Our lives as Guild Associates are rooted in shared values related to our daily spiritual practices, the conduct of our personal and vocational lives, and our way of being with one another in our gatherings. We have written very simple guidelines for each of these three areas: Guild Rule of Life, Guild Guidelines for Ethical Conduct, and Guidelines for Small and Large Group Conversations.
Among our offerings, Guild Associates lead weekly Contemplative Groups and monthly Quiet Days, which are free of charge to participants. We participate in and help lead Guild Institute programs. Associates also offer local programs, workshops, and retreats on a wide range of topics, as well as individual and group spiritual direction or guidance throughout northern New England.
In addition to participating in an association of contemplatives for mutual spiritual and vocational support, Associates enjoy several benefits: the energetic companionship of a vital spiritual community; shared practice and growth through leadership of Guild Contemplative Groups and Quiet Days, as well as participation and leadership in Institute and Associateled programs at reduced cost; intimate gatherings with nationally and internationally known teachers and retreat leaders; an annual Board and Associates’ retreat; and publicity for our offerings via the Guild web site (see the Associates Directory) and a monthly newsletter that goes out to over 1,500 people. The Guild Associates’ responsibilities and benefits are listed below.
In short, the Guild’s experience is that a unique kind of community emerges when space is made for contemplative Silence at its center. We value the spacious Presence that emerges out of this Silence, and we honor the gift each person brings to the gathered community as a reflection of this larger Presence. We view participants in our programs as actively engaged in the transformation of our world. Our Associates’ network is one way the Guild, in William Stringfellow’s words, enacts “a fearful hope for society.”
Guild Associates’ Responsibilities and Benefits:
- Adherence to the Guild Rule of Life and Guild Guidelines for Ethical Conduct
- Participation in Guild life, such as leading a contemplative group or participating on one of the Guild’s three “Tables”: Stewardship (our shared human and financial resources), Institute (programming related to deepening practice and/or educational development), and Covenant of Associates (all matters related to Associates)
- Participation in helping to implement Guild programs: Institute programs the Guild offers as a collective body and/or Associate-led programs
- Attendance at Associate gatherings that may occur two or three times each year, including a Board and Associates’ retreat
- Financial support through presence at Guild programs (Institute and/or Associate-led) and a suggested annual contribution of $200 according to personal means is recommended, but not required.
- Participation in a network of contemplatives offering mutual support for vocational and personal concerns, collegiality, and deepening spiritual practices
- For those Associates who contribute at a $200 or more level, 10% discount on all Guild program tuition fees
- Meeting (as a group of Associates) with Guild Institute guest presenters during their stay with us, over a shared meal and post_dinner conversation
- When possible, a small group dialogue on selected topics/writings related to an Institute or Associateled program, before and/or after the presenter’s program
Guild Rule of Life
Members of the Guild seek to respond to their desire for more intimate relationship with the Holy through learning or deepening their practice of spiritual disciplines such as meditation, various forms of prayer and the reading of sacred texts.
Hildegard of Bingen said, “A rule of life should lay upon us like a feather, not like an elephant.” In that spirit of lightness of touch, to clarify our intention for the fullness of life we seek, we offer this simple guideline for members:
“Our individual and community intentions, as well as our ministries, are grounded in contemplative prayer:
we place our growth in Holy Love;
we engage sacred texts;
we exercise a daily spiritual practice;
we live in service to others.”
Guidelines for Ethical Conduct for Guild Associates in Ministry
(adapted from Spiritual Directors International’s “Guidelines for Ethical Conduct” (2000), rmost recently revised January 2019 by the Covenant of Associates.)
Ethical conduct flows from lived reverence for God, self, and others. The following guidelines are intended to define more precisely what this means for Guild Associates in ministry and to inspire them toward integrity, responsibility, and faithfulness in their ministries of spiritual formation. In their endeavor to see and to serve in all persons, Guild Associates strive to establish relationships of mutual trust and respect and seek to ensure the confidentiality and inner freedom of those to whom they minister.
I. The Guild Associate and the Self
Guild Associates assume responsibility for personal growth by:
- following personal and communal spiritual practices and disciplines
- following the Guild Rule: placing their growth in the Holy, engaging sacred texts, practicing a daily discipline and living in service to others.
Guild Associates engage in ongoing vocational formation by:
- continuing to discern their call to their ministry of spiritual formation
- nurturing self-knowledge and inner freedom
- engaging in the processes of communal discernment, accountability and support
Acknowledging that we all have illusions and resistances which are more easily addressed through transparent communication with a trusted other, rather than in isolation, we strongly recommend participating in a spiritual direction, anam cara/soul friend, or teacher-student type relationship.
- studying sacred texts, theology, spirituality and other disciplines that inform their ministry.
Guild Associates meet their needs outside their spiritual formation ministries by:
- exercising wise self-care, balancing time for worship, work, leisure, family and personal relationships
- removing themselves from any situation that compromises the integrity of their spiritual formation ministries
- seeking the counsel of other spiritual mentors or referring those with whom they work to appropriately qualified persons when Associates reach the limits of their own knowledge and competence in their ministries.
II. The Relationship Between the Guild Associates and Those to Whom They Minister
Guild Associates strive to clarify shared expectations with those whom they serve by initiating conversations and establishing agreements about:
- the nature of their spiritual formation ministry
- the roles of the Guild Associate and those to whom they minister
- the compensation, if any, to be given to the Guild Associate or affiliated institution.
Guild Associates honor the dignity of those to whom they minister by:
- respecting the person’s values, conscience, spirituality and theology
- recognizing the imbalance of power in their relationship and not exploiting it
- establishing and maintaining appropriate physical and psychological boundaries
- refraining from sexualized behavior toward these persons.
Guild Associates maintain the confidentiality and privacy of those to whom they minister by:
- protecting identities and all confidential information regarding these persons
- discussing issues of confidentiality at the outset of their relationship
- recognizing that the extent and limits of confidentiality may be regulated by law, including:
- addressing legal regulations requiring disclosure to proper authorities, as in cases of physical harm to self and others.
III. The Guild Associate and Others
Guild Associates maintain collegial relationships with other spiritual colleagues and professionals by:
- respecting them and not disparaging them or their work
- reporting immediately to the Board of the Guild in writing any conflict with any person that may have possible legal or ethical repercussions for the Guild and its members.
Guild Associates maintain responsible relationships to communities of faith by:
- appropriately drawing on the teachings and practices of communities of faith
- respecting the relationship of persons to whom they minister to their own community of faith.
Guild Associates, when presenting themselves to the public, preserve the integrity of their spiritual formation ministries by:
- representing their qualifications and affiliations accurately
- respecting all persons regardless of religion, creed, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and mental or physical status.
Guidelines for Small and Large Group Conversations
“The greatest gift we can give one another is the quality of our attention.”
– Richard Moss
- Begin and end with silence.
- Begin and end on time, arriving early to be ready.
- Bring the gift of your presence, attention and prayerful listening to yourself and to others.
- Bring respect for differences.
- Between speakers, allow a moment of silence for reflection.
- Give everyone a chance to speak once, before beginning dialogue or conversation.
- Use a presence keeper (bell) to call us to recollection at regular intervals and if we lose our focus or presence.
- Use “I” statements and speak thoughtfully and honestly from your experience. For example: Before speaking to others, ask yourself: Is what I am going to say necessary, truthful and kind? and/or When speaking to others: use respectful and “nonviolent communication”*, taking responsibility for your observations, feelings, needs and requests.
- Marshall Rosenberg, in Nonviolent Communication, offers this template:
- “When I see/hear …. (describe your observation, without judgment or evaluation),
- I feel …. (describe the feeling that arises in you following what you observe),
- Because I need … (describe what human need you have, that is either met or unmet).
- Would you be willing to … (make a request of the other or the group)?”
- When appropriate, Facilitator/Convener:
- Holds quality of space and responsibility for guidelines.
- Prepares the space with a candle or flowers, circle of chairs, refreshments.
- Opens and closes with prayer or other reflective reading.
- Shares leadership and presence-keeping.
- Reviews before closing: How did we do? How was the quality of our silence and presence?