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Snapshots                                     Spring 2010
the School of the Spirit Ministry
quarterly newsletter 

In this issue

The Blessed Community,
     by Carole Treadway
Living from the Divine Center
     a retreat at Powell House
Listening for the Voice of God,
     by Tom Rothschild
SotS News

SotS News

The Care Committee -- SotS, in a desire to build up the function of Care Committees, has developed an in-depth guide describing their make-up and work within the ministry's program On Being a Spiritual Nurturer.  The document defines key words, such as ministry, spiritual gifts, support, and accountability.  It provides advices for Care Committee members and program participants.  We hope it enables Care Committees to have even more spiritually nurturing meetings. We encourage you to read and use the guide, and then to give us feedback.

West Coast Consultation -- SotS continues to accompany some Friends on the west coast in establishing there a program similar to On Being a Spiritual Nurturer. As reported in the last newsletter, a consultation was held in Seattle in December of last year. A second consultation is planned for this coming June. Please hold all those involved in the Light.

In the Press ? We commmend to you Patty Levering's essay Living in the Life and Power in the May 2010 issue of Friends Journal. The text is taken from one of the Bible Half-Hour talks she gave at the 2009 summer gathering of Friends General Conference. Patty is a core teacher in the On Being a Spiritual Nurturer program. The complete talks are available both in print and as audio.

The Way of Ministry -- With gratitude to God for all that unfolded in The Way of Ministry program, earlier this year SotS announced the program's release back into the care of its founding teachers, Laura Melly and Marcelle Martin. The announcement can be read here.

Teacher Renewal and Enrichment Fund ? For some time, SotS has carried a concern for the right support and nurture of its teachers and retreat leaders. As a step toward addressing this concern, SotS has established a Teacher Renewal and Enrichment Fund to nurture its teachers and to support the development of their gifts. $10,000 was initially allocated to the fund.

Annual Appeal -- Thank you to all of you who gave a donation in response to our annual appeal letter. Your support is heartening and permits us not only to sustain our current programs but also to follow leadings, such as our accompaniment of some Friends on the west coast and the new support for our teachers.

Gifts are always welcome. If you wish to make a donation of whatever amount, please write a check to Philadelphia Yearly Meeting earmarked for the School of the Spirit. Mail your check to the address below. Many thanks!

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The School of the Spirit Ministry serves the Religious Society of Friends throughout North America
and is under the care of the
Worship and Care Committee of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.

To contact us:
(please note the new address)
1010 Wells Street
Durham, NC 27707
(919) 929-2339

Dear Reader,

Greetings. God's gifts are abundant. We have but to be still and listen. In this issue of Snapshots we share with you essays by Carole Treadway and Tom Rothschild. Each author reflects on a gift in our midst: being in relationship with one another and God in the blessed community, and the lifting of the prophetic word out of the silence of our worship. We also have much news to share. Thank you for your continued prayerful support of the School of the Spirit Ministry.

Blessings this day.

Forward this newsletter to a friend

The Blessed Community,

by Carole Treadway

In this essay, Carole Treadway, beloved core teacher in the program On Being a Spiritual Nurturer, reflects on the foundation of our meetings and churches.

The word translated as “blessing” in the Bible can also be translated as “good fortune,” or as “happy.” In some translations of the Bible the word is “happy” instead of “blessed.” We all know from our experience that “happy” in either sense is not the word that describes the totality of the experience of being in community. It can be painful and challenging at times, even threatening to the very sense of self. This can be said of every kind of community that we are part of, whether it be family, neighborhood, work, circles of friendship, or especially religious bodies.

Carole expands upon five metaphors of the Blessed Community: covenant community, gospel order, the body of Christ, the kingdom of heaven, and koinonia.

The right ordering is in our honoring of the two great commandments: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all of thy heart, mind, soul, and strength. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” These two commandments are the foundation of our relationships in our meetings, and indeed, the whole Society of Friends and it is that foundation that we share as Christians with the larger Christian community of which we are a part and with our Jewish brothers and sisters. The full realization of that kingdom, or if you prefer, community of God, is not yet, but it is in part and the promise can keep us working for God's peace and justice in the world as well as harmony within our meetings.

She also describes her own upbringing in a Conservative Friends meeting and has some words of caution for our meetings and churches today.

Every meeting I have been part of has flirted with idolatry and every meeting I have been part of has been sincere in its desire to seek the will of God as we understood that. Idolatry has taken many forms. Two that seem especially prevalent are the worship of silence and Quaker practice and testimonies, and the substitution of our peace testimony for the Prince of Peace.

Carole's complete essay can be read here.

Living from the Divine Center

A Contemplative Retreat at Powell House

From Friday, June 18, 2010 ? 6:00 p.m.
To Monday, June 21, 2010 ? 2:00 p.m.

In A Testament of Devotion, Thomas Kelly writes:

Deep within us there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a Holy place, a Divine Center, a speaking Voice, to which we may Continuously return. Eternity is at our hearts, pressing upon our time-torn lives, warming us with intimations of astounding destiny, calling us home to Itself. Yielding to these persuasions, gladly committing ourselves in body and soul, utterly and completely, to the Light Within, is the beginning of true life. (p.29)

There are those who have found and those who are finding that a deep life of prayer and attentiveness to God can be genuinely compatible with an active and effective spiritual/Christian presence in the world. What canst thou say?

Come live into both questions and the promise as we seek to establish a more contemplative rhythm and practice during this extended weekend. There will be times of group discussion and reflection; opportunities for the solitude and practice of both individual and corporate disciplines--prayer, lectio divina (divine reading), journaling, walking the labyrinth. We will share overnight slience and some silent meals. Perhaps in these times, more than ever before, we long to touch the Divine Center and lay hold of the Source of our lives.

Linda Chidsey, a member of Housatonic Meeting, is a recorded minister in New York Yearly Meeting. She carries a concern for spiritual nurture and pastoral care. Linda has served as clerk of NYYM and until recently on the School of the Spirit Ministry board.

Carolyn Moon, serving as Linda's elder, is a member of Gwynedd Friends Meeting in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. She serves on the board of the School of the Spirit Ministry.

Register by June 4th: $280 (after June 4th: $300)

Listening for the Voice of God: Silence in Quaker Worship, 

by Tom Rothschild

Tom graduated from the sixth Spiritual Nurturer class in 2006 and this essay was published initially by Parabola Magazine in Spring, 2008 (vol. 33 no. 1). Tom has kindly granted us permission to publish it here.

In this article Tom introduces the preciousness of our form of worship to a wider audience.

The silent meeting makes Quaker worship unique among the religious traditions of the world. It is first of all a communal experience, yet a communality quite distinct from the silent meditation of other traditions, even when practiced in a group, because the silence is alive with the possibility of prophecy. For Quakers, the time of prophecy has not passed. The prophets are not dead; they are alive and still among us. The Spirit may call any person out of this silence to be a prophet on any occasion, just as among the Apostles at Pentecost, when they were alight with flames that descended upon them and caused them to speak in tongues. It is this Voice for which we listen.

You can read his complete essay here.

In the Summer of 2008, Parabola published a second essay by Tom, God: A Finger Pointing at the Moon (vol. 33 no. 2).

Tom is a member of Brooklyn Friends Meeting.


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