Resilience for Activists

April 12-13, 2019 at The Upper Room
1908 Grand Ave.
Nashville, TN 37212
We hope you'll join us for this retreat for activists, spiritual leaders, and anyone desiring a space for practicing rest, growing in compassion, and cultivating resilience. This interactive retreat and its thoughtful rhythm will provide participants with time for reflection and tools for deepening resilience and compassion.
Resilience for Activists, facilitated by Margaret Benefiel
In twenty-first-century Western culture, leaders are rewarded for their drive, decisiveness, productivity, and long work hours. Especially in the social justice arena, burnout is rampant. What would it look like for activists to cultivate the inner life, to step off the treadmill, to take time apart for personal reflection, in order to be more resilient? What would leadership arising from a core of contemplative grounding and compassion look like?
This will be an experiential workshop, in which participants' own experiences will serve as the basis for reflection and discernment. Stories of resilient activists and principles of resilient activism will complement personal reflection.

Margaret Benefiel, Executive Director of Shalem, holds a PhD in Spirituality from Catholic University and an MA. in Theology from Earlham School of Religion. She is a graduate of Shalem’s Nurturing the Call: Spiritual Guidance Program, serves on the staff of most of Shalem’s long-term programs, regularly leads pilgrimages to Assisi, and created and directs the Soul of Leadership Program. A teacher and retreat leader, she has served in various leadership roles in Spiritual Directors International and as Chair of the Academy of Management’s Management, Spirituality, and Religion Group. She is the co-chair of the Christian Spirituality Group of the American Academy of Religion and the author of numerous articles and books on contemplative leadership, including The Soul of a Leader and Soul at Work.

Growing Compassion, facilitated by Sharon Conley Cottingham
“We are most fully human, most fully ourselves, when we see someone in the truth of his or her experience and are moved to respond with kindness and care.” Frank Rogers
As good religious folks, we talk a lot about compassion. We view Jesus as a great model of compassion. We work hard to exercise compassion. But how do we keep engaging in compassionate practice for the long haul when we’re drained by the contention, injustice, and polarization around us? In his book Practicing Compassion, Frank Rogers guides his readers in several specific, accessible, everyday habits of mindfulness intentionally designed to grow sustainable compassion. Come and consider what compassion truly is, listen to rich narratives, acquire basic tools for compassion practice, and most importantly engage in compassion practice together.
This session offers:
  • A fresh approach to growing a boldly compassionate heart
  • A simple tool for lifelong compassion practice
  • An experience in guided meditation for compassion
Sharon Conley Cottingham has worked in a variety of capacities (Companions in Christ, Weavings, SOULfeast) with The Upper Room since 2005. Currently she serves as Director of Formational Learning working with a team to create online experiences featuring the books, magazines and programs of The Upper Room. Sharon’s spiritual journey has consistently taken her to new and surprising places and has been energized through the compassion practice outlined in Frank Rogers' Practicing Compassion. She holds a master's degree in theology from Regent College (Vancouver, BC), a B.S. in Secondary Education from Penn State University. Sharon is a graduate of Shalem's Soul of Leadership program. She lives in Nashville.
Remembering and Reclaiming, facilitated by Robbie Clifton Pinter

“Things are going to slide, slide in all directions,” wrote Leonard Cohen.* Sometimes we feel like things are sliding beneath our feet and we need to remember who we are. This session addresses that feeling of burnout and confusion and will help us remember what our spiritual selves look like. We will bring all of our experiences, needs, and hopes together as we seek ways to remember and reclaim our spiritual selves.

Through using journal writing, stories, silence, and reflection, participants will be able to reconnect with their own lives, listen to our own inner wisdom, and locate the inspiration that first called us to our work in the world.

This session will help. . .

  • rediscover your purpose and calling
  • remember your need for self-care
  • remember your initial enthusiasm about your work
  • remember why you do what you do
  • reflect on your life and/or work
  • renew yourself for work in the world.
Wherever you stand and whoever you are, if you feel that “the blizzard has crossed the threshold” and “has overturned the order of the soul,”* come experience what some time apart can do to help.

* Leonard Cohen, “The Future”

Robbie Clifton Pinter is a Professor of English at Belmont University where she has taught since 1984. Her academic interests include Rhetoric and composition, with a specialty in life writing, reflective learning, writing related to spirituality, and using contemplative strategies as pedagogy. She also enjoys teaching writing courses that are embedded in community and social change, such as Writing and Social Change, Environmental Writing, and Writing as Art and Agency. For several years, Robbie co-led Study Abroad trips to Turkey and currently co-leads Study Away trips to the Plains Native American tribes. Robbie also serves as a spiritual director and retreat leader. Her family includes husband Mike, son Nicholas, and the always-loving terrier, Annabelle.

Friday, April 12 

5pm: Participants are encouraged to meet at The Upper Room and walk together to Nada, where we'll have a group dinner reservation for those who would like to eat together before the program. (Dinner not included in registration fee.)

7-8pm: Quiet Time Group Reflection at The Upper Room

(Friday evening activities are optional.)

Saturday, April 13

8am: pastries, coffee, and conversation

8:30am: welcome

9am: session 1
10:45am: session 2

12:15pm: catered lunch

1:30pm: session 3

5pm: farewell



Standard Registration: $75 early bird rate (ends March 31); $100 (April 1-April 9)
Student Registration: $50 early bird rate (ends March 31); $75 (April 1-April 9)

In addition to high quality training, registrants will receive breakfast and lunch on Saturday, a journal, and two books (Practicing Compassion by Frank Rogers and Spirit Windows by Ann Kulp).

We never want cost to prevent you from participating with us. If the price is a concern for you, please contact to talk about options. Thanks!