Academy for Spiritual and Social Practice

Welcome, welcome to this place. 

You’re invited to come and know God’s grace.

All are welcome, the love of God to share

‘cause all of us are welcome here;

all are welcome in this place.

~Laurie Zelman


The Academy

St. Paul UMC, located in inner-city East Dayton, is already a significant mission site, steeped in Wesleyan tradition, where a diverse community of people come to practice discipleship. The mission of the church is: Belong, Believe, Bless. As we fulfill this mission, our emerging call is to reach out and invite others to join us as we seek to balance personal and social holiness through functional and contemplative practices. The purpose of creating the Academy for Spiritual and Social Practices is to bring together faithful practitioners traveling a spiritual path who have a desire to learn more about themselves and deepen their relationship with God and others.

The Academy offers educational classes and contact opportunities with the purpose of building relationships within a diverse community using Jesus’ ministry as our foundation:

  • To be a visible outpouring of God’s love and compassion

  • To recognize the potential in everyone

  • To practice racial inclusiveness

  • To create a positive impact on systems that oppress the vulnerable



We are experiencing a new depth of connection in this season as we reach out to more people with a message of hope, love, and peace. We are noticing a gentle flow of the Spirit in our work and risings of opportunities that were not obvious just a few months ago. It is a time of letting go of old ways of doing and opening to a new more life-sustaining, healing way to be in community.

There comes a time on our spiritual journeys when we recognize that contemplation is more about how we live than how we pray. If you are interested in exploring and learning together how to live a more centered life on a contemplative path, we warmly invite you into our virtual Prayer Circle that meets Wednesdays at 3:00pm and Saturdays at 10:00am. Join us for a time of Centering Prayer, reflective readings, and sharing together.

We are developing more ways to connect through the Academy and will be adding other different experiences over the summer so keep an eye open for more information to come. In the meantime, please feel free to contact us using the form below if you are interested in participating or would just like to know more about us.

The Academy is coordinated by Beth Vanoli, Deaconess Candidate, and is part of her Deaconess ministry of love, justice and service.

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