The Friends Center is a retreat and conference center for exploring Christian unprogrammed Quakerism and its meaning today. Rooted in Ohio Yearly Meeting and its tradition of hospitality for spiritual seekers, Friends Center is a place where we can explore, articulate and share a faith that is both unprogrammed and Christian. While this faith draws on the experiences and writings of earlier Friends, we seek to express it in ways that are appropriate to the language and conditions of our own time. Our intention is to learn together from the living presence of Jesus Christ, whom we experience teaching us directly from within, through the Scriptures, and through one another.
In addition to hosting several weekend events each year, Friends Center is also available for groups and individuals who need space to retreat. [Learn more about the Friends Center]
Weekend Retreats For 2014-2015:
Transformation and the New Birth
A weekend facilitated by Marcelle Martin
November 7-9, 2014
During this weekend workshop we will seek to understand the spiritual transformation early Friends experienced as they allowed Christ to be active within and among them. They changed from being conformed to their society and out of touch with God being filled with the Spirit and whole-heartedly responsive to divine promptings. In particular we will consider three elements of their spiritual rebirth: Openings, the Refiner’s Fire, and Being Gathered into Community. Through reading and discussing passages from their writings, we will learn from early Friends how to embrace these elements of transformation in our own lives and in our time. There will be opportunities to share our experiences and explore how we might be more faithfuland obedient to the work of Christ within us. We will listen for how we are being guided today.
Marcelle Martin is a member of Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting in Philadelphia. She currently lives in Richmond, Indiana, where she is finishing two books, one telling the story of the beginning of Quakerism and the other about essential elements of the Quaker spiritual journey. For four years she was the resident Quaker Studies teacher at Pendle Hill and has led retreats at Quakers meetings across the country. She is the author of two Pendle Hill pamphlets, including Invitation to a Deeper Communionn.
A Weekend on Gospel Ministry – With Inspiration from William Dewsbury
Facilitated by Brian Drayton
March 20-22, 2015
You chosen jewels, you necessitated people, arise!
Friends who have a particular concern (whether for Gospel ministry, spiritual nurture, or a social witness) should gather sometimes for mutual refreshment and counsel, to renew our vision and encourage our faithfulness. This weekend is intended to be such a gathering.
There will be times of worship and conversation, and also some “topical sessions” exploring key spiritual challenges such as unity, inward poverty, risk-taking, and spiritual drowsiness. Topical sessions will draw from the writings of William Dewsbury, “perhaps the sweetest and wisest of early Friends.”
Brian Drayton, of Weare (NH) Monthly Meeting, is a plant ecologist working in science education research. He has traveled extensively among Friends, carrying a concern to encourage those who contribute to their meeting’s ministry. He has given workshops, retreats, and addresses on topics in Quaker history and belief for many Friends meetings and Pendle Hill. In 2003 Brian was, with John Humphries, one of the originators of the Quaker Peacebuilders Camp, a program for teaching nonviolent action based on Quaker spirituality. His On Living With a Concern for Gospel Ministry has recently been among the best selling Quaker books. More recent writings include the Pendle Hill pamphlets Getting Rooted and James Nayler Speaking.
Being Faithful in Spiritual Isolation
A weekend facilitated by John Benson, Raye Hodgson, and Barbara Smith
April 24-26, 2015
Throughout history, Christians have found themselves in situations where they are alone – spiritually isolated from those who are their brothers and sisters in Christ and living among people who are either overtly hostile to their faith or, at best, indifferent. The earliest apostles, missionaries in all ages, early Friends traveling in the ministry as well as those they converted, all found it challenging to maintain their faith and sense of calling without the fellowship and support of people who shared their faith. Today Christian and Christ-centered Friends often find themselves in the same situation, living far from a sympathetic Friends meeting and struggling to grow in their faith in isolation. Following God’s leading without the spiritual support of a faith community can be lonely, frustrating, and discouraging. But God calls some of us to just that situation.
One of the biggest and most obvious challenges comes with being a Christian Friend among non-Christians, but there are many more subtle aspects of living in isolation from other Christian Friends. In this workshop we, the participants, will share our experiences and difficulties, learning from one another how to nurture our faith and keep it alive and growing; how to discern when we are being called to minister to others; strategies for overcoming feelings of loneliness; how to see isolation as a gift and to make use of that gift; how to stay in touch with our wider faith community; and the importance of looking to God for our support and nurture instead of to other people.
John Benson is a member of Stillwater Meeting (Ohio Yearly Meeting) and a recorded minister of OYM. He receive an M.Div. from Yale in 2005 and serves as Director of Spiritual Care and Counseling at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Huntington, West Virginia. His work includes facilitating discussions of first-hand spiritual experiences and what we can learn from them. John is presently writing about the early apocalyptic visions of George Fox that were excluded from Rufus Jones’ edition of Fox’s Journal.
Raye Hodgson is a member of Short Creek Meeting (Ohio Yearly Meeting) in Adena, Ohio. She currently lives in Connecticut with her husband Randolph and her thirteen ducks. Raye has remained involved with OYM in a variety of ways over the twelve years since she moved “back east.” Not much has turned out as she expected when she left Ohio, so perhaps her primary lessons are as a far flung Friend have been to follow the Lord’s lead, letting go of ideas about how things ought to be, and to be available for whatever form of ministry may be called for.
Barbara Smith is an affiliate member of Rockingham Monthly Meeting (Ohio Yearly Meeting). She lives in the Fingerlakes Region of New York with her husband and children where they own and operate a small, organic dairy farm, which provides raw milk to families in the Ithaca area. Barb has a particular concern for encouraging the spiritual growth of individuals, isolated or not. She writes occasionally for online discussion venues, including in her blog: www.plainlyquaker.com