I’d like to introduce you to a new program founded by my client, Nancy Wiens: the Center for Nature and Christian Spirituality. CNCS is a collaboration between Westminster Woods Christian Camp and the San Francisco Theological Seminary, and represents an exciting alternative financial model and educational program. For young adults aged 22-30, the program provides a fantastic, eleven-month, living and learning experience in a residential intentional community, with very little cash exchanged. Designed to be “budget cut proof,” the program includes an incredible array of learning opportunities, including an environmental education apprenticeship, challenge course leadership certification, permaculture certification, holistic financial planning (led by yours truly), a wilderness rite of passage, wilderness first responder certification, and last but not least, the Spirituality Concentration at San Francisco Theological Seminary, which includes 8 graduate level credits.
The financial model Nancy developed allows the program to offer an unprecedented value to the apprentices and the collaborators, on a shoestring cash budget. The apprentices receive educational programs and in exchange they work for the providing institutions, adding value in a variety of ways. For example, I taught a Holistic Financial Planning workshop for the apprentices and they returned to our small farm and helped us install a rain garden and rehabilitate the small creek that flows through our property. Meaningful value was exchanged instead of cash.
Nancy is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) with an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Christian spirituality, ritual studies, and the dialogue between theology and science. Her primary goal is to help people “deepen their relationship with God and respond to God’s calling more fully in their lives.” I had an opportunity to speak with Nancy recently and ask her a few questions.