In late May, 1998, Soul Purpose, made its first trip to Holden Village www.holdenvillage.org spending two weeks as artistic ensemble in residence at this unique Lutheran retreat center in the Cascade Mountains high above Lake Chelan in Washington. The company of eleven spent almost three weeks on the road, book-ending the Holden residency with church performances in the Seattle area. Prior to “going up the mountain” to Holden they spent two days preparing for the residency at the Gruenewald Arts Guild in Leavenworth, WA. The Gruenewald Guild, directed by renowned liturgical artist and former VU professor Richard Caemmerer, produces art for the church and Christian community. During their two weeks at Holden, the members of Soul Purpose worked part-time jobs in the village in such areas as housekeeping, lawn and garden maintenance, kitchen, tape archive, child care (a/k/a “Narnia), and the ever-popular “mavericking.” They performed several SP plays and joined in all facets of village life.
The Holden Village trip marked the beginning of an extended period of support from two Lilly Endowment, Inc., grants. The Valparaiso Project for the Formation of People in Faith, directed by Dr. Dorothy Bass, has been supporting Soul Purpose's acquisition of liturgical arts resources, especially books; printing and copying expenses; and travel to special events. In 2001, Valparaiso University was awarded two million dollars by Lilly Endowment Inc. to provide for campus-wide programs in theological exploration of vocation. Soul Purpose received part of this grant in order to focus more directly on the ways in which Soul Purpose members might put liturgical drama to use in their vocations as well as their congregations. Some of this money has been used to support a Soul Purpose intern who serves as an assistant to the director.
Soul Purpose companies returned to Holden Village in the summers of 2001, 2003, 2005, and, most recently in June of 2008.
Eleven members of Soul Purpose and director John Steven Paul completed a happy and productive twelve-day residency at Holden Village on Monday, June 23, 2008. This was the fifth Soul Purpose company to take up artistic residence in the Village since 1998. As in previous summers, the troupe performed its liturgical plays in nightly Vespers services, at Sunday Eucharists, at teaching sessions and as part of a special concert of three plays. Their audiences totaled well over 400 people.
VU students Quincy Saarbach, William Milhans, Briana Hallman, Sarah Beckerman, and John Strand joined May grads John Nevergall and Jillian Nolan, and alumni Katie Benjamin, Rachel Easton, and Dan Cobbler. The plays included Soul Purpose standards Locusts and Wild Honey, What Do You Think? and And They Danced. The company also performed newer Soul Purpose pieces Fools, The Hard Part, and the troupe’s newest play Go and See. The company also performed two new Gospel interpretations.