A quick note about our programs.
Ring Lake is open from June - August.

Ring Lake is open from June to early September. Ring Lake Ranch seminars consist of four evening sessions during the week, usually 90 minutes in length. The style and content of the seminars change with each leader. Seminar leaders are usually happy to talk with guests outside of the seminars, but the topics are presented entirely within the evening sessions, to ensure that all guests have a chance to participate.

Like all activities at Ring Lake Ranch, save cabin cleaning and helping with meal clean-up, the Ranch seminars are optional for guests.

Click here for more information on our weekly schedule.


May 22- May 28, 2016 | Volunteer Week

Every year, the Ranch relies on volunteers, both individuals and groups, to clean, do major repair and upkeep projects, open the kitchen, and anything else needed to prepare for guests. Please consider joining us for a week of work, fun, and fellowship!

May 29 - June 11, 2016 | High School Private Retreat

Each year, we are pleased to welcome young men and their adult leaders from two Catholic high schools for special private retreats. Even though these retreats are closed, we still have volunteer opportunities available during these weeks. Please contact Andy Blackmun for more information about volunteering.




June 12-18, 2016 | Leah Vader and Jenn Ottinger

Something in the Air: Birds at Ring Lake Ranch, Birds and the Human Spirit

From awe to annoyance, delight to disgust, birds have long evoked a full spectrum of curiosity and responses from the humans who share their environment. Join a seasoned ornithologist and a perennial novice as we consider the birds around us, and what it is about birds that most stirs our souls. What are the ways people are consciously and unconsciously in relationship with birds? How can observing birds lead us to a better understanding of self? Each day we will offer hikes focusing on different types of birds commonly seen in the mountain, sagebrush and riparian habitats of Ring Lake Ranch.

Evening sessions will include discussion of group and individual observations as well as some birding basics e.g. choosing/using optics, sight/song identification tips, to list or not to list and an introduction to citizen science/eBird. Additionally, we will explore bird-inspired selections from music, poetry and scripture.

Participants are encouraged to bring their own favorite bird themed examples from any creative genre. Our hope is that the week will be enjoyable for all ages and levels of knowledge/interest!

Jen Ottinger holds a BS in Zoology and has 20 years experience in a variety of ornithology and other wildlife field projects. She has worked at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary and Thunderbird Wildlife Consulting in Gillette, Wyoming. Jen has completed eleven seasons with the Arizona Bald Eagle Nest Watch Program. Her professional speciality is raptor nesting and migration. Since 2012 she has been the lead counter at the Cape Henelopen, Delaware fall hawk watch.

Leah Vader finds that her background in Religious Studies (University of Minnesota, 1982) and community education/field biology/natural resource interpretation combine wonderfully in her work as hike leader/housekeeper at Ring Lake Ranch, a position she has held since 2011. She has teamed with Jen and the Arizona Bald Eagle Nest Watch Program since 2009. Her personal migratory route currently includes September-January enjoying family and community in Gillette, Wyoming and predawn preloading for UPS over the last five Decembers.


Larry Loendorf

Leah Vader, Jen Ottinger

June 19-July 9, 2016| High School Private Retreat

July 10-16, 2016 | Norman Wirzbas

Living and Eating in God's Creation

Throughout this week we will explore the wide and deep meaning of God's creation, and how best to live and eat appropriately within it. We will consider how a world described as creation differs from a world described as nature, and examine scripture, theology, and poetry as a way to open up the world's significance. Food and agriculture systems will be the primary lens through which our world will be explored. As we will see, eating is one of the most practical and enjoyable ways to contribute to the healing of the world and its human communities.

Norman Wirzba is Professor of Theology and Ecology at Duke Divinity School and Research Professor of Theology and Ecology at Duke's Nicholas School for the Environment. He is the author of several books, including The Paradise of God, Living the Sabbath, Food and Faith, and most recently From Nature to Creation and Way of Love.



Norman Wirzbas

July 17-23, 2016 | Sandy Eisenberg Sasso

Reading the Bible with Question Marks: Midrash as a Tool for Spiritual Reflection

What would it mean to understand the Bible as a living text that spoke to every generation of readers differently, as it continues to speak to us? Throughout the ages, spiritual seekers, authors, musicians and visual artists have allowed the biblical narratives to enter their lives, even as they let their lives enter the narrative. They created an imaginative body of literature (midrash), sculpture, painting and composition to enrich the Biblical text and keep it fresh and vital. In this seminar we will explore the ways in which the human imagination has illumined sacred stories. Listen to music, view art, read poetry and come to see narratives you thought you once knew in a new light, as an expression of the universal spiritual struggle.

Sandy Eisenberg Sasso was the first woman to be ordained from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1974. She served as spiritual leader of Congregation Beth El Zedeck in Indianapolis with husband, Dennis C. Sasso. Sandy became Rabbi Emerita in 2013 and has served as the Director of the Religion, Spirituality and the Arts Initiative at Butler University and Christian Theological Seminary.

Rabbi Sasso is the award-winning author of 14 children's books and two books for adults: Midrash: Reading the Bible with Question Marks and her latest, Jewish Stories of Love and Marriage: Folktales, Legends, and Letters (co-authored with Peninnah Schram) Sandy has been the recipient of many honorary degrees and is active in the arts, interfaith and civic community.



Sandy Eisenberg Sasso

July 24 - July 30, 2016| Carrie Newcomer and Faith Hawkins

Traveling from Certainty to Mystery: Navigating Shadows and Light

Most of us don't live completely in the shadows, or completely in the light, but experience life -- and the sacred ‚ like the overlapping phases of the moon. We sense the sacred not as a beam of bright sunlight, but more like dappled rays shining through the leaves of a tall tree. Our culture -- and often our spiritual communities ‚ are uncomfortable with the idea that times of blessing and sorrow can overlap, encouraging us to believe it is possible to navigate our lives with the kind of certainty that GoogleMaps and GPS promise.

But, when something in our lives shifts, we encounter the limits of predictability and certainty and we enter into uncharted territory. The easy answers don't work, the old maps too confining. This workshop will explore what it means to navigate our lives with a sense of mystery and wonder. It will ask the question, how can we see in the interplay of shadow and light opportunities to explore the sacred, in its complexity, in new ways? We will draw on multiple spiritual sources and practices to explore together the journey from certainty to Sacred Mystery.

Carrie Newcomerhas released fifteen acclaimed albums and facilitates workshops internationally on songwriting, creative writing, activism and spiritual vocation. She has collaborated and performed with a wide range of artists and writers, including Alison Krauss and Union Station, Nickel Creek, Indian sarod master Amjad Ali Khan and Parker Palmer. Huffington Post Religion Community listed her song "Holy as the Day is Spent" as one of the best spiritual songs of 2012. She was listed as one of "The 50 most influential folk musicians of the past 50 years" by Chicago's WFMT and Boston's WBEZ listed her as one of the most influential folk artists of the last 25 years.

Faith Hawkins is an administrator at Indiana University. She previously served on the theology faculty at Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter, MN) and Candler School of Theology at Emory University. From 2002-2007 she directed the Youth Theological Initiative, a program of justice-seeking theological education and engagement for high school students at Emory. Hawkins writes fiction and non-fiction, focusing on ways in which daily life is shaped by, and shapes, our experience of the sacred.


This session is currently full. Please contact us to be added to our waiting list.

Carrie Newcomer

Faith Hawkins

July 31 - August 6, 2016 | Maggie Kulyk and Wendy Farley

Money: A Guide to Soul

The human relationship to money is complex and full of emotions. What we have, and what we believe about what we have, hugely influence the decisions we make about how we live and what we will risk to live a soulful life -- a life dedicated to our most cherished principles and our heart's deepest longings. As such, money is often seen as an impediment to or a facilitator of living our fullest possible life. However, when considered as more than a means to an end, money is unveiled as a powerful symbol that offers insights into precisely what the soulful life we are seeking actually looks like for each of us.

Rather than entangle us in a system of old beliefs that might no longer serve us, money, when interpreted personally and symbolically, can actually be a guide to soul, a helpful key to understanding where we truly belong and what we are being asked to give of ourselves. This workshop will combine periods of discussion and meditation on compassion (for oneself and for the world)‚with interactive workshops addressing your relationship with money. Our hope is that connecting the symbols and practices of money with a deeper sense of the divine compassion will contribute to spaces of greater freedom.

Maggie Kulykuses her more than ten yearsof experience in financial services and her background in religious studies to helppeople explore their relationship with money and how it intersects with their emotional and spiritual lives. After working for six years in the business world, Maggie received an MDiv from Candler School of Theology in 1996, then finished ABD from the Graduate School of Religion at Emory. Since 2002, she's worked closely with individuals and families helping them put their money in the service of their dreams and values. In 2013 she became a Certified Money Coach through the Money Coaching Institute. Maggie is interested in the deeper story of money in human culture and how it operates symbolically in our lives. She is part of a growing conversation about what it means to give and receive, and she is exploring ideas about how the sharing of our personal and collective resources can lead to a transformed world.

Wendy Farley isProfessor of Theology and Religionat Emory University where she teaches contemporary and classicalChristian theology and ethics, medieval contemplative women,and Christian-Buddhist dialogue. She also leads retreatsand teachesa variety of contemplative practices includingmeditationandcentering prayer, compassion meditation, chant and yoga. She is the author of various books on Christian theology, most recentlyThe Thirst of God: Contemplating God's Love with Three Woman Mystics.




Maggie Kulyk

Wendy Farley

Aug. 7 - 13, 2016 | Terry Fretheim

God and the Messiness of Creation

God's engagement in the process of creation has, from the beginning, been more dependent upon the creative involvement of the creatures than is commonly suggested. The biblical texts on creation suggest a relational model of creation. The creation is given a degree of openness and unpredictabilty wherein God leaves room for genuine interdependence in the creative process. What the creatures do counts and gives shape to the future!

Terry Fretheim is Professor of Old Testament Emeritus at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota, where he taught for over 45 years. He has written more than twenty books and over one hundred articles for both church and academy. His latest book is What Kind of God?Collected Essays of Terence E. Fretheim.




Terry Fretheim

Aug. 14-20, 2016| Jacob Kinnard

Comparing Pilgrimages: People and Places in Motion

Pilgrimage is one of the most important aspects of religious life; indeed, in a very real sense, life itself can considered to be a pilgrimage. These sessions explore the dynamics of pilgrimage across several different religious traditions - Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, as well as more secular forms of pilgrimage in the United States and elsewhere. We will look closely look at several key pilgrimage sites and the actual pilgrims who visit these sites. We will approach pilgrimage from a number of different angles - religious, social, artistic, political - with the goal of gaining a thorough understanding of the phenomena of pilgrimage in all of its complexity.

Jacob Kinnard, Professor of Comparative Religions at the Iliff School of Theology, teaches courses on the religious traditions of India and comparative religion. Among the topics he writes about are Buddhist art and ritual, temples and pilgrimage places, and the ways in which religious communities understand and negotiate religiously significant places. He is the author of several books, including Places in Motion: The Dynamic Lives of Images, Temples, and Pilgrims (Oxford, 2014) and The Emergence of Buddhism: Classical Traditions in Contemporary Perspectives (Fortress, 2011).




Jacob Kinnard

Aug. 21- 27, 2016 | Marjorie Thompson

Exploring the Non-Dominant Divine

How does an individual in the spiritual climate of 2016 relinquish the concept of a God who is in control? What is the importance of the Philippians passage that describes Jesus as one who humbled himself rather than grasping at the power of the Divine? How might that influence the lives of those who would follow Jesus? Marjorie's seminar will provide thoughtful prompts for consideration and conversation about the implications of a God whose majesty issues from vulnerability rather than dominance.

Marjorie Thompson is an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church USA. She has served as adjunct faculty for several seminaries, including McCormick, Auburn, Wesley, and Vanderbilt Divinity School. She taught in The Upper Room's Academy for Spiritual Formation and directed the foundational program for Stillpoint (Programs in Spiritual Direction and Contemplative Prayer) in Nashville. Marjorie is the author of Family, The Forming Center and Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life. Her writings have also appeared in Weavings, Worship, The Upper Room Disciplines, and The Abingdon Preacher's Annual.


Marjorie Thompson

Aug. 28- September 3, 2016 | 50th Anniversary Celebration

Reunion Week at Ring Lake Ranch

Instead of the traditional speaker, our 50th Anniversary celebration week will honor connections between the past, present, and future of the Ranch. Evening sessions cover aspects of local and ranch history with various Ranch friends. We particularly hope those who have been long-time supporters and have helped create this unique experience will come. This week is designed, like all weeks, to connect guests to what is life giving to you in our unique context.