Quakers in Pastoral Care & Counseling
Quakers in Pastoral Care & Counseling

2021 Annual Conference

Healing Ritual: Quaker Perspectives


Dawn Ottoni-Wilhem, PhD, Plenary Speaker


 A VIRTUAL Quakers in Pastoral Care and Counseling Retreat


Saturday, April 17, 2021 by Zoom

9:00 AM-1:30 PM PDT/12:00 PM-4:30 PM EDT


Quakers have a history of rejecting elaborate religious ceremonies out of a belief in spiritual equality and concern for religious persecution. Further, many converted Friends come to Quakerism to heal from traditions where ritual is utilized to force beliefs or experiences, enlivened by spontaneity and renewal.


This Quaker responsiveness to Spirit leads us to ask: what might ritual offer us for this moment? The pandemic of Covid-19 has brought massive disruption and a time to re-examine habits of individual and social life. In this historical moment of shifting norms, we see how ritualized daily life is.


What is ritual today for Friends? We will reflect how it is embedded in human life, encourages healing, and calls forth personal and social transformation. How might we employ ritual to heal from the traumas of our era? How can we use ritual in our own spiritual lives, and how can we share ritual in our spiritual caregiving?

Plenary Speaker

Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm is Alvin F. Brightbill Professor of Preaching and Worship at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Indiana. Dawn’s teaching and research combines her skills and knowledge of liturgical and ritual studies with theopoetics, spirituality, and peace and justice studies, including feminist hermeneutics and homiletics. Recent writing projects include Preaching Prophetic Care: Building Bridges to Justice, co-edited with Phillis-Isabella Sheppard and Ron Allen (Pickwick Pub., 2019). In 2020, she completed a certification in Spiritual Direction from Oasis Ministries and co-teaches Earlham School of Religion’s Spiritual Direction course. Dawn is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren, is a musician, and served three years as a hospital chaplain early in her ministry.


Times Listed in Pacific Daylight Time

Friday, April 16


5:00 pm... -Social time, gathering (1 hour)


Saturday, April 17

8:30 am… -Optional opening worship (30 min)

9:00 am… -Welcome and Plenary 1: “Ritual and Reflection”
45-minute presentation with 15-minute Q&A)


10:00 am… -Small group break out session (45 min)

10:45 am… -Meal Break

11:45 am… -Plenary 2: “Ritual Care and Faith”

12:45 pm… -Small group break out session (30 min)

1:15 pm… -Closing--large group

Plenary 1: Ritual and Reflection


Rituals have been developed by religious communities and individuals for centuries to mark moments of significant life transition,such as birth, coming of age, marriage, and death. Rituals also may encourage (or thwart) movement through other significant life-moments. In cases such as crisis, trauma, and unexpected change, rituals may emerge on their own or be organized to help channel the new modes of thinking, feeling, and acting that are being called forth. In this first session, we ask: What are the theological, historical, storied, spiritual, and communal resources that inform our ritual practices today? 


Plenary 2: Ritual and Faith


As embodied expressions of faith, rituals call forth memories and facilitate moments of liminal encounter—an “inbetween” experience ripe for change. During the current pandemic and beyond, how may we adapt or create new rituals that meet the needs of those connected to our services of care? Time will be open to share specific instances, struggles, ideas, and questions about how ritual is taking shape in your life and work.

Registration costs:
--$50 for professionals (therapists, chaplains, social workers, etc.)
--$25 for non professsionals, Meeting clerks, attenders (e.g. Ministry and Counsel)

--$10 for students

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