Nurturing Faithfulness 2022-2023
Learn about Nurturing Faithfulness
This three minute video is a perfect introduction to the Nurturing Faithfulness program.
Teachers and Elders
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 long weekend residencies at Woolman Hill, as well as a mid-course residency to be held virtually. 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 led to interrupt oppression and marginalization, especially related to race and class, in our Quaker communities and practices.
Nurturing Faithfulness is a collaboration between New England Yearly Meeting, Woolman Hill Quaker Retreat Center, the Beacon Hill Friends House, and core teachers Hilary Burgin and Marcelle Martin.
- September 22–26, 2022 (Thursday evening through Monday afternoon), at Woolman Hill Retreat Center
- January 20–22, 2023 (to be held online)
- May 18–22, 2023 (Thursday evening through Monday afternoon), at Woolman Hill Retreat Center
You can read the full COVID protocols for the residencies here.
The Nurturing Faithfulness (NF) program includes three residencies, two in-person (four nights at the first residency, and four at the closing weekend) and an online winter residency, 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 online), 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.
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 awholeheart.com.
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.
JANET HOUGH, Elder: Janet is a member of Cobscook (ME) Meeting. She has lived and worshipped with Quakers on three continents, and held membership in five different yearly meetings. Janet was introduced to the 21st century understanding of Quaker eldership through New York Yearly Meeting (NYYM) and Friends General Conference retreats, and grew into the practice of corporate eldership through NYYM’s Meetings for Discernment. Janet participated in The Way of Ministry program of the School of the Spirit. She is currently on the host committee for NEYM’s Ministry and Spiritual Life Gatherings.
LVM SHELTON, Elder: Elviem is a member of Plainfield (VT) Monthly Meeting. She has served on NEYM's Noticing Patterns of Oppression and Faithfulness working group since 2018. A former Friend in Residence at Pendle Hill, her ministry among Friends includes workshop offerings that nurture diverse and transformative spiritual community.
ANNE POMEROY, Elder: Anne is a member of New Paltz Meeting, New York Yearly Meeting (NYYM). She has traveled widely among Friends, serving both as elder and as a workshop leader. Through the NYYM Spiritual Nurture Working Group’s Tending the Garden ministry, she facilitates workshops on a wide range of topics related to Quaker spiritual life. Recently, she has been instrumental in supporting NYYM’s Young Adult Spiritual Nurture Series. She has also represented her yearly meeting on Friends General Conferences’ Central Committee. Anne participated in the School of the Spirit’s Spiritual Nurturer program and then served for a time on the Board of the School of the Spirit ministry.
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.
The Nurturing Faithfulness Program is offered on a pay-as-led basis. This means that we trust participants to discern what they are led and able to pay and that if we all contribute as we are able there will be enough for us all. Like a “sliding scale”, this means participants can pay any amount from $0 to more than $3500.
What you can pay will not impact the selection process.
We do not want finances to be a barrier for participation. We also hope people will take seriously the expense of running an extensive program like this (including teaching team preparation and facilitation, facility use, teaching materials, publicity, administrative and staff time). We ask each participant to consider what is appropriate for their personal budget, taking into consideration the value of the program, and also considering the resources that may be available to you through grant applications (see below). For those who can afford to pay the complete cost or higher, this will enable us to offer more equalization to those with more limited financial resources.
We are deeply grateful that this offering of Nurturing Faithfulness has been significantly subsidized by New England Yearly Meeting as well as from seed funds from previous offerings.
Within the pay-as-led framework, we offer the following suggested fees reflective of the costs of the program to help inform your discernment:
- Complete cost+ $3,500 per participant
- Paying this amount or higher will cover all of the direct costs related to your participation in the program and will make a small contribution towards others’ participation as well.
- Median cost $2,400 (made possible by NEYM and seed funds from previous cohorts)
- We hope most participants will pay this amount or more (from their own funds or via support from your meeting or others), which covers your participation minus the amount which is subsidized by NEYM, grants and seed funds. We are very grateful for the support that allows us to offer this rate
- Limited income cost $1,500 (made possible by NEYM and seed funds)
- A suggested amount for participants with a limited income.
After applicants are accepted into the program, we will contact you about payment arrangements. We are happy to arrange a payment plan in installments if that is useful.
We also strongly encourage participants to apply directly for financial support towards their contribution to the program. Possible sources include:
- Lyman Fund (applications due March 15 and September 15). Information here.
- Obadiah Brown Benevolent Fund (applications due April 15 and September 15). Information here.
- Monthly and quarterly meetings. Note: Salem Quarterly Meeting funds are now distributed by NEYM's Legacy Gift Committee, via their Witness and Ministry Fund.
We strongly encourage meetings to consider financially supporting participation by individuals from their meeting, as we believe that an individual’s participation will be a worthwhile investment for the entire faith community. (We know of at least one monthly meeting whose Meeting for Business approved paying for one registration to this program noting that it has been their experience that when one Friend undertakes a significant spiritual formation opportunity, the whole meeting benefits.)
Please contact us if your financial situation is the primary factor preventing you from applying.
To apply, submit this form. You may find it helpful to prepare you application question responses by using this printable handout , which is also available as a download at the bottom of this page.
Please note that applicants are asked to engage in a clearness process and submit a letter of support as part of their application.
Applications are preferred by June 1, 2022. People applying by June 1 will hear back by July 1. These are rolling admissions, so applications submitted after June 1 will be reviewed as they come in. The application process will fully close September 1, 2022.
Participants are encouraged to come in pairs or trios from the same monthly meeting, but we hope to see an application from you even if that is not the case. Friends with a recognized gift or leading to nurture worship, ministry, and faithfulness in their meetings will be given special encouragement to attend.
Questions about applying? Contact us at [email protected].
Interviews with Nurturing Faithfulness Alumni
Get a sense of the program and see interviews with those who participated in the first offering (Nurturing Worship, Faith and Faithfulness) in this video.
This printable handout lists all the questions you will be asked when you submit your online application. Use this document to prepare to apply.