About Dayspring

Dayspring might be described as 171 acres of land in the rolling hill-country of Maryland.  We make attempts to be objective about many phases of our church's life, knowing full well that we do not wholly succeed.  But when it comes to Dayspring, we do not even try.

We love all her ways: the woods, the fields, the trails, quiet spots and spacious stretches, the lessons we have learned there ...  It has made contemplatives of us all, even those who take a dim view  of the mystical life.

--  Elizabeth O'Connor, Call to Commitment, 1963

Now, over 50 years since the Church of the Saviour first acquired this farm (and later added a few acres), Dayspring is still making contemplatives of us all.  At times the fields have been actively farmed, though they are now a conservation reserve, providing old farm field habitat for grassland nesting birds and other wildlife.

Over these years, several ministries have come into being on this sacred land. The Silent Retreat Lodge and Inn, built in the mid-1950's, continues to provide the all-too-rare, but deeply necessary sustenance, for spirit and soul - Silence.  Learn more about silent retreat at
The Wellspring Conference Center, built in 1973, provides a setting for conferences and retreats.  The lovely main center building has floor to ceiling window inviting in the surrounding forest and meadows, a stone fireplace with wood stove, and vaulted ceiling.  The three rustic cabins provide overnight accommodations for up to 50 guests.  Learn more about the Conference Center at
The old farmhouse, built in the early 1900's is the home of Dayspring Church, an ecumenical Christian Church, carrying on the tradition of the Church of the Saviour, a widely recognized model of church renewal. Today Dayspring Church is an independent faith community combining a deep life of prayer with active mission and prophetic witness in the world. Learn more about Dayspring Church at

About Earth Ministry Education

Silent Retreats and Ember Day Retreats on themes connecting our Christian faith and God's Creation, such as Earth in Peril: A Moment of Grace;  A Rock, a River, a Tree; Opening to the Earth as Scripture;  Seed, Soil, Wind, Fire;  Cup, Bowl, and Spoon: The Celtic Alternative.

Classes for Adults exploring the relationship between our Christian faith and God's Creation and engaging the question of how we should live given our moment of planetary peril and promise such as The Universe Story and the work of Thomas Berry; Living the Questions of Faith in a Time of Global Climate Change; Creative Simplicity; Nature and the Human Soul.

Classes, Camps, and Retreats for Children providing opportunities for children to experience the wonder and delight of God's Creation. Earth Sunday for Children and Youth at Dayspring Church, usually the first Sunday of each month.  Following a Children's Story in worship, we explore the meadows, woodlands, creek valleys and ponds of Dayspring, letting God's word speak to us through all of creation.  For more information about Earth Sunday School see the Upcoming Events section.
Ceremonies on the Land such as those at Solstices and Equinoxes marking the turning of the seasons, observances with ancient roots and ever new. Ceremonies to honor and give thanks for the precious gifts of life that Earth and its Creator give us. Ceremonies such as this one for blessing the Simple Gifts site before construction.
Wilderness Outings to nearby natural areas for day hikes and overnight camping remind us of the wildness of God and of the special role of wilderness in our faith journeys.
Telling our Story in poems and written pieces allows us to share our faith journey with others. Our Spring Journals and sermons like Tell Me a Story are available in the download file.

About Creation Care/Restoration

The meadows, woodlands, ponds, and creek valleys at Dayspring are a treasure beyond the telling and a sacred community of all life, of which we are a part.  In collaboration with the Audubon Naturalist Society program, we regularly monitor the water quality in the creek that runs along our border with County parkland.  We monitor and maintain bluebird nesting boxes in the meadow. We remove the most invasive of non-native plants, and we plant native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers.  In cooperation with the Dayspring Stewards and the county wildlife ecologist and park personnel, we assist with the land conservation hunting program to restore forest habitat heavily damaged by deer overbrowsing.

To view a video of our water monitoring of Dayspring Creek go to

About The Simple Gifts Project

In this time of global climate change how can we live in ways that are light in impact, yet abundant in soul, ways that enable all life on Earth to thrive?

How can we re-imagine and re-create a human presence on this planet that is gospel, that is compassion, and that prepares a place for the unborn children of ours, and all species, to flourish?
Asking these questions led to our decision to build an Earth Ministry Center at Dayspring called Simple Gifts.

  • a cluster of several residential and educational cottages demonstrating natural building design and integrated systems of energy flow, water use, and waste use.

  • with space for nature study, arts and crafts, wood workshop and greenhouse, and with surrounding gardens for vegetables, fruits, flowers, and herbs and medicinal plants.

The Simple Gifts Cottages

East Cottage
West Cottage
Each Staff Cottage is 1250 square feet in size and is designed to provide a gracious and energy-efficient home for a couple or small family.

The cottages have accomplished this in different ways; between them they include the following features: passive solar heating and cooling, well-insulated walls and roof (structural insulated panels/blown cellulose), top energy efficient windows and appliances, insulating window shades, living roof, FSC-certified framing lumber, geothermal heating and cooling, grid-tied and grid-independent photovoltaic panels, solar hot water, masonry heater, oak and cherry trim from trees on the land, earth plaster and milk paint wall finishes, stained concrete slab floors, bamboo floors, fiber-cement composite siding and trim, roof water collection, and landscaping with native plants.

Integration of these features and "simple living" practices have resulted in these cottages being nearly zero-net-energy homes and a delight to live in.

Detailed descriptions of the features of each cottage are available as file downloads.

The Simple Gifts Greenhouse

We have completed building this permanent, four-season greenhouse with a large cistern inside and with attached shed and covered patio for potting plants and storing garden tools.  With this greenhouse we are able

∞     to start plants from seed for vegetable, wildflower, herb and medicinal gardens

∞     to grow vegetables in all seasons, using the sun's heat in winter.

∞     to store 1200 gallons of water inside, collected from the north roof, for watering greenhouse plants and summer outdoor terraced garden beds below the greenhouse.

∞     to demonstrate green/natural building techniques including straw-bale walls, lime and earth plaster, and rubble trench foundation.  Solar panels will power lights and fans.

∞     to teach children and adults about growing and eating food that is healthy and nourishing for us humans and for the Earth.

In the fenced area (recently enlarged) around the greenhouse we are creating an edible forest garden with fruit and nut trees, berries, herbs, and medicinal plants, with flowers to attract beneficial insects.  The design mirrors the natural forest habitats of our bioregion: shady woodlands and mid-successional open savannah, old field mosaic, and mini-thicket.  The garden and greenhouse produce a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, berries and nuts in all seasons. 

The Simple Gifts Community Garden

As part of the whole vision for the Earth Ministry Center at Dayspring, we cherish the dream of a small, five-acre organic farm.  The farm would be a place to grow fresh organic vegetables, small fruits and fruit trees; a place where inner-city children could pick and learn about fresh food; a place where retreatants could walk and observe first hand the mysteries of seed and soil, growing and tending, harvesting and celebrating the harvest.

In the words of Rachel Rudy, who is sheltering this dream with us,
being with the Earth and working with it is all a part of my spiritual growth.  Nature can teach us about living within the cycles and rhythms of the Earth.  Seeing these things, and witnessing to others about them, is so important.  Food is a part of the whole nourishment -- body, mind, and spirit -- this place can offer.