Introducing Vision 2025: Our Ongoing Hope

And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.”
— Habakkuk 2:2

Dear Beloveds,

Our hearts leapt when we encountered Shalem – we were changed. For Margaret this happened in the 1980s, for Jackson in the 2010s. Both of us, like many of you, encountered a space and community that was hungry for God, eager to listen to the Holy, and desiring spaciousness and authenticity in our individual and shared response. We felt God’s transforming and loving presence, and an invitation to the contemplative path that has profoundly shaped our lives. For us and for many, it was a sense of coming home.

This sense of coming home is not passive. It’s an active, ongoing pilgrim journey with God and community that cultivates an inner life that nourishes us to be bearers and sharers of the Great Love. At its best, this is what Shalem offers each of us: the opportunity to grow in love with one another for the sake of the world. The Holy One guides and leads this activity, and we’re continually invited to step into that flow. This sacred space and precious calling make the vitality of Shalem deeply important to us, and we know it does the same for many of you, too.

In 2020 the whole world seemed to enter a communal dark night of the soul. Political divisions in our country, the coronavirus pandemic, and racial injustice roiled us. We took this situation to prayer: What does this all mean for our lives? What does this all mean for our world? What does this mean for Shalem?

Around this time, we noticed that the items described in the 2018 strategic plan were mostly completed. We observed with gratitude the completion of the Wider World Initiative, a fundraising effort to grow funds for scholarships and program development. And we sensed the growing importance of Shalem’s mission to nurture contemplative life and leadership. Indeed, to be present to the world in this communal dark night and to grow in organizational health, we sensed a holy invitation to discern a vision for Shalem’s future, a prophetic call that invites us to grow deeper in faith both internally and in our witness to the world.

This discernment process began at the staff-board retreat in March 2021 and continued with the formation of a vision coalition made up of board members, office staff, and program staff. We are grateful for the faithful service of that group: Susan Etherton, Sallie Chatfield, Nan Weir, Phillip Stephens, Katy Gaughan, Sarah Willie-LeBreton, Lisa Senuta, and Laura Neal, along with the two of us. We shared our experiences of Shalem, noticed patterns in Shalem’s history, discussed our dreams for Shalem’s future, and listened to reflections of the board and hundreds of others who participated in ten (yes, ten!) listening sessions.

This discernment led to the drafting of a vision statement, guiding principles, and focus areas.

-The vision statement articulates what we hear the Holy inviting Shalem to become in 2025.
-The guiding principles describe who we are and what we commit to for that vision to manifest.
-And the focus areas offer practical direction for our organizational life so that our vision can come alive.

The board approved this vision at its meeting on November 11, 2022, and it is with both humility and confidence that we present it to you now. You can read the vision on the Shalem website through this link:

In the months ahead you will hear more from a variety of people through the Shalem blog about the particular parts of the vision. Further, we invite you to attend a zoom meeting on Thursday, March 2 at 4:00 PM to learn more and engage the vision together. You can register here.

And as we step forward into this new year and new chapter in Shalem’s history, mindful of our approaching 50th anniversary, we invite – as the vision says – “your bold prayers and courageous hope.”

Here is the Vision Statement: In 2025, Shalem will be a dynamic and inclusive community, empowered by the Spirit, where seekers engage in transformation of themselves, their communities, and the world through spiritual growth, deep connection, and courageous action.

May it be so.

With gratitude,

Margaret Benefiel
Executive Director

Jackson Droney
Director of Operations

January 01, 2023 by Margaret Benefiel
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Our mission is to nurture contemplative living and leadership.


Grounded in our understanding of God’s desire for peace, wholeness and well-being, we envision a world transformed by contemplative living and leadership in which all people honor one another and creation, recognize their unity and interconnectedness, and courageously seek to live out of this reality.