the pastor's soul
eco-ministry certificate program
ReWilding the Pastor's Soul
An EcoMinistry Certificate for Church Leaders
"We need to move from a spirituality of alienation from the natural world to a spirituality of intimacy with the natural world from a spirituality of the divine as revealed in words to a spirituality of the divine as revealed in the visible world about us." - Thomas Berry
ReWilding the Pastor’s Soul is an experiential nature-based journey for pastors, church executives, and other religious professionals who sense a New Story emerging through the Christ tradition.
This New Story is actually not very new at all. Rather, it is a reformation, a remembering. As old structures and institutions collapse, and ecological suffering continues, it is time to go beyond merely caring for creation or stewarding Earth’s “resources" toward a kin-dom of God that restores a buried memory: We are held by a Divine Love joining the cosmos, nations, and all beings -- human and other-than-human --in Her embrace.
This certificate program is for spiritual leaders who sense they're called to play an integral role in bringing this new story into practice. Religious leaders are essential in developing a kindred spirituality that supports the visions and sacrifices needed in our current time of ecological and institutional collapse and renewal.
It begins with rewilding the pastor's soul. Like every spiritual leader in both testaments of the Christian stories, to go into the actual wilderness places where you are and listen deeply to the call of the wild God whispering through the stars and the trees. To remember your belonging in a beloved community larger than our own species. And from that place of reconnection with Spirit, Soul and Earth, the vision takes shape to transition our faith communities into places of transformative possibility.
a threshold crossing
ReWilding the Christian Story
ReWilding the Pastor's Soul
At pivotal moments in history and their own leadership, people have been invited by God to enter the actual wilderness. In Hebrew the word for wilderness, dabar, primarily means "the organ which speaks." Like the leaders in our scriptures, we too are called into the wild to remember our identity, listen for our wild calling, and engage in intimate conversation with the Holy.
Do you hear a sacred call to rewild??
You are not alone. Other kindred souls have heard a call from Spirit and from Earth herself to become agents of reconnection, reconciling the divide between nature and spirituality. They have also experienced the wild sacred presence in nature and are longing to fully embody this reality in their spiritual and vocational lives.
The EcoMinistry Certificate program offers an opportunity to:
FOCUS on your own soul's rewilding journey
JOURNEY with a cohort of like-hearted church leaders through deep conversations about how we can participate in healing centuries of disconnection that have impacted both the planet, and the human soul
DEEPEN your relationship with your own wild place, to remember that you belong
REIMAGINE the Christian story through eco-theological, Celtic, and earth-honoring lenses
EXPLORE the vision planted in your heart in a safe container, and receive support to share it in the context of your own community
to inspire new growth
from a long line of guides leading the way
nature-based curriculum from centuries of edge-walking spiritual ecologists
of like-hearted souls
a similar path
from gifted guides, spiritual directors, elders to support what longs to bloom through you
Leaning into More Feminine Ways of Knowing
ReWilding work is not new. Streams of spirituality deeply connected with all systems of life on earth flows through all religious traditions, even Christianity. Often associated with the divine feminine, an ecologically alive spirituality has been has been mostly buried and lost within our dominant cultures. The Eco-Ministry program is rooted in the wisdom of these ancient streams of Christian mysticism and Celtic spirituality as well as practices of contemporary spiritual ecology.
The program includes readings from some of the most prophetic voices of our time, guides holding space for your unfolding vision, invitations to enter into intimate relationship with your home Place and wild soul, and a community of like-hearted friends supporting you to show up as an "old growth human" (a Martin Shaw term!) through the process. Most importantly, we rely on practices to listen deeply to the wisdom of the dandelions, birds and clouds outside your door.
There is less talk about God and theory and more opportunities to encounter Divine Presence directly, and that in relationship with the natural world. The Eco-Ministry journey primarily relies on a set of non-dominant (ie: more feminine) ways of knowing such as dreamwork, contemplative wanders, embodied Earth-based prayers, imaginal journeys, poetry and writing, art and sacred council, ritual and ceremony. Grief work is essential to any growth and is foundational in the course. Experiential rather than didactic, seedings and invitations to wander and wonder are offered bi-weekly that attempt to break open old ways of thinking and birth new stories within you and ways of being.
WEEKLY ONLINE GATHERINGS. The modules meet weekly for 2 hours on Tuesdays at noon, pacific time. Every other week, participants meet in smaller "hive groups" to share from the heart their wanderings
SEASONAL ZOOM INTENSIVES. Each module begins with an intensive offered at or near the quarter-days of the Celtic calendar, celebrating the center-point of each season. The intensives are an opportunity for extended time to wander and devote to the work. Intensives gather on Zoom 12-2 pm PST Friday and Saturday at the beginning of each new module. (dates listed below)
TRANSITIONS BETWEEN MODULES. An online ceremony at the end of each module invites participants to cross a threshold into the next module.
MODULE ONE: Reclaiming Your Wild Humanity
MODULE TWO: ReAwakening to an Ensouled World
MODULE THREE: Encountering the Wild Christ
MODULE FOUR: Living out your Wild Call
Reclaiming Your Wild Humanity
ZOOM SESSIONS: May 16, 2023 - July 18, 2023 (12-2 pm PST)
INTENSIVE: Friday and Saturday, May 19-20 noon PST
ReWilding the church begins with reWilding the pastor's soul. Pastors and other spiritual leaders often work in settings where they have little real authority, are expected to be always available, are convenient screens upon which parishioners can project unresolved anger and pain they bear toward God, parents, or other authority figures, spend much of their time doing things unrelated to why they went into ministry, face job expectations that are utterly unrealistic, see little evidence of spiritual growth in their congregation, and find themselves in competition with other pastors.
In facing such herculean challenges, many pastors live in a perpetual state of anxiety and exhaustion and end up feeling estranged from their own souls. Many pastors share that they rarely feel authentic in their interactions with parishioners and must conform to the demands and expectations of others to keep their jobs.
In this module, we will look at the ways “pastorization” of the psyche happens and how pastors might both reclaim the wild sacredness of their own humanity and embark on a lifelong journey of facilitating ever greater internal wholeness and vitality. Through nature-based practices of heart-centered thinking, full-presence sensing, full-bodied emotion, and deep imagination, we will enter into the soul work of reclaiming who we truly are.
Participants will be encouraged to explore what greater wholeness might look like in their lives and how that wholeness can be expanded over the course of their lifetime.
ReAwakening to an Ensouled World
ZOOM SESSIONS: July 25 - September 26, 2023 (12-2 pm PST)
INTENSIVE: Friday and Saturday, July 28-29, 12-2 PST
For most of human history, those who occupied a place of spiritual leadership in their communities had a deep connection with the natural world. Their calling was to help their communities to live in reciprocal love with the wind and trees and stars and fish. St Francis embodied this mystical vision and experiential oneness with creation in his “Canticle of Brother Son and Sister Moon” when he speaks of water and air and fire as siblings and Earth as Mother.
But over the past several centuries, the understanding of humanity’s kinship with the natural world was obliterated by destructive theologies and practices and spiritual leaders who tried to maintain nature-based practices and beliefs were persecuted and killed.
Creation was no longer seen as sacred but merely as a storehouse of resources for human consumption. Consequently, we have arrived at a time unlike any other in human history as the ongoing viability of our planet is at stake.
In this module, we will explore how, as spiritual and religious leaders, we can begin to reconnect with our ensouled world and foster a deep reciprocity with nature in our communities of faith, helping to heal the tragic rift that harms all life. Seedings, practices, and readings will be offered to help foster both a theological and ecological reawakening to the ensoulment of our world. Participants will be invited to reflect on how they might help to foster this reawakening work in their own communities of faith.
Module Two: ENSOULED EARTH
Encountering the Wild Christ
ZOOM SESSIONS: October 3 - December 5, 2023, 12-2 PST
INTENSIVE: Friday and Saturday, October 6-7, 12-2 PST
While the Christian church has over the past 20 centuries created myriad confessions of their understanding of Christ, these grand articulations often bear little resemblance to the theology undergirding many faith communities today. Today’s pastors work in a world where this revolutionary revelation of God has gotten buried under the ongoing processes of domestication, racialization, and trivialization, leading to a pervasive form of American Christianity that is irrelevant at best and destructive at worst.
This module will provide the time and space for pastors and other spiritual leaders to explore their own emerging answer to the question Jesus posed to his first followers: “who do you say that I am?” Scriptural reflection, imaginal journeys, wanders in nature, and other invitations will be offered so that participants might discover a new revelation of the Wild Christ being born within them.
A core aspect of this module will be exploring how the white American Church, from its inception, created a “white Christ” to promote and protect the ideology and practice of white supremacy, reflecting on the consequences of this history, and discovering ways to address it in their own lives and faith communities.
Living Out Your Wild Call
ZOOM SESSIONS: January 9 - March 19, 2024 (12-2 pm PST)
INTENSIVE: Friday and Saturday, August 5-6 (12-2 pm PST)
GRADUATION CEREMONY: March 23, 2024 (12-2 pm PST)
For many pastors, the call to ministry emanated from a personal encounter with God. This transforming experience fueled a longing to spend one’s life in a grand adventure of wrestling with matters of divine significance.
But often in short order, this holy longing gets replaced by an internal stagnation that leads to a deep sense of frustration and grief. Many pastors end up feeling they have become religious professionals getting paid to maintain a form of Christianity that maintains the status quo rather than being changes agents fostering the desperately needed transformation of the world.
In this module, we will listen deeply to the re-wilding voices of Psyche, Nature, and Spirit as they call us to step boldly and courageously into the sacred work given to us in a time such as this. A plan of action will be developed that will include developing internal resilience and forming a cadre of fierce allies to support the ongoing living out of one’s Wild Call to serve the beloved community which is larger than our own species.
Stories from Graduates
"Sometimes being a pastor is a lonely place. Even though we spend our time with people, sharing the Good News of love and compassion, it is difficult to share our own journey of faith and trust. Who wants to spend time with a pastor who questions, laments, begrudges and eyerolls at the state of the world?
Rewilding the Pastor's Soul is a place to be authentic and real, with no worries of being side-eyed and mis-labeled as a heretic or worse. The relationships I formulated in these sessions, helped me to realize I was not alone in my journey as a pastor, and that my vocation was not in jeopardy just because I chose to believe differently that the mainstream church, or theological doctrines of old.
Another gift of Rewilding the Pastor’s Soul comes the give and take aspect of baring one’s soul and thoughts with other like-minded people. Just as lungs inhale and exhale, with the give and take of air, so must we find a way to do this with our companions along the way."
Rev. Teri Ditslear, ELCA
Roots of Life Community Noblesville, Indiana
What authors and thinkers are included in the program?You can tell there is a movement happening by the expanding library of prophetic eco-theological books, networks, poetry, artwork, and the flow of offerings by people who use the language of relationality to whisper from the heart of the divine Presence in nature. We are particularly inspired by elders in the ancient and emerging eco-spirituality world such as Thomas Berry, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Randy Woodley, Bayo Akomolafe, Martin Shaw, Toko-pa Turner, David Whyte, John O'Donahue, Joanna Macy, J. Drew Lanham, St Francis of Assissi, Mary Oliver, John Philip Newell, Annie Dillard, Hildegarde of Bingen, Richard Rohr, Wendell Berry, Christina Cleveland, Mirabai Starr, Bill Plotkin, Tielhard de Chardin, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Meister Eckhart, Matthew Fox...so many beautiful voices to be heard from humans. Reminder, though, that the primary voice is your own, in conversation with the Sacred and with the more-than-human-others in your home Place. (The program strongly suggests a couple books per module and offers shorter essays, TED talks, videos, substacks, podcasts and other ways of learning from new and ancient voices leading the way...but none of them are considered "assignments." Everything is an invitation that strengthens your own inner authority and honors your particular curiosity!)
What do I do with this Certificate?The Eco-Ministry Certificate is a badge on your resume that shows you've committed yourself to the re-integration of ecology and spirituality, for the benefit of the emerging new, more kind and interconnected way of being human. While you will learn by practicing ways of holding ceremony, guiding others into spiritual practices that reconnect us with the rest of the world, eco-theology, dreamwork, imaginal journeying, and other non-linear ways of knowing, this is not a certificate to do some particular job like a wild church pastor or a wilderness soul guide or an eco-spiritual director, though we do offer other programs to pursue these paths. The soul work YOU are called to create is particular to you, your community and the particular non-human others in your place. The seed of vision you've been given by Spirit and Earth, herself, is likely something that has no model in our dominant culture. That's the point. The Eco-Ministry program offers support as you step into the role you are uniquely created to fill, which is definitionally counter to the dominant culture. The status quo requires complicity, not creativity. You will meet resistance. We are changing the public narrative, my friends. We are being called to participate in shifting the values, language, and worldview of a dominated culture dominated by domination into a worldview of interconnection, regeneration, and, well, love.
How much time do I need to set aside for the program each week?The program has been created for people to engage at the level they are able. There are books, but not assignments. There are art and movement practices and podcasts and poems and wandering and journaling invitations. But everything is an invitation. Those who can give more time to the practices, of course, will likely get more out of the program, but past participants have been able to experience significant transformation no matter how many children they have to nurture or jobs they have to tend. But if you're asking about the minimums...the minimum participation is simple: show up and go out. Show up each week. And go out to your wild places at least a half hour each week to wander with the seeding invitations. We all have lives, and it is necessary to miss a week occasionally. That's completely understandable and we encourage full inner authority to decide what is life-giving on a daily basis! All of the cohort gatherings, the "seedings," are recorded and posted weekly, so you can catch up easily. And the invitations are posted each week on a platform called Trello, so you can access them at any time.
Are there any in-person gatherings?At the end of the program, you will be invited to an optional in-person gathering for Wild Ordination. Information about cost and location TBD.
What are the specific dates and times for the gatherings?Zoom calls: Wednesdays 2-4 pm PST Dates for Fall Modules: First Module: Oct 18- Dec 13 (Intensive date 10/21, 8:30-11am PST and 2-4pm PST) Second Module: Jan 3 - Mar 6 (Intensive date 1/6, 8:30-11am PST and 2-4pm PST) Third Module:: Mar 20 - May 22 (Intensive date 3/23, 8:30-11am PST and 2-4pm PST) Fourth Module: June 5 - Aug 10 (Intensive date 6/8, 8:30-11am PST and 2-4pm PST)
Can I make payments? Do you offer scholarships?We are working on becoming a non-profit and raising funds for scholarships. Unfortunately, for now, that means we aren't yet in a position to offer scholarships. However, we do offer payment plans that can span throughout the year.
ReWilding the Pastor's Soul
A $350 Deposit will hold your place in the cohort
Rev. Victoria Loorz
Founder, Center for Wild Spirituality, co-founder Seminary of the Wild and
Wild Church Network.
Teachers, Facilitators and Guides
Emerging from the wisdom gained from the first four cohorts of the eco-ministry program developed by Seminary of the Wild and on the work of Victoria Loorz as glimpsed in her book, Church of the Wild: How Nature Invites Us into the Sacred, the seedings burst from a range of prophetic teachers at the eco-tones of the wild spirituality movement.
Guides and small group leaders include spiritual directors, eco-guides, eco-therapists, coaches and trauma therapists, many of whom have graduated from the Eco-Ministry program offered through Seminary of the Wild.
Rev. Bryan Smith
Nature-based soul guide.