Way of the Spirit
What is it?
Is Way of the Spirit for you? We welcome sincere seekers from varied faith communities or none at all. Join our mailing list, or apply for a course. Current participants access private online community.
Answers to common questions about Way of the Spirit and Quaker spirituality, time commitment, what the people are like, scholarship options, Christianity and the Bible and more…
Buy Inner Light Soap; access handbook; read blog; find readings
Donations & Fees
Way of the Spirit is supported by participants’ fees and donations.
What is Way of the Spirit?
Way of the Spirit offers one-of-a-kind, highly engaging online mini-courses and residential retreats: Relevant and courageous exploration of the inner life and living Spirit-led.
- A gentle invitation to grow in your sense of God’s presence and inner guidance, with supportive companions for the journey.
Fall 2022 Updates
- IN DEVELOPMENT Mini-Course: Forgiveness & the Wrongs of Our Ancestors (for people of privilege) Offered online via Zoom, over four sessions including teaching, exercises, and group reflection; 4 Saturday mornings in October-November tbd, 9am-12pm Pacific Time; Fee $450.
- IN DEVELOPMENT New Way of the Spirit program series beginning February 2023. Online and residential retreats for spiritual development in prayer, discernment, giftedness, blessed community, and following Holy guidance through the upheavals of our times.
- Personal Retreats—three nights with two spiritual direction sessions: ten forested acres on Whidbey Island, Washington—In Barred Owl Cottage with hot tub, $450; or tiny house trailer $350; Available: Sept 19, 20, 21; or Oct 20, 21, 22.
- Inquiries to Christine Hall: firstname.lastname@example.org
- That of God Within—Each of us is capable of growth in awareness and responsiveness to the Divine Indwelling through prayer and practice.
- Integration of Faith and Action—We seek to weave with integrity our inward spiritual lives and outward Spirit-led actions.
- Spirit-led universal ministry—Each can engage unique spiritual giftedness; each is called to unique service to others in large, small, or hidden ways.
- Blessed community—We are given to each other for discernment, encouragement, and growth in Spirit. We practice respectful community guidelines that help create sacred space for tender soul work.
- Listening in Tongues—We speak in the language of our heart about our own experiences of God, listen for the Life of the Holy in others’ varied language.
- Quaker spirituality—We honor continuing revelation of the Holy through history, science, fresh and inclusive interpretations of the Bible, and interfaith appreciation; we share diverse welcoming theologies; As a historic peace church, we recognize the centrality of peace and social justice concerns for a life of faithfulness.
- Transformation— We seek to be changed by the workings of the Holy within and between us toward who we are meant to be. We hold the tensions of seeming ambiguities and stretch in Grace.
Jan Wood—Way of the Spirit guest presenter on Blessed community, forgiveness, spiritual giftedness. Former pastor, teacher, administrator and executive director of Good News Associates, author of Practicing Discernment Together: Finding God’s Way Forward in Decision Making and Christians at Work: Not Business as Usual, and clerk of North Seattle Friends Church, Sierra Cascades Yearly Meeting of Friends.
Elders, Spiritual Accompaniment—Attending each Way of the Spirit mini-course is an “elder.” Varied program alumni and others gifted in prayer, discernment, companioning, and pastoral care serve program leadership and participants in that role. 2021-22 Elders include: Diane Beebe, Katie Buckley, Al Hendrix, Patty Federighi, and…
Additional Guest Presenters—Since Way of the Spirit began in 2012, these leaders have offered wisdom on varied topics during program sessions: Marge Abbott, Wess Daniels, Noah Merrill, Cathy Walling, Colin Saxton, Becky Wood, and Craig Rennebohm.
Join a welcoming community of participants and alumni, intentionally fostering each others’ faithfulness. Way of the Spirit welcomes all who yearn for the Holy, are willing to share deeply, and follow the Spirit’s guidance on our own paths.
In Online Sessions:
Way of the Spirit gathers using Zoom video conferencing in a highly interactive format, far from a passive webinar. Believe it or not, Zoom time can be playful, experiential, relational, reflective, and deeply infused with the Spirit. The sessions are respectful of our bodies, and even energizing.
Expansiveness, spaciousness, and stretching of my sense of what constitutes prayer… This was a deftly organized, richly resourced feast of possibilities.
Between online sessions, participants integrate retreat themes through prayer, journaling, spiritual “experiments” and assigned written reflections. After or between sessions, participants may meet one-to-one with program staff for personal spiritual accompaniment.
Current program participants’ access to private web pages for resources and written reflections. [Link to WayOnline]
Subscribe to receive email notices of upcoming Way of the Spirit offerings.
What is Quaker spirituality?
Inner awareness of the Spirit informs outward concerns, including traditional Quaker witness and actions for peace, justice, equality, care of creation and more. Personal spirituality is complemented by communal experiences of worship, mutual care, and group discernment.
If you’re curious, watch the 20 minute QuakerSpeak video, “What Do Quakers Believe?”
What does it mean that Way of the Spirit is a "Quaker-Christian" program?
How is Way of the Spirit connected to Quakers?
Christine Hall, the founder-director of Way of the Spirit, is a Quaker and an active member of Whidbey Island Friends Meeting (WA), part of North Pacific Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. She modeled Way of the Spirit on the respected East Coast program, School of the Spirit, with their blessing. An “anchor committee” under the care of Whidbey Island Friends Meeting accompanies Chris with prayer and encouragement. Members include people from varied Quaker meetings and churches.
What is the Way of the Spirit's "experiential" approach?
The specifics of your life, character, skills, giftedness, and inner sensibilities matter in the life of faith. Way of the Spirit seeks to integrate the whole of our experiences in the Holy. The ordinary, or practical, and the “spiritual” weave one Reality.
We learn by trying things ourselves and reflecting on what happens in us. Sessions invite participants into “spiritual experiments,” and like most experiments, results vary widely. The emphasis is less on what you believe or think about God; we seek to explore the how’s, when’s, and where’s of your faithfulness. We aim for body, mind, and emotions all leaning into “Yes” to Holy Guidance.
What are the people like in Way of the Spirit?
The community that’s developed around Way of the Spirit has been really, really good for me, even though we come from very different places. The people are so amazing—amazingly open, amazingly thoughtful. All of us are in it because we want to grow and deepen. —Norma, participant
Participants and staff are warm, open-hearted, authentic, vulnerable, thoughtful, seeking… Our group intentions foster a sacred hospitality for each one’s unique soul work. The foundation for our welcoming community includes the discipline of no fixing, no advising, and no correcting each other (from Parker Palmer’s Center for Courage and Renewal). We share our stories and struggles honestly, then listen and respond to each other in Life-affirming ways.
What is the time commitment for a Way of the Spirit mini-course?
- Total commitment per mini-course is at least 20 hours.
- Saturday sessions, 15 hours (including lunch breaks) over 4-5 weeks: To participate fully in a Way of the Spirit mini-course, plan to attend all three Saturday sessions. Small group work depends on mutual commitment to being present.
- Preparatory reading, 3-5 hours: For each mini-course, expect preparatory readings between 70-90 pages. Most readings are brief articles or pamphlets, usually available electronically. Reading beforehand allows participants to gather with a foundation of shared vocabulary, and the beginnings of stirrings on the mini-course theme.
- Written reflections, 2-4 hours: One written reflection is assigned for each mini-course. Participants post on a web page that’s private to the group. We encourage additional written reflections—personal check ins, musings on session topics, requests for prayer—to help nurture the collaborative learning community.
- Optional individual spiritual accompaniment, 1 hour: Program staff welcome one-on-one conversation with participants after Saturday sessions. When the topic raises questions or someone feels stuck, it can really help!
What tech do I need?
- A computer or tablet that can connect to Zoom video conferencing.
- The bigger the screen, the better you’ll be able to see and engage with others in the group of 10-16 people. A laptop is much better than a tablet. Phones are rarely satisfying.
- Update your Zoom app to the latest version for best connection https://zoom.us/download
- The widest bandwidth setting possible for your location: (5G over 2.5G). One participant was kicked out of a meeting three times till she figured this out.
Space with private video and audio.
- Check your lighting so we can see your smile.
- Headphones can help focus attention and presence with each other.
- The screen and audio need to be visible and audible to you alone. We help each other guard the container of our attention and private sharing. Best is a separate room, where no one will interrupt you or walk through the camera view.
How can I get help with fees?
Way of the Spirit, a program of GOOD NEWS Associates, is supported through participant fees. GNA is committed to making the program financially accessible to participants, as well as honestly self-supporting. Program fees allow for a modest wage for the full time director, plus stipends to guest speakers and spiritual accompaniment. Residential retreat fees include substantial costs of food and lodging. Additional generous donations help make up the gaps.
- Some participants have received funding support from their faith communities. Please ask.
- Or explore outside grants, including the Quaker-based Lyman Fund. Contact Tracy Booth: email@example.com. They offered $3,000-5,000 to Way of the Spirit participants in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2020. A comprehensive application is due to the Lyman Fund September 15th or March 15th
- Inquire about limited Way of the Spirit scholarship funds by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Order Inner Light handmade natural soap in clove, lemon, or peppermint. A $5 suggested donation supports the Way of the Spirit program.
Click image on the left to view/download the handbook
- Bourgeault, Cynthia. Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening. Cambridge, Mass.: Cowley Publications, 2004. Print. A more scholarly and thorough exploration of the inner life with God by an Episcopal priest and core teacher in the Center for Action and Contemplation; Bourgeault explores how contemplative practice assists growth in personal psychological and spiritual awareness. It’s the best explanation I’ve found for the transformations I’ve seen happen in participants of Way of the Spirit. Most relevant chapter titles: Deeper Silence, Deeper Self; Handling Thoughts During Prayer Time; Attention of the Heart.
- Dandelion, “Ben” Pink. The Quakers: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008. Print If you are new to Friends, this book is a solid theological and historical introduction, despite the author’s name (there’s a good story…).
- McLaren, Brian D. Naked spirituality: a life with God in 12 simple words. HarperOne, 2012. A leader in the “emerging church” movement of contemporary Christianity resonates with the core of Quaker spirituality. Short, readable chapters explore a straightforward approach to: Here, Thanks, Sorry, Help, Behold, Yes, and more…
- Nouwen, Henri J. M., Michael J. Christensen, and Rebecca Laird. Spiritual formation: following the movements of the spirit. New York: HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2010. Print. A posthumous collection of 20th century writings by a beloved Roman Catholic priest and teacher. His humility and openness are warm and inviting. His wisdom and spiritual exercises are potent. Most relevant chapter titles: Spiritual Formation: the Way of the Heart; From Illusion to Prayer; Journey Inward, Journey Outward;
- Silf, Margaret. Inner Compass: An Invitation to Ignatian Spirituality. Tenth Anniversary Edition ed. Chicago: Loyola, 1999. Print. A readable and inclusive reworking of the spirituality of Ignatius of Loyola (1500’s).
- Thurman, Howard. Meditations of the heart. Beacon Press, 1999. A Baptist minister and theologian, Thurman’s writing reveals him a “friend of Friends” (Quakers). Try dipping in and out of these brief meditations on varied topics. A few of many relevant essays: An Island of Peace within One’s Soul, How Good It Is To Center Down, I Surrender Myself to God.
- Wolff, Christine. The inner guide versus the inner critic: the journey from judgment to love. Pendle Hill Pamphlet. 448, Pendle Hill Publications, 2017. Sorting “what is of God” within us from other influences or “voices” is central to the Way of the Spirit journey. The author’s psychological expertise complements Quaker spirituality with very helpful insights, experiential exercises, and reflection questions.
Donations & Fees
$450 for each mini-course is due before we begin. Participants are responsible for their own fees and cost of some reading materials. Fees include:
- Three, 5-hour, interactive online retreat sessions
- Optional individual spiritual accompaniment with program staff
- Access to private web community
- Assigned readings often available to download electronically.
- Participants may need to purchase or borrow additional assigned materials.
If you need financial assistance:
- Many participants receive funding support from their faith communities.
- Explore outside grants, including the Lyman Fund. Contact Tracy Booth: email@example.com. They supported Quaker Way of the Spirit participants in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2020. A comprehensive application is due to the Lyman Fund September 15th or March 15th.
- Inquire about limited Way of the Spirit scholarship funds by emailing Christine Hall.
- If you are able to provide scholarship assistance to other participants, please contact Good News Associates. Or, you can click the Way of the Spirit online payment button below and then select “Donations to WotS Scholarships” from the “Use this donation for…” dropdown menu on the PayPal donate page.
All payments to Good News Associates, the non-profit home of Way of the Spirit.
- Pay by check: To “Good News Associates,” with memo line: Way of the Spirit
Mail to: Jan Wood, Director Good News Associates, 20403 Crawford Road, Lynwood, WA 98036
- Pay Online by credit card or PayPal