Workshop Number: 31
Leaders: Christopher Sammond
Who May Register?: Open to All
Worship/Worship-Sharing: 35%
Lecture: 5%
Discussion: 15%
Experiential Activities: 45%

Who May Attend?
only full time attenders (participants should attend all week)

How do we better access the Source of vocal ministry, “where the words come from?” We will forge a community of depth and trust and from that place explore Spirit- led vocal ministry, using practices to better gather ourselves, listen, and distinguish the voice of the Divine from our own.

Workshop Description

In the famous story of John Woolman worshipping with the Delaware Indians, Chief Papunehang said, in response to a prayer offered by Woolman in English, and not interpreted for the Delaware, “I love to feel where words come from.”  That is as good a description of vocal ministry as I know-seeking the place where the words come from.

Vocal ministry- making ourselves available for the Divine to speak through us- is a key element of our distinctive form of worship. Yet many of us feel uncertain about this part of our practice, feeling our way by trial and error, with little, if any, feedback.  And many meetings name vocal ministry as a problem with which they want help; either there is too much, or too little, or it is often ungrounded.  Rarely have I heard a meeting say that their vocal ministry is just as they would hope for.  Some Friends have blurred, and even lost, the distinction between sharing our own thoughts and feelings and vocal ministry which comes from the Divine.

As vocal ministry led by the Divine almost always happens in the context of a gathered meeting, we will begin by creating a community of depth and trust, learning to open to that place where deep worship, discernment, and vocal ministry all originate.  From that place we will explore practices which make us more available to the promptings of the Divine for us to speak out of worship: listening with our whole being; opening our hearts to God and to the gathered body; learning to “read” the readiness of the room to receive vocal ministry; understanding vocal ministry as a process the whole gathered body supports; and learning how to better distinguish the voice of the Divine from our own reflections.

We will seek to become a practice lab for honing our capacities in rendering faithful vocal ministry, naming where we experience the power of the Divine coming through our worship and our vocal ministry.  We will encourage each other to take risks in offering vocal ministry while practicing affirmation and support. Our work will be immediate and experiential- long on experience and short on theory- and grounded in love and affirmation.

My hopes for this workshop are that we will create a rich, supportive community in which participants can more fully open to the Inner Teacher, the Source, the Inner Christ, and to know that more fully than when we began. Having that experience has the potential to heighten an individual’s experience of worship and transform our lives. I also hope to impart skills for how to make ourselves more open to being vessels for vocal ministry.

Possible ways we will engage with each other may include: worship and worship sharing, experimenting with a “Second Day Meeting” (exploring with each other our experience of worship sessions we just experienced together), sharing in dyads and small groups, “light and livelies”- light-hearted exercises borrowed from the AVP tradition, the sharing of poetry, lectio divina, guided meditations, experiences of holding each other in prayer, group sharing, group discussion, and some teaching born of my experience.

We will have handouts and a small amount of homework some days to augment the experiential portion of our work together.

Leader Experience

I have led scores of interactive workshops and retreats for Friends over many years, including ones at Powell House, Woolman Hill, Pendle Hill, ESR, the FUM Triennial, the FWCC World Gathering, and the FGC Gathering.  I facilitated “Where the Words Come From” at the last two year’s Gatherings, and  “Opening to the Heart of Worship” at the three Gatherings before that.  I have facilitated different versions of that particular topic for monthly, quarterly, and regional meetings over the past fifteen years. And, I have led workshops or segments of workshops on vocal ministry numerous times.  More recently, I have been doing a lot of facilitation via Zoom, both for the two workshops named above, and also in the Participating in God’s Power program under the care of School of the Spirit.

I love facilitating the creation of a safe space which invites all Friends to open in heart and spirit, to re-member their wholeness, to share in a sense of rich community, and to touch the Divine Source.  Being able to shepherd that process is an incredible gift and a blessing for me.  I try to make workshops I lead immediate and experiential, using lots of small group sharing of personal experience.  It is a joy to do this work.

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