To some extent, the cost of the one- or two-year experience will depend on the mode in which you choose to engage. On-site and remote experiences will share resources, teacher attention, the “learning arc” through which we’ll move. But they’ll be different, so please be thoughtful as you make your choice. This is our first time opening to the possibilities of on-line participation, so we’ll be learning as we go along with you.

“On-line” is not just a cheaper version of “on-site.” There’s no escaping the loss of face-to-face connection. However, we are convinced it will be a different, rich, transformative experience.

  • We’ll use breakouts, chats, whiteboards and question-asking protocols that include everyone in our hybrid work, and an elder will be on-line to monitor and ensure remote participation works smoothly.
  • The entire cohort will share between-weekend work (reading and reflecting, half-day meaning-making sessions, self-examens) on-line.
  • An earlier SotS participant in remote learning developed and offered some tips for how to make a weekend on zoom as stress-free and immersive as possible. With thanks to Shulamith Clearbridge, we offer these below to spark your imagination of what’s possible:
  • We imagine that participants from some local areas could enroll together and gather near home to zoom in as a group for the weekends.
  • Further, we’ve included in the cost below the option for “on-line” participants to choose one residency to attend in person if you wish a chance to meet your fellow seekers face-to-face. 
Zoom retreat

Given all these pros and cons, this option does minimize travel (time, expense and carbon footprint) and helps build our capacity for vital, long-range spiritual depth work. So, we’re glad to offer this if it fits for you.

“On-site” will involve traveling to three sites (Pendle Hill twice) which we spaced deliberately around a triangle that will invite participation from the Midwest, Upper East Coast and South Atlantic regions, with one location near each of those points. Both Michigan and Pendle Hill weekends will be in conference center settings, with single rooms to facilitate contemplative solitude and extensive grounds for outdoor exploration. We believe the Labor Day weekend will be a special treat: the High Point Meeting (Friends United Meeting) in North Carolina has offered to host us in their historical Meetinghouse and will arrange hospitality with nearby Quaker homes. We anticipate opportunities for including participants from several Quaker branches in addition to non-Quaker seekers, while “owning our own space” — rubbing elbows in new ways as we share food preparation in their spacious kitchen and pad around in our stocking feet as part of our group activities.

Given your choice, here’s what you can expect for cost:

  • Tuition is $2,957/year. For on-line participants, this will be the full cost.
  • The on-site cohort will incur additional fees of $1,333 (4 weekends’ food and lodging) for a total of $4,290.

We have had good success in locating generous scholarship assistance and believe both the on-site and on-line fees can be substantially reduced. SotS has never turned an applicant away for financial reasons. Talk to us about options if the work calls to you – we’ll figure it out.

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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?