Leadership Team

Core Teacher

Christopher Sammond

Elder

Leslie Manning

Christopher has lived two questions for most of his adult life:  How can I live with my heart wide open and not come to harm? And, how can I bring my gifts fully into service, and not have my ego get in the way?  (And perhaps they are the same question.)  In this iteration of PGP, Christopher also brings the question: How can I better integrate my mystical practice with my action in the world?

Christopher brings to this work over 30 years’ experience leading workshops and retreats for Friends, in contexts ranging from monthly meetings to yearly meetings to the World Gathering of Friends.

His work has focused primarily on helping Friends to deepen in their direct experience of the Divine through a heart-centered deep dive into Quaker practice. He also brings experience as a hospice chaplain, a spiritual counselor at Hazelden, a 12-Step Treatment Center for addicts and alcoholics, as a spiritual director, serving as General Secretary of New York Yearly Meeting, and co-creating and co-facilitating the first iteration of PGP.

His spirituality has been informed by Quakers ancient and present, many years of both Quaker and 12-Step practice, as well as formal study and practice of Zen Buddhism.  While he eclectically draws from a wide range of the Wisdom Tradition, he is passionate about Quaker practice’s capacity to both transform individuals’ lives, and empower our work in the world.  His hope is to bring that capacity to greater fullness with more and more Friends.

Leslie Manning is a life-long activist, a member of the Religious Society of Friends whose home meeting is Durham, ME and an interfaith chaplain, a graduate and ordinand of the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine (ChIME). Her current ministry is working with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people, and their loved ones, in making our communities more welcoming and their returns more successful.

Leslie also has the gifts of holding space for sacred work and intuitive healing, whether in individuals or organizations, and sees herself in this constellation as “a holder of the body”. She will serve as a prayerful presence for all participants and will encourage self care and compassion.

Leslie currently serves her monthly meeting as clerk and on Ministry and Counsel and her yearly meeting as clerk of the governance committee. Previously she clerked the Annual Sessions Committee, the working groups on Reparations (for Native Americans) and Spirituality and Sexual Ethics for New England Yearly Meeting.  She brought the Bible Half Hour to the FGC Gathering in 2022.

Leslie came to Friends for the activism and has stayed for the mysticism; she looks forward to exploring balance and accountability, care and capacity and the willingness to surrender with each of you. One of her favorite sources of inspiration is the poet Rumi, who is credited with:

I have come
To drag you out of yourself
And take you in my heart
I have come
To bring out the beauty
You never knew you had
And lift you like a prayer
To the sky

Guest Teachers

Cynthia Bourgeault

Cynthia Bourgeault is a modern day mystic, Episcopal priest, writer, and internationally acclaimed retreat leader. She divides her time between solitude in her seaside hermitage in Maine and a demanding schedule traveling globally to spread the recovery of the Christian contemplative and Wisdom paths. She is a faculty member emeritus of the Center for Action and Contemplation and the founding director of an international network of Wisdom schools, uniting classic Christian mystical and monastic teaching with contemporary practices of mindfulness and embodied presence. She has been honored as one of the 100 most spiritually influential living people in 2021. A Quaker earlier in her life, Cynthia cares deeply about the spiritual renewal of the Society of Friends, and has initiated several Quaker Wisdom School retreats at Pendle Hill in the last few years. Her published books and articles cover a breadth of topics from Christian Mysticism to the Wisdom Tradition to conscious awareness to a deeper embrace of our human frailty, messiness, and limitations as the very path and locus of transformation. Cynthia’s theological insights hone in on the cutting edge between contemplation and “ordinary” life.

Walter Hjelt Sullivan

Walter (he/they) is the Director of Quaker Affairs at Haverford College where he supports religious and spiritual life, develops Quaker and social justice programs, and provides staff support for the Haverford Corporation. He graduated from Haverford in 1982 with a major in Religion. He serves on the Board of the Earth Quaker Action Team, the Executive Committee of the Friends Association for Higher Education, and the tech team for Friends Peace Team’s Toward Right Relationships Program. From 2006 – 2010, Walter served as faculty and Dean of Students at Pendle Hill. Working for Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT), he mentored emergent climate-change activists at the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University. Walter is a trained Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator (AVP), a certified Breema® Bodywork instructor, and leads workshops on spiritual discernment, embodied spirituality, white fragility and the four roles of social change. Born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, he has lived and studied in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Sierra Leone. Walter is a member of Green Street Friends Meeting in the Germantown section of Philadelphia.

Rebecca Kratz Mays

Rebecca Kratz Mays, member of Westtown Monthly Meeting near Philadelphia, graduated from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. She has served as teacher at the Westtown School and Friends School in Ramallah. She carries a concern for "mutual irradiation" among religious traditions and did a M.A. in Religious Studies at Temple University. Rebecca served on the Christian and Interfaith committee of the Friends General Conference, and has served interfaith work at the 1998 Assembly of the World Council of Churches. She presently serves as a Quaker representative on the administrative group of the Philadelphia Religious Leaders’ Council. For two decades she worked as the editor of the Pendle Hill pamphlets and began a book publishing program. Working with Friends from Friends United Meeting, Evangelical Friends Alliance, and Friends General Conference, she co-founded Quakers Uniting in Publishing, an ongoing collaboration. At Pendle Hill she also taught a gospels class for a decade during which time she did spiritual direction with Sandra Cronk, Quaker theologian. She works now with the Dialogue Institute at Temple University where she helped design and implement a program for international students to experience religious pluralism in the States, funded by a State Department grant. Shi'a, Sufi, and Sunni Muslims, Coptic and Maronite Christians, Hindu, Buddhist, and secular humanists all participated. For most, their visit to Jewish services here in the U.S. was a first. At present she is Co-editor and Managing Editor for the Journal of Ecumenical Studies, a program of the Dialogue Institute, publishing scholarly research in ecumenical and interfaith relations.

Paulette Meier

Paulette Meier is a member of Community Friends Meeting, a singer/songwriter, and semi-retired Cincinnati Public Schools educator. Her work as a conflict resolution trainer in schools led to her award winning CD, Come Join the Circle: LessonSongs for Peacemaking. In 2004-05, she studied Quaker history and spirituality, while serving as Artist in Residence at Pendle Hill. There she was inspired to set brief texts of founding 17th century Quaker leaders to song and record them in chant-like, a cappella style. Her CD, Timeless Quaker Wisdom in Plainsong offers insights into the roots of Quaker spirituality, as well as a tool for meditative focus in spiritual practice. More recently, her work with contemplative Christian Wisdom teacher and writer, Cynthia Bourgeault, led to a 2nd album of chants, Wellsprings of Life, Quaker Wisdom in Chant, again based on Quaker spiritual writings, but more conducive to group singing. Describing these chants, Cynthia said: “Paulette’s chants open a door to the pearls of transformative wisdom waiting to be discovered in the Quaker mystical tradition.” She has a leading to introduce chanting as spiritual practice among Friends, inspired by a Sufi saying: "Chanting is the bridge between sound and silence." Paulette participated in the first year long School of the Spirit program in 2019, (Participating in God's Power), and is eager to support this next School of the Spirit endeavor!

Joann Neuroth

Joann Neuroth found Quakers 40 years ago when she applied for an international position 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 Red Cedar Friends Meeting in Lansing Michigan ever since. She 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" class. She is now clerk of the School of the Spirit's governance board and an active part of Red Cedar's Worship & Ministry and Peace & Social Justice committees. Two years ago she was introduced to the practice of Spiritual Companioning 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. She'll be helping to form this PGP classes' "accountability groups."

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