Nurturing Faithfulness (NF) is a collaboration between New England Yearly Meeting, Woolman Hill, Hilary Burgin and Marcelle Martin. 

Program flyer (one-page)

Informational video and webinar

Program overview

Program details

Teaching Team

Application information

Program cost

Quaker Speak video


Program registration (for those who have applied and been accepted)



An INFORMATIONAL WEBINAR about NF, presented by Core Teachers Marcelle Martin and Hilary Burgin, will be held TUESDAY JUNE 25, 7:00pm (EST). Marcelle and Hilary will speak about the elements of the 2019-2020 Nurturing Faithfulness program and answer questions.

An info webinar was also held on January 22nd. Below is a video recording of that webinar (46 minutes).

To get a sense of the program and to see interviews with those who participated in the first offering (Nurturing Worship, Faith and Faithfulness), watch this informational video.


Nurturing Faithfulness 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 2019-May 2020 at Woolman Hill, as well as a short mid-course retreat organized by regional groups. Between residencies, participants will engage in online learning and discussion, connect once a month with local (or virtual) Faithfulness Groups, and meet with a care committee (usually based in their local meeting). The class members will become a community of practice so as to support each other in receiving and providing spiritual nurture and supporting leadings, service and faithful witness.

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 faithfulness in our local meetings and spiritual communities. The program is designed to help educate, equip, and support all those who hold a concern for deeper worship, faith, and faithfulness. Participants will be given specific guidance, practice, and support in deeply sharing their Quaker faith and faithful witness. They will support each other in following leadings 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.

See more program details


The core teachers for Nurturing Faithfulness are Marcelle Martin and Hilary Burgin. Xinef Afriam and Jay O’Hara will serve as guest teachers. In addition, Janet Hough and Anne Pomeroy will serve as elders to hold the program in prayer, provide support and feedback during the Woolman Hill residencies, and serve as one-on-one mentors for participants between residencies.

Bios of teaching team members

Dates of Residencies at Woolman Hill:

August 30-September 3, 2019 (Friday through Tuesday, Labor Day weekend)
December 13-16, 2019 (Friday through Monday)
May 1-4, 2020 (Friday through Monday)


To apply, submit the form at this link (with a letter of support) as described in the form.
Sending the application via email (to nf at is preferred.
If necessary, you may instead send the application via US mail to
Margaret Cooley, Woolman Hill, 107 Keets Road Deerfield MA 01342
Please note that internet access will be an essential component of the program.

There are still a few spaces in the program and we are accepting late applications.
Send your application by Thursday, August 15 or at least let us know of your intent to apply.
All application elements, including letters of recommendation from a member of your clearness committee, are needed by Thursday, August 22, in order to participate in the first residency (which begins Friday, August 30).

Applications from members of New England Yearly Meeting will be accepted starting January 15, 2019 and reviewed as they come in. The sooner we can review your application, the more time there will be to help secure financial assistance for those who need it. Priority will be given to members of NEYM until the early application deadline, April 1, 2019. After that date, we welcome applications from Friends in any Yearly Meeting and applications will be considered as they arrive, until the program is full. Several spaces for young adults will be reserved until the program commences.

Participants are encouraged to come in pairs or trios from the same monthly meeting, but priority will be given to allow as many NEYM meetings to be represented as possible. Friends with a recognized gift or leading to nurture worship, ministry, and faithfulness in their meetings will be given special encouragement to attend. Scholarships will be available, especially to support the attendance of young people and Friends of color. 

This cost includes meals and lodgings at Woolman Hill for three residencies (10 days and nights), honorarium and expenses for the teaching team (including guest teachers), administrative expenses, publicity and teaching materials, technology for videos and webinars.

Sliding scale

Actual cost – $2,500 per participant
Paying this amount or higher will cover costs and help fund scholarships.

Median cost – $1,800 (made possible by grant funding)
We hope most participants will pay this amount or more. We are very grateful for grant funding that allows us to offer this rate.

Limited income – $1,200 (made possible by grant funding)
We are happy to arrange a payment plan in installments if that is useful.

Additional scholarship support can be requested by those with financial need. We do not want finances to be a barrier for participation. We also hope people will take seriously the expense of running an extensive program like this (including teaching team preparation and facilitation, facility use, teaching materials, publicity, administrative and staff time, etc.). We ask each participant to consider what is appropriate for their personal budget, taking into consideration the value of the program. For those who can afford to pay the actual cost or higher, this will enable us to offer more scholarship support to those with more limited financial resources.

We have received grants that allow us to offer a reduced registration fee and scholarship assistance for participants who have limited financial resources. We also strongly encourage participants to apply directly for financial assistance. Possible sources include:
1. Lyman Fund (applications due March 15 and September 15)
2. Obadiah Brown Benevolent Fund (applications due April 15 and September 15)
    Information about the above funds is available at:
3. Monthly and quarterly meetings
For information about Salem Quarterly Meeting funds (due March 31), see an explanation here.)
We strongly encourage meetings to consider financially supporting participation by individuals from their meeting, as we believe that an individual’s participation will be a worthwhile investment for the entire faith community. (We know of at least one monthly meeting whose Meeting for Business approved paying for one registration to NF noting that it has been their experience that when one Friend undertakes a significant spiritual formation opportunity, the whole meeting benefits.)

Please contact us if your financial situation is the primary factor preventing you from applying.



The Nurturing Faithfulness (NF) program includes a total of ten overnights—four at the first residency, three at a mid-course weekend and three 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 in one’s home meeting or spiritual community.  Participants will form 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 people who are not enrolled in the program, whether Quaker or not.  Each program participant will also form a care committee which includes at least two members of their home meeting or faith community. This committee will meet with them periodically to discuss their learning in Nurturing Faithfulness and help them find ways to share it with others.

Reading, Reflections, and local Faithfulness Group formation (starting summer 2019)
Both before and between residencies, participants will read assigned texts and watch short videos, then discuss them in monthly online webinars. They will form local Faithfulness Groups based on the guidelines and introductory materials provided by the program, participating monthly in such a group for the rest of the program.  Optional webinars will also take place several times during the program for question and answer sessions with guest speakers. Each participant will connect with a mentor who will accompany them throughout the program.

Initial 5-day residency (four nights: August 30 – September 3, 2019, Labor Day weekend)
During the initial residency at Woolman Hill Retreat Center, Friends will learn ways to help one another be more attentive and receptive to the presence and guidance of God/Christ/Spirit during daily life, in meetings for worship, and in their faith community. There will be instruction and practice in skills to deepen worship, listening, and faithfulness. Participants will practice becoming more attentive to subtle movements of the Spirit, more aware of ways we resist God’s Light, and more available to give and receive support in faithfulness. Participants will hone their skills in mutual listening, discernment, and accountability and be given instruction and feedback in the Faithfulness Group process. We will consider how our community worship and faithful responses to the movements of the Spirit help make manifest divine reconciling and healing power. The first residency is intended to be a retreat as well as a learning experience and will also include periods of Grand Silence, an extended meeting for worship, and the experience of a programmed worship service. Xinef Afriam will be the guest teacher for this residency.

Study, reflection, writing, and discussion between residencies.
Participants will continue to share their reflections, questions, prayers, and experiences online. Between residencies, local Faithfulness Groups will meet once a month, and participants will meet periodically with a care committee to help them discern how to share elements of what they are learning with their home meeting or faith community. During the program, participants will write and share two reflection papers on their experiences.

Mid-course residency (three nights: December 13-16, 2019)
During the second residency at Woolman Hill Retreat Center, we will consider how deep spiritual grounding of individuals and communities supports radically faithful outward witness and service. There will be teaching on the nature of leadings, and skills and tests of discernment. We will learn ways to anchor our leadings and ministries in our local meetings and help each other take next steps. 

Local retreat (February or March) and accompaniment between residencies.
In February or March, local Faithfulness Groups will organize a regional retreat from Friday evening through Saturday evening or Sunday noon.  Retreat time together will include worship, Faithfulness Group presentations, and discerning ways to help each another nurture the worship and spiritual life of home faith communities. Group members will plan practical accompaniment of the leadings arising among themselves.

Final weekend residency (three nights: May 1-4, 2020)
The program will conclude with a final residency. This will be a time to be deeply gathered by the Spirit in worship, to reflect and share learning, consider next steps in faithfulness, plan ongoing connection, and bless and send each other forth.


Watch a Quaker Speak video with Marcelle Martin sharing some of what she has learned about the experience of early Friends and their concept of self-will.


Please contact nf @