Becca Stevens | Founder & President of Thistle Farms and the Center for Contemplative Justice

Becca Stevens

Founder & President of Thistle Farms and the Center for Contemplative Justice

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Nashville, TN

Becca Stevens

Becca Stevens is a nonprofit leader, entrepreneur, priest, survivor, and founder and President of Thistle Farms. She has founded 13 nonprofits and justice enterprises, mentored another 60, and has raised over $75 million to support them. Becca has authored 12 books and sold over 300,000 copies. She has served as chaplain at St. Augustine's Chapel on Vanderbilt's campus for almost 30 years. Becca has been featured on PBS NewsHour, The Today Show, CNN, ABC World News, named a CNN Hero, and White House Champion of Change, and holds five honorary doctorates. Drawn from 25 years of leadership in mission-driven work, Becca leads important conversations across the country with an inspiring message that love is the strongest force for change in the world. 

Becca Stevens
Featured Videos

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Speaking Reel
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Today Show: Women Are Essential
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PBS News Hour
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Becca Stevens
Featured Keynote Programs

The ripple effect
ensuring community impact

The ripple effect: Impacting community through love in action
For corporations wanting to inspire their company employees to join together and give back to their communities. Becca will talk about cooperation, having a proper perspective, and the power of community. She will use Thistle Farms, the largest justice enterprise run by survivors of trafficking and addictionshe founded 20 years ago, as her example.

Growing and sustaining leadership

Growing and sustaining leadership
For corporations and conventions to inspire and challenge business leadership models. We can’t think outside the box if we never step outside that box. Becca will offer a vision of inspire leadership based on love and boldness.

How love heals. Daily practices to inspire leaders and community

How love heals: Daily practices to inspire leaders and community
For church gathering and community organizations. This talk will inspire participants with practical ways to live into our hope to heal ourselves, our community and the world.

How women fish
helping survivors become economically sustainable

“And Justice for all” Helping survivors become economically sustainable
In this inspiring, humorous, and challenging keynote, Stevens will talk about starting and sustaining justice enterprises around the world. She will talk about her work with genocide survivors, refugees, and the economics of healing for women. Stevens has learned that women can flee war, but not the violence and vulnerability of poverty. In this keynote se can inspire the listeners to get involved and make a difference. People will get a hands on experience of sustainability created tea, oils, and welcome mats.

Becca Stevens
Featured Books

Practically Divineby Becca Stevens

Practically Divine

by Becca Stevens

When we allow ourselves to embrace both ordinary and extraordinary experiences, we can feel the divine anywhere.

No matter where we are--on a walk in the woods, in a sacred building, or in a dusty refugee camp--signs of love abound. There is no secret formula to experiencing the sacred in our lives, it just takes practice and practicality.

You're invited to search this path with entrepreneur Becca Stevens as she explores what it means to be practically divine. Woven throughout the narrative are poetry and rants, as well as ruminations on her mother's wit, wisdom, and passion.

In Practically Divine, Becca shares how to live a life that's practically divine by:

  • Redefining old lies and stories, to learn from the past
  • Appreciating the gifts that come from imperfections or trauma
  • Using creativity to spark new revolutions
  • Accepting the chaos of the unknown before us with courage
  • Sharing in a feast of love, knowing there's enough mercy and forgiveness

Embracing the practically divine compels us to do something, anything, to share in the feast of love together. When we start from wherever we are, we can recognize the potential for humor, wonder, and freedom.

Practically Divine teaches you to use your senses to transform information into holy compassion. When we open our hearts to it, we can experience the divine anywhere - like sacred breadcrumbs marking our path.

Find Your Wayby Becca Stevens

Find Your Way

by Becca Stevens
Snake Oilby Becca Stevens

Snake Oil

by Becca Stevens
"In the world of snake oils, you have to see the world a little differently. Where others see poverty, you see riches; where others see weeds, you see flowers; where others see sickness, you see openness."

Becca Stevens calls herself a "snake oil seller": She takes natural oils, mixes them with a good story, sells them in an open market and believes they help to heal the world. Becca is the founder of Thistle Farms, one of the most successful examples in the US of a social enterprise whose mission is the work force. She is also the founder of its residential program, Magdalene. The women of Magdalene/Thistle Farms have survived prostitution, trafficking and addiction, and the natural body care products they manufacture-balms, soaps, and lotions-aid in their own healing as well as that of the people who buy them. The book weaves together the beginnings of the enterprise with individual stories from Becca's own journey as well as 20 women in the community.

In Snake Oil, Becca tells how the women she began helping fifteen years ago have been the biggest source of her own healing from sexual abuse and her father's death as a child. Wise and reflective, Snake Oil offers an empowering narrative as well as a selection of recipes for healing remedies that readers can make themselves.

Funeral for a Stranger: Thoughts on Life and Loveby Becca Stevens

Funeral for a Stranger: Thoughts on Life and Love

by Becca Stevens

I have seen water move rocks. I have seen thistles break through boulders.


If water and flowers can move stones, surely love can.


Becca Stevens, from Funeral for a Stranger


In this meditation on living and dying, Becca Stevens shares moving and hilarious stories about her life, love, friends, and our many families.


This delicately formed narrative is also a window into the soul of a priest. I loved it and will hold it in my heart with gratitude for years to come.


-Phyllis Tickle, author of The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why



Loneliness finds connections, depair meets celebration, and fear discovers faith. Join Becca on her journey to a funeral for a stranger. God will be there.
-Don Schlitz, Hall of Fame songwriter of The Gambler



With elegant simplicity Becca Stevens escorts the reader to the banks of the deepest spiritual wellspring. Surely she ranks among our most gifted teachers on the things that matter most of all.


-Stephen Bauman, author of Simple Truths: On Values, Civility, and Our Common Good



Hither & Yon: A Travel Guide for the Spiritual Journeyby Becca Stevens

Hither & Yon: A Travel Guide for the Spiritual Journey

by Becca Stevens

For individual reading or group use

Where is God?
Can I get there from here?
What happens along the way?

In this book, Becca Stevens is a trusted companion on the greatest journey of all. Sharing wisdom, laughter, and travel tips, she paints an unforgettable picture of hither and yon, a mysterious land that is both the destination and the circuitous path itself as we journey toward God.

Becca Stevens is a very highly gifted priest, writer, and poet. Readers will return again and again to this book for insight and inspiration.
Joseph C. Hough, Jr., President
Union Theological Seminary

Becca Stevens' writing is poetic; her ministry is extraordinary. This new travel guide for the spirit is a gift that will change lives.
Phil Bredesen
Governor of Tennessee

Hither & Yon is an excellent guide for the Walk. God is just a step ahead, and he's got all the luggage!
Fiona Prine
John Prine
Songwriter and Recording Artist

Becca Stevens is an Episcopal priest at St. Augustine's Chapel on the Vanderbilt University campus. She is the founder of Magdalene, a residential community for women with a criminal history of prostitution and drug abuse, and the author of Finding Balance: A Sisters Bible Study and Sanctuary: Unexpected Places Where God Found Me, nominated by Christianity Today as best spirituality book of 2005.

Meet Becca in a video interview about her experience with Magdalene.

Hear Becca read excerpts from her book.

Visit Becca's website and the site for her ministry, Thistle Farms.

Includes an interview with Becca Stevens on her remarkable ministry with Magdalene

Letters from the Farmby Becca Stevens

Letters from the Farm

by Becca Stevens

"Love is my grounding," says Becca Stevens. "It provides the axioms that inform and govern what I do. First is that love is the most powerful source for social change in the world. Second is that love heals. I'm not called to change the world. I am called to love it."

"All spiritual paths can be walked more gracefully by avoiding the pitfalls of disillusionment and not getting distracted by the bright lights of ego that have led countless priests far afield. Following simple road signs like courage, humility, forgiveness, compassion, and faithfulness that others have put at the crossroads for me
has made the work possible and left me grateful. I want to pass along through these letters a tradition of a priesthood that is grounded in the idea that love heals and healing is the central-most sacrament of the church."

Sanctuaryby Becca Stevens


by Becca Stevens
Sanctuary is about some unlikely and unexpected places where Becca Stevens has encountered God--a trail in the Andes, her son's bathtub, Dorothy Day's Hospitality House, the Kroger parking lot. Sanctuary was nominated by Christianity Today as best spirituality book of 2005. "I have never read a more direct and moving set of meditations. Becca Stevens has the most extraordinary gift for finding the ineffable in our ordinary old real world, and for making us feel it, too." -Lee Smith, author of The Last Girls "Becca Stevens' meditations imagine an entire world and our part in it, as a place where God dwells. Instead of the tired effort of searching for God, she reminds us, like Francis Thompson's 'Hound of Heaven, ' that God can find us wherever we are." -Charles Strobel, Founding Director, Campus for Human Development "Becca Stevens is my kind of preacher woman. Her ministry extends far beyond the walls of St. Augustine's Chapel. Her words bring to life the miracles that abound in the mundane." -Marshall Chapman, author of Goodbye, Little Rock and Roller "Sanctuary can be found in Becca Stevens's elegant, exquisite, earnest pages." -Alice Randall, author of The Wind Done Gone Becca Stevens is an Episcopal priest at St. Augustine's Chapel on the Vanderbilt University campus. She is the founder of Magdalene, a residential community for women with a criminal history of prostitution and drug abuse, and the author of Hither & Yon: A Travel Guide for the Spiritual Journey, coming in September 2007. Meet Becca Stevens in this video interview about her life, faith and experience with the women of Magdalene House.
THE PATH OF LOVEby Becca Stevens


by Becca Stevens
THE PATH OF PEACEby Becca Stevens


by Becca Stevens
Find Your Way Homeby Becca Stevens

Find Your Way Home

by Becca Stevens

I remember the first day I came home. There were four beautiful women walking out onto the porch to say hello. This was the home I'd almost forgotten about. Thank you, God, for leading me home. Have you ever felt lost?Do you long for a group of friends?Will you ever find your way home? In this remarkable book, the women of Magdalene ask questions that all of us ask, and they share their own joyous, painful, uplifting answers. Inspired by the classic Benedictine Rule, the women have written down 24 rules they live by in the Magdalene community, a place of healing and grace. "Magdalene is living out the call and making something of the Kingdom happen." -Tony Campolo, author of Speaking My Mind"With honesty and urgency, Becca Stevens and her fellow pilgrims from Magdalene reveal the insights gained on their personal journeys to wholeness." -Gloria Gaither, Christian recording artist "Magdalene has a tremendous track record of bringing recovery, hope, and independence to women in need." -Bill Frist, M.D., Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader "In Find Your Way Home there are 24 rules...designed to provoke people into discovering that God loves you as you are right now. And that God loves the possibility within you." -The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop, Episcopal ChurchMagdalene is a residential community of women who have a criminal history of prostitution and drug abuse. The women live together in a series of Magdalene homes, supporting themselves and each other through the work of Thistle Farms, a bath and body-care business run by those in the program. For more information, go to Becca Stevens is the author of Hither & Yon, Finding Balance, and Sanctuary, nominated by Christianity Today as best spirituality book of 2005. Featured on CNN and in other national media, she is an Episcopal priest at St. Augustine's Chapel at Vanderbilt University.

Love Healsby Becca Stevens

Love Heals

by Becca Stevens

Have you struggled with deep wounds, grief, or longing for justice? Love heals us and hope is always possible. Becca Stevens, founder and president of Thistle Farms, shares true stories of healing and joy where brokenness is transformed into compassion. In each chapter, Stevens provides encouragement and practical steps for anyone going through a difficult season or searching for a deeper faith.

Love Heals is:

  • A gorgeous gift book with beautiful photography and inspirational callouts
  • For women of any age seeking healing and hope
  • A gift of hope for a friend or self-purchase

After reading, readers will learn:

  • Love heals by the mercy of God.
  • Love heals with compassion.
  • Love heals during the act of forgiving.
  • Love heals past our fears.
  • Love heals across the world.

In Love Heals, you'll find principles that have transformed lives. Stevens has been featured in the New York Times, on ABC World News, NPR, the TODAY show, and PBS, and named a 2016 CNN Hero. In 2011, the White House named Becca a Champion of Change.

Becca Stevens
Featured Reviews

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