First Summer Field Education Reflection

As part of Abigail’s internship, Duke asked her to collect answers to several questions about Coracle. Below are the questions and answers from the Coracle staff that reflect their thoughts on the ministry.

Responses from Bill, Director of Coracle and Corhaven;  Tara, Bill’s wife and Director of Creative Care at Corhaven; Gabriel, Program Manager for Coracle

1. What first attracted you to this non-profit? What keeps you here?

Bill: It’s provided the opportunity to take all the gifts and resources of me and my wife, find an overarching theme that holds them together, and offer them.   Furthermore, I’m convinced that the world needs more of the Kingdom of God, and the best way to see that happen is for individuals to go more deeply into God.  Hence, “Spiritual Formation for Kingdom Action.”

Tara: Using the gift of this place, coupled with areas of gifting and passion that Bill and I bring and offering it sacramentally for others.

Gabe: I was attracted to Coracle because it created space for people to connect with God on a personal/spiritual level.  Coracle allows others to be formed through the spirit of God through engagement with spiritual disciplines, and intentional devotion to spiritual growth.  It encouraged me to be a part of this ministry when I found out how many young people were intentional with spiritual growth.

2.  What is the best experience you have ever had in this non-profit – a time you felt engaged, valued, effective or extremely passionate about your participation?

Bill: It was in November 2012, when I led a weeklong spiritual retreat in Thailand for the international field directors for the International Justice Mission from all over the world.  Again, ‘spiritual formation for Kingdom Action’, with an organization/friends I’ve worked with for a long time.   It was like my whole life, every piece of it, prepared me for that opportunity and service, and that every piece of my life was required to pull it off.  Every story, every aspect, found a special meaning.

Tara: Planning, executing and participating in our 5 year anniversary Field to Fork Dinner.

Gabe: The best experience I have had with Coracle is simply every time I hear about the future of the ministry.  The Director is intentional of choosing leaders with different gifts, and spends time with spiritual direction.  I feel that I am welcome to ask questions and to challenge  programs or directions the ministry goes in.  That makes me feel part of the team, and it makes my work meaningful.

3.  What does this non-profit value? How would you describe the “core” of your non-profit – what is the DNA that holds it together? Can you give an example?

Bill: The DNA that holds it together is individuals becoming who they were made to be, through their deepening journey into Jesus, and then engaging the hurt of the world through a new power with greater power.    The person that comes to mind quickly is Wade, who has been a tax attorney in the Capitol for 30 plus years, and yet is a deep contemplative.   He is approaching his work in the government much differently now, and also soaring as the Community Minister for NoVA of Coracle, leading contemplative prayer groups and offering spiritual direction.

Tara: The person of Jesus…the Great Reconciler. It is through this lens that we understand the Kingdom of God and our active participation in it

Gabe: A tagline for the ministry is, “Spiritual Formation for Kingdom Action.”  This proves very true to its values, and helps guide my work when I am searching for resources or writing things for the website.  I find that the ministry is interested in helping others develop God in themselves through spiritual discipline and discernment, and at the same time is active in bringing Gods kingdom on earth.  The ministry is not just supplying materials for others to grow and learn, but the ministry works on kingdom action by standing up for justice issues, and caring for the environment.  This tagline helps me center on my work, and encourages me to continue to work on these things.

4.  What scriptural story or verse best describes this non-profit?

Bill: Galatians 2.20:  “It is no longer I who live, it is Christ who lives in me”

Tara: John 10:10- I have come that you might have life, life in its fullest measure

Gabe: Matthew 28:16-20: The great commission comes to mind when I think of the ministry because Coracle is spreading the teachings of the Gospel.  Coracle helps equip people in their spiritual journeys.

5.   What is the common mission or purpose that unites this church/non-profit? What does it do best as a community of faith?

Bill: This is what we actually do:

• We are providing spiritual direction for those who don’t know where to get it, particularly from the evangelical community, and providing spiritual direction for clergy and other leaders; and
• Creating a place to encounter God (namely Corhaven) for those who wouldn’t otherwise know where to go, or for those for whom some guidance on retreat is needful; and
• We’re introducing classic Christian spiritual practices to those with interest but without easy access or much exposure, as well as celebrating, exploring, and living the unity within the Great Tradition; and
• We’re connecting contemplation and action and holding them inextricably together, and offering spiritual formation for ‘activists’ and for Christian ‘justice and mercy’ ministries; and
• Offering a way for some individuals to more freely and broadly offer their gifts in the world.

Tara: Our vision statement is solidly core to what we want to be about: enabling people to be the presence of God in the world by spiritual formation and kingdom action

Gabe: Prayer unites the ministry.  The director and I are continually in prayer before any retreat, and oftentimes when we gather for work.  I am also encouraged to spend time at work to spend time with God in prayer, even if I leave the office to take a walk in the woods.  Prayer is common throughout retreats, and in our online presence.  Prayer is something that I always connect Coracle with.

6.    What three dreams do you have for this church/non-profit?


  1. Take the next clear step.
  2. Then take the next clear step.
  3. Then take the next clear step.


  1. Family/kids summer earth camps (next 3-5 years)
  2. Standard creation care retreats/workshops on a cyclical schedule
  3. CSA on a micro level for our retreatants


  1. Create more original resources for people.
  2. Connect with people in online engagement via interactive blogs or conference calls.
  3. Grow ministry in the local setting by reaching out to local congregations and institutions.


Below are Abigail’s responses to the above answers:

1. What do you discern to be the charisms of this church/ministry? 

Creativity, Faith in Christ/Radical trust and Deep Hospitality

Creativity – The very fact that this place exists is a testament to the creativity at its core. It’s a “retreat home” (not a retreat center) that combines an emphasis on spiritual formation with a deep commitment to creation care. You don’t find that anywhere else – it’s truly “one of a kind” – and that’s because it emerged out of the unique and particular callings of Bill and Tara Haley. They allowed God to speak to them about who they were and why He made them and listened for how He might want to use them for His kingdom. The result was something creative: Corhaven, a place where the presence of God is made known – is sacramentally present – through the particular passions and gifts of Bill and Tara Haley. Because they listened to God and followed Him, they have become co-creators with Him – thus living fully into their particular design and God’s universal intention for all of humanity. Corhaven is a testament to what God can do in and through us when we surrender to Him and allow Him to create through us.

Faith in Christ / Radical Trust –  As Tara mentioned explicitly in her response, “the person of Jesus” is the very core of Coracle and Corhaven. Christ is truly at the center of their lives and their ministry – and where you see it most clearly is in their willingness to take risks. Both Bill and Tara thought they would remain in inner city D.C. their whole lives. They were committed to urban ministry and to D.C., specifically; but then God called them to a different ministry – gave them a new and unexpected opportunity here in the Shenandoah Valley – and they obeyed, without knowing the end result or how they’d get there. They stepped out in faith, took a giant risk, and their willingness to do so testifies to their abiding faith in the person of Jesus Christ and their radical trust in His provision.

Deep Hospitality – From the moment I arrived at Corhaven, I was welcomed. They offered the woodshop to me as a home, fully furnished, and within days had outfitted me with a pair of rubber boots for feeding the animals and gloves for the garden. Before I had even recognized my need, they had provided for it. And that’s their posture toward anyone and everyone who comes to Corhaven: they offer, freely and abundantly. They hold things loosely. They quickly and unbegrudgingly give. All that is theirs is yours – and it’s true. They see Corhaven as a gift freely given by God and so they freely offer it for the sake of others. People stream into and out of their house and the woodshop at all hours and days of the week and they welcome them with a smile, offering themselves and this place. That kind of hospitality is beautiful and rare … and a gift to witness.

2. What are the “life giving forces” or the core of the community? 

  • Belief in Christ – in His empowering presence in all aspects of daily life and in His mission in the world. Coracle is about forming people into “little Christs,” sent out into the world as agents of His Kingdom.
  • Trust in God’s love – that God is love, that He loves us and that He looks on us and all of His creation with an abiding and unchangeable love; there is nothing more foundational or fundamentally real than God’s love.
  • Awareness of God’s presence – that God is always present and can be encountered in any person/place/thing and in any circumstance: in the rush of the stream, in the littlest flower, in the act of weeding; in a conversation over dinner, in the silence of prayer or in the rush of D.C. traffic. At the door of the Haley’s house is a sign that reads “Bidden or not bidden, God is present” and that belief permeates every square inch of this place.

3. Identify 3 – 5 themes, phrases or words that you feel are most important to retain as you continue to learn and serve in this community.

  • Surrender to Love / Repent of striving
  • Listen, Look, Be
  • “Thank you, Jesus”
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