The Sacred Art of Writing

Next COhort applications open may 2027

Led by Dr. Winn Collier

The Sacred Art of Writing Doctor of Ministry cohort will invite both established and emerging writers in multiple genres and contexts (those in traditional ministry and those whose work and writing moves them into broader arenas of service) to think deeply, theologically, and artfully about their work. As people whose very life arrives from the Word, Christians ought to be those with the deepest reverence for language. Yet, too often, our writing is stilted, banal, cliched, moralistic, and bereft of the beauty and care the craft requires. If we are dealing with holy work simultaneously immersed in gritty humanity and divine transcendence, then our writing ought to carry a haunting lilt while piercing the heart and the mind. The Sacred Art of Writing aims to walk with students in this joyful, sacred calling.

The DMin is a ministry degree and uniquely seeks to form people in lives of service to God, the church, and the world. As such, the Sacred Art of Writing program is distinct from an MFA. We will tend to craft as one essential thread, but also to theological and spiritual themes inherent in this vocation and essential for the life and soul of the writer. Perhaps the most crucial and formative element of our cohort will be the space itself, how we enter as a community listening to God and to one another among all the words we share. 


For further details and more comprehensive information, including a tentative sample (subject to constant revision) of types of reading and topics one might find over the course of our three years, please download our full cohort overview packet.

//Candidates// Our cohort welcomes candidates with a master’s degree able to articulate (1) a theological undergirding for their calling to the writing craft and (2) how their writing works in service to the church and God’s world. Candidates will offer writing samples to demonstrate appropriate experience and competency.

//Residencies//  The Sacred Art of Writing Cohort will meet twice a year for a week (Fall/Spring, dates listed below). Four residencies will be on campus at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan. Two of our residencies will be off campus: a literary pilgrimage to Ireland and/or the UK and a writing retreat. All travel and lodging expenses are the student’s responsibility.

//Writing Project// As a culminating thesis toward which they will work over the three years, students will create a writing portfolio including [1] a substantial, original literary work in their genre of choice (roughly 15,000 words) along with [2] two collected essays reflecting on theological themes connected to writing as a sacred art and on the writers’ own formation as a writer in service to God’s church and world (roughly 5,000 words each), for a total portfolio project of roughly 25,000 – 30,000 words. A final presentation from the portfolio will be presented to the project committee and cohort.

//Cost// Tuition will be $17,964 total for the full three years. For our international literary tour, we estimate $2950 double occupancy + airfare and some meals. For our writing retreat, we estimate $900 double occupancy + travel and some meals. Further information on any applicable fees or more details on tuition are available from WTS.  

//Ongoing// Students will submit their assigned writing 3-4 weeks prior to the next residency, and mentors will at times host Zoom gatherings with their writing group between residencies.

REsidency Dates

October 7 – 11, 2024 – Holland, MI
April 28 – May 2, 2025 – Holland, MI
September/October 2025 – Literary Tour
April 2026 – Holland, MI
October 2026 – Writing Retreat
April 2027 – Holland, MI

Meet our


Winn Collier

Lead Faculty Member

A pastor for 26 years, Winn now serves as the Director of the Eugene Peterson Center and Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology and Christian Imagination at Western Theological Seminary.  In addition to writing for The Washington Post, Christianity Today, Christian Century and numerous other outlets, he has published books in multiple genres (spiritual creative non-fiction, fiction, and biography): Restless Faith: Hanging on to a God Just Out of Reach; Let God: Spiritual Conversations with François Fénelon; Holy Curiosity: Encountering Jesus’ Provocative Questions; Love Big, Be Well: Letters to a Small Town Church and A Burning in My Bones: The Authorized Biography of Eugene H. Peterson.

John Blase

Cohort Mentor

A former pastor, John has worked as an editor in the publishing industry for fifteen years (with David C. Cook and Waterbrook Penguin- Random House). He is a poet and creative non-fiction writer. In addition to ghostwriting for notable figures and publishing essays for numerous outlets, he has written Jubilee: The Poems; Know When to Hold ‘Em; Touching Wonder, and All is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir (with Brennan Manning).

Marilyn McEntyre

Cohort Mentor

A poet and essayist, Marilyn was a former professor of humanities at the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program and has spoken for numerous writer workshops, conferences, churches and seminaries. Marilyn is the author of When Poets Pray; Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies; Speaking Peace in a Culture of Conflict; Word by Word: A Daily Spiritual Practice; A Long Letting Go: Meditations on Losing Someone You Love; Drawn to the Light: Poems on Rembrandt’s Religious Paintings; Dwelling in the Text: Homes in American Fiction; A Healing Art: Regeneration Through Autobiography; Occasions: Selected Poems and other titles.

Leif Enger

Guest Lecturer

A former producer and reporter with Minnesota Public Radio, Leif is a national bestselling novelist. Leif has written Peace Like a River (named one of the Year’s Best Books by both Time Magazine and the LA Times); So Brave, Young, and Handsome and Virgil Wander.

Sophfronia Scott

Guest Lecturer

A novelist and essayist, Sophfronia has written for Killens Review of Arts and Letters, Saranac Review, Ruminate,, O, The Oprah Magazine and numerous other publications. She is the author of both fiction (All I Need to Get By and Unforgivable Love) and nonfiction (This Child of Faith, with her son Tain, Love’s Long Line and The Seeker and the Monk: Everyday Conversations with Thomas Merton). Winner of numerous awards, Sophfronia is the founding director of the MFA program at Alma College.

the Sacred Art of Writing

To be added to our waitlist to receive notification for when applications open for our next Sacred Art of Writing cohort, please use the “Request Info” button above and indicate your area of interest.

Inquiry Form