead an in-person session on the first full day of the event to speak about the “habits of the heart” and help us explore their relevance to the health of congregations and people of faith;
  • Trained Courage & Renewal® facilitators will use the Circle of Trust® approach to spiritual formation to guide individual reflection, small group sharing, and large group dialogue;
  • You will have free time to explore practices that deepen your own spiritual growth and to create connections with each other that sustain communities of mutual support;
  • You will gather together to learn from one another through teaching, reflection, conversation, and singing. On our last night of retreat, singer-songwriter Carrier Newcomer will lead us in a fast-paced, fun-filled songwriting workshop in which we’ll integrate our learnings from the week and compose an original song together as a group.

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Retreat Leadership

Valerie BrownValerie Brown is an international retreat leader, writer, ICF-accredited leadership coach, and Principal of Lead Smart Coaching, LLC, specializing in application and integration of mindfulness in daily life ( She has studied and practiced mindfulness in the Plum Village tradition since 1995 and was ordained in the Order of Interbeing by Thich Nhat Hanh in 2003. Valerie is a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and is a popular teacher and writer at Pendle Hill, a Quaker retreat center.

John FennerJohn Fenner is Program Director of the Courage to Lead for Clergy and Congregational Leaders, an initiative funded by the Center for Courage & Renewal and the Lilly Endowment. He has been facilitating Circle of Trust® retreats since 2003 for church groups, nonprofit leaders, and cross-professional cohorts. John is also a Senior Associate for Everyday Democracy, an organization dedicated to helping communities organize dialogue to action projects. He lives in Brevard, North Carolina, with his wife Claire and college-aged son Colin and is a member of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church.

kathryn-mcelveenKathryn McElveen is a professional leadership coach (PCC), Courage & Renewal facilitator and ordained elder in the Western NC Conference of the UMC where she has served as a congregational pastor and leadership development consultant. Since 2006, Kathryn has specialized in coaching leaders from the serving professions and designing and facilitating formational leadership programs for organizations and individuals. She is the co-author of Faith Coaching: A Conversational Approach to Helping Others Move Forward in Faith and The Faith Coaching Toolkit, which are being used to equip coaches in ministry settings around the world. Kathryn lives in Travelers Rest, SC, with her husband, Rimes, who leads an ecumenical campus ministry and intentional community at Furman University, and their four young children. She co-facilitated the eastern and western Courage to Lead cohorts.

Click to read the New York Times interview with Parker Palmer.Parker J. Palmer, Ph.D., is a writer, teacher, and activist who works independently on issues in education, community, leadership, spirituality, and social change. He is also founder and Senior Partner of the Center for Courage & Renewal. Palmer’s work spans a wide range of institutions: colleges and universities, public schools, religious communities and other non-profit organizations, healthcare institutes, and foundations. His publications include ten poems, more than one hundred essays, and nine books: The Promise of Paradox, The Company of Strangers, To Know As We Are Known, The Active Life, The Courage to Teach, Let Your Life Speak, A Hidden Wholeness, The Heart of Higher Education (with Arthur Zajonc), and, most recently, Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit. His work has been recognized with several national awards and ten honorary doctorates. In 2011, Palmer was named an Utne Reader Visionary, one of “25 people who are changing your world.”

vern-rempelVern Rempel is the founding pastor of Beloved Community: A Mennonite Congregation, based in Littleton, Colorado, a new congregational model that merges Courage & Renewal practices, traditional worship and vibrant live blues music. Before that, Vern served as Senior Pastor at the First Mennonite Church of Denver and at the Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He has a Doctor of Ministry from Iliff School of Theology and a Master’s from Anabaptist Seminary. His passions include making music, learning martial arts and community outreach.

Registration & Fees

$550 Regular Registration
$450 Early Bird Registration, if registered by May 1st, 2017

PLUS Lodging & Meals (choosing an option below is required):
+ $525 for Single Occupancy Room & Board (hotel style with private bath)
+ $425 for Single Occupancy Room & Board (dorm style with shared bath)
+ $375 for Double Occupancy Room & Board (hotel style with private bath)
+ $185 Commuter Rate (meals only @ two meals a day)

All rates are based on actual venue costs

Before registering…

CONSIDER: Most participants prefer a single room for rest and renewal. Before registering for a double, consider whether your sleeping habits would be easily compatible with a roommate.

AIR/GROUND TRAVEL: You will be responsible for travel to and from the event.

FINANCIAL AID is available based on need. We understand the sacrifice of time and resources this type of event takes, and yet we believe in its effectiveness to renew your spirit and the life of your community of faith. Please do not hesitate to contact John Fenner to discuss your unique needs or to nominate another individual for participation at a reduced cost. Please complete the financial aid application no later than June 1st, 2017.

CANCELLATION POLICY: We understand that life challenges emerge and changes happen. If you must cancel, you can receive a full refund minus the non-refundable $100 deposit when you notify the Center at least one month before the program begins. Barring exceptional emergencies, no refund can be given for cancellations received less than one month before the first retreat. Read the full policy here.

Click to register now

Design Team Facilitators

greg-eaton2014  Janice-virtue  vern-rempel  Paula J. Pederson  Debbie Stanley
Greg Eaton, Janice Virtue, Vern Rempel, Paula Pedersen, Debbie Stanley

donna-bivens  Steve Borgard  Kelly-Camak  prince-rivers  judy-skeen2
Donna Bivens, Steve Borgard, Kelly Camak, Prince Rivers, Judy Skeen

About Our Venue
techny-towers-chapelTechny Towers Conference and Retreat Center is conveniently located on Chicago’s North Shore, 30 minutes from the city or from O’Hare airport. Comfortable guest rooms and meeting rooms, spacious grounds, inspiring architecture, and excellent dining services make Techny an ideal atmosphere for retreat and spiritual exploration.

2001 Waukegan Rd, Techny, IL 60062 |

techny-towers-lounge techny-towers-guest_hallway

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