Nurturing Worship, Faith and Faithfulness Program

Worship, Faith, &
A collaboration between Woolman Hill Retreat Center,
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends and Marcelle Martin
August 31, 2017 to May 6, 2018

NWFF is a multi-generational faith and leadership program designed to help Friends explore ways to meet God more deeply, hone methods of discernment, reach for fuller faithfulness, and ultimately bring these gifts and strengthened abilities home to their local meetings and beyond. The program is structured to set in place support, encouragement, and accountability. It includes three weekend residencies from August 2017-May 2018 at Woolman Hill, and a short regional spring retreat. Between residencies, participants will engage in online learning and discussion, and connect once a month with local (or virtual) Faithfulness Groups, as well as with a care committee based in their local meeting. The class members will become a community of practice so as to support each other in providing and receiving spiritual nurture to and from local meetings in lasting ways.


Our Quaker tradition is a path that, when lived deeply and faithfully, can have a tremendous transforming and healing effect on the world. Our hope is to seed deeper worship and faith through this program, as well as greater spiritual vitality and more radical faithfulness in our local meetings. The program is designed to help educate, equip, and support ministers, elders, leaders, and Quaker pastors, and all those who hold a concern for deeper spiritual grounding and courageous faithfulness. Participants will be given specific guidance, practice, and support in deeply sharing their Quaker faith and faithful witness, first in their own meetings/churches, and then in the larger world. Participants will undertake projects and ministry to bring new spiritual deepening, religious education, and other opportunities to their meetings and to other groups. In this program we are also concerned to interrupt domination because of race and class in our Quaker processes.

Details of the Program
The Nurturing Worship, Faith, and Faithfulness (NWFF) program includes a total of nine overnights—four at the first residency, three at a mid-course weekend, and two at the closing weekend, plus a short mid-course retreat organized by regional groups. In addition to practices that help open the heart to the power of God, the program will also teach skills in discernment, methods to offer and find spiritual support, and ways to ground one’s faithfulness, ministry or witness in one’s home meeting. 

After acceptance into the NWFF program, participants will read assigned texts and watch short videos and connect with each other in online webinars about once a month.  Each participant will connect with one of the NWFF elders/mentors who will accompany them throughout the program.  Participants in the program will also form a care committee which includes at least two members of their home meeting. This committee will meet with them periodically to discuss their learning in NWFF and help them find ways to share it with their meeting.

Faithfulness Groups

Participants will form also local Faithfulness Groups that foster spiritual openness and accountability, and which support Friends over time in meeting God more intimately in worship, in daily life, and in service or witness. Faithfulness Groups of four to six people agree to come together for a two-hour meeting once a month for mutual help in faithfully discerning and follow divine guidance. These local groups can include some Friends who do not enroll in the program. The members will discern together and carry out teaching and ministry to help deepen the worship and faith of their local meetings as well as to support meeting members and one another to grow in courageous faithfulness. 

Teaching Team

The teaching team for NWFF will include Marcelle Martin as the core teacher. At least one guest teacher will be present at each residency, adding richness with their particular perspective and expertise.  Xinef Afraim will be the guest teacher during the second residency. Callid and Kristina Keefe-Perry will be guest teachers during the second residency.  Noah Merrill will be present at the third residency.  The three elder/ mentors on the teaching team are LVM (La Verne) Shelton, Janet Hough, and Anne Pomeroy.

Marcelle Martin is the author ofOur Life is Love: the Quaker Spiritual Journey, (Inner Light Books, 2016) and a member of Swarthmore Monthly Meeting (PA). She has led workshops at retreat centers and Quaker meetings across the United States, with a call to help nurture the spiritual vitality and radical faithfulness of Friends and Quakerism today.  She was the resident Quaker Studies teacher at Pendle Hill for four years, and was a core teacher in the School of the Spirit program, The Way of Ministry.  She is the author of the Pendle Hill pamphlets Invitation to a Deeper Communion and Holding One Another in the Light.  In 2013 she was the Mullen Writing Fellow at Earlham School of Religion while working on her book. On her blog, A Whole Heart, she writes about spirituality today, taking inspiration from the past to help us find the courage to become all God has created us to be in our day. Visit her website at

Xinef Afriam is a motivational speaker, performing artist, educator, author, and activist from Amherst, MA. He is the arts and inspirations minister, choir director, and soon-to-be Pastor of his family’s church, Hope Community Church, one of only two historic black churches in the Amherst, Massachusetts area. In the Quaker community he speaks and leads workshops, as well as staffing the high school aged youth group. He currently works as the assistant director of a local social justice based elementary after-school program and is working towards furthering his career as a public speaker, life coach, and minister.

Callid and Kristina Keefe-Perry are parents of a second grader and travel widely in the ministry among Friends under the oversight of support committees provided by Fresh Pond Monthly Meeting (NEYM). They have taught Quaker Faith and Practice at Pendle Hill and created “Jewels of Quakerism,” a series of adult religious education videos for use in Quaker Meetings. During 2017 they are working on a project called On Carrying a Concern, a podcast of audio interviews with Friends who have followed leadings into service.  

Callid travels in the ministry carrying a concern for the faithfulness of Friends and discipline, transformation, and joy within Monthly Meetings. He is the executive director of the Association for Theopoetics and is currently completing his PhD in Theological Studies at Boston University’s School of Theology. His research is on the development of a public theology of education, the role of imagination in schools, and the how pedagogy spiritually and psychologically affects youth. Previously he has been a public school teacher, an instructor of comedy improv, and the founder of a community theater in Rochester, NY. More info is available at

Kristina travels among Friends with a concern for nurturing ministry, worship, and religious education about our traditions to strengthen faithful listening. She works for The American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts coordinating the Creation Care Ministries Program which advances environmental-justice and food-justice witness. She has an MA in Geography and an MDiv with a focus on Chaplaincy and Religious Conflict Transformation. Previously Kristina has organized several youth-directed projects and youth retreats and was one of the founders of Quaker Voluntary Service. She is a childbirth doula, mediator, master composter, and lover of singing.

Noah Merrill is a member of Putney Friends Meeting in Vermont, which has care and oversight of his service in ministry. He travels and speaks among Friends and beyond, working at the intersection of institutional ministry and renewal in the Quaker Movement. Noah serves as secretary of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends.

Bios of the Elders/Mentors, as well as photos of the teaching team members are available HERE.

Relationship With Home Meetings or Faith Community

A series of intentional invitations to engagement and activity for the home meetings will increase the likelihood that the meeting will embrace the participant’s journey as part of their own venture in the Light. This parallel path for the local meeting will begin with the application process and will encourage careful discernment requesting a letter of affirmation witnessing to the applicant’s Living journey in the Light. This could come from the local meeting or other Friends.

Nurturing Worship, Faith and Faithfulness has been developed collaboratively by Woolman Hill, NEYM staff, and Marcelle Martin. The full proposal has been reviewed by ten additional NEYM Friends, including the Yearly Meeting Presiding Clerk, and the Clerk and other members of NEYM’s Ministry & Counsel. From them, a Circle of Support has been formed to assist with undergirding prayers, lifting up names of possible participants, spreading the word, and ongoing support.

Our Hopes

We especially hope to include young adult Friends, Friends of color, and Quaker pastors. We believe this will make for a richer and more diverse program. To make the program accessible to all who would benefit from the program and contribute to the overall experience, there is a sliding scale fee. There is also some scholarship assistance available.  Those in need of financial support will be encouraged to seek some partnership in funding from their meetings and other bodies.

The program is designed for 24 to 28 participants. The program is open to all Friends. We believe this Nurturing Worship, Faith, and Faithfulness program will benefit not only the actual participants, but a much wider circle of Friends.

Dates of Residencies at Woolman Hill

August 31 – September 4, 2017 (Thursday through Monday)

December 7 – 10, 2017 (Thursday through Sunday)

May 4 – 6, 2018 (Friday through Sunday)

Actual cost: $1,900 per participant.    There is a sliding scale fee, with the average cost being $1530.  In addition, some scholarship assistance is available.

Individuals are also encouraged to apply directly for financial assistance. Possible sources include:

  1. In New England Yearly Meeting: Obadiah Brown Benevolent Fund (next applications due January 15)

  2. Lyman Fund (next application due Sept. 15th).

  3. Monthly and quarterly meetings

Additional information about these funds is available at:

Applications will be accepted until the program is full, but no later than August 15th.  The deadline to request child care is July 31st.

Additional information and the application are posted on the Woolman Hill website.

For more information:
contact Margaret Cooley, Executive Director, Woolman Hill Retreat Center., 413-774-3431.

Click here to view An Informational Webinar about NWFF.