Christian Spirituality

Spirituality is a force that animates many to explore their relationship with God. Earlham School of Religion both supports and testifies to the power of lives transformed by spiritual disciplines. Christian spirituality in the Quaker tradition is central to an education that emphasizes not only intellect but self-examination and relationship to the Living Spirit. To serve Christian Spirituality students at the highest level, we propose an endowment that will accomplish several key objectives:

  • Elevate the spirituality studies faculty position through the creation of a named, endowed faculty chair.
  • Support conferences and retreats that promote spirituality on campus and outside the classroom.
  • Support a program that provides leadership development with both students and constituents

Spirituality in Quaker Tradition and at ESR

In Christian terms, truth is discerned by the guidance of the Living Spirit, through the practice of disciplines like prayer, study of Scripture, worship and listening. Spirituality directs us to live in accord with truth.

The emphasis on spirituality has always distinguished Quakers, because the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of Christ is our primary organizing principle. A common understanding of the Bible or theology directs other denominations, while Quakers acknowledge deep dependence on the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit to guide them into relationship with God, and into whatever ministry or vocation they are led.

The Religious Society of Friends and Earlham School of Religion promote educational principles that equally emphasize faith and reason. Elton Trueblood, in a statement for the "Interim Program" of 1960-1962, charged that, "We need places of training in which there can be genuine emphasis upon the development of the inner life of devotion without any diminution of the emphasis on intellectual integrity." ESR has evolved to become that place.

Today, ESR offers a vibrant Spirituality emphasis for M.Div./M.Min. students, as well as a Spirituality Certificate. A growing range of classes, seminars and programming testifies to its importance to the school. The proposed endowment will enable us to continue on this path, and offer:

  • A greater variety of intensive classes that will explore topics like Spirituality and Healing, Spirituality in the Wilderness, retreat planning and leadership, spiritual resources for the meeting/congregation. These courses will enhance the residential student experience and provide continuing education for ministers and chaplains
  • Stronger Spiritual Direction courses that provide supervisors and small groups for those students wishing to become competent in giving spiritual direction
  • Offsets to the cost of the required eight-day spirituality retreat
  • Funding for prominent speakers for our annual Spirituality Gathering, as well as more extensive promotion
  • A weeklong prayer retreat either on site or at one of several suitable locations across the United States
  • Pilgrimage courses to Quaker England or Assisi, Italy, or a Faith Walk for Peace. Offsite semesters in Iona, Scotland, or the Center for Contemplation and Action or at other Quaker wellsprings will present matchless experiences for the participants as well as bring new energy back to ESR.
  • Exposure of spirituality courses and events to those outside Quaker meetings and organizations


These queries are provided to help you prayerfully consider whether this major gift proposal is a priority for you as you act as a steward of your resources.

Do you value the influence of an examined faith in acts of ministry and in community leadership?

Do you have concern for the quality of spiritual preparation undertaken by students entering ministry among Friends?

Do you have the means to help Earlham School of Religion build an endowment to support the Christian Spirituality Program at ESR?

What level of gift are you able to make to manifest this vision for Quaker spirituality?

We offer multiple options for funding this endowment. A donor who chooses to fully fund the endowment will have the option of naming the program.

For more information or to discuss your interest in supporting Christian Spirituality at ESR contact Tom Decker at 800-432-1377.