2012 ESR Spirituality Gathering with Phil Gulley

Spirituality Gathering

March 3, 2012 - Richmond, Indiana

The Evolution of Faith: A Changing Faith in a Changing World

Featuring: Philip Gulley

Religions tend to claim ancient authority for many of their doctrines and practices, failing to realize how contemporary culture shapes and influences their faith. Vital religion can and should celebrate its past, but when it fails to acknowledge current progress, it can do great damage. Join Philip Gulley in reflecting on the importance of a past and present faith.

Phil Gulley


PHILIP GULLEY is a Quaker pastor and beloved writer and speaker from Danville, Indiana. He has become the voice of small-town American life through such works as his acclaimed Harmony series of novels chronicling life in the eccentric Quaker community of Harmony, Indiana and the best-selling Porch Talk series of inspirational and humorous stories. He is the author of, If the Church Were Christian, in which he explores a Christianity that is consistent with the teachings of Jesus and a church that encourages Jesus’ example as a model for living. In his latest theological endeavor, The Evolution of Faith: How God is Creating a Better Christianity, Gulley urges the reader to let go of tightly held beliefs and start the journey towards a dynamic and fluid faith – a Christianity we can believe in.

Gulley attended Marian College in Indianapolis where he studied theology and sociology, and he received his Master of Divinity in 1992 from Christian Theological Seminar. Gulley is currently the pastor at Fairfield Friends Meeting near Indianapolis. He writes the popular monthly Back Home Again column for Indianapolis Monthly magazine. Additionally, he hosted the television program “Porch Talk with Philip Gulley on the Indiana PBS affiliate WFYI and their flagship show Across Indiana, for which he received Emmy® Awards in 2007 and 2009. In 2010 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree by his alma mater, Christian Theological Seminary.


To register, print and complete the registration form, and send with payment to the address given. For questions contact Mandy Ford fordma@earlham.edu or 1-800-432-1377. Visit our Contact page for information on our location.

Schedule of Events

8:15 am Registration & Breakfast
9:00 am Worship
9:45 am Keynote: The Evolution of Faith: A Changing Faith in a Changing World - Philip Gulley
11:30 am Lunch
1:00 pm Workshop I
2:30 pm Workshop II
4:00 pm Closing gathering


Our Evolution of Faith: The Necessity of a Changing Faith

Facilitator: Philip Gulley

Faith is always a work in progress, both individually and corporately. Claims of an “old-time religion” or “a faith passed down from the saints” reflect a misunderstanding of religion’s fluidity and evolution. When we recognize the changing nature of religion and belief we are free to let our own faith evolve and grow. Join us for an opportunity to reflect on how our own faith has changed, and how it might continue to evolve in the future.

Face To Face With Jesus: Close Encounters Of The Transformational Kind

Facilitator: Pat DeWitt-Thomas

Wouldn’t it have been “really cool” if the people who Jesus came into contact with in the Scriptures had been avid journalers! Then we could read their journal entries for that meeting and know how it affected and changed them. Through Midrash Journaling we can do even better. We can become those people and tell the story to one another. Bring paper and pencil and an inquisitive mind and heart.

Pat DeWitt-Thomas worked 25 years at Valley Mill Camp in Maryland, ten years as director. She spent three years at Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, IN. in the Ministry for Writing Program. Pat is the founder and director of Cloistered Soul Ministries, organizing and facilitating retreats & workshops on Contemplative Living.

The Practice of Spiritual Discernment

Facilitator: Emma M. Churchman

As Friends, the practice of gentle listening is a way of life for us. We strive to distinguish and recognize God’s voice in our lives, and to share “life by leading.” In this workshop we will go back to basics with the practice of spiritual discernment; remembering how our bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits respond to the movement of God in our lives. This is an interactive workshop: come prepared to be transformed!

Emma M. Churchman is a member of Friends Meeting of Washington, Baltimore Yearly Meeting, and an Associate Member of Chavakali Yearly Meeting in Kenya. She is a current MDiv student at ESR and serves on the faculty of Earlham College.

Self Reflection Workshop

Facilitator: Erin Hougland

This is a creative workshop of blind contour drawings. I do not want to give away too much because one should really have no expectations or judgment when coming into this workshop. The intention in the workshop is to discover the self, the spirit, and the spirit of others through a creative drawing exercise. No artistic ability necessary! We will draw, color and discuss the images that crop up through spiritual guidance and creative meditation.

Erin Hougland is in her second year at ESR in the MDiv program, with an emphasis in writing. She works as the volunteer coordinator for the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic in Indianapolis and is an active member of the Episcopal church. Erin also teaches Tai Chi and other physical fitness classes. She believes our bodies and physical beauty should be honored in our spiritual communion with God and in relationship to our community.

Spiritual Memoir Writing

Facilitator: Diane Reynolds

Writing is an important path into understanding our spiritual journeys. The images we use in our writing can reveal to us truths about ourselves. In this workshop, we will draw to help retrieve concrete memories, then share and write in order to gain insights into our spiritual development.

Diane Reynolds is a third-year student at ESR in the Ministry of Writing Program.

The Evolution of Quaker Organizational Structure: Using the concepts of subsidiarity, affinity, and mutual aid to envision new possibilities

Facilitator: Matt Hisrich

What would it look like to take the ideas in The Evolution of Faith seriously and put them into practice organizationally among Friends? Recent developments in Indiana Yearly Meeting provide one lens through which to view such changes taking place right now. In this workshop, participants will have the opportunity to discuss these developments but also think more broadly about how the organizational structures of the faith bodies in which we participate reflect an important aspect of how we put our faith into working practice. With this in mind, we can begin to analyze what elements detract from or contribute to that process and what changes might bring about greater health and vitality.

Matt Hisrich is a 2008 graduate of ESR and serves as Ministerial Advocate for Indiana Yearly Meeting.

The Evolution of Our Individual Faith Journeys

Facilitator: Josh Seligman

Some people have said that life is lived in chapters. How do the chapters in our spiritual journeys end and begin? How has our faith evolved? In this writing workshop, attendees will reflect on and write about a turning point in which they grew and developed spiritually, or came to a deeper understanding about themselves, others, and/or God. The workshop will include a creative activity to spark memory. Participants will be encouraged, but not required, to share their stories with the group.”

Josh Seligman is a student at Earlham School of Religion. He studied creative writing in college in his hometown, San Diego, California, and now lives in Richmond, Indiana.

Event Date: 03/03/2012 - 8:15am - 4:30pm