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Contemplative Reading/Spiritual Autobiography: Clergy Voices for Change

The next small group cohorts for clergy begin the week of April 15th.  Contact Dr. George for registration and scheduling your cohort time for your diocese. 


  Contemplative Reading/Spiritual Autobiography is a 7-week training for clergy who want to use their voice to speak out in bridge-building ways on justice issues of our time that are calling their hearts and ministry.

For example: How can clergy write and more publicly tell the stories of their work for housing and food security, for peace activism, for migrant rights, or for the rights of the incarcerated and the poor (who have been systemically stolen from)?   How can religious leaders use their moral platforms to tell stories in the public square that challenge white nationalism, patriarchy, antisemitism, Islamophobia, war, and 
colonial occupation?  


The training in this course is a prerequisite to applying to the 2024 Clergy Writing Change Fellowship, which supports clergy writing in the public sphere.

Contemplative Reading/Spiritual Autobiography
 weaves the practice of creative writing with engaging your own lived and ancestral stories, layered identity, and ministry. Along the way, we will locate tools for self reflection, healing, justice, and spiritual formation in readings from critical race theory, feminist and queer foremothers across faith traditions (Christian, Jewish, Muslim), and nurturing contemplative practices. 


Clergy receive a supportive space for exploring their own writing, while learning histories of change and liberation that can help build inter-faith solidarities that support women, trans and genderqueer folks, people of color, the colonized, and all marginalized.  

To Register:  Please contact Dr. Kimberly George directly.

(Currently enrolling for cohorts beginning after Easter.)

DATES/TIMES: Small group Zoom cohorts (with up to 6 nominated clergy per diocese) are 2 hours weekly for 6 weeks, plus one week of 1:1 advising for each clergy participant. The first class starts the week of April 15th. The dates/times for cohort's scheduled are selected by the nominating diocese. 

TUITION: The clergy (or religious leadership) tuition rate is $1500/participant for the 7-week training.  After completion of this foundational course,  clergy may apply for The 2024 Clergy Writing Change Fellowship that supports writing for the public. 


REGISTRATION: Clergy are nominated by their diocese; if you are a clergy person interested in bringing this training to your diocese, please contact Dr. Kimberly George. 

The Journey of Study

The Reading List

Texts to purchase or obtain from the library:

Song in a Weary Throat by Rev. Pauli Murray

Transforming the Faiths of Our Fathers edited by Ann Braude

The Tribe of Dina edited by Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz and Irena Klepfisz

A Border Passage: From Cairo to America by Leila Ahmed


(The remainder of the readings are provided to you as the  PDFs.)

Contemplative Reading/Spiritual Autobiography is a 7-week training that is equal parts nurturing a contemplative reading practice and growing a creative writing practice. The goal is to resource and support clergy voices in the public sphere. The training is designed around thinking and feeling with feminist foremothers who changed the world while rooted in (and transforming) their spiritual and religious contexts. The training was made to directly grow and support bridge-building writing methods for social change in the context of a polarized nation.


This is a training that empowers through reconnecting to religious feminist historical leadership. Sometimes, the story of feminism or social progress is told from a secular lens and without pivotal voices, and that omission is a huge loss to our understanding of how the world has been re-created by those who are nourished from and through spiritual life. This training corrects for this omission and empowers clergy with historical knowledge of progressive religious leaders and spiritually informed writers who challenged all kinds of social injustice and made significant impacts on our world.


Participants will do their own writing supported by these powerful ancestors, including centering the writing of Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray.


“One person plus a typewriter equals a movement.”

—Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray


The Intentions and Practices of the Training

The small group format provides 6 participants with intensive learning and writing support. 


The teaching is responsive to the cultural political urgencies upon us, while also encouraging slowness, contemplation, and depth work.


Each week has carefully selected Foundational Readings from feminist, queer, and critical race history. You are not expected to read every word, but I hope what you read you savor.  As you encounter the Foundational Readings, you will also be guided into contemplative reading practices. I encourage you to use the class What's App group to share ideas you are having between class sessions.


This reading relationship (how to listen to the Spirit, how to wrestle like Jacob for a text’s blessing, how to be present to another writer’s essence) will infuse your experience of the 300 words Contemplative/Creative Writing Exercise that is due each week. This weekly writing exercise is to be sent over email to the whole class 2-hours before class starts.


The second half of class session each week is set aside to share your 300 words and to receive feedback. All instructor feedback on writing exercises is given live in class.


The Foundational Readings, Contemplative Reading Practices, and 300-Word Contemplative/Creative Writing Assignments support your experiments in writing spiritual autobiography. Think of this training like creative rich soil for seeding connections and projects that will bloom well beyond the course itself, including in projects that mix or bend genre.  


This class is both reading and writing intensive. There is a 6-person limit in each cohort to foster maximum engagement of each participant’s writing experience and learning process with the readings. A 6-person limit also allows for each person to share weekly from their writing assignments.

May I work with Dr. George in a 1:1 way with my writing apart from this specific training format ?

Yes! Those 1:1 writing doula spots are offered at various times throughout the year for people who already have a writing practice but who need individual support navigating the psychological process, concept structures, and "in the weeds" details of a large project underway.

I would like to take this training but the time/date it is being offered don't work for me. Are there are options?

If you are signing up with others (such as fellow clergy) and need another class time for the group, please contact me to arrange alternative class times. If you are signing up solo, you can join a waitlist for future class offerings.

Have More Questions?


Read about Dr. George's approach to writing practices in her Syndicate review of Living a Feminist Life: 


"Sara Ahmed’s latest work, Living a Feminist Life, dismantles the false divide between academic theory and the embodied world in which our concepts come alive... It is an intervention not only in academic feminism, but also an invitation to rethink (and, indeed, re-feel and re-sense) the writing and reading practices we are relying upon to translate the sensuality of life into the conceptual structures of language."

Dr. Kimberly B. George holds a PhD and MA in Ethnic Studies from UC San Diego, with 2 years of additional PhD study as a fellow in Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia. She was previously a Merit Scholar at Yale Divinity School, earning an MA summa cum laude in religious history.

Prior to these degrees, she studied Counseling Psychology at the Seattle School of Theology of Psychology and earned her BA in English at Westmont College.  She has been “translating” academic theory, teaching writing and the histories of feminism outside the traditional university, since 2011. Her major programs have trained therapists, K-12 teachers, and clergy in applying a feminist, decolonial, and critical race understanding to their fields.


Dr. George has had a longtime focus on teaching writing as a contemplative practice in service of deep learning, identity formation, and social justice. Her dissertation, which she conducted while being a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University, focused on multi-racial feminisms and coalition building, theories of trauma and creativity, and the psychology and spirituality of transformative writing practices in service of social change.

Dr. George also holds the experiences of being trained in literature and academic and creative writing by many award-winning writers, including Dr. Elizabeth Alexander (President Obama’s inaugural poet), Lauren Winner (bestselling writer and professor at Duke Divinity School), Shelley Streeby (Director of Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Workshop and premier researcher of Octavia Butler and Ursula LeGuin’s archives), and Sabrina Orah Mark (poet and essayist, innovator of the fairy tale form). Dr. George has been published in academic, religious, and popular publications and is the co-editor of the book, Football, Culture, and Power.

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