Marcelle’s ministry is under the care of Swarthmore Meeting in Swarthmore, PA. From 2003 through 2015, it was under the care of Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting in Philadelphia. Before that, from 1997-2003, it was under the care of Newtown Square Friends Meeting. After a period of discernment, including testing for clearness, each meeting recognized the ministry with a “minute of religious service.” This has been periodically reviewed and renewed. Here is the most recent version of the minute, approved by Swarthmore Monthly Meeting in September 2019:
Swarthmore Friends Meeting recognizes that our member, Marcelle Martin, has been called by the Spirit into a ministry of spiritual nurture. She is led to foster deeper awareness of and relationship with the Divine Presence which resides in each person and is active in the world. Her ministry includes facilitating retreats and gatherings, teaching, writing, helping people with discernment, and praying with individuals and groups. Grounded in her own experience of relationship with God, her ministry is an expression of the Quaker call to cultivate a personal and community connection with the Spirit.
We have received the blessing of her ministry among us. We support her call to minister to others, with prayer and by providing a support committee. Marcelle and her committee will report annually. At the end of the third year the meeting will revisit its commitment to support this ministry. We commend Marcelle to all, in the hope that she will be kindly received wherever she serves.
Below is a brief account of Marcelle’s call to ministry and how this ministry has been supported by Friends:
During my twenties, I searched for a deeper understanding of reality and discovered a Light that infused me and everything. I learned ways to open to daily communion and communication with God, then began to teach others how to do the same. Among Quakers I found a spiritual community supportive of someone receiving direct guidance from God. Early Friends had discovered the same inward but universal Light that I had found, which they identified as the Light of Christ, available to teach and guide directly. Soon, among Friends, I was traveling to speak at Quaker meetings, helping to convene gatherings on Worship, Ministry, and Eldering, and leading a class on writing a spiritual autobiography. In 1996 I was a co-facilitator for a Pendle Hill weekend gathering.
Then I was shown that God wanted me to ask my small Quaker meeting to recognize my call to ministry. I felt called to stop teaching college writing classes and give all my time to teaching people how to know God more clearly and allow the Spirit to change their lives, as mine had been changed. I asked Friends to provide support. For eighteen months, Newtown Square Meeting struggled with my request.
In the meantime, I helped to release myself for ministry by living at minimal expense. I gave up my nice apartment and moved to Philadelphia’s inner city to the home of a Quaker who lived there as part of a “ministry of presence.” I also released myself by not owning a car or having health insurance. A friend not connected to my meeting provided support by offering a significant financial gift, out of her modest means. After Newtown Square meeting wrote a minute recognizing a ministry of fostering spiritual renewal among Friends, two meeting members felt led to give me small amounts of financial support on a monthly basis. The meeting also accepted donations in support of my ministry.
I began to travel widely to speak at meetings and facilitate weekend retreats on aspects of the spiritual life. It was a particular joy to help Quaker communities (and other groups) explore spiritual practices together and find God alive within and among them. After a time, I moved to the home of another generous Friend. When she reduced the amount of her employment (and salary) to follow her own leadings to ministry, I began to pay more rent. To supplement my small income from teaching, facilitating workshops, and gifts, I took some part-time jobs. I experienced great strain on my health.
After I transferred my membership to Chestnut Hill Meeting, that meeting underwent an eighteen-month discernment process in relation to my ministry. In 2003 they recognized a call to a ministry of spiritual nurture and appointed a committee which has accompanied me since then, helping me with discernment and practical matters. In response to a request to accept donations, the meeting engaged in two more years of discernment. They consulted a lawyer and solicited input from many committees. Finally, a process was approved for receiving funds in support of ministries recognized by the meeting. While I was a member of that meeting, donations earmarked for the Martin Ministry Fund were used to reimburse direct expenses related to the ministry. For four years I was employed full-time at Pendle Hill. During that time I tithed and was able to provide some support to other Friends carrying a ministry. After a period of ill-health, I left that salaried employment. Since then, I have been writing books related to the Quaker spiritual journey and traveling to lead workshops. In 2014, for the first time, my committee at Chestnut Hill Meeting actively solicited donations to help with basic living expenses in order to continue the ministry. Support came in various ways that allow me to finish the work on the manuscript I was writing.
In 2015, my book Our Life is Love was published by Inner Light Books. In 2016, after marrying Terry Hauger under the care of both Chestnut Hill and Swarthmore Meetings, I transferred my membership to Swarthmore Meeting, which is closer to where we live now.
Since 2016 I have traveled to give talks and facilitate workshops at numerous Quaker retreat centers and meetings, primarily focused on the Quaker spiritual journey and ways to encourage and support faithfulness. In May 2017 I was co-facilitator, with Cynthia Bourgeault and Paulette Meier of a Quaker Wisdom School held at Pendle Hill retreat center. I was also the core teacher for a nine-month program for Friends in New England entitled Nurturing Worship, Faith & Faithfulness, held at Woolman Hill Quaker Retreat Center. A second offering of the program, called Nurturing Faithfulness, began in August 2019. A second Quaker Wisdom School co-facilitated with Cynthia Bourgeault and Paulette Meier was held in May 2019. A third is being planned for May 2021.
My book A Guide to Faithfulness Groups was published in 2019. In addition, I am doing research about practices that help individuals and faith communities open to the power of the Spirit and support one another in radical Spirit-led faithfulness. I am grateful for funding support that enabled me to take a year off from teaching (May 2018 to May 2019) to do this research and writing.