Nurturing Faithfulness 2022-2023

a 9-month faith and leadership program
September 10, 2022 - May 22, 2023


Program Overview

Nurturing Faithfulness is a collaboration between New England Yearly Meeting, Woolman Hill Quaker Retreat Center, and core teachers Hilary Burgin and Marcelle Martin.

Nurturing Faithfulness is a multi-generational faith and leadership program designed to help Friends explore ways to meet God more deeply, hone methods of discernment, reach for fuller faithfulness, and ultimately bring these gifts and strengthened abilities home to their local meetings and beyond. The program is structured to set in place support, encouragement, and accountability. It includes two weekend residencies at Woolman Hill, as well as a mid-course residency to be held virtually or in person (to be decided). Between residencies, participants will engage in online learning and discussion, connect once a month with local (or virtual) Faithfulness Groups, and meet with a care committee (usually based in their local meeting). The class members will become a community of practice so as to support each other in receiving and providing spiritual nurture and supporting leadings, service and faithful witness.

Our Quaker tradition is a path that, when lived deeply and faithfully, can have a tremendous transforming and healing effect on the world. Our hope is to seed deeper worship and faith through this program, as well as greater spiritual vitality and faithfulness in our local meetings and spiritual communities. The program is designed to help educate, equip, and support all those who hold a concern for deeper worship, faith, and faithfulness. Participants will be given specific guidance, practice, and support in deeply sharing their Quaker faith and faithful witness. They will support each other in following leadings to bring new spiritual deepening, religious education, and other opportunities to their meetings and to other groups.  In this program we are also concerned to interrupt domination because of race and class in our Quaker processes.

Tentative Residency Dates

September 22-26, 2022 (Thursday through Monday), at Woolman Hill Retreat Center
December or January (to be held on-line or in person, to be decided)
May 18-22, 2023 (Thursday through Monday), at Woolman Hill Retreat Center

Core Teachers

MARCELLE MARTIN, Core Teacher: Marcelle is the author of Our Life is Love: the Quaker Spiritual Journey (Inner Light Books, 2016) and a member of Swarthmore Monthly Meeting (PA). She has led workshops at retreat centers and Quaker meetings across the United States, with a call to help nurture the spiritual vitality and radical faithfulness of Friends and Quakerism today. She was the resident Quaker Studies teacher at Pendle Hill for four years, and was a core teacher in the School of the Spirit program, The Way of Ministry. She is the author of the Pendle Hill pamphlets Invitation to a Deeper Communion and Holding One Another in the Light. In 2013 she was the Mullen Writing Fellow at Earlham School of Religion while working on her book. On her blog, A Whole Heart, she writes about spirituality today, taking inspiration from the past to help us find the courage to become all God has created us to be in our day. Visit her website at

HILARY BURGIN, Core Teacher: Hilary currently serves as Executive Director for Quaker Voluntary Service (QVS). She previously worked as the QVS Boston City Coordinator and for New England Yearly Meeting as the Young Adult Engagement Coordinator. In her work, Hilary has the opportunity to support young adults engaged in the never-ending questions of living an integrated life. Hilary grew up in Acton (MA) Friends Meeting and in New England Yearly Meeting, attended Oberlin College, and became a Bostonian in the fall of 2010.  

Elder/Mentors and Guest Teachers are to be announced.

Informational Video

To get a sense of the program and to see interviews with those who participated in the first offering (Nurturing Worship, Faith and Faithfulness), watch this informational video.

Please submit this form to let us know if you’d like to be notified when registration for this course opens.

In the meantime, there are several upcoming opportunities to get a taste of what the course will be like. Engaging in one of these programs (or an equivalent experience) is recommended as a prerequisite for the longer course.

In September 2021, there is an Exploring Spiritual Practices on-line course. Learn more here.

And in spring 2022, there will be an in-person weekend program at Woolman Hill (more info to come soon).

Application Process and Program Cost

There will be an application process put into place in spring 2022. This process will help potential participants test their leading to be part of the program and will raise awareness of the benefits of the program for local meetings.

Participants are encouraged to come in pairs or trios from the same monthly meeting, but priority will be given to allow as many New England meetings to be represented as possible. Friends with a recognized gift or leading to nurture worship, ministry, and faithfulness in their meetings will be given special encouragement to attend.

The program cost includes meals and lodgings at Woolman Hill for in-person residencies, honorarium and expenses for the teaching team (including guest teachers), administrative expenses, publicity and teaching materials, technology for videos and webinars. We do not want finances to be a barrier for participation, so we anticipate having scholarship and other funding assistance resources available, especially to support the attendance of young people and Friends of color.

More details to be provided soon.

Program Details

The Nurturing Faithfulness (NF) program includes a total of ten overnights—four at the first residency, three at a mid-course weekend and three at the closing weekend, plus a short mid-course retreat organized by regional groups. In addition to practices that help open the heart to the power of God, the program will also teach skills in discernment, methods to offer and find spiritual support, and ways to ground one’s faithfulness in one’s home meeting or spiritual community.  Participants will form local Faithfulness Groups that foster spiritual openness and accountability, and which support Friends over time in meeting God more intimately in worship, in daily life, and in service or witness.  Faithfulness Groups of four to six people agree to come together for a two hour meeting once a month for mutual help in faithfully discerning and follow divine guidance. These local groups can include people who are not enrolled in the program, whether Quaker or not.  Each program participant will also form a care committee which includes at least two members of their home meeting or faith community. This committee will meet with them periodically to discuss their learning in Nurturing Faithfulness and help them find ways to share it with others.

Reading, Reflections, and local Faithfulness Group formation): Both before and between residencies, participants will read assigned texts and watch short videos, then discuss them in monthly online webinars. They will form local Faithfulness Groups based on the guidelines and introductory materials provided by the program, participating monthly in such a group for the rest of the program.  Optional webinars will also take place several times during the program for question and answer sessions with guest speakers. Each participant will connect with a mentor who will accompany them throughout the program.

Initial 5-day residency: During the initial residency at Woolman Hill Retreat Center, Friends will learn ways to help one another be more attentive and receptive to the presence and guidance of God/Christ/Spirit during daily life, in meetings for worship, and in their faith community. There will be instruction and practice in skills to deepen worship, listening, and faithfulness. Participants will practice becoming more attentive to subtle movements of the Spirit, more aware of ways we resist God’s Light, and more available to give and receive support in faithfulness. Participants will hone their skills in mutual listening, discernment, and accountability and be given instruction and feedback in the Faithfulness Group process. We will consider how our community worship and faithful responses to the movements of the Spirit help make manifest divine reconciling and healing power. The first residency is intended to be a retreat as well as a learning experience and will also include periods of Grand Silence, an extended meeting for worship, and the experience of a programmed worship service. 

Study, reflection, writing, and discussion between residencies: Participants will continue to share their reflections, questions, prayers, and experiences online. Between residencies, local Faithfulness Groups will meet once a month, and participants will meet periodically with a care committee to help them discern how to share elements of what they are learning with their home meeting or faith community. During the program, participants will write and share two reflection papers on their experiences.

Mid-course residency: During the second residency (to be held on-line or in person, tbd), we will consider how deep spiritual grounding of individuals and communities supports radically faithful outward witness and service. There will be teaching on the nature of leadings, and skills and tests of discernment. We will learn ways to anchor our leadings and ministries in our local meetings and help each other take next steps. 

Local retreat and accompaniment between residencies: In February or March, local Faithfulness Groups will organize a regional retreat from Friday evening through Saturday evening or Sunday noon.  Retreat time together will include worship, Faithfulness Group presentations, and discerning ways to help each another nurture the worship and spiritual life of home faith communities. Group members will plan practical accompaniment of the leadings arising among themselves.

Final weekend residency: The program will conclude with a final residency. This will be a time to be deeply gathered by the Spirit in worship, to reflect and share learning, consider next steps in faithfulness, plan ongoing connection, and bless and send each other forth.