Holden’s community includes all who care for Holden through their labor, gifts and prayers. Villagers of all kinds form a community of worship, learning, hospitality, celebration and service. Holden welcomes all of God’s children, regardless of faith denomination, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age or political opinion. In work, play and conversation—in disagreement and agreement—we offer ourselves to each other in mutual forgiveness and respect. As many have discovered and declared for Holden’s 50-plus years of operation, the Village offers new and deeper friendships, introduction to new ideas and issues, spiritual and personal growth, joy in service, participation in Holden’s excellent program, interaction with a diverse variety of staff and guests, and the chance to experience God’s creation in the mountain wilderness.
While at Holden, you are invited to find your own pace and pursue your own unique renewal and interests. You may participate in many of the classes, events and other opportunities—or very few. The choice is always yours. Relaxation and rest are what many seek at Holden, and these are readily available in the peace and quiet of the wilderness.
You may wish to sample some of the many opportunities offered at various times in Holden’s arts area: hand-built and wheel-thrown pottery, basket weaving, weaving on various looms, paper and book making, paper marbling, relief printing, silk-screening, needlecraft, drawing, painting, tie-dying and other classes.
Holden is blessed to be surrounded by the indescribable beauty of God’s creation. We are located on the border of the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Area hiking, fishing and (in winter) back-country skiing and snow-shoeing are all world-class. Our surroundings and remote location are both a great gift and a great responsibility. Holden cares for our local and global ecosystems in a number of ways, including by limiting our use of non-recyclable, non-biodegradable items and processing our waste in a unique way.
Holden is a place of dialogue. Ideas and opinions are shared through mutual conversation. We value critical thinking, provocative discussion, and the integration of learning and experience. Holden is often described as a place not of answers, but a place where we learn to ask better questions.
Even during this mine remediation era, Holden is continuing to offer a limited version of its traditional summer program of guest lecturers for volunteers willing to work in the Village for a week or more. Daily sessions will include Bible study led by dynamic theologians and teachers. Other study topics will vary during the summer, to include theology, prayer, ethics, social justice, the environment, literature, interpersonal and family issues, global and multicultural issues, daily life, the sciences, and economic concerns. Holden’s teaching staff members come from all over the country — even from around the world — to share their gifts and expertise. Teachers include seminary and college professors, authors, scientists, pastoral counselors, activists, artists, musicians, and others.
In the winter there are retreats, various special programs, events and creative residencies, all providing learning opportunities. Winter is also a popular time for sabbaticals. Our Partners in Ministry program offers options for church workers of all denominations.
We are grounded and united in daily Gospel-centered worship. Whether it is individually walking the labyrinth or collectively praying at Matins (morning) or Vespers (evening), worship is at the core of village life. On Thursdays, the community worships in the form of a “hunger awareness” lunch—perhaps no more than a bowl of rice—to celebrate God’s abundance and to contribute (in real money saved and donated) to assist needy brothers and sisters who are beyond our valley. On Sundays, the Village fully embraces the Sabbath, observing a day of peace and rest, ending each Sunday with Holy Eucharist. A congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Fullness of God Lutheran Church, provides a church home for village residents, offering pastoral care and church affiliation.
Holden operates through the efforts of more than a thousand volunteers annually. Volunteers, who have been the traditional backbone of the Village from its very beginning, are filling an especially important role during the mine remediation years. There are opportunities to come for a week and help with Village Renewal, or to come for longer periods to keep the Village operating year-round.
Holy hilarity returns us to the joy and freedom of the Gospel. At Holden we are all called into God’s joyful creation. You will find that Holden is a place of extravagant (and at times, absurd!) celebration based on humor and joy. The Village celebrates all that is good as a means of worshipping, giving thanks, and strengthening us for the journey ahead.
Sometimes the hilarity is organized—like the silly competitions (contact sledding?!) at the Holden Winter Olympics, the zany Fourth of July parades, Sun Over Buckskin luau (when the snow is still deep but we rejoice over lighter days) and variety shows. Other times there will be spontaneous pranks and laughter. Villagers relish both praying and playing together.