The Wesleyan Contemplative Order is a non-denominational Order of lay and ordained individuals who are seeking through contemplative practices and community to experience the transformative process of Christ that leads to a life of devotion, service and love.

We recognize that at the time of John Wesley the church in England offered a largely civil religion and that many, including Wesley, found themselves disconnected from a vital spiritual life because church religion did not provide an experience that connected spiritually through all three domains of experience and intelligence: mental, emotional and somatic.  Or, the Way of Truth (John 8:32), the Way of the Beautiful (Ps 42:1) and the Way of Goodness (Matt 25:40).

The “method” that John Wesley brought to renew the established church was similar, both to practices in the early Christian church before Christianity became a state religion, and practices over the centuries in monastic communities that have sought to chart a course of living in daily communion with God.

The parallel between Wesley’s time and ours is apparent.  And while we start with the forms of Wesley’s method, we honor the essence of his method the most by being open to new forms and methods that build on the spiritual essence of his idea.  In so doing, we recognize the fundamental form of our mental, emotional and somatic human natures and that we all tend to favor one of these domains. Practices that only foster a deepening of one domain may keep us stuck.  Ultimately, all deep spiritual growth involves the integration of all three domains, so that our spiritual life is realized throughout somatic, emotional and mental parts of our experiences.  In this way we are able to live most authentically out of our true selves in connection with God.

Frequently asked Questions

Is membership in the Wesleyan Contemplative Order limited? No, the Order is non-denominational and open to anyone wishing to pursue a Christian journey of faith in a contemplative community.

Why is the word Wesleyan used in the Order’s name? The contemplative practices of the Order build on those processes encouraged by John Wesley who found that they renewed the experience of faith at a time when the mainstream church seemed out of touch.

Does one have to believe certain doctrine to be a member of the WCO? No, it is commitment to a process: of using contemplative practices in daily life and being in community with others who are doing the same thing that distinguishes those who seek participation in the WCO.

What if I am not a believer, but just spiritually searching, would I be able to become a member? Jesus brought a message of love and hope to everyone, especially those on the fringes: the poor, the lonely and heartbroken. All are welcome who are open to contemplative practices in community as a way to experience his message.

Do members of the WCO take a vow? Yes, a vow to follow a Rule of Life.

What is a Rule of Life? A Rule of Life is a personal set of contemplative and spiritual practices to which one commits to deepen the experience of one’s faith journey and connection to the continuous Presence of God.

Who decides on what the Rule of Life is for each person? Each individual member of the WCO, after seeking discernment from God, decides for him or herself.

Is the commitment to be a member of the WCO a covenant or a vow? It is both. The vow, by which a Rule of Life is adopted, is a personal one made to God. The covenant, or promise, is to the other members of the Order to be a faithful member of the community and in this way support each others spiritual journey.

How do I become a member of the WCO? By participation in a Band for some period of time to discern if this is right for you.

What is a Band? A band is a small group of members of the WCO who meet regularly to experience silence together in the presence of God and to participate in other contemplative practices designed to strengthen our faith journeys.

If I feel called to participate in a Band how do I actually become a member of the WCO? Vows and induction of new members are made once a year at a retreat of the full Order.

What if there are no Bands near me, can I start one? Yes, if there are three or more individuals who wish to start a Band, existing members of the WCO will be glad to help these individuals come together to learn the process of participating in contemplative practices in community in order to begin a new Band in areas where no Bands exist.

Does the WCO have a particular ministry? While it is always possible that in a given year the WCO might take on a particular project, its primary mission is to be a community that deepens the spiritual lives of its members in order to enliven their ministries and devotion to service in the world.

How does the WCO support itself financially? The WCO began as a spiritual formation ministry of Davidson United Methodist Church and seeks to be financially self sufficient by being supported by the gifts and service of its members.

How is the WCO governed? By its members through seeking discernment from God.

Why Wesleyan Contemplative Order?

Posted by on Nov 13, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Wonderful to see all of you who could make it to our WCO fall retreat.  Ann Starrette reminded me after we met that for our new folks no one really spoke to the meaning of the name — Wesleyan Contemplative Order.

The name is important, particularly in a paradoxical way — it connects us to a Christian heritage that frees us from the problems of many religious heritages, such as theological correctness, denominational orientation, liturgical preferences, etc.

John Wesley was an Anglican all his life.  Like Jesus he had no desire to start a new church.  Like Jesus he saw that form and structure of his religion were blocking the Spirit.

Like Thomas Merton, who was not in church or his monastery but in Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, when he “was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people,” Wesley’s deepest spiritual experiences were not in a church service but on a ship in a storm and attending a meeting when his “heart was strangely warmed.”

So Wesley fashioned a method to try to allow people to get back to living connected to an unitive experience with God.  His method hearkens back to early contemplative Christians, before there was any “church,” who gathered in small trusting groups to open to the experience of God in their lives in the moment.

So the WCO is Wesleyan because it puts a method, or what we would call today practices, which open us to God’s Grace, at the center of the spiritual journey.  It is Wesleyan because it is ecumenical.  As he said, “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike?  May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion?”  It is Wesleyan because Wesley, who was a stuffy old Anglican studying theology at Oxford early in his life, came to understand that vulnerability is the key to spiritual growth and we can only first learn to be deeply vulnerable to others and God in small groups or to use his word, Bands.

The word Contemplative is used because that is the nature of the practices such as Centering Prayer, Welcoming Prayer, lectio divina, etc., that we adopt to deepen our life with God.  Contemplative practices are any practices aimed to break down the dualistic experience of life and allow our lives to flow from the experience of unity with God.

The word Order is used because over the centuries Christian followers have banded together in orders to form communities that reflect a profound commitment to a spiritual path and to nurture each other together in their spiritual journeys.  To become a part of an order is not like joining the Rotary club or a Sunday school class (thought many of us do these too); it is the reflection of a deeper level of commitment to the nature of our spiritual journeys than to the ordinary things of life.  It is a way of saying I wish to put this journey with God in community first on a daily basis for the rest of my life.

Anyone can become a member of the WCO by being a member of a WCO Band and by agreeing to adopt a set of contemplative practices, or Rule of Life as it is traditionally called, to enliven their spiritual journey.

Don Carroll, WCO Magdalene Band Member





WCO July, 2015 Newsletter

Posted by on Aug 1, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

The W.C.O. Newsletter
_________July 2015 Issue________
The Wesleyan Contemplative Order is a community of individuals and small
bands committed to opening space for God’s grace to nurture the process of
inner transformation, through contemplative practices as exemplified in
Wesley’s means of grace.
To Contact the WCO for more information, email the founder, Don Carroll, at or the editor of the newsletter, Pat Adams, at
In This Issue
Dual/Non-dual Thinking p. 1-2
This is my prayer p. 2
Be Perfect…… p. 3
Trinitarian/Fall Retreat p. 4
A New Reading List p. 6

Dual/Non-Dual Thinking
When you approach anything from a
dualistic point of view, you dissect
it, you subject it to all kinds of
tests, you divide it from all other
things from which it is even slightly
different, but in the end you have
robbed it of its wholeness, its
As Fr. Richard Rohr writes in his June 28, 2015, email, dualistic
thinking is at the beginning level of spiritual development. Then as
we move through the various levels our thinking “become[s]
increasingly non-dual, allowing for a deeper, broader, wiser, more
inclusive and loving way of seeing….we need both to see fully and
with freedom.”
In the end life comes down to this: everything is sacred, all life is
holy[hagios in Greek means set apart, sacred], all life is created by
God. There is no distinction between sacred and profane for those
who can see. And Jesus was always inviting those who could hear
(continued from page 1)and those who could see to listen to
him.[Mark 4:9 is one example]
If we approach our lives as sacred, then we approach each event,
each person as something that has meaning, something to teach us,
something to hallow, something to discover. We take off our shoes as
Moses was instructed in his encounter with God in the burning bush—
this is sacred, holy ground. We kneel before it, we soften our
responses, we embrace what is holy.
It’s the same with the Trinity. When you approach it dualistically, you
struggle with this three in one concept—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—
which makes no sense. But when you approach it non-dually, the
Trinity becomes how God appears or manifests in the world at
different times—the father/Creator/mystery, the Son, co-creator
with the Father, and the Spirit, the intrinsic fiber of everything
created, the interrelationships among the created, the communicator
of all things true and real. The Trinity is an awkward dualistic concept,
but a flowing interchange among the appearances of God in non-dual
So imagine a huge waterfall with maybe three cascades gushing down
the fall. So sometimes the water flows through the upper one; at
other times one of the other two. Water flows, seeks its own level,
creates channels as it goes. Over time it creates its own path
regardless of how hard the material is that it is flowing over.

This is my prayer:
Heart, Soul, Mind and Body
Given in love to you.
Every speck of me
Given in joy to you.
Every breath I breathe
Given in faith to you.
Every cell of me
given in gratitude to you. Amen
Be Perfect….
When we start with the translations of ancient languages like
Greek, we sometimes misunderstand what the Scriptures are saying.
Take Jesus’s saying in Matthew 5: “Be perfect as your heavenly is
perfect.” Our modern understanding of the word perfect is to match
detail to detail, to be the ideal, to follow the rules perfectly. In ancient
Greek the word teleios means perfect in the sense of completion or
wholeness. There is a pretty startling distinction between being
perfect and being whole.
And here we are seeing the echo of Jesus’s Great
Commandments: to love God with all our heart, all our minds, all our
souls and all our strength(incarnate body) and to love our neighbor as
ourselves. Jesus is saying to love with all of who we are, the complete
person, not just the part that follows the rules perfectly. When you
come to God in prayer, for example, exclude no part of yourself—the
wounded, the hurting, the sad or angry; bring your whole self to God.
Voice everything you are feeling, all your desires. Loving God with all
of ourselves is all that we’re required to do. If we do that, it naturally
follows that we would love ourselves and everyone else.
If you know that you are a rule follower, you might want to ask
yourself these questions:
Am I too focused on following the rules and not
enough on God?
Am I serving myself and not God by this focus?
Is it easier to follow rules than to love God with all of
I think that this is the nature of repentance—we do a 180
degree turn away from our preoccupations with ourselves and our
lives and focus totally on loving God with all of ourselves. That entails
loving, worshipping, listening to and doing all he requests, honoring all
of his creation including ourselves and other people. That takes a lifelong
effort to remember our commitment/surrender to God, to put
him first, to surrender our own desires/expectations/assumptions and
more. But the benefit of persevering in this task is a life lived as we
(continued from page 3)
were created to live and the fruit
of the Spirit which comes alive in
us as we proceed along the
way—peace, love, joy, patience,
goodness, gentleness,
faithfulness, kindness and selfcontrol.
These are not acquired
by our effort at all, but are given
to us as we love God with all of
ourselves. Thanks be to God!


The Trinitarian Opportunity in Our Fall WCO
Retreat by Don Carroll
There is nothing like a good question to wake us up. Like this one from
page 53 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous—“[w]e had to
fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He
is nothing.” Most of us go through stages with this question. First we
decide, or more often assume that He is. As we grow spiritually we
wrestle with the “is everything.” Beyond that is perhaps an even more
intriguing question. If God is everything how do I engage with this
everything? How do my finite sensibilities dance with the reality of the
Infinite? Absent being in some form of dialogue or dance with the
Infinite, even though we may “believe” God is everything, that belief is
pretty hollow.
Enter the Trinity. Enter the idea that more than a static idea, that the
Creator of the universe is like the universe, changing and dynamic,
more a verb than a noun. The Trinity then is not only a way to envision
God, but is a template for how to interact with God and the flow of
—————— Fruit of the Spirit————
Trinitarian…..continued from page 4
God’s creation. Granted that any human concept is a limited way to
try to understand with the mind what can only be participated in
through experience, our ideas and curiosity about the meaning of the
Trinity bring us to the doorway to step into an experience of God’s
Jesus says in Matthew 14:3 that his love takes us to “where I am you
also may be.” So to participate in this Everything, we must be in this
trinitarian flow. Most of us have had mountaintop experiences where
we were in the reality of this flow, even though we might not have
thought about it that way. But often in our daily lives we are braced
up against something that gives our ego some sense of being in
control, which in fact blocks us from the flow. In our fall retreat we
will try to claim our blocks. We will use our contemplative practices to
be still and secure enough in God’s love to allow the blocks, the
braces, the unconscious ego supports to be revealed. We will do this
in the safe holding of our community so that we may step more
deeply into the flow of God’s trinitarian love, so we create the
opportunity to be that love.
We depend on each other to allow each of us to bring our part of
trinitarian experience so we all may move in a deeper, more dynamic
flow. I look forward to being with each of you so we can share in and
move deeper into the trinitarian mystery together.
A New Reading List….. by Pat Adams
I used to be a big reader, especially of mysteries, but I don’t read
very much these days. So I pay attention when a theme seems to be
emerging in my choices. Starting in January 2015 I was drawn to read
Tattoos on my Heart by Father Gregory Boyle. Then it was The Weight
of Mercy by Deb Richardson-Moore. Then Stranger at my Door by
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. Lately as I’ve been gathering my thoughts
for the WCO Newsletter, I’ve read The New Monasticism: An
Interspiritual Manifesto for Contemplative Living by Rory McEntee &
Adam Bucko. And last, but not least, Longing for Spring: A New Vision
for Wesleyan Community by Elaine A. Heath and Scott T. Kisker.
From Fr. Boyle who serves a community steeped in gang violence
in Los Angeles to the Rev. Richardson-Moore who pastors a church in
Greenville, South Carolina, to Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove who with his
wife nurtures a poor community in Durham with a communal house for
the homeless, I have been reading about how love transforms people in
dire circumstances. These are inspiring stories of lived Christianity.
The New Monasticism and Longing for Spring are about Christian
rebirth as the old form of the church seems to be dying or at least
losing influence in our country and new forms are arising. Both of these
books are for those of us who want to be more intentional, more
purposeful, more about living the life Jesus modeled for us, living in the
world, but not of the world. Maybe you can see how the Lord
encourages my choice of books for his purposes.
I hadn’t thought that the WCO was on the cutting edge of the
movement of the Holy Spirit refreshing the church. Had you? Did you
join because you were seeking something deeper in your faith? What
was the Spirit leading you to? Have you found it yet? Or maybe you’re
like me where the search has no end.
Continued from Page 6…..
Maybe you wouldn’t go as far as The New Monasticism’s Interspirituality
in which participants draw from many different religious
traditions, not necessarily to join another faith, but to enliven their
Christian practices or to come together with those of different
traditions whose values and practices are complementary. You may be
surprised that the authors were inspired by on-going dialogues with
Father Keating. But you might be drawn to the history of lay monastic
trends throughout the ages laid out in Longing for Spring. The
authors write that in John Wesley’s time “lay people led the class and
band meetings, cared for the poor and the sick and the children, and
preached up and down the circuits. Methodism was a lay monastic and
preaching order within the larger church. And the larger church was
revived.”(p. 34-5)
Even before I had seen the title of The New Monasticm, I was
beginning to think about being a monk(which apparently can be
applied to women as well). I have a rule of life which these days
means keeping the Divine Hours four times a day, plus a nightly note
of thanks to God for my day in my gratitude journal. I don’t do as
much socially and I am not into shopping or accumulating things. In
addition I go to my Sunday School class which is doing a detailed
reading of the 23rd Psalm written by a modern shepherd and to
church every Sunday. But I would say that my biggest practice is that
of listening for what the Lord is telling me about this and that and
about what to read. It’s always an adventure for me following the
Lord and then figuring it out what it all means.

The WCO Quarterly Newsletter – October, 2014 Edition

Posted by on Nov 1, 2014 in Blog, WCO Newsletters | 0 comments

The WCO Quarterly Newsletter  October, 2014 Edition, is now available to view.


Spiritual Directors International

Posted by on Apr 1, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

In addition to traveling the contemplative spiritual journey with a small band of fellow seekers, another aid in the contemplative journey is a spiritual director or soul friend. If you would like more information about spiritual direction please go to Spiritual Directors International.


Posted by on Sep 22, 2011 in Blog | 1 comment

This quote from Father Richard Rohr is worth discussion –

“Could meditation/contemplation be the very thing that has the power to both democratize, reform, and mature Christianity? It alone does not demand major education, does not need a hierarchy of decision makers, does not need to argue about gender issues in leadership or liturgy, does not need preachers and bishops, and does not need membership requirements that include and exclude. Contemplation’s non-verbal character makes all our arguments about “the right words” and the perfectly correct understanding of those words largely useless. We clergy are almost put out of business.

“Deep prayer on the inside heals the outside and the in-between simply by reconnecting everything at its core and at our Center. And let us be honest–Jesus talked a lot more about praying and healing than any of the issues that continue to preoccupy most of our churches.”

-Father Richard Rohr

Adapted from A Lever and A Place to Stand:  The Contemplative Stance, The Active Prayer, pp. 58-59