Soul Work

Soul Work
Working with Scripture, Myths, Poetry and Movement

Sessions are held at the Meeting House every few months, usually on a Saturday morning. 9.30 drinks 9.45 prompt start. Finishing 12.45pm

We always love to welcome people who are new to this form of Soul Work. Hoping you will be able to join us on some of these occasions.

As an example, one of our events, explored the Garden of Eden story as myth, seeking fresh insights that could enrich our understanding of the reality we call God/ the Life force and the basis upon which we make the many choices we are faced with every day.

The Soul Work group believes that this myth can offer newer and deeper understanding of spiritual and worldly realities thus contributing to our spiritual growth.

Future Dates For your Diary 2014

September 13th An exploration of the parable of the Sinner Woman Luke 7 36:50 a powerful story of the image of God, love and forgiveness. All are warmly welcome especially anyone who hasn’t been to our previous reflections.

Some background reading: ‘Soul Work’ & The Guild for Psychological Studies

The Guild for Psychological Studies was founded in the US by Elizabeth Boyden Howes, Sheila Moon and Luella Sibald, three women who had worked with the psychiatrist Fritz Kunkel and later with C.G. Jung. They combined their interest in depth psychology with interests in experiential learning and the life and teachings of Jesus. The first seminars were offered at Four Springs, California, in 1955.

Dr Howes also studied with the New Testament scholar Henry Burton Sharman. His seminars adopted the Socratic method of asking questions, a method designed to empower individual discovery. Sharman, like other Jesus Scholars did not wish to study religious doctrine. His interest was in the historical Jesus rather than the post-Easter Christ of faith. He studied the gospel texts in order to gain an understanding of what might have been the religious experience that motivated Jesus.

This method is designed to help people engage freshly with the gospel texts relating to the life and teachings of Jesus. A seminar leader asks questions intended to evoke a response from each person. The questions seek to illumine the meaning of the text. Since there is no single right answer, individuals are encouraged to consult their own inner experiences and respond, freed as far as possible, from all preconceptions. They are also encouraged to listen with genuine openness to the contributions of others. There is no attempt to achieve consensus.

Guild leaders have further developed the method over the years by incorporating myth and wisdom from other traditions. Creative expressions through art, journaling, silence, music, literature, poetry and movement have also been added. (See

The History of The Guild in the UK and ‘Soul Work’

Judith Anders Richards introduced the Guild method to the UK in the 1980’s. She had become a Guild leader at Four Springs in California and later, while living in Bakewell, she began to offer seminars and study days at Collegiate Crescent.

Mary Thompson, Ellen Bartley, Maurice Bartley, Beryl Rayner and Janet Hawksworth independently attended these study days. Later came weekends and on occasions fortnight-long seminars in Abingdon and Edinburgh. Guild Leaders from the US attended these as facilitators.

Later on we also visited Four Springs to receive training in the leadership of Guild seminars. Initially we all got to know each other through the Guild work. Independently we became attenders and members of Sheffield Central Quaker Meeting. We feel strongly that the approaches of the Guild and Quaker values are complementary. Central to both is the desire to connect with the Self, the Life Force, the Kingdom of God or ‘that of God’ in our own lives and then from this centre, to live more authentically in relation to our true selves, the communities to which we belong and all other beings.

Having recognised the similarities between Quakerism and the work of the Guild, we decided initially to offer some evening sessions at the Meeting House. Later we introduced sessions on Saturday mornings and called these ‘Beneath the Gospels’. These have been running successfully for the last two and a half years and continue to be held on a regular 2 to 3 monthly basis. The sessions are open to those seeking fresh ways in which to deepen their spiritual lives. We have always felt that they might be of particular interest to Quakers. Some of the early seminars in the US took place at Pendle Hill and the Guild there has always had cordial relations with local and national Quakers.

We value the Guild approach because we ourselves have found this way of working personally transformative. Some recent feedback from our Meeting has indicated that some people imagine the seminars as an academic study of the Gospels. Nothing could be further from reality. Recently therefore, we have felt the need to ‘re-brand’ and use a name that more accurately reflects what we are about. We work in an experiential way using the whole of ourselves – mind, body, feelings and spirit in relation to the chosen text and the gathered group. For this reason we now use the name ‘Soul Work’, rather than ‘Beneath the Gospels’. The Guild already uses the description ‘Soul Work’ in the US. We have felt too the need to engage afresh with other relevant materials such as myths and poetry from across cultures and ages.

We were delighted with the endorsement we received from the Sheffield Central Quaker Meeting at their business meeting on 8th May 2010. It re-confirmed our commitment to pursue our work of helping a variety of people connect more deeply with their spiritual selves, whether they are Quaker, Christian or relate to Life by another name. We value our very positive relationship with Quakerism while we carry forward the work begun by The Guild for Psychological Studies in 1955 and which was first encountered in Sheffield in the 1980’s. We now move forward using the term ‘Soul Work’ to describe the transformation we hope will be ongoing in our personal lives and in the wider community.

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