About Shalem

Learn more about Shalem:

In brief

Vision & Mission

Core Values


In brief

Shalem is grounded in Christian contemplative spirituality and, at the same time, draws on the wisdom of many religious traditions.

We welcome you, wherever you are on the path of spiritual discovery.

Since 1973, the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation has fostered contemplative living and leadership by caring for the spiritual heart in prayer and by offering ways of opening into the life of the Spirit through our programs and other resources. We welcome individuals wherever they are on the path of spiritual discovery.

We provide opportunity for spiritual exploration individually and within a community of seekers.

Our partnerships with like-minded organizations enable Shalem’s ministry to expand around the world. Shalem is one of the most respected centers for spiritual deepening in the US and globally.

We provide resources for contemplative living, prayerful reading, invitations to silence, retreat weekends, online courses, speakers and events, and long-term programs for clergy seeking to go deeper, aspiring spiritual directors, contemplative retreat and prayer group leaders, and executives seeking to lead from the heart.

Learn more:

Vision & Mission


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.

See our Vision 2025.


To nurture contemplative living and leadership.

Core Values

These following core values undergird our understanding of what it means to be contemplative—prayerfully attentive and responsive to God’s presence and guidance:

  • Awareness that God is intimately present within us and among us

    We trust that God is immediately present and lovingly active and responsive in our lives. This Presence is always available to guide us toward being our deepest, truest selves in God.

  • Reverence for the mystery of God’s presence

    We share and interpret our experience of God’s immanent presence primarily through the wisdom of Christian contemplative tradition and are enriched by the contemplative dimension of other religions and sacred traditions.

  • Desire for spiritual discernment in all things

    Because we see God as the one true guide for both individuals and groups, we believe that the best orientation in life should always be toward God. In all things, we seek to be intentionally open to God in each moment as the Spirit guides and co-creates through us.

  • Radical willingness to trust God

    We pray to trust God at work in our own lives and in the lives of others—individuals, organizations and nations—even when all seems obscure to us and we do not comprehend the path ahead.

  • Respect for the unique spiritual path of each individual

    Because God works uniquely in and through each of us, we offer a wide variety of contemplative practices and teachings that address the three classical expressions of spiritual life: knowing, acting and feeling.

  • Recognition that contemplative living and leadership require spiritual support

    We understand that a contemplative orientation towards life requires the support of spiritual practices and spiritual community. We especially value the power of shared silence, the encouragement of attentiveness to God, and the mutual support provided by spiritual community. We commit to the integrity and faithfulness of our spiritual lives as individuals and in community.

  • Commitment to action in the world arising from a contemplative orientation toward life

    We believe a contemplative orientation not only draws us to our deepest, truest self in God but also shapes both an individual’s and a community’s way of being in, listening to, and caring for the world.


Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation was given birth by the Rev. Dr. Tilden H. Edwards, Jr., an Episcopal priest who offered Shalem’s first contemplative retreat in spring of 1973 and then, from his own spiritual journey, was led to form the Shalem Institute.

It is for us to provide hospitable and inspiring opportunities for people to listen and respond more boldly to the Spirit at work in them and to encourage people to connect what is happening with them to God’s larger movements in the world.

– Tilden Edwards, Shalem’s Founder & Senior Fellow

At the heart of those beginning years were Shalem’s weekly contemplative prayer groups that met in different locations around metropolitan Washington, DC, and attracted a variety of men and women from different faith traditions and different professions.

These early years are chronicled in Holy Meeting Ground, a compilation of interviews and Shalem newsletter excerpts that describe what many were seeking and found through Shalem programs and writings.

For nearly 50 years, Shalem has continued to offer retreats, workshops, and groups. In 1978, Shalem started its first in-depth program for supporting and nurturing spiritual directors/companions and now has six in-depth programs. Recent years have seen Shalem’s programs expand outside the US to Korea, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. Our online programs are available worldwide.

Shalem’s spiritual lineage is rich and deep, and many historical spiritual figures, well-known and not so well-known, have influenced Shalem’s writings, programs and life together.


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.