From Martin Luther King to Dorothy Day, work for social change throughout American history has been led by people who touched both the hope of heaven on earth and the hell of our inhumanity to one another. Like the Spirit that hovered over the waters of chaos in the beginning, people dare to speak in the face of the unspeakable, creating new worlds of possibility. But none of us are God. In the messy present of our daily lives, the torrent of oblivion threatens to silence us. Words can feel like such fragile tools when human lives are on the line. In a world of action, who has time to sit and write?
But at the heart of the Christian story is a God who creates with nothing but words. And when, in our story’s greatest act of love, God descends to earth, John’s gospel says that “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” In the Christian story, everything seems to hang on words.
How, then, does the creative power of words fit within a Christian vocation to change the world that is into the world that ought to be? What are the temptations inherent to such work? What practices sustain those who want to root themselves in the Spirit’s power?
Join author Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove in a writing workshop focused on both the craft of writing and the vocation of tending to words for the sake of faithful social change. Jonathan will lead discussions each morning, drawing on his own experience as well as the examples of Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, Wendell Berry, Toni Morrison. In the afternoons, Jonathan will lead a writing workshop to focus on the craft of writing.
- Explore writing as a vocation and consider how it intersects with the call to work for social change.
- Examine and practice writing as a craft, learning to recognize not only when something is “good writing,” but also what makes it so.
- Participate in writing workshops that both hone particular skills and invite honest feedback about their own work.
- Make a writing “schedule” that will fit into their day-to-day schedule at home.
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove is a popular speaker and well-known peace and social-justice activist. With Shane Claiborne he founded the New Monastic movement, which emphasizes an intentional life of prayer, seeking consensus, and engagement in the world. Jonathan and his wife, Leah, founded Rutba House, a Christian community that welcomes visitors, guests, neighbors, and strangers. In addition, he serves as an associate pastor at St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, North Carolina. The author of more than a dozen books, his writings include The Awakening of Hope, The Wisdom of Stability, and Strangers at My Door.
The program is limited to 12 participants and will be held at the Warren Conference Center and Inn in Ashland, Massachusetts, 25 miles east of downtown Boston. Accommodations include private rooms with baths, and all meals and snacks. Transportation to and from the facility are the responsibility of participants. The registration fee is $200, payable upon acceptance. The cost of the program is underwritten by the Pastoral Excellence Program of the Massachusetts Conference, UCC in partnership with the Collegeville Institute and the Lilly Endowment. Participants are expected to stay the full length of the workshop.
The application deadline for this workshop has now passed.