The School of the Spirit Ministry (SOTS) continues its nearly 20 year long journey of prayer and learning, offering programming to all who wish to be more faithful listeners and responders to the inward work of Christ.
Tenth Month, 2007
The first residency of the seventh offering of the Spiritual Nurturer Program began in March at the Avila Retreat Center, near Durham, North Carolina. Core teachers Michael Green, Patty Levering, and Carole Treadway met weekly to worship, prepare the curriculum and identify local resources able to bring complementary gifts in teaching the Christian root of Quakerism. Visiting teachers for the two year long program will include Friends Lloyd Lee Wilson, Fran Taber and Max Carter, as well as Bill Mills, an Orthodox priest and Jane Redmont, Guilford College faculty member. A full class of 21 Friends, representing Friends from Southeastern Yearly Meeting, North Carolina Yearly Meeting (Conservative), North Carolina Yearly Meeting (FUM), Wilmington Yearly Meeting, Baltimore Yearly Meeting, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, New England Yearly Meeting, and New York Yearly Meeting, look forward to the third session in late September. A prayerful presence, often a member of the SOTS Board, attends each residency. Those who have served thus far join with teachers in reporting an unusual depth of worship and strong bonds being formed in each of three koinonia groups.
Linda Chidsey and Carolyn Moon continue the traditional offering of a January silent retreat at Powell House, NYYM's retreat and conference center. This retreat is co-sponsored by the SOTS and Powell House. In 2008 the SOTS will also co-sponsor the June contemplative retreat offered by Linda and Carolyn. These retreats draw between 12 and 20 individuals who seek to live into the deeper rhythms of the Spiritual life, and many participants have gone on to apply to the Spiritual Nurturer Program.
In May, after a series of meetings for discernment with Friends led to offer new programming under the care of the SOTS, the Board reached unity to offer a year-long program, The Way of Ministry. Marcelle Martin, Laura Melly, and Beckey Phipps will serve as core teachers in this program designed for those who have already discerned a specific leading or call to gospel, traveling, or public ministry and desire support in addressing the individual and corporate challenges experienced in carrying out such ministries. During the summer a co-sponsorship agreement with Pendle Hill for TWM was drafted and in August the SOTS Board approved the agreement, redefined staff positions across SOTS programming and established new levels honoraria. Mike Green will serve as overall SOTS Administrator; Mike will also serve as Program Coordinator for the Spiritual Nurturer program. Becky Phipps will serve as Program Coordinator for The Way of Ministry. The Way of Ministry program is scheduled to begin in September of 2008 with residencies at Pendle Hill.
In light of expanded programming, increases in honoraria, rent and travel costs, as well as the need to re-build our scholarship fund, the SOTS Board has begun laying the groundwork for a major fund raising effort over the next few years that will include grant writing, individual solicitations, as well as our traditional annual appeal letter. While an exact figure has not yet been decided, our goal is to cover start up costs for TWM as well as ensure sufficient funds to sustain all SOTS programs for the next five years. At present we are considering a goal in the neighborhood of $50,000 - $100,000.
Careful budget preparation and ongoing oversight of finances will continue to be of key importance as we look ahead to the beginning of The Way of Ministry. We take seriously the stewardship of our finances as the Ministry. We closed the FY06-07 with $50,669 plus $29,701 in deferred revenue; this year's budget shows a projected closing balance of $45,934 plus $14, 571 in deferred revenue. These numbers include Pendle Hill's support for The Way of Ministry and grant receipts totaling at least $17,000.
In light of added programming (The Way of Ministry, The Way of Ministry Exploratory Days in Philadelphia and Boston, and an additional Powell House retreat), we have expanded our advertising to include display ads in every issue of Friends Journal and classified ads in every issue of Quaker Life. We are grateful for the continued support of Bill Samuel for hosting our webpage.
In addition to fundraising, the Board is working on its own expansion and development. Two long-term valued Board members - Cyndy Blumenthal and Barbara Shisler - asked to be released from service this year and we are under the weight of the need to have a robust Board, sufficient in size to support the expanding ministry. Earlier this year we welcomed Debbie Humphries of New England Yearly Meeting, to the Board and are grateful for the gifts that she brings.
This year Bruce Grant of Germantown Meeting replaced Pat Dareneau as liaison from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting's Worship and Care Committee. We were blessed by the faithfulness and support of Pat for a number of years and will miss her presence and wise counsel. In August we welcomed Bruce and almost immediately felt his deep and listening spirit upholding the work of the Board. We are very grateful for the care and support offered by the Worship and Care Committee.
Since its inception nearly 20 years ago, Friends and others have recognized, lifted up, and affirmed the significant role the SOTS Ministry has played in the renewal of the Religious Society of Friends. Board members, staff, program participants, and others who have been involved in support of the Ministry count themselves blessed. At present the Board finds itself called to step into the next phase of the journey, responding to the needs of Friends and others who desire a more contemplative grounding in their lives and who seek to respond more faithfully to God's call to minister in the world.
|Michael Wajda, clerk
for the SOTS Board
|Michael Green, administrator
for the SOTS teachers and staff