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Fran McKendree: News

AWAKENINGSOUL 2019 - January 19, 2019

Registration will be open very soon for our 2019 AwakeningSoul gathering!  Our presenters this year are Jacqui Lewis and Barbara Brown Taylor, with 'armchair conversations' hosted by Larry Maze.  November 7-10 at the Lutheridge Conference Center, Asheville, NC.  Much more info and links are available at;

Dayspring Journey Series - January 19, 2019

I'll be at the Dayspring Conference Center in Parrish, FL April 25-27 for the continuation of their Journey Series. The keynote speaker is author/teacher Diana Butler Bass.  Retreat guide is Kristi Nelson. I'll be joined by my friend and AwakeningSoul Ensemble colleague, River Guerguerian, on percussion.  Registration is available at the Dayspring website.

Festival of Homiletics, Washington, DC - April 7, 2018

May 21-23, concert 6:30 Tuesday May 22, AME Church

Food for the Journey, Dayspring Conference Center, Parrish, FL - April 7, 2018

April 26-28. With composer John Bell as the keynote speaker.  I'll be joined by River Guerguerian on percussion. Open to all - registration is open.

All Saint's Episcopal Church, Birmingham, AL - April 7, 2018

April 14-15.  I'll be leading a workshop in the morning for youth and in the afternoon with adults, then we'll all join in for the worship on Sunday morn.  Looking forward to being back with good friends!

snapshots from 'The Art of Hosting' - November 12, 2012

I was part of a very exciting gathering last week, on a small island off the coast of Vancouver, BC,  the 'Art of Hosting.'  A group of about 40 of us came together for 3 1/2 days to experience and learn about this inspirational work.  I'm still digging around, letting it all settle in, so I won't go into detail here, just now.  I will post something more in depth soon.  Meanwhile, here are a few photos of the island and a bit of our work.




Red Rocks, Peter Gabriel.. - October 15, 2012

pg_10_sm.jpgWow... what an incredible adventure.  Eric Murrell, Charles Milling and I decided last June we would go to see Peter Gabriel at the Red Rocks venue outside Denver, CO.  PG was doing a 30 day tour of the US...with the original 'So' band.  Eric got incredible seats - row 11, right next to the mix station!  We got there early in the afternoon to do some scouting and sightseeing, since it was a 'first' for all three of us.  We then had a great dinner and came back for the show, which was truly amazing - every song I had on my wish list, and more.  Great sound, a full moon rising over the stage just as PG started... soulful companionship and many laughs. 


checking out the load in... a true geek moment!


the show is ON!


''Don't Give Up'



new video 'Watch, O Watch' - June 29, 2012

My friend Larry Hastings has done a beautiful video to the evening meditation 'Watch, O Watch' from my 'Awake' cd... really lovely footage of a sunset in New Mexico.  A very nice way to end the day.


Times Like These video - October 25, 2011

Here's an acoustic, live version of 'Times Like These' which seems to get more and more appropriate with each news cycle...<embed src="" autostart="false" /

Early morning visitor - October 22, 2011

This cute little guy came for breakfast this morning... it was the first morning this fall that we've dipped below freezing, and I think he was looking for a sunny spot.


about an hour later... ahhhh... much better!


Stowaway! - October 20, 2011

Sometimes it's tough heading out on the road, especially when we're in the midst of a beautiful October here in the mountains of NC.  Our cat, Inky, however, was ready for a little adventure this past week as I packed up!Inky_stowaway.jpg

Holy Cross Monastery - October 14, 2011

Had a really wonderful 4 days helping out with a retreat for youth workers, with my friend and colleague Jenifer Gamber, and about 14 other great folks.  This has become an annual event at this beautiful and contemplative Benedictine house.  Check for dates for next September.

One of our morning sessions;


Here's sunrise one morning, overlooking the mighty Hudson River..


We took a little ride to a bridge over the Hudson and where a thunderstorm suddenly descended on us. The wind picked up very quickly and the river had this very strange look to it.... there had been quite severe flooding, and the river was quite high...


Diocese of Niagra, Canada - June 29, 2011

My wife, Diana, and I led a retreat for clergy and licensed lay workers for the Diocese of Niagra in early May.  It was held at the Mount Carmel Retreat Center, in Niagra Falls, Canada.  What a great few days we had- wonderful, diverse group of folks attending, and the center is lovely, with the best food I've ever had at a retreat center, and a really great staff.  We only had about 24 hrs with the group, but the atmosphere was brimming with great conversation and sharing. It was still a bit on the chilly side, and raining, so I made a quick visit to the actual falls before heading to Toronto to visit for a brief 24 hrs, then head to Buffalo, NY for a visit with my younger sister and family.  A great trip!  Thanks to all who attended, and helped organize the gathering! Here's a shot of the falls from the Peace Bridge.



Benefit Concert, Birmingham, AL - March 29, 2011

I joined the 5 O'Clock Band in a benefit concert at St.Luke's in Birmingham Saturday night. The purpose was to raise funds for a trail to be cut at Camp McDowell in memory of the late Rev. Deb Braden, and counting some donations that came in from a private gathering, over 12,000.00 was raised!  Thanks to everyone who came to support the effort.  I'll try to get some photos up soon.

Birmingham, AL and Diana's surgery - March 7, 2011

My wife, Diana, had back surgery this past Thursday.  All went flawlessly, and she's recovering well, 'tho it will take about 6 weeks before she begins to feel the full benefit. We give thanks for the skill of the surgeon, all your prayers, and the wonderful 'mealtrain' volunteers that have been bringing us delicious dinners, and for the generosity of the folks who have been so incredibly kind to us, guiding us through the surgery, and providing a home away from home.

Read the Spirit article! - March 1, 2011

www.readthespirit  has a story this week about a retreat I led a couple weeks back for youth leaders in the diocese of SW VA.  Please visit;

This site is always a great source of a wonderful variety of information... a real adventure! Editor/creator David Crumm does a great job of creating a valuable, fun and very insightful resource.

Weekend with Church of the Advent, Kennett Square, PA - March 1, 2011

Had a really wonderful visit to Kennett Square, PA to help lead a retreat for folks from the Church of the Advent. Jenifer Gamber and I were invited to lead a day long program, focusing on discerning and celebrating the gifts and vision of the parishoners, as they are in the process of calling a new rector. It was a joy to share the time with Jenifer, Jan Schroeder, and Deb Schmittle, who really had the vision for this retreat.  Thanks to all the folks who shared their energy, time and dreams with us.  Had a fun concert, as well, and I was joined in the music for Sunday morning service by two great musicians, Wilson and Leon..thanks again, guys!  I did forget my camera... hoping someone else might have some pix to share.

AL, VA, TN, Winter/Spring and kites in the wind - February 17, 2011

Just back from a long but wonderful stretch on the road.  Had great visits to Camp McDowell for the annual Curlsillo Ultreya, then up to Loookout Mtn, TN, down to Montgomery, then Selma, AL, back up to Signal Mtn, TN for a couple of days.  Then off to Phoebe Needles Conference Center for a Dio of SWVA youth leaders retreat [always great fun!] for the weekend, and over to Richmond, VA for two days at St. Catherine's school. I'll post some photos here and on the photo gallery page from most of these.  I love driving this time of year, as the winter ground still lies fallow, but new life is just starting to burst out.... love this in between time. I think myabe the best expression of that is the excercise we did at the youth leaders retreat, which led us to each flying a kite [well, as best we could, in shifting, flukey wind!]  A beautiful lifting of spirit, hope and color!

Here's are a couple of photos of the work in process;



And here are some pics with the fantabulous Five O'Clock Band from the concert for the Ultreya at Camp McDowell:





A New Ancient Harmony - January 6, 2011

Over the past few months, Ann Holtz, Brian Prior and I have been putting together the pieces for what we believe will be a very special Advent retreat, December 4-8, 2011 at Lutheridge Conference Center.

Back in December of 2008, Brian and I presented an opportunity to be with John Philip Newell and Barbara Brown Taylor for four days in the mountains of western North Carolina. Intertwined with teaching there was music, story telling, worship, meditation and prayer.

Overwhelmingly, those who were in attendance said, "Yes! This is what we are hungry for." and "When will you be doing something like this again?"

And so it is with great joy that we invite you to the Advent 2011 gathering 'A New Ancient Harmony.'

John Philip will be back with us again and Judy Brown, teacher and poet, will be joining us for the first time. The event will be December 4-8, at the beautiful Lutheridge Conference Center, just outside Asheville, NC.

For more information, please visit our website:

We are also on Facebook at Advent 2011- A New Ancient Harmony.

We hope to see you there. We encourage you to share this with anyone that you think might be interested in attending.

Please contact Ann with any questions that you might have about this event:
Ann Holtz
A New Ancient Harmony
Event Coordinator
Knoxville, TN


McKendree Spring CD '9' available now - November 22, 2010

The brand new McKendree Spring recording, '9' is now available in cd or download form at the web site!  Here's the place to go;

Diocese of Northern CA - November 15, 2010

I had a really wonderful trip out west to help out with the music for the Diocese of Northern CA's centennial celebration and convention.  Got to play with my friend Rob Sabino [Rob has played keys and piano with Madonna, S&G, Mick Jagger, and tons of others] which was really great.  Also got to visit with some very dear friends, and see a beautiful part of the country.  Snow covered Mt. Shasta loomed large.  Wonderful talks by Bishops Beisner and Baxter.  Here are a few pics;

with the choir


ready to go!


view from the Sundial Bridge


ADVENT GATHERING 2011 - October 12, 2010

John Philip Newell and Judy Sorum Brown,  December 4-8, 2011, Lutheridge Conference Center, Arden, NC


Music by Fran McKendree, Charles Milling, River Guerguerian, Lindsey Blount and others.

Some of you will remember the Advent Conference in 2008 that I co-coordinated with Brian Prior [now Bishop Prior, Diocese of MN].  Our friends John Philip Newell and Barbara Brown Taylor were the keynote speakers that year, and we had a wonderful gathering.  I'm thrilled to announce that Brian, Ann Holtz and I have come together to create a new event, December 4-8, 2011.  John Philip, will be with us once again, and we'll be joined this time around by the brilliant poet and teacher, Judy Brown. The event will take place at the beautiful Lutheridge Conference Center near Asheville, NC.  You'll want to reserve early, as we expect to fill quickly, given the overwhelmingly positive response we had to the last event.  Registration will be available soon, via the Lutheridge web site.  More details to come, but in the meanwhile, if you'd like to learn more about the work of John Philip,  Judy, and the venue, please visit these websites;

CHURCH OF THE ASCENSION, Montgomery, AL at Camp Mc Dowell - October 11, 2010

I facilitated the parish retreat for the second year in a row for this wonderful gathering of folks.  Being at Camp McDowell is always a joy, and to have a this great group of seekers to share the weekend with...what could be better?  I took a couple of photos of the new St. Francis Chapel, really a sight to behold - warm and full of a wonder of woodsy smells, while feeling like you're right out in nature.  Joel Blackstock, the architect, did a magnificent job here.  And, his wife Laura, a great artist, as well, did the cover for 'Awake,' my newest recording!


WHITE PLAINS, NY, St. Joseph of Aramethea - October 11, 2010

What a great visit!  Hosted here by Katie Saliba and her family, and the wonderful folks from this beautiful parish.

HOLY CROSS MONASTERY, West Park, NY - October 11, 2010

Jenifer Gamber and I co-led a retreat for youth leaders and other seekers at the beautifully serene Holy Cross Monastery, in West Park, NY. It sits on a bluff overlooking the mighty Hudson River, and is one of my favorite stops in the work I do.  We spent five days with a wonderfully alive group of 23, from all around the US. We join in the daily routine that the monks follow, services at 7a, 9a, noon, 5p and compline at 8:30p, then the great silence from the end of compline through eucharist at 9a.  It's really amazing how that schedule keeps one focused and in tune.  Jenifer did her usual great work, and we were all grateful for the time to slow down, breathe, and move into a deeper awareness of God's presence in our midst.  We were joined one afternoon by our friend Ana Hernandez, who lives quite nearby the monastery...much singing and laughter ensued.  The Brothers made us feel very welcome, and the food, as always was stellar!  A great week, and I invite you to put it on your calendar for next year, if you feel the urge.

Here are some photos from the week, Ana H and me, some of our participants, and one of the many icons that adorn the walls.




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