The Retreat House at Hillsboro is relocating its home office from 22005 Church Street in Hillsboro to office space at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Chestertown. The Retreat House was founded nine years ago on property which is owned by the Episcopal Diocese of Easton in Hillsboro. Beginning in May, the Retreat House will offer programs within communities and congregations in various locations. In addition to their online programming, they will continue offering in-person workshops, retreats, and other offerings for the greater community at locations around Maryland’s Eastern Shore, in Annapolis, in Northern Virginia, and in Vermont.
The mission of the Retreat House is to share God’s abundant love in the world by offering sacred, compassionate and inclusive spaces in which people can explore their own relationship with spiritual meaning. During its nine years in Hillsboro the Retreat House has been a haven for people of all faith traditions and for those who are unaffiliated with any religious community.
“We have prayerfully discerned that it is time for us to leave the property in Hillsboro and move our home office,” says Francie Thayer, founder and director of the Retreat House. “This new path has been forming for months, if not years. We realized that we can continue to fulfill our mission without the responsibility of maintaining a piece of property.”
Thayer continues, “Our experiences before and during COVID showed us that more people are able to join us on their journey to a closer relationship to God in their own towns, at their churches, and in virtual online formats.”
Decisions made more than three years ago have set the stage for the Retreat House’s next phase. In the fall of 2019, the Retreat House began offering well-subscribed programming at locations all over the Eastern Shore of Maryland, in Annapolis, and in Alexandria, Virginia. When the pandemic required shutdowns of in-person gatherings in March of 2020, the Retreat House expanded its online programming and small outdoor gatherings.
“As we move into 2023, we see a clear invitation from the Spirit to continue our mission of holding prayerful, inclusive space for those who long to draw closer to God and to do it from a less-localized place, focusing our energy on living more fully into an ‘on the road’ style,” Thayer explains.
The Retreat House will be based at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Chestertown. In addition to offering online programs, the Retreat House staff and faculty will partner with organizations that invite them to facilitate programs in their communities.
Thayer adds, “At this time, we have invitations from the Church of the Holy Trinity in Oxford, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Easton, the Foehliage Retreat Center in Galena, Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia, and Heartberry Hollow Farm & Forest in Roxbury, Vermont.”
Suzanne Foehl, president of the Retreat House board, says, “We are deeply grateful for the gift of having grown as a community during the past nine years on the property at the former St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Hillsboro. We have loved being there; we have been formed by the land, the prayer-filled spaces, and the town of Hillsboro.”
Foehl adds, “As we anticipate new growth in the community, we will continue to offer all the things many people have come to enjoy from the Retreat House, such as Monday Wisdom Café and Day’s End Meditation, both offered via Zoom. We will continue to offer Seasonal Quiet Days, Saturday retreat days, hermitage overnight stays, and spiritual direction, just from different venues. And we wait prayerfully to see what new things will arise for us all to share in community.”
For more information about the Retreat House, visit retreathousehillsboro.org or call (410) 364-7069. Also follow the Retreat House on Facebook and Instagram.