Joann Neuroth

found Quakers 40 years ago when she applied for an international position (that eventually didn’t work out) with the American Friends Service Committee  and came home from 2 days of interviews stunned to have found “her people.” She found a local meeting and has been seeking Spirit-led engagement in the world with the unprogrammed Red Cedar Friends Meeting in Lansing Michigan ever since. Joann has served on the AFSC governance board at regional and national levels, led week-long workshops at Friends General Conference Gathering, and deepened her understanding of faithfulness at the School of the Spirit’s “On Being a Spiritual Nurturer” 2012-14 class. Later she built on that experience with “Deeper Roots,” a year-long program in the Conservative Friends tradition led by Lloyd Lee Wilson and Deborah Fisch.  She has served as clerk of the School of the Spirit’s governance board for fourteen years, during which she helped shepherd two “On Being a Spiritual Nurturer” programs and learned much from being an elder to those teachers.   She is an active part of Red Cedar’s Worship & Ministry and Peace & Social Justice committees. Three years ago, she was introduced to the practice of Spiritual Companion Groups, and she has found it to be life-shaping in its practical and matter-of-fact pursuit of how to align her outer life with the inner guidance she receives in prayer.
Adria Gulizia

Adria Gulizia

knew she was a Friend when she found herself shouting out loud with joy and recognition in her college dorm room while reading the Journal of George Fox. A new-old way of living the Gospel, combined with the practical love she experienced among Friends, grabbed ahold of her in 2008 and have not let her go since. Adria lives in New Jersey, where she has found consistent joy and meaning in ministry among Friends, with a special focus on inviting deeper engagement with Friends’ traditional faith and practice. She was an active participant in the Northeastern Christ-Centered Friends Gatherings in the 2010s and is a founding member of the Friends of Jesus Fellowship. She is committed to spiritual welcome and formation and has initiated and served on ministry projects to deepen faith and build community among teens, young adults, parents of school-aged children, and new attenders. She has written, spoken and led workshops on a variety of topics, including: the Lamb’s War and the Way of Peace; the importance of tenderness in spiritual community; the essential role of seeking God’s will together in our faith as Friends; and accepting God’s redemptive promise for racial justice. Her pamphlet on welcoming the gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers into our Quaker meetings and churches is scheduled for publication by Pendle Hill in December 2024 under the title “Embracing Spiritual Gifts.” Adria is a member of the Earlham School of Religion Board of Advisors and of Chatham-Summit Friends Meeting in Summit, New Jersey, where she teaches First Day School and serves the meeting as Assistant Clerk.

Come As You Are: A Spiritual Welcome​

This course took shape over many months of prayerful listening, reflection and conversation. 


As we explored the needs of God’s people and how we were called to respond, two things became abundantly clear.


First, the need for a space in which to wrestle with the spiritual poverty and desolation of our time is real and deep across the theological spectrum. From unaffiliated spiritual seekers to liberal Quakers to Bible-believing Evangelicals, we keep hearing the same suspicion that the spiritual reality we’re living in is something less than the Beloved Community. Across the theological spectrum, we all have the same hunger after Truth and Life in the midst of so much disappointment, disillusionment and confusion.

Second, our time together will be richer in a context where our journeys are respected but our unexamined assumptions are not. That dynamic – loving and challenging, gentle and brave – requires sensitivity, humility, and a willingness to speak in integrity from our own experience.

Adria: 

I was drawn to Friends because of our distinct Quaker way of approaching the Gospel, the walk of faith and the battle between good and evil – what Friends traditionally call “the Lamb’s War.” Therefore, I use language for spiritual matters that thoroughly reflects the faith, articulated by George Fox and centuries of Friends since, that Christ is the true Light that enlightens every person who comes into the world. That is my identity as a Friend, and I make no apologies for it. But I never want my approach to be a stumbling block to anyone as they journey closer to God, so please translate, if you need to, into a language that feels more true to your experience. That said, if you are feeling especially courageous, I invite you to try not translating my language and instead being challenged by it. This, too, can be a gift.

Joann: 

My childhood faith community called itself Evangelical Fundamentalist, and was filled with Bible drills, camp meetings and altar calls. It became too small and transactional for me – trading good behavior for eternity in heaven just wasn’t credible as a response to the magnificence and wonder of Creation. So for a time I called myself “post-Christian,” explored Wiccan calendar rhythms, and shuddered at Christian language. My own experience with the predecessor to this course – On Being A Spiritual Nurturer – marks a sharp transformational turn for me. It opened the door to deep contemplative practice, which made my heart leap for joy. I knew I’d found the home where I could pursue my felt experiential connection to the Divine Mystery. The course also gifted me with Marcus Borg’s On Speaking Christian which invited me to take back grace-filled Christian language from literalist Bible readers; what a surprise to find powerful alternative readings for concepts like salvation, grace, sin, righteousness and being born again. While my own heart language continues to be universalist Spirit language, I’ve reclaimed access to the wisdom of centuries of Quakers and other seekers for whom Christian language sings.

As you consider whether this program is right for you, we invite you to embrace the invitation to stand firmly in your own experience of Mystery, Grace and Power, while holding the experience of others with tenderness and care as we explore the Promise that God invites us to give our lives to, the Promise that gives us life.

God's Promise Fulfilled Blog​

Below are a collection of posts by co-teachers Adria Gulizia and Joann Neuroth. They are published first in the School of the Spirit newsletter, Snapshots.  You can subscribe to Snapshots here if you’d like to follow that each month. 

Pacing for Distance

by Joann Neuroth Carolyn and I just returned from a glorious bucket-list trip to Alaska, where among other indelible memories, we learned to mush a four-sled-dog team. The excitement of the dogs was palpable – they’re race dogs after all, who were dragging their handlers toward the harness in order to getunderway. Carolyn had clear instructions to squeeze the daylights out of the hand-brakes that moderated their pace, and we

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A Few Thoughts About Love

by Adria Gulizia My name is Adria Gulizia, and I’m addicted to love. Well, not to love, exactly, but to thinking about love and reading about love and talking about love compulsively. It’s an actual struggle, as I get sidetracked from necessary tasks by Internet rabbit holes and algorithmically perfected YouTube playlists.  But while I pray for greater discipline, recognizing that the Tempter comes in what we are addicted to,

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Step by Step

by Joann Neuroth Asked once whether a non-theist could be a Quaker, my friend Lloyd Lee Wilson memorably replied, “Well, Quakers have pretty much bet the farm on the Inner Teacher. We leave belief to be built by experience. So, all are welcome. The tent is large and there’s no card-check at the entrance.” My mother – coming from a lifetime of pastor-mediated, sermon-based teaching –put it another way, more dubiously:

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What does it mean to be “A Successor to the On Being A Spiritual Nurturer program”?

The School of the Spirit Ministry was born as “a ministry of prayer and learning.” Three founders, Kathryn Damiano, Fran Taber, and Sonny Cronk felt a call to deepen the contemplative capacity in the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Kathryn explained:

This ministry arises from … a recognition that God is leading some Friends to a life centered in prayer as an active witness in the world. (This leading parallels the way in which God calls certain Friends to work in such areas as peace and social justice.) … Many Friends have also expressed a need for doing serious reflections and study on ministry and the call to live in faithful relationship with God. They would like to do this work within the context of a community of prayerful commitment.

Eleven classes of participants over the 30+ years since have experienced the transformation possible when one sets aside time for cultivating the inner life, for becoming part of a cohort who undertake study and prayer together, for prioritizing relationship with Spirit, and for supporting each other in faithfulness. Click to view a video of previous participants sharing their experiences.

As the course got further in time from the vision that had inspired it, the governance board seriously entertained the possibility that this call had run its course. Over the next three years, prayerful discernment convinced the School of the Spirit board that they were not, in fact, released from the concern for nurturing spiritual vitality and depth at an individual level. Instead, two complementary programs have emerged:

  • This offering, “God’s Promise Fulfilled: Encountering and Embodying Grace in the Shadow of Empire,” (which begins in 2025) is designed to accompany participants through establishing a robust relationship with the Divine, listening for guidance from one’s Inner Teacher, aligning one’s outer “doing” with that inner “knowing,” and discerning from that grounded place what constitutes one’s unique work in the world.
  • Participating in God’s Power (whose second cohort begins its year-long work in February of 2024) is designed to explore, identify and dismantle barriers to faithfulness that keep us from being fully responsive to what we know is ours to do, when we worship with our whole selves – body, mind and spirit.

We understand both these undertakings to be offspring from the original call felt by the School of the Spirit founders, and we hope that they would recognize the shared core commitment to “study and prayer.”

In case you wonder ...

What does it mean to live “in the shadow of Empire”?

When the Church was born in the heart of the Roman Empire, it was situated in a civilization at the height of its power.

Rome’s superpower status was evident in its military might, as the feared Roman legions marched on three continents, defeating, enslaving and dispersing native populations that dared resist. Its engineering prowess was unmatched, manifesting itself in innovations of architecture and infrastructure – roads, temples, stadiums, aqueducts – that still stand to this day. Its cultural sophistication in philosophy, drama and religion were exceptional, enriched as they were by the tension between Rome’s ancient traditions and the fresh perspectives constantly being assimilated through conquest and trade. It was a monument to human ingenuity and creativity. It was a monument to human power.

But at the core of that monument was rot.

Because the soul of the Roman Empire, and of every system of Empire, is a vicious dynamic of domination and control. Empire’s economy relies on extraction, creating fabulous wealth for a small class of people by subjugating the masses and Creation itself to an existence marked by exploitation, abuse, and inevitable exhaustion. Relationships in Empire are characterized by predation, with the powerless – children, elders, the poor, the fragile, those unprotected by status – used up for the pleasure and enrichment of the powerful until they have no remaining value, then discarded. Recreation in Empire tends away from the useful and creative and toward the violent and degrading, as its subjects seek distraction from their increasing sense of misery and futility. The logic of Empire is the logic of the pillager or the unfettered marketplace, with nothing so sacred that it cannot be stolen, destroyed or corrupted by greed. And the smooth functioning of the Empire system is guaranteed by the power of the sword.

Empire is not a specific time or place but a spiritual reality that reasserts itself periodically in human history, as knowledge, power and appetite detach themselves from compassion. And right now, that reality is where we live. But what could it look like to live in the shadow of the Empire but nevertheless to reject its deadly logic?