Covid-19 updates & information

St. Mary’s Sewanee Closed to the Public until Further Notice

St. Mary’s Sewanee: The Ayres Center for Spiritual Development is closed to the public until further notice, according to Interim Executive Director John Runkle. Full-time employees are continuing to work, either from home or at the retreat center, but there will be no guests or retreats. This step is being taken to protect the health and safety of our guests, staff, and volunteers. Regularly scheduled yoga classes, Qi Gong gatherings, and Centering Prayer support groups will not meet. The board and Runkle is regularly reviewing the situation.

“We hope our closure is only temporary and we will update you as more information becomes available,” Runkle said. “St. Mary’s Sewanee has always been a safe haven for people during times of turmoil. We hope to be that again soon, but out of an abundance of caution, must make this tough decision now.”

St. Mary’s Sewanee takes the health and safety of our guests, staff, and volunteers very seriously. We are following the guidelines from the Tennessee Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization. Because of this exceptional emergency we have modified our policies in the following ways:

For individuals

If you are scheduled to attend a St. Mary’s Sewanee-sponsored retreat or coming on a personal retreat and must cancel because of illness, we are offering three options:       

—  donate your retreat or cancellation fee to SMS (for which we will gratefully follow-up with a letter for
tax purposes),       

—   carry your payment forward to rebook a future program, or       

—   request a refund.

For people attending a retreat organized by someone else

If you are with a partner group that is hosting your retreat at St. Mary’s Sewanee, you should contact your group leader about changing your plans.


For groups having a retreat at St. Mary’s Sewanee

Groups that have a retreat scheduled at SMS and choose to cancel because of COVID-19 have three options for their deposits and payments:       

—   deposits can be applied to rebooking for a future date;       

—   deposits can be donated to SMS (and we will issue you a receipt for this donation); or       

—   deposits can be forfeited without any additional charges.If you choose to have your payment refunded, please allow 4 to 6 weeks for processing.

St. Mary’s Sewanee has always been a safe haven for people during times of turmoil. We hope to be that again soon, but out of an abundance of caution, must make this tough decision now.