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Sweaty Sheep Residency

Check back in the fall

All positions for apprenticeships and residencies are filled for 2017–18.

Meet the 1001 apprentices and residents

Contact Sara Hayden to recommend future residents and apprentices or to support this growing initiative.

Applications for 2018–19 will be accepted in late fall 2017.

Re-creation Through Recreation

As Desmond Tutu proclaims, “A person is a person through other persons,” in reference to the South African mantra “Ubuntu.” This, coupled with the philosophical eloquence of Plato’s “we grow closer through one hour of play than a lifetime of conversation;” lays the foundation for Sweaty Sheep’s use of recreation as a means of cultivating dignified and transformative relationships that transcend differences in economic, social and faith traditions impacting our community.

What you’re diving into

A mere year into our second chapter, Sweaty Sheep is making (and riding) waves in the Santa Cruz community. Programs such as our Interfaith sunset Christmas Eve service at the “Homeless Garden Project” (interwoven themes of homelessness to unite diverse religious groups); our housed-homeless community garden yoga/devotional series; and even a deep-sea fishing trip pairing various community leaders alongside 23 homeless neighbors for a dynamic and healing time of play, dialogue and relationship have laid a foundation (and unique partnership) for a developing new worshiping community. View some of the work of our Louisville and Santa Cruz programs.

Seeds sown through these early relationships sprouted into “God’s Garden,” our community re-integration program for the Homeless and “sweaty,” a shift from “orthodoxy to ortho-praxy! This innovative initiative, amplified by our founder’s role as San Jose Presbytery hunger affiliate, promotes social and environmental sustainability by training veterans experiencing homelessness in hydroponic gardening, before placing them into supportive church, business and nonprofit communities for mentorship, temporary housing and employment as they congenially take steps out of homelessness.

This year Sweaty Sheep will be ‘going back to school;” taking on the role as the student interfaith community lead and UKirk representative at the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC). Our program’s vision for unity across the faith and social spectrum is extremely relevant to students during their curious college years. We hope to be a medium for playful and transformative interactions that cultivate growth across diverse communities.

Our program is community- and mission-minded. We promote collaboration as a means of amplifying the diverse missions of partnering groups. Our focus on improving quality of life moves us to provide free experiential/recreational programing, such as therapeutic/spiritual sailing retreats, wilderness excursions, kayaking and yoga for a diverse community experiencing homelessness and physical and developmental disabilities. We seek to continue developing these intentional activities as offerings of reprieve and sanctuary to the despondent; to provide supplemental experiential therapy options for nonprofits; to inspire community cultivation, connect people through dynamic relationships/storytelling, and open doors for interfaith dialogue.

After a year of discerning and community gathering, we are excited to dive in with a weekly service starting in late spring. Our Thursday evening Sunset Surf-n-Stretch worship service will feature a time of intentional recreation (surfing, art and garden yoga … each inviting participation from a 15- to 20-member group of homeless friends who stay at the church) before gathering for a shared meal and time of interactive worship/discussion.

What is worship to a “Sweaty Sheep?”

The essence of authentic worship lies in its ineffable nature … it’s an experience as described (or attempted) by Rudolf Otto as “griping or stirring the human mind ….  A feeling of which may come sweeping like a gentle tide, pervading the mind with a tranquil mood of deepest worship … burst in sudden eruption up from the depths of the soul with spasms and convulsions, or lead to the strongest excitements, to intoxicated frenzy, to transport, and to ecstasy.”

Balanced with the slightly less adjective rich Presbyterian description of “joyfully [ascribing] all praise and honor, glory and power to the triune God,” we seek to offer transformational worship experiences that often don’t fit into traditional stained glass boxes! Worship should be fun (yet formative), safe (not always comfortable), diverse (though unifying), creative, authentic and relevant!


  • Work to strengthen the “community” of our community through small groups.
  • Partner in developing the Sweaty Sheep campus ministry, lending support to our incoming USCS intern.
  • Help develop a relationship with Zepher Point Presbyterian Conference Center, on the shores of beautiful Lake Tahoe (Sweaty Sheep is working toward hosting ski and wilderness retreats for our local and national PC(USA) community).
  • Help plan, implement, evaluate and develop our Thursday Sunset Surf-n-Stretch worship service.
  • Work with ecumenical and secular groups as well as our gardeners experiencing homelessness, as we continue to develop and learn from through our “God’s Garden” program.
  • Have fun! Sail, surf, hike, kayak and more on the gorgeous coast of California! Evangelism happens with a smile and we promote a vision of “reCreation through Recreation” in all we do!

Residents will receive housing and a stipend of $15,000, plus a health insurance grant of $1,500. Residents also will take part in an advanced national training (costs covered by the Presbyterian Mission Agency) with 1001 apprentices and other residents June 12–15 in Los Angeles, California. Applications, including letters of reference, are due by April 1, 2017.

Apply now

Contact Sara