Among Friends: January 2017

In January 2016, FGC’s ministry dedicated to helping couples grow together in their Quaker faith and practice became its own entity, Friends Couple Enrichment. Learn about the latest developments for Friends Couple Enrichment, plus updates from Pendle Hill, AFSC, and Friends Journal! 

News and resources from the world of Friends for the January 2017 edition of the Vital Friends eNewsletter of FGC

An FGC Ministry for Couples Branches Out 

For many years, the Couples Enrichment program was carried out as a ministry of Friends General Conference. Hundreds of couples have participated in workshops, both at the Gathering and in their own communities. In January of 2016, Friends Couple Enrichment became its own entity, a nonprofit dedicated to deepening and enhancing couple relationships.

Friends Couple Enrichment programs take various forms, depending on time available, number of couples participating, or specific focus of a particular group. Programs range from a two hour “teaser” to a full weekend workshop. The setting may be a meetinghouse, a conference center, a college campus, or a home. The programs are open to any committed couple, regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, or religious affiliation.

Central to the process is the witnessed couple dialog. The dialog takes place between the two members of the couple, on a topic agreed upon earlier, with the group holding them in love and support.  It is at the same time simple and complex, easy and difficult. A couple is at once made vulnerable and strengthened by the process.

As a couple speaks to each other while being held in the loving support of the group, the dialog reveals the dynamic of the relationship in a different manner than the way a couple might describe their relationship to others. Those in the group observe something precious: the relationship between partners that is more than the sum of its parts. When the couple begins the dialog, they are often nervous and self-conscious; somehow, as the dialog progresses, the partners go deeper and distractions begin to fall away. Each partner speaks, and then the other partner reflects back what was said, making sure that the listener understood all of what was said. There is no awareness of time, only listening, reflecting, responding. Sometimes, as a couple gazes into each other’s eyes and speaks and listens, there is an “Aha!” moment; at other times there are clarifications, tears, expressions of appreciation and love. Those who are witnessing receive the gift of being in the presence of the Divine along with the dialoguing couple.

The participants in a workshop create a temporary community, which sometimes becomes an ongoing one when groups continue to meet for months or years after the initial event. 

If you are interested in attending a couple enrichment event, there are several scheduled for the first months of 2017:

  • Jeff and Kathy Richman will be leading a retreat at Ben Lomond Quaker Center in Ben Lomond, California from January 27th to 29th, 2017. Visit for details.
  • Mike and Marsha Green will be leading a Couple Enrichment Contemplative Retreat in Hickory, NC on February 10th through 12th, 2017. For more information, contact
  • There will also be a Couple Enrichment workshop offered at the FGC Gathering in Niagara, NY in July.

For those who live far from these areas, it may be possible to schedule a retreat in your community. Visit the Friends Couple Enrichment website to learn more.

Explore Opportunities for Creativity, Community, and Serenity at Pendle Hill 

Have you explored the event offerings for 2017 at Pendle Hill in Wallingford, PA? Here’s a sampling of can’t-miss workshops coming up in 2017:

As if these workshops weren’t exciting enough, attendees will enjoy lunch prepared by Pendle Hill’s uber-talented Dining Services Manager, Henrik Ringbom, former chef de cuisine of Brauhaus Schmitz in Philadelphia. 

AFSC Celebrates 100 Years of Waging Peace

American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) was founded in Philadelphia in 1917 to address an urgent need for conscientious objectors looking for an alternative to military service during World War I. Friends General Conference congratulates AFSC on 100 years of peace and progress, and invites Friends to view an interactive timeline of AFSC’s accomplishments on their website now.

An Essay about the Intersection of Philanthropy and Spirituality from Friends Journal

“Conversations about money can be unsettling for some, particularly if one person is asking another to part with their precious resources,” Jay Marshall, Dean at Earlham School of Religion, writes in a recent article for Friends Journal. “That does not have to be the case.” In his article “The Companionship of Philanthropy and Spirituality,” Mr. Marshall offers readers an intriguing look at the relationship between not-for-profit organizations and the donors that support them.  

Read the full article online on Friends Journal‘s website.

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