Deepening Roots© – A Course in Formation

Course Description

Deepening Roots© invites participants to sink their roots more deeply into their Judeo-Christian heritage, growing a new sense of God. Based on contemporary educational theory, Deepening Roots© doesn’t teach theology but grows theologians. It is a two year program that utilizes recent trends in biblical studies and aims for all participants to become astute bible readers and informed theologians who can think, act, and speak meaningfully about God.

In Year One participants read scripture as narrative and canon; exploring the reasons why particular stories were held onto. We ask questions such as, “How do we read the scriptures? What authority do we ascribe to these holy texts? How can the bible be our book?” We discover that the story must be told and retold, so that the narrative stays true to God’s story and so it invites our faithful response in contemporary times.

In Year Two, participants applying learning from Year One to consider what the biblical narrative means to them by examining and applying their theology to contemporary issues such as the environment, human sexuality, universalism, consumerism, and the sanctity of life.


Deepening Roots©:

  • Is open to everyone
  • Meets monthly, 8 times in the year (4 hours each sessions and a 3 day retreat in May)
  • Incorporates background material, participant input, and facilitated discussion

Class Size

In order to create community, class size is limited to 10 participants.

Requirements and Materials

Homework and reading (primarily scripture) outside of class takes approximately 2-3 hours per week.

Participants are encouraged to journal between sessions (topics provided).

Participants provide a Study Bible, a Narrative Bible, and a journal/notebook.

Participants are encouraged to read, prior to the course, The Gift of the Jews by Thomas Cahill.


Deepening Roots© is offered in a number of different places in the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota. For information on locations, visit


The cost for the year is $400.00 (depending on location, there may be additional retreat costs).

Course Developers

Rev. Mary Ellen Ashcroft, Ph.D.—Mary Ellen worked for years as an English professor, developing course and program curriculum at Bethel University and a chapel program at Kalamazoo College. She is Vicar at Spirit of the Wilderness, a new mission in Grand Marais, MN, and has a passion for developing and empowering lay ministry. She has led many retreats, written a number of books including Dogspell: The Gospel According to Dog and The Magdalene Gospel.

photo-2Julie Luna—Julie has worked in the field of education for over twenty years, spending much of her time creating education programs for community organizations. She is also a trained facilitator and has led many organizations in creating processes and programs to enhance their education endeavors. She is an avid student of scripture and theology, and is passionate about lay ministry. In addition to developing Deepening Roots©, she is a fiber artist and actively promotes the spirituality of food through her work in gardening and food sustainability.


Rev. Mary Ellen Ashcroft, PhD.—Spirit of the Wilderness, Grand Marais, Duluth and Twin Cities

Julie Luna—Episcopal Church of the Ascension, Stillwater

Stacy Abena—St. Stephen’s, Edina

Terese Lewis—St. Matthew’s, Saint Paul

Betsy Lee and  Martha Hotchkiss—St. Mary’s, Saint Paul

Susan Barnes—St. John’s, Linden Hills

For Information and Registration

Julie Luna, 651-253-7379,

Mary Ellen Ashcroft, 218-387-1536,