Apprenticeship Overview

Apprenticeship in Spiritual Formation and Living in Intentional Community

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The program affords an opportunity rarely had in contemporary US culture:  for people to evaluate individually and collectively the choices they make in their daily lives in light of their relationship with God and the whole of creation.  Together with the primary leaders of Emergence, Nancy Wiens and Sam Yates, the group reads, prays, reflects, and shares about central spiritual themes of being the Beloved of God, living one’s life in free response to God’s love, discerning one’s vocation, etc.  We explore contemplative, Christian prayer practices for how they influence contemporary life and faith.  Collaborating partners from various world religions share their contemplative traditions and practices as a way for apprentices to deepen in their own faith and spiritual life.  Further, through our work with local interfaith communities, we experience others’ religious or spiritual communities in ritual, retreat, and dialogue settings.

Opportunities arise to consider one’s relationship with play, rest, Sabbath, sleep, work, personal relationships, technology, food, one’s body, money, etc., in light of one’s relationship with God.   The role of communication patterns, contemporary science, and death will all be part of our conversations with each other and God.  Because participants live in common housing, sharing meals together, the opportunity to form an intentional community with shared commitments is a key part of the apprenticeship experience.

A central commitment to non-violence shapes the aims of Emergence’s practices and teachings.  Knowing all  commitments take ongoing support to enact, we collaborate with Bay Area Nonviolence Communication (Bay NVC).  Emergence apprentices and staff participate in Bay NVC’s program called Leveraging Your Influence, a once-a-month, day-long training that helps support intentional community at Emergence and beyond.

Some of the possibilities for shared reading and discussion include the following books:

  • The Intentional Christian Community Handbook:  For Idealists, Hypocrites and Wannabe Disciples of Jesus, David Janzen
  • Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? Brian McLaren
  • The Soul of Money, Lynne Twist
  • Nonviolent Communication:  A Language of Life, Marshall Rosenberg
  • Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl
  • When Science Meets Religion, Ian Barbour
  • Life of the Beloved, Henri Nouwen
  • Sabbath, Wayne Muller
  • The Final Crossing, Scott Eberle
  • An Altar in the World, Barbara Brown Taylor
  • The Way of the Heart, Henri Nouwen
  • Memories of God, Roberta Bondi
  • Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer



Permaculture is a design process that mimics systems found in nature.  Seeking to create sustainable human-nature relationships, it brings together diverse strategies, techniques, people, land, and energy resources.  Based on an ethic of Earth Care, People Care, and Fair Share, it focuses on natural systems thinking, thoughtful observation, and ecological design principles.  While it may involve every aspect of life, permaculture often impacts gardening, farming, buildings, and creative resource management.

Apprentices receive a formal certification in permaculture design.

Holistic Financial Planning

Holistic Financial Planning offers a comprehensive approach to making financial decisions.  Conventionally, our values about our spiritual practices and our relationships have not played a central role in making financial decisions.  Social justice and ecological sustainability have also often been neglected. Holistic financial planning takes all of these into consideration and helps us make financial decisions to better the whole of our lives and the world around us.  The program’s design draws on these holistic models.

Sacred Quest

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The Sacred Quest is a wilderness rite of passage that helps people mark transitions in their lives—both the publicly recognized ones, such as graduating from college, marriage, a new job, or becoming a parent, as well as the internal ones, such as embracing the courage to face what is real, learning how to grieve, or claiming the safety of experiencing ones feelings.  The experience offers a particular lens on discerning God’s movements through the Nature of oneself and the rest of God’s beloved creation.

Apprentices receive formal Wilderness First Aid certification.