Tending the Garden

Workshops and retreats under the care of Spiritual Nurture Working Group that come to you and your meeting.

Program Descriptions

Sacred Journeys

What do you know about your sacred journey, your trail of faith? Who have been the people who have walked with you, inspired you, witnessed to Something More? How has God been present with you in the arc of your spiritual journey, and how has your understanding of the Divine Presence changed over time? Where are you going in your spiritual journey? What is your sense of how God is calling you now?

In this retreat, Friends will explore our faith, what feeds us spiritually, what challenges us, and how we understand and experience the Divine. As we share our sacred stories with each other, we will experience what it means to be known more deeply and fully. We will learn more about how it is that, when we are grounded in our community of faith, we are most open to the grace and blessing that are given to us, always.

Opening to Deeper Worship

Worship is the heart of who we are as Friends. Worship is what binds our lives together in meeting, what nourishes our souls, and opens us to greater participation in the Divine. If our worship is grounded and nourishing, our meetings flourish.

If it is shallow or tangled, our meeting life will suffer. Powerful, gathered worship is a gift, and cannot be ordered up or made to happen. There are, however, conditions and practices on our part which can make this treasured experience more likely.

In this retreat we will actively practice ways that open us to the greater likelihood of receiving the gift of powerful, gathered worship. We will focus on three areas: preparation for worship, deepening individual and corporate connection to the Divine in worship, and vocal ministry.

While we will move back and forth between workshop mode and unprogrammed worship, it is our intent that the entire retreat will be grounded in worship. The retreat will be experiential and immediate, and will seek to draw us into deeper experiences and understandings of our rich practice as Friends.

Vocal Ministry

“When one rises to speak in [a gathered] meeting one has a sense of being used, of being played upon, of being spoken through.” - Thomas Kelly

How do we understand “the sense of being used”? How do we discern the difference in speaking rather than “being spoken through”? How do we “listen in tongues” to all ministry given?

Friends will share their experiences of vocal ministry—both giving and receiving—and will study historic Friends’ perspectives in order to delve more deeply into Friends’ practice of vocal ministry.

Experiential Quakerism

Explore the diversity of Friends through sharing our experiences of core aspects of Quakerism.

We will unpack the language early Friends used to describe this religion that could be known experimentally—by experience—and test how our experience matches theirs and what words speak most closely to that experience today.

Workshops may focus on being inwardly taught; embodied knowing; healing and our inward temples; inward experiences of baptism, conviction, conversion and convincement; spiritual journeys; testifying and testimony; spiritual accompaniment and eldership; mutual accountability; unity/disunity and corporate forgiveness.


How does discernment differ from decisionmaking? What are the similarities between individual discernment and corporate discernment? What tools are available in discovering the will of Spirit in our lives?

Friends will share their experiences with discernment as well as challenges faced.

We will also experiment with some practical approaches to discernment, particularly in situations where a Friend might ask for help from others.

Pastoral Care

“Do we make ourselves available in a tender and caring way when we sense a need for assistance in time of trouble? Do we trust each other enough to make our needs known to someone in our meeting?” ~ NYYM’s Faith and Practice

Most of us are willing, even eager, to support one another in difficult times, but sometimes it can be hard to know what actions or words are most helpful. In this workshop, Friends will explore some or all of the following:

  • Spiritual hospitality;
  • Support committees;
  • Avoiding burn-out;
  • Ministry of presence;
  • Meetings for healing;
  • Care committees;
  • Acute or long-term care.

Spiritual Support and Accountability

Explore the ways in which Friends support one another in Spirit-led ministry. The workshop will include specific discussion of and experience with clearness committees and care committees as well as a more general approach to spiritual support and accountability.


New York Yearly Meeting’s Faith and Practice describes prayer as “communion with God. We may express it in expectant longing for wisdom and help, or in praise, confession, petition, intercession, thanks, relief, awe, or grief.”

What has been your experience with prayer? How would you explain your own times of “communion with God?” In this retreat, Friends will have the opportunity to share both the joys and the difficulties of prayer and consider ways in which they might draw nearer to communion with the Divine.

Quaker Toolbox

Friends have unique tools and practices for traveling through the world. How can we incorporate these tools not only among Friends but in our communities generally?

Explore potential applications for such tools as centering, holding in the Light, discernment, queries, and recognition of Spiritual gifts.


Anger, fear, hurt, and pain hinder us from feeling connected with Spirit and our own healing energies. Choosing to practice forgiveness can move us towards inner peace and renew our relationship with self and others.

What tools and techniques enable us to forgive?

A Deliberate Faith

Quakerism is a vital, intentional faith; even at our most silent and still, we are still “doing” something—but what?

Use worship, speakers, query-based discussion, and activities to explore Verbs of Quakerism, in Quaker history and as understood among Friends today.

Depending on the length of the workshop and your meeting’s particular interests, topics might include two or more of the following:

  • Search: Journeys and Queries
  •  Listen: Worship
  •  Act: Being the Change in the World
  •  Speak: Communicating with Courage and Integrity
  •  Serve: Gifts in Community
  •  Love: Answering That of God in Everyone

Sense of the Meeting

“As you come to treasure the sense of the meeting, awareness of the Presence becomes part of you. You begin to take it with you. You are changed by it. You perceive the world differently; and Quakers at their best are people who perceive the world differently . . . in Quaker business meeting, it is not decisions [Friends] respond to, but a process and a Presence through which they sense their joyful connection to one another.” - Barry Morley

What do Friends mean by “sense of the Meeting?” How does this differ from a consensus process? How can our business meetings be opportunities for joyful connection?

This workshop will reawaken your meeting to the wonder and joy of doing business in worship.