A record amount of £41,821 was gifted by OneSpirit Interfaith Foundation towards scholarships and bursaries awarded to students in the financial year ending 31 August 2016, according to the just published annual report and accounts (which can be downloaded below).
Joy Gleeson, who was chair of trustees during that financial year, explains in her overview that trustees saw this as a practical way to support greater diversity in the student body. “Our intention,” she writes, “is that lack of money should not be the reason suitable people are denied the opportunity to train.
The accounts show that income received during the financial year was £380,812 and expenditure £425,629 (including that on scholarships & bursaries). The operating deficit of £44,817 was more than covered by an increase of £55,466 in the Foundation’s reserves due to good investment returns. At the end of August 2016, the value of its investment funds had increased by £10,649 to £662,776.
Nicola Coombe, the Foundations focaliser, highlights OneSpirit’s approaching birthday year in her contribution. “In and around the period that this report reviews,” she writes, “we see OneSpirit moving through a time of re-education, much like the years between 18 and 21 in a human life, moving to be ready to be of deeper service to the world, and clearing the path towards compassionate and responsive adult service.
“The congruence that is intended,” she says, “is for the organisation itself to be a lived expression of the Presence and teachings which it stewards.”
Faculty lead Jackie Amos Wilkinson, in her review, reflects that spiritual education and development “is not necessarily comfortable. In fact, it needs to move us out of our comfort zone and on to our learning edges where growth, greater depths and deeper understanding lie”.
She refers to the continuing discussion within the teaching faculty about the framework for inviting guest speakers. “Inviting speakers from old and new faith paths to come and speak to the students is one way of achieving this. Our students tell us this can be an uplifting and inspiring experience or a painful and frustrating one, depending on the views the speaker holds.
“Sadly there is sometimes still much confusion between the original teachings of some faith paths and how they have been interpreted to support misogyny, prejudice and homophobia.
“Walking the line,” she says, “between preparing our potential ministers for what they will find in the world, and teaching them how to hold the pain and joy of that, in a way that invites deeper understanding and healing, requires great sensitivity, tenderness and a willingness to be brought to our learning edges. This is true for tutors, mentors and students alike.”
Click here to download the 2016 Annual Report:Download