Marcelle Martin

During my twenties, I searched for a deeper understanding of reality and discovered a Light that infused me and everything.  I learned ways to open to daily communion and communication with God, then began to teach others how to do the same.  Among Quakers I found a spiritual community supportive of someone receiving direct guidance from God. Soon, among Friends, I was traveling to speak at Quaker meetings, helping to convene gatherings on Worship, Ministry, and Eldering, and leading a class on writing a spiritual autobiography.  In 1996 I was a co-facilitator for a Pendle Hill weekend gathering.

Then I was shown that God wanted me to ask my small meeting to recognize my call to ministry.  I felt called to stop teaching college writing classes and give all my time to teaching people how to know God more clearly and  allow the Spirit to change their lives, as mine had been changed.  I asked Friends to provide support.  For eighteen months, Newtown Square Meeting struggled with my request. 

In the meantime, I helped to release myself for ministry by living at minimal expense.  I gave up my nice apartment and moved to Philadelphia's inner city to the home of a Quaker who lived there as part of a "ministry of presence."  I also released myself by not owning a car or having health insurance.  A friend not connected to my meeting helped release me by providing a significant financial gift, out of her modest means.  After Newtown Square meeting wrote a minute recognizing a ministry of fostering spiritual renewal among Friends, two meeting members felt led to give me small amounts of financial support on a monthly basis.  The meeting also accepted donations in support of my ministry.

I began to travel widely to speak at meetings and facilitate weekend retreats on aspects of the spiritual life.  It was a particular joy to help meetings explore spiritual practices together and find God alive within and among them. After a time, I moved to the home of another generous Friend.  When she reduced the amount of her employment (and salary) to follow her own leadings to ministry, I began to pay more rent.  To supplement my small income from teaching, facilitating workshops, and gifts, I took some part-time jobs.  I experienced great strain on my health.

After I transferred my membership to Chestnut Hill Meeting, that meeting underwent an 18-month discernment process in relation to my ministry.  In 2003 they recognized a call to a ministry of spiritual nurture and appointed a committee which has accompanied me since then,  helping me with discernment and practical matters.  In response to a request to accept donations, the meeting engaged in two more years of discernment.  They consulted a lawyer and solicited input from many committees.  Finally, a process was approved for receiving funds in support of ministries recognized by the meeting.   Donations earmarked for the Martin Ministry Fund have been used to reimburse direct expenses related to the ministry.  

For four years I was employed full-time at Pendle Hill.  I tithed and was able to provide some support to other Friends carrying a ministry.  Prompted by ill health, I left that salaried employment.  Since then, I have been working on two books related to the Quaker spiritual journey and traveling to lead workshops, working part time for an hourly wage and receiving some support from a kind Friend.  I am now in need of support of basic living expenses in order to continue.  My committee is preparing, for the first time, to actively solicit donations in support of the ministry. 

The most current draft of my minute (renewed in October 2013):

Minute of Religious Service:

Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting recognizes that our member, Marcelle Martin, has been called by the Spirit into a ministry of spiritual nurture. She is led to foster awareness of the Divine Presence which resides in each person and is active in the world. Her ministry includes facilitating retreats and gatherings, teaching, writing, helping people with discernment, and praying with individuals and groups. Grounded in her own experience of relationship with God, her ministry is an expression of the Quaker call to cultivate a personal and collective connection with the Spirit. We have received the blessing of her ministry among us. We support her call to minister to others, with prayer and by providing a support committee. Marcelle and her committee will report annually. At the end of the second year the meeting will revisit its commitment to support this ministry. We commend Marcelle to all, in the hope that she will be kindly received wherever she serves

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