Vision 2025: Thoughts From Shalem’s Founder

When I read Shalem’s Vision 2025, I found it truly visionary, sophisticated, and valuable for Shalem’s way forward. I’m grateful for all that went into its articulation. 
50 years ago, at the founding of Shalem, we envisioned a place for contemplative prayer, a place of awe and wonder. We knew that Shalem’s life was ultimately a holy mystery. We could probe that mystery by leaning back into God’s loving presence and being open to what might be given us as we asked to be shown what was ours to know and do that could take us the next step toward that vision. We could seek to trust that whatever we would know and do would be grounded in love, faith and in an open-ended hope that ultimately was beyond our full comprehension. We brought an open minded/open hearted listening stance to all that we did. 
Shalem’s history shows us the great value of forming small groups for reflection on our spiritual lives, where we begin each group in silence, and return to that silence as needed. In that silence we have opportunity to ground ourselves in our spiritual hearts, deeper than our minds and egos. Collectively then, we find ourselves relating to one another on a more intimate, heart to heart level.
Now, 50 years later, I find myself amazed at what God has done through Shalem. While Shalem’s life still remains a holy mystery ultimately, there is a shimmering golden thread of how contemplative living and leadership have been manifested at Shalem over the decades. Now, with six long-term programs, with short-term programs and pilgrimages, and with online courses, we continue to experience the gift of grounding ourselves in our spiritual hearts. Small groups continue to be at the core of Shalem programs and at the core of the Shalem Society. In addition, with a board and staff committed to listening through leaning back into God’s loving presence, decisions are made through a process of open-hearted discernment. It is out of this open-hearted listening to the Spirit that Vision 2025 emerged. 
As Shalem moves into the future, we embrace Vision 2025 for the particular work that God has called us to in this time and place, as best as we can discern it. At the same time, we hold all of this lightly in the larger context of that holy mystery we call God. We will keep listening and keep seeking God’s guidance even as we place one foot in front of another, following the illumination we have been given. 
I look forward to seeing how God will manifest Vision 2025 at Shalem. It is important work that Shalem is called to do at this time.

February 02, 2023 by Tilden Edwards 4 Comments
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Tom Adams
9 months ago

Thanks Tilden for reminding us what is unique about Shalem and our collective commitment to listening for and following the divine. And that both individually and as community and world, we do that listening together. As an older member, I am deeply grateful to you, Rosemary , Gerry and others who built the foundation that makes this vision possible. Blessings to you and all the Shalem community in listening and living into this vision . Tom

Hana Rubens
Hana Rubens
9 months ago

Remembering walking through Rock Creek Park with Shaun McCarty in the 1990s.Thank you for all Shalem meant to him and through him to many.

Isabella Batees
Isabella Batees
9 months ago

It was a great privilege to be part of Salem’s early formation. I am very happy to see Shalem thrive and move forward into a promising future. Thanks Tilden for your vision, guidance and grace then and now.

John Denham
John Denham
9 months ago

Tilden…I remember being in your “second group” which sometimes met at the then College of Preachers. I’ll never forget the ‘mirror experience’ which you gave us and sent us off to separate rooms to meditate. Thanks so much for introducing me to resources which I still value in 2023.


Our mission is to nurture contemplative living and leadership.


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.