Workshop descriptions

BYM Women’s Retreat Workshops 2017

Please take a look at these descriptions of the workshops that will be offered at the retreat. Participants are invited to choose one morning and one afternoon workshop. When you arrive at the retreat, you will need to sign up near the registration table for the workshop(s) of your choice, some of which are capped at a certain number of participants.

MORNING sessions from 10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

with the exception of

Yoga as a Spiritual Practice         at 6:30 a.m.                         Beit Midrash

Take time for yourself to re-connect your body, mind, and spirit.  We’ll begin with a short sharing time, followed by a focus on breath, connecting movement with breath, and ending with meditation.  Explore how yoga and Quakerism fit naturally together, supporting and nourishing each other.

Workshop Leader:  Lynne Graham

Lynne has been teaching Yoga for 6 years in rural Pennsylvania, where she is a member of Wellsboro Friends Meeting in Wellsboro, PA.

 Ten Elements of the Quaker Spiritual Journey             Jubilee (Rm 100)

We will consider an overview of the transforming Quaker spiritual journey experienced by the first Quakers and by Friends in our time, including the elements of  Longing, Seeking, Turning Within, Openings, The Refiner’s Fire, Community, Leadings, The Cross, Abiding, and Perfection (in one’s measure).  Have these elements been part of your spiritual journey, too?  We will look at some short passages written by early Friends and share our own experiences with one another.

Workshop Leader:  Marcelle Martin

Marcelle Martin, a member of Swarthmore Meeting (PYM) and author of Our Life is Love: the Quaker Spiritual Journey, has traveled widely to lead workshops among Friends.

Writing Into Womanhood      Wellspring (Library)

 A writing workshop exploring gender identity and experience. There will be structured exercises and free writing. Using our personal memories and experiences we will seek to express all the different, complicated things that “being a woman” means. I will bring short readings for us to talk about, and there will be time to share our own writing.  “Being a woman” is complicated and we should complicate it more! Trans* and non-binary friends are welcome.

Workshop Leader; Anna McCormally

Anna McCormally grew up in Herndon Friends Meeting, and now studies and teaches creative writing at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Conflict Resolution Strategies for our Meetings and our World   Citron (Rm 200)

This workshop will provide practical strategies for use when there are conflicts in Meetings, in the family, at work, or in other settings. There will be opportunities for practice and discussion of the strategies. People will leave with a “toolbox” of different ways to respond to conflict, both involving themselves, or others. The view of conflict in this workshop is that it is an important part of life, and that if differences or areas of conflict are really dealt with, the resolution can result in a stronger relationship and better future actions than would have occurred otherwise. Participants will be encouraged to welcome differences, to fully embrace and understand them, and to use them in ways that result in positive outcomes.

Workshop Leader: Ramona Buck

Ramona Buck is a member of Patapsco Friends Meeting and has been practicing mediation since 1981.

Activism is the New Gray                                     Willow (Rm 203)

Karie and Barb are both active in their own localities on environmental justice campaigns. They work with Quakers and non-Quakers and in coalitions. In this workshop, they will share what their inspirations are and how those new (and not new) can identify the right roles and campaigns for themselves, and get active! It can be overwhelming to confront the climate crisis. How can individuals make a difference?

Workshop Leaders: Karie Firoozmand and Barb Adams

Karie Firoozmand is a member of Stony Run meeting, and is currently working on the fracking ban campaign. Barb Adams attends Richmond Meeting and has long worked on campaigns for the health of Earth and all that resides here.

Radical Simplicity: Women Engaging with the Informal Economy              Tribes

This workshop will explore ways that we as Quakers practice simplicity by engaging with economies outside of traditional work settings. Examples of informal economies include domestic work, homesteading, bartering, cottage industries, and relationships. In worship sharing format, short excerpts from authors such as Wendell Berry and Shannon Hayes will prompt reflection. The challenges and rewards of living out this testimony as women and with partners or family members will also be explored.

Workshop Leaders: Jessica Arends and Mary Campbell

The leaders are members of Friends Meeting of Washington.

Sacred Spaces: Allowing Space for the Light to Shine                         Myrtle (Rm 202)

A Sacred Space can be as small as the breath taken in during prayer, as large as a cathedral, as expansive as an ocean view. Creating a sacred space can be something you do once in your lifetime for a special purpose or every day – alone or with others. This workshop will help you visualize your sacred spaces and create an inventory of what’s important to you as you build the space you need to keep your body and soul nourished.

Workshop Leaders:  Elizabeth Willson and Gonny Gutierrez

Elizabeth (Liz) Willson is a member of Herndon Friends Meeting; she has learned that creating sacred space for herself within major life transitions is her personal path to wholeness. Gonny is a Dutch, contemplative Christian, who just moved from Colorado to Herndon. Her passion is to create Sacred Spaces wherever she can in a variety of meaningful ways.

Experiencing the Wisdom of Thomas Kelly                                 Vineyard (Rm 103)

In this session, participants will explore the writings of Thomas Kelly. We will begin with a brief introduction to Kelly’s life and work, based on the material that has been collected, organized, and posted by Kathleen Wilson at  Most of our time will be spent reading, absorbing, and quietly reflecting on the passages.

Workshop Leaders:  Kathleen B. Wilson and Donna McKusick

Kathleen Wilson and Donna McKusick are members of Homewood Friends Meeting. Kathleen has been studying Thomas Kelly’s work for a number of years.

The Beloved Community and the Peace Testimony             Palm (Rm 201)

Love is not simply the absence of hate. Peace is not simply the absence of war. In this workshop, we will consider the development of Friends’ Peace Testimony over time, and also writings from the Bible, Henry David Thoreau, Josiah Royce (who? yes!), Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. A five-to-ten page selection of excerpts will be provided. The workshop will be 25% silent worship, 10% lecture/explanation, 40% discussion, and 25% exercises.

Workshop Leader: Sharon Stout

Sharon Stout is an Adelphi Friends member interested in deepening her understanding of how to live in hard times, hoping that study of the past will provide inspiration.

Learning to Heal in a Post-Truth World               Orchard (New Dining Room)

South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) exploration of “Four Truths” allowed a divided people to listen, validate, and heal from traumatic experiences. This session will outline the components of the four truths and lead an exercise to surface our own forensic, personal, and social truths that contribute to healing truths for our community and our country.

Workshop Leader: Katie Bliss

Katie Bliss, a member of Frederick Friends Meeting, works as a trainer specialist and communications consultant for a government agency.

Knitting into Peace and Community                          Garden Lounge-Top

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

There are books about the spirituality of knitting; many of us experience a stillness of the mind while repetitively looping yarn together that allows us to feel grounded and at peace. Participants should bring a project to knit while we discuss a few queries about how knitting (or crocheting or other handiwork) has enhanced our spiritual lives. We will create a small knitting community as we answer queries and enjoy each other’s company talking about yarns, projects, and our shared love of making clothing for ourselves and our loved ones by hand.

Workshop Leader: Molly Mitchell

Molly is a member of Homewood Meeting and has been finding peace of mind through knitting since she was the mother of a middle schooler (and thinks there may be a connection).retreat branding image

AFTERNOON sessions from 1:45 p.m. -3:15 p.m.

Chanting to Soothe the Soul                                                 Beit Midrash

We will invite the power of chanting to open us to the presence of Spirit within us and among us; the Embrace that is always present.  We will include chants from Beverly Shepard’s repertoire, chants from the Taize tradition, and some original chants. The chanting will arise from the silence of worship, with any discussion or comments reserved for a brief period at the end. No special talent or training is required; all voices are welcome, as are drums and percussion instruments.

Workshop Leaders: Inga Erickson and Betsy Krome

Betsy Krone (Williamsburg Meeting) and Inga Erickson (Herndon Meeting) have led singing at BYM retreats and have offered chanting workshops for several years.

Experiencing the Power of the Spirit Among Us                      Jubilee (Rm 100)

We will discuss and explore several different ways to open ourselves and our meetings more directly to the Power of the Spirit.  This includes different forms of prayer practice, methods of deep spiritual sharing, and practice in moving from the head to the heart.

Workshop Leader:  Marcelle Martin

Marcelle Martin, a member of Swarthmore Meeting (PYM) and author of Our Life is Love: the Quaker Spiritual Journey, has traveled widely to lead workshops among Friends.

Spiritual Healing Circle                                                                     Palm (Rm 201)

We will gather together to experience / experiment with a healing circle. One at a time someone will sit in the center of the circle to be held in the Light. We will see both what it feels like to be held and to hold in the Light. “Healing is not the same as curing…; healing does not mean going back to the way things were before, but rather allowing what is now to move us closer to God.” (from Ram Dass, Still Here)

Workshop Leader: Alexandra Bell

Alex Bell is a member of Bethesda Meeting and has attended a number of Women’s Retreats.

Connecting to Inner Wisdom                                                              Myrtle (Rm 202)

 This workshop will include exercises aimed at gaining clarity on ways in which we can silence the Inner Critic and call forth our sources of Wisdom and Guidance within ourselves. We will also consider habits and practices that give us spiritual strength to be present and listen to our inner wisdom and habits that drain our energy and cause us to numb instead of strengthen.  The workshop will include visualization, journaling, and small group discussion.

Workshop Leader: Dana Mitra

Dana Mitra is a life coach who seeks to help all develop a stronger relationship with their inner voice, and she is a professor of education studying ways to help students share their voice in decision making. She is member of State College Monthly meeting.

 Drawing Strength from the Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement    Wellspring  (Library)

Mary Ann Beall shares images, stories and reflections from a Unitarian Universalist civil rights pilgrimage to Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. In the shadow of the November election, we visited the communities where the major civil rights events happened and heard the personal stories of the survivors. We were profoundly moved by the spiritual strength and faith that enabled African Americans to risk everything for equality and justice and the challenges they face today.

Workshop Leader: Mary Ann Beall

Mary Ann, a member of Langley Hill Friends Meeting, is a life-long activist and advocate for justice.

Solidarity that Matters–Supporting Transgender Women in the Global South  Willow (Rm 213)

The plight of transgender women in the developing world (Global South) is dire, and yet it also raises fundamental challenges to our responding to that of God in everyone, to our concepts of femininity, and to our respect for the universality of human dignity. This workshop will help you connect with the daily realities of such women, and offer them solidarity that truly makes a positive difference.

Workshop Leader: Chloe Schwenke

Chloe Schwenke is an openly transgender Quaker woman and international LGBTQ activist from Adelphi Meeting.

After the March …  What’s Next?                                         Orchard (New Dining Room)

Many of us participated in the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday, January 21st.  The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQ, Native people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault.  For many of us these are deeply disturbing times.

During the first half of this workshop we will engage in worship-sharing regarding recent events.  This will be followed by respectful dialogue discerning how we as Quakers are led to respond and act.

Workshop Leaders: Sarah Bur, Barbara Bezdek

Sarah Bur and Barbara Bezdek are members of Homewood Friends Meeting. Sarah is the clerk of Chesapeake Quarterly Meeting; Barbara is Homewood’s Peace Committee clerk and co-clerk of the Baltimore Quaker Peace and Justice Committee.

Thinking of Birds, Bees, Butterflies: Your Outdoor Space as Sanctuary  Citron (Rm 200)

You have the power to save the songbirds, bees, and butterflies, starting with your balcony, yard, or meetinghouse grounds. Our outdoor spaces can provide not only beauty for ourselves but also a vibrant sanctuary for other living things. We will talk about the practicalities of adding native plants, working with nature rather than against it, and providing habitat for wildlife, preferably while minimizing the money and labor involved.

Workshop Leaders: Margaret Fisher, Bess Keller

Margaret Fisher (Herndon Meeting) helps coordinate the Plant NOVA Natives campaign and is the author of “Take Our Advice: A Handbook for Gardening in Northern Virginia.” Bess Keller (Homewood Meeting) lives on less than a 10th of a  city acre that supports a miniature meadow humming with bees and food for lots of birds.

To Touch the Face of Women                                                  Vineyard (Rm 103)

This is an opportunity for women to touch one another’s faces with tender attention. In a world that has programed women to be harsh critics of our looks, this simple practice can lead to a deeper sense of self acceptance and an awareness of the powerful beauty that exists in the lines, contours, scars and crevices of our faces. The group is committed to creating safe space and those who may choose to only observe are welcome.

Workshop Leader: Janet Nicholson

Janet Nicholson is spiritual nurturer and end-of-life and grief coach who is a member of Media Monthly Meeting. Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.


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