The standard nine-month program that is currently being offered usually starts with an inquiry from a Monthly Meeting about the program. Our team offers an experiential introduction to the program and often the meeting decides it wants to undertake it. A liaison committee to help facilitate the program is formed, people are invited to register, and a schedule for retreats is planned. Sometimes a Meeting invites others from nearby Meetings or the Quarter to join.
The Spiritual Formation Program has three retreats. Here are some of the outcomes of each of these:
- A safe and trusting space is created where Friends can risk revealing their souls to one another, and support one another in deepening their spiritual ground. The skills of spiritual nurture are introduced, and participants begin to practice this art.
- The program is organized and scheduled. This involves small (3-5 people) spiritual friendship/accountability groups and larger reading groups (made up of several of the small groups) that both meet monthly. The intention and functioning of these groups is explained.
- Friends are invited to develop a daily spiritual practice/discipline that supports their intention to go deeper.
- Books and pamphlets for the reading groups are sold. These provide a wide range of learning about Quaker faith and practice.
- We have some fun, do some singing.
- The Meeting organizes meals, beverages and snacks.
One-day mid program retreat:
- The larger community is nurtured and made stronger.
- Friends have the opportunity to hear about and share what their experience of the program has been thus far.
- Mid-course evaluation and correction happens. If any of the groups feel changes need to be made in the way they function, these are discerned and planned.
- More sharing and story-telling about how the program has impacted Friends.
- We have an opportunity to discern, name and claim our spiritual gifts.
- We have an opportunity to explore what we are called to do in service of our community and the world, (our “ministry”) and to share that with others.
- We do a thorough evaluation of the program.
- Next steps for the individuals and the community are discerned. Very often the various groups formed in the program continue to function in the Meeting, sometimes in different configurations.
- We celebrate and close this part of the program.