A Geography of Grace: A Courage & Renewal Alumni Institute
Geography of Grace is a four-day institute for those who have experienced one or more Courage & Renewal programs and want to “bring it home” and lead small groups, based on the Circle of Trust approach, in their spiritual and organizational communities.
Just as many of us are removed from contact with the natural world through our busy lives, so too we live distanced from the inner nature of our souls. Cut off from the land, we lose our sense of place and grounding, our sense of home and belonging on this earth; likewise, when we are out of touch with our souls our lives become barren, starved at the roots of what deeply animates us.
Based on metaphors from the geography of land and sky, this twelve-session series leads into an exploration of the geography of the soul, the true essence of the work of the Center for Courage & Renewal. Using Circles of Trust®, these sessions are designed to provide you with a chance to consider different aspects of our inner and outer geography. The notion of grace and its many facets is woven throughout each session.
This institute, originally designed with clergy in mind, has been experienced by leaders of other fields and found enriching for any setting where community is valued and/or an alignment of values is a desired outcome. We welcome people from all walks of life and spiritual traditions and we borrow diverse meanings of grace from different faith and philosophical perspectives.
Upon attending A Geography of Grace, you will:
- Receive a one-of-a-kind, 125-page curriculum for small-group programming that you can use and adapt in your home community. Download the introductory session of the curriculum here, “The Lay of the Land.”
- Practice leading and adapting the curriculum and gain feedback from your peers and facilitators.
- Experience a community of mutual support with fellow institute attendees.
- Develop your capacity to build the relational trust needed in congregational and community life.
- Explore how to lead and serve out of a place of courage and wholeness.
- Be supported by a community of practice which includes an invitation to join ongoing list serve communications and quarterly support calls.
Geography of Grace is for you if…
- You’ve experienced the Circle of Trust® approach and are ready to make the move from participant to practitioner.
- You long to lead courageous conversations in your spiritual community around the topic of “the soul’s geography” that speak to the whole person, build trust among peers, and transform tensions within and between generations.
- You would enjoy learning from Parker J. Palmer and other writers on the inner work of the soul, as well as learning with a community of kindred spirits who will journey with you on retreat.
Themes of the Curriculum
There is an eternal landscape, a geography of the soul;
we search for its outlines all our lives.
– Josephine Hart
The Geography of Grace curriculum is designed to be led in ten, 2.5 hour sessions sessions. At the Geography of Grace institute, participants will familiarize themselves with the curriculum and brainstorm how to adapt it for their particular faith context. Below is the working table of contents:
• Introductory Session – Vista Points
• Session Two – Spirit Guides
• Session Three – Holy Wells
• Session Four – Boundaries
• Session Five – Desert Places
• Session Six – Forest Community
• Session Seven – The Sea & Release
• Session Eight – The Prairies and their People
• Session Nine – Mountain Edges
• Session Ten – Primal Wonder and the Night Sky
• Session Eleven – Marshlands
• Session Twelve – Garden Spaces
Institute participants will also explore how others have adapted and added to the curriculum. These include sessions on Heartlands, Streams of Consciousness, Ecotones and others.
Read a blog post by facilitator Caryl Hurtig Casbon, co-author of the curriculum for A Geography of Grace, about the landscapes of the soul behind the program when it was first offered for congregations in 2012.
Our Next Retreat
A Geography of Grace
October 23-26, 2017 • Siena Retreat Center, Racine, Wisconsin
$700 Regular registration
$600 Early Bird if registered by August 15, 2017
PLUS Lodging & meals:
+ $400 for a Single Room
+ $175 commuter fee (meals only)
EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT! Save $100 when registered by August 15, 2017
Air/Ground Travel: These costs are the participants’ responsibility.
Financial aid is available based on need. Apply at www.couragerenewal.org/financialaid by August 15, 2017. Payment plans are also available to help alleviate upfront costs.
Register online by September 23, 2017 at
A $100 non-refundable deposit is due at registration. View our cancellation policy here.
Please direct questions to the Program Coordinator, Christine Herbert, at (206) 466-2055, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nancy Edmundson has participated in Circle of Trust work since 2008, and has served as a religious professional as the Director of Administration for the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara. She consults with congregations in a leadership development capacity and has facilitated leadership development retreats since 1991. Nancy has worked in community organizing for alternative education in the areas of charter and homeschooling in California, and has been instrumental in the development of an interfaith countywide Warming Center program for unsheltered homeless in Santa Barbara County. She lives in Santa Barbara with her husband, Alan and together they boast about their three children!
Winton Boyd has served as Senior Pastor at Orchard Ridge UCC in Madison, WI since 1999 and a Courage & Renewal Facilitator (CCR) for the past 9 years. Winton is dedicated to helping participants explore their ‘inner teacher’ in a safe and spiritually open way. He has worked with people of faith in multiple contexts and embraces the insights and pathways of multiple spiritual traditions while residing himself within the Christian way. He has found that the power of open and honest questions in our relationships and in our own inner life have the potential to reveal new and transformative understandings.
Lori Yadin is an Experiential Educator, Jewish Communal Leader, Mentor, Relationship Coach, and Retreat Facilitator. Her passion is creating safe, collaborative, pro-social and inclusive learning and working environments that honors human spirit, individuality, and community. Lori’s most recent initiative is launching a new Social-Profit: Create Safe Space, Inc. whose mission is to cultivate thriving environments that inspire healthy relationships, support individual potential, and grow communities of purpose and well-being – envisioning a world where we hold each other’s dignity as closely as we hold our own. Lori is a Facilitator for the Center for Courage & Renewal, trained by Parker J. Palmer and the Center’s leadership team. Lori has a creative spirit, love for the natural world and her family. In her free time she visits with her young adult sons, daughters, and grandson, digs in the garden, walks her dogs, or steals a few hours a day to read and write in her hundred year old corn crib. She has an abiding love of water and spends her year between the Delaware Shore and the Maine Coast.
Past Participants Reflect
Watch videos from our participants in the 2012 A Geography of Grace alumni institute for clergy and congregational leaders about what drew them to Courage & Renewal work and then read quotes about how they are “bringing it home.”
“One of the blessings of this work is I feel like I’m my best self when I’m doing this.”
“There’s a lot of sustenance to this material as it’s helped me open up and find a deep sustenance even within my own self.”
“The support that I get from working with other colleagues [in this program] has been very powerful, and probably has saved my ministry.”
“This is the most life-giving thing I that I ever done other than maybe giving birth to my children.”
“I’m hoping to start two different groups. I’m hoping to use this work to stabilize the pastoral care team in my congregation… and I hope to use it as an outreach tool outside my congregation to create support for people who are working in social change movements.” — Julia McKay
(See Julia’s written reflection below.)
“I’m trying to find avenues to see how it might impact our own leadership and leadership development for people to listen to their own souls, their vocations and their sense of calling.” — Steve Borgard
“The curriculum, A Geography of Grace, is giving us even more tools to pull groups together in the church and begin to explore each person’s inner teacher and find ways that we can help people to blossom.” — Cathy Barker
“My hope is to take this back and identify 8-10 people that I think have the potential to be good leaders in this kind of small group work, do this session with them, and equip them to then lead small groups of their own so that hopefully the circle will get bigger and we will have more people who are in touch with the divine within them.” — Susan Otey
THANK YOU for the beautiful work that we all did with the Courage & Renewal material these past two years [as part of a seasonal retreat series]. It has been nourishing and grounding for me.
I am continuing the work by teaching it now through the Geography of Grace curriculum. I have two circles going. One is with seven women in a private women’s circle. And the other in my congregation — there are fourteen people involved! So, we split into two even for the large group work. I also led a couple of discussions this fall around the Heart of Democracy during election season. So, it has been a Parker Palmer fall at Glacier UU…
What I can say right now is this: As you know teaching something is really when you learn it — and I am finding the work embedding itself even deeper in my psyche and soul. The work is proving powerful for participants and each week there are emotionally moving reports about meaningful results from practicing the Touchstones and the Open & Honest Questions out in their lives. I am enjoying facilitating the work as on the ground training for my pastoral care associates as well as my small group ministry leaders. Even after all my years in counseling and ministry, I know of no better grounding in how to listen deeply.
Is it possible to become more intentional about creating spaces — in relationship, in community — where our fearful shadows can emerge into the light to be seen for what they are, where the truth and love within us can appear and make a claim on our lives?
– Parker J. Palmer