​Runkle to Step Down from St. Mary’s Sewanee

The Board of Trustees of St. Mary’s Sewanee: The Ayres Center for Spiritual Development announces that after serving St. Mary’s Sewanee as Executive Director for four years, the Rev. John Runkle is stepping down, effective June 30. Runkle will continue to live in Sewanee and will resume his practice as a historical architect with a focus on church buildings and other sacred properties. Runkle has devoted much of his ordained life to helping congregations and dioceses care for their places of worship.

“It indeed has been a great privilege to serve the St. Mary’s Sewanee community and help further its mission as a center for spiritual development,” says Runkle. “Together with our devoted staff, trustees and volunteers, we have accomplished much during the past four years—the quality of programs, the warmth of our hospitality, the efficiency of our operations, the increase in numbers of those who support us financially, and the incredible beauty of our facilities and grounds – all contribute to the growing number of people who come to St. Mary’s Sewanee and value it as a special place. I am thankful to have been part of this committed team.”
St. Mary’s Sewanee is conducting a national search for its next Executive Director and expects to fill the position in the summer.
Some of the recent developments under Runkle’s leadership include a new relationship with the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, which has commenced a new four-part program, the Soul of Leadership, at St. Mary’s Sewanee. Many other programs offered by long-time St. Mary’s Sewanee presenters have been able to make use of the Center’s new and upgraded facilities on a year-round basis. Marketing efforts are broadening to inform a larger audience of the Center’s multiple options to rest, renew, and reconnect. Upcoming completion of the Kathy Wood’s Memorial Garden will provide a place of tranquility and quiet for use by our guests. Focus on plans to secure funds to build the new Hospitality Building will provide space to accommodate the increasing number of groups that use St. Mary’s Sewanee facilities.
Board President Dale Grimes said, “The Board of Trustees of St. Mary’s Sewanee is extremely grateful for John’s leadership as Executive Director for the past four years. During his time at St. Mary’s Sewanee, the center has experienced an increase in program offerings and number of visiting groups and guests. John’s professional skills and congenial personality have been instrumental in creating the warm, spiritual environment that guests desire. The board wishes him well as he returns to his architectural practice and wants him to know we will miss him. However, we are confident about the future of St. Mary’s Sewanee, and look forward to continuing to work to fulfill our mission and welcome our next Executive Director.”

Located on 230 acres atop Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau, St. Mary’s Sewanee: The Ayres Center for Spiritual Development offers a place of natural beauty and quiet for retreat, renewal and learning. Its mission is dedicated to providing spiritual hospitality and welcome to persons of diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds, including church groups, nonprofits, small groups and individuals. St. Mary’s Sewanee’s calendar of programs is set through 2018. For a complete list of offerings and more information, please visit www.stmaryssewanee.org