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The Newsletter of the School of the Spirit Ministry                                                                  Spring 2011
Spring 2011 header photo 2

In this issue

A Message from Sonnie

Next Steps, by Lu Harper

Silent Retreats in the manner of Friends

Jeremiah's Lament
Spiritual Renewal Weekend

On Being a Spiritual Nurturer, 2012-2014

Our Newest Board Member

In Memory of Ceal Wutka

Spreading the Word
Calendar 2011

Will you spread the word about SotS?

Are you a supporter of the work of the School of the Spirit Ministry? Will you be attending a quarterly meeting retreat or a yearly meeting session or other Quaker event this summer? We would love for you to share the good news—of the Silent Retreat opportunities, of Beckey’s appointment, of the next Spiritual Nurturer class beginning  in Sept. 2012, and, most particularly, of your personal experience of being in the School of the Spirit. If you are willing to share your good news, wear a “Ask me about the School of the Spirit” lanyard, and pass out a brochure or two, then please complete this form. And thank you!

Calendar 2011

April 29 - May 1 

SotS at Caln Quarter's (Philadelphia Yearly Meeting)  Family Weekend. A workshop introducing the gift of Spiritual Nurture, Sat. April 30 at 1 p.m.

June 17 - 20  
Living from the Divine Center A Contemplative Retreat, at Powell House. Registration open. See more under Silent Retreats.

Sept. 30 - Oct. 3
A Silent Retreat, at The St. Raphaela Center, Haverford, PA. Registration open. See more under Silent Retreats.

Nov. 10 - 13
Spiritual Renewal Weekend, at the Franciscan Spiritual Center, 
Aston, PA. For past SotS program participants. See more under Jeremiah's Lament.


A Message from Sonnie

"We often act as though the religious life were a pyramid to climb. We 'advance' by mastering techniques of prayer and meditation. We increase our activity in the church or in our professional work, thinking it is a sign of our mastery of God's way of love and caring. But, in fact, we succumb to the temptation to put ourselves in charge of our own salvation. 

"When we stop the excessive doing and over-extended busyness, we enter again that quiet place where we can hear God's voice. It is an act of repentance. There we learn that we are not being called to be masters of our world. We are being called by One who would master us. Our master came as a Suffering Servant and calls us to follow the same path. Only then will our own activity have its proper direction, purpose, and pace."

A Lasting Gift 2Those of us who were taught by Sonnie Cronk will hear these words from her lips. They are taken from her article "Learning to Listen (Part One)" which is available by permission on our website. It is one of several articles reprinted in A Lasting Gift: The Journal and Selected Writings of Sandra L. Cronk. This book, available from Quaker Press of FGC, offers not only a window into Sonnie's inner life but also a critique of contemporary Quakerism through her deep interest with the communities of plain peoples. 

The surrender into deep listening and the faithful responding out of obedience is the foundation of the School of the Spirit Ministry (SotS), which Sonnie and Kathryn Damiano founded over 20 years ago. That careful discernment imbues all that you will read in this newsletter.

 Blessings, Michael Green


Next Steps, by Lu Harper

[Ed. Lu Harper, a member of Rochester (NY) Friends Meeting, speaks of her experience of discernment following the close of her participation in the 7th class of the On Being a Spiritual Nurturer program.]

"Our experience in the School of the Spirit can be so intense that we 
Lu Harper 2
may feel a void in our life after we complete the program, wondering 
what’s next? Welcome (again) to that liminal space of waiting—waiting upon Spirit, waiting for the dawn to break, waiting for closing doors and opening doors. Hold this time lightly. What seeds are already present in thy life?"

For the complete essay, choose [webpage] or [pdf].

If you read Lu's complete essay you will learn that one of the fruits of her listening was a recently published pamphlet from Pendle Hill, Plow Up the Fallow Ground: A Meditation in the Company of Early Friends. Lu's pamphlet is available from the Pendle Hill bookstore. Here is a brief extract.

"While we do not have the same cultural context today [as early Friends], many of us come to Friends as seekers, and many of us have left the Bible behind out of a reaction against misused scriptural authority. In order for us to fully understand the transformative experience of early Friends and their invitation into that same experience, we need to understand not just the biblical allusions that pervade Friends writings, but also how early Friends used biblical images as metaphors for their spiritual conditions. When we translate biblical metaphors into the inward language of our own experience, scripture resonates within us, empowering and enlightening us."

Silent Retreats

in the manner of Friends

June 19-23 at Powell House, Old Chatham, NY 
Sept. 29-Oct. 2 at the St. Raphaela Retreat Center, Haverford, PA 

It is the desire of The School of the Spirit Ministry for people to experience the joy and beauty of a silent retreat in the manner of Friends. For many years, SotS has sponsored silent retreats at Powell House. Now SotS is discerning a call to offer the opportunity for silent retreat in locations across the country. As part of this discernment, we are listening for Friends who may have a leading to silent retreat leadership. If you have experienced such a leading, or know someone else who has, please let us know.

Two opportunities fLinda and Carolynor you to participate in silent retreats are available in 2011, one in June at Powell House, the retreat home of New York Yearly Meeting, and the other in September at the St. Raphaela Retreat Center in Haverford, PA. Both retreats will be facilitated by Linda Chidsey and Carolyn Moon. 

Registration is open for both retreats. For the retreat at Powell House, visit Powell House. For more information about the retreat at St. Raphaela's and to register, please visit the SotS website.

The retreat at St. Raphaela's is supported by gifts from the Legacy Granting Group of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, the Tyson Memorial Fund, and the Shoemaker Fund. Significant needs-based scholarship assistance is available.

Jeremiah's Lament                     

Spiritual Renewal Weekend 

Nov. 10 - 13, 2011

To help sustain the ministry of our program graduates, every two years the School of the Spirit Ministry holds a Spiritual Renewal Retreat. The weekend is modeled on the contemplative rhythm of a Spiritual Nurturer program residency, with times of solitary prayer, corporate worship, teaching, small fellowship groups, and free time. In 2009 the weekend was led by Dan Snyder on the theme of Spiritual Restlessness. Later this year Lloyd Lee Wilson, accompanied by Bob Gosney,  will facilitate a weekend titled Jeremiah’s Lament. Lloyd Lee writes of the theme:

Wilson 2010

Using the experiences of the prophet Jeremiah we will explore issues of the present day among Friends who are called into God’s service. Of particular interest are the serving Friend’s relationships among those being served and his/her relationship with God.

The retreat will take place from Thursday, Nov. 10 to Sunday, Nov. 13 at the Franciscan Spiritual Center in Aston, PA. Invitations and registration materials will be sent out to past program participants and teachers in the summer.

On Being a Spiritual Nurturer

Sept. 2012 - May 2014

Beckey Phipps for web

We are delighted to announce that Beckey Phipps, a member of Fresh Pond Monthly Meeting and New England Yearly Meeting, is to be a core teacher for the next class of the On Being a Spiritual Nurturer program. She will join Patty Levering and Michael Green for the class which will gather in September, 2012. The complete announcement can be read on our website

As the new teachers begin praying and working together, we will plan and announce Testing the Waters retreats in various locations. If you are interested in the On Being a Spiritual Nurturer program and wish to test your discernment to apply, these retreats are a great way to gauge the temperature of the water.

Our Newest Board member

Eric Evans is a graduate of the School of the Spirit Ministry’s Eric Evans 2program The Way of Ministry, 2008-2009. Currently, he serves the Traveling Ministries and Quaker Quest Programs of Friends General Conference as the Nurturing Ministries Associate. Eric travels from time to time with Quaker ministers as an elder/companion-in-ministry. He lives in South Philadelphia with his partner of fourteen years, Matt Clark. Eric is a deeply committed member of Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. He has served on CPMM’s Worship & Ministry, Nominating, Gifts & Leadings and Necessitous Cases Committees. We welcome him to the SotS Board.

In Memory of Ceal Wutka

Ceal Wutka, a member of the seventh Spiritual Nurturer class and wife of Mark Wutka, a member of the current Spiritual Nurturer 
Ceal Wutka 2
class, died on February 26, 2011. Many Friends were in attendance at her memorial held at the Atlanta Friends meetinghouse on April 8. There we delighted in remembering her vivaciousness and hospitality of the heart. Our heart goes out to Mark and the rest of Ceal's family. You may read her obituary here.
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A Ministry of Prayer and Learning devoted to the School of the Spirit

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Document last modified on Friday, 15-Apr-2011 12:07:52 EDT