An 8-week Program to Practice Holy Friendship

Want to deepen real friendships? Join this 8-week journey with Nearness—a new program that builds deep connection through meaningful conversations. Designed especially for young adults navigating their spirituality in the modern world, this is a chance to have expansive conversations, time for deep reflection, and build lasting connections. 

This program usually costs $199 but is offered free to young adults in Michigan and Ohio. Weekly gatherings take place on Zoom on Tuesday at 7:30pm ET or Sunday at 1:00pm ET.

start your journey

Don’t miss a powerful FREE 90-Minute webinar with popular author and Harvard-trained facilitator Casper ter Kuile!

register now

Here’s how it works

The ten-week program takes place as a series of Zoom calls, during which you’ll walk through exercises that have been developed by experts in psychology, connection, and personal growth.

A discussion and activity guide helps you and your fellow participants take turns leading the group, keeping time so that everyone has the opportunity to contribute.

Here’s how it works

The 8-week Holy Friendships program takes place as a series of Zoom calls, during which you’ll walk through conversation starters, readings, and exercises that have been developed by experts in spirituality, connection, and psychology.

A discussion and activity guide helps you and your fellow participants take turns leading the group, keeping time so that everyone has the opportunity to contribute.

Nearness gatherings each follow a five-part structure:

1
Be Present

Take a deep breath. Relax your shoulders. Settle into silence.

2
Commit to Kindness

Read aloud the Agreements: the perfect tool for collective intention-setting.

3
Reflect Deeply

Journal with heart-expanding reflection prompts.

5
Offer Gratitude

Rediscover your faith in humanity. Reconnect with your deepest self.

4
Share and Listen

Feel seen and validated as you share. Experience deep connection as you listen.

10-week plan

week 1

Get settled into the program with an introductory overview and make a first meaningful connection with your group.

week 2

Feel more connected to your group by reflecting on the meaningful friendships that have shaped your lives so far, and where you’ve felt the absence of real friendships. 

week 3

Clarify your core values in a unique journaling exercise and discover how friendships can flourish across different core values.

week 4

Practice sacred reading with an ancient wisdom passage exploring the theme of friendship. Reflect on your own experience in relationship with this passage from Scripture.

week 5

Learn about the psychology of friendship and notice what you’ve learned about yourself from your most significant friendships.  

week 6

Discover the strategies for spiritual friendship from the early Wesleyans and reflect where you might offer the gift of your friendship in the world. 

week 7

Collect the learnings from your journey so far and write a Statement of Friendship: your personal philosophy of how friendship shapes your life and spirituality. 

week 8

Celebrate your time together by honoring what you've learned and offering a simple blessing for each of your small group participants. 

week 9

week 10

start your journey

8-week plan

week 1

Get settled into the program with an introductory overview and make a first meaningful connection with your group.

week 2

Feel more connected to your group by reflecting on the meaningful friendships that have shaped your lives so far, and where you’ve felt the absence of real friendships. 

week 3

Clarify your core values in a unique journaling exercise and discover how friendships can flourish across different core values.

week 4

Practice sacred reading with an ancient wisdom passage exploring the theme of friendship. Reflect on your own experience in relationship with this passage from Scripture.

week 5

Learn about the psychology of friendship and notice what you’ve learned about yourself from your most significant friendships.  

week 6

Discover the strategies for spiritual friendship from the early Wesleyans and reflect where you might offer the gift of your friendship in the world. 

week 7

Collect the learnings from your journey so far and write a Statement of Friendship: your personal philosophy of how friendship shapes your life and spirituality. 

week 8

Celebrate your time together by honoring what you've learned and offering a simple blessing for each of your small group participants. 

Webinar

Each ten-week Nearness program takes place as a series of Zoom calls, during which you’ll walk through exercises to navigate retirement that have been developed by experts in psychology, connection, and personal growth. A discussion and activity guide helps you and your fellow participants take turns hosting the conversation, keeping time so that everyone has the opportunity to contribute.

is this for you?

This is for you if...
  • You want to have meaningful conversations with other young adults
  • You’d like to explore your values and how they shape your friendships 
  • You’re open to expansive reflection about your relationship to the divine
This isn’t for you if...
  • You can’t commit to a weekly 90-minute gathering
  • You don't want to learn from other people's experiences
  • You’re looking to this program as a replacement for therapy or counseling
Upcoming Free Webinars

Curious to learn more? We’re hosting a number of free 90-minute webinars to help you get the most out of your retirement. The webinars are led by Nearness CEO, Harvard-trained facilitator and author of The Power of Ritual, Casper ter Kuile, and Nearness COO and writer for a range of popular publications Alec Gewirtz. Register for a webinar now!

No items found.
A Year of Programs

This 10-week program is the first of a three-part experience. The following two courses will be offered later in 2024. You can take one, two, or all three programs.

1

Identity

Who am I now?
2

Purpose

What core activities
will give my retirement
years meaning?
3

connection

How can I be more connected?

frequently asked questions

What is Nearness?

Nearness is a program for deep connection. We've created a set of tools and practices to help people connect more deeply with themselves and each other. Each multi-week program takes small groups through a series of powerful conversations with just enough structure for connection to bloom.

This journey on the theme of ‘Holy Friendship’ is designed for young adults across Michigan and Ohio and will take place from March 11th to May 5th. 

After signing up, you'll be matched into a small group of 6-7 people by complementary interests and backgrounds, and you’ll walk through exercises that have been developed by experts in psychology, connection, and personal growth. A discussion and activity guide helps you and your fellow participants take turns hosting the conversation, keeping time so that everyone has the opportunity to contribute. 

Who’s leading this project?

Nearness is created by a growing team of community-builders, facilitators, and program designers. We’re motivated by our recognition of how powerful deep reflection can be amidst life transitions and how crucial it is to learn with peers.

Co-Founder Casper ter Kuile is the author of The Power of Ritual, a former Harvard Divinity School Innovation Fellow, the co-founder of research and design firm Sacred Design Lab, and the co-creator of podcasts Harry Potter and the Sacred Text and The Real Question. He lives with his husband in Brooklyn, NY. 

Co-Founder Alec Gewirtz is a community-builder and a writer published in The Boston Globe, Jacobin, Tablet, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. He was a Fulbright Research Scholar at The University of Toronto while living and working as a caregiver at an interfaith community for people with disabilities. He’s served as a writer and advisor to senior politicians and a contributor to projects for The Atlantic and Time.

Rev. Tim Kobler is the Director of the Wesley Foundation, a United Methodist campus ministry at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and has been there since 2018. He has worked in higher education ministries for 21 years.

What are the learning outcomes?

Young adults participating in the program will develop a wide range of social and emotional skills, including:

  • Group facilitation: guiding conversations using the Nearness Guide Sheet, keeping the group to time, and leading simple reflection and mindfulness practices;
  • Deep listening: asking open-ended questions, developing a comfort with stillness and silence, and meaning-making;
  • Relational skills: practicing covenantal support and accountability, storytelling, and reflecting on the vitality of existing and potential friendships.

What are the responsibilities for participants?

All participants are expected to join each of the 8 weekly conversations. We understand that sometimes unavoidable conflicts emerge, and in that unlikely event, we ask that participants let their small group know of their upcoming absence in the small group chat space. 

Each weekly gathering lasts 90 minutes, so participants should expect to set aside 2 hours a week for this program (to make some time for reviewing the Guide Sheet and reading the weekly email.) 

There is likely to be an optional in-person gathering at the end of this journey. More details on this to be announced in March.

Is this experience only in English?

Nearness is just in English for now—but with a number of participants for whom English is their second language. In the future we hope to have Nearness groups in many different languages!

What is your privacy policy?

The only data Nearness collects is from your intake form, which we keep safe and secure, and for our own use only. We will never share this information.

Nearness uses Mighty Networks as our community platform. You can read their robust privacy policy here.

Your small group will hold all information shared as confidential. We’ll support you and your group in upholding this commitment.

How much does it cost? (it's free!)

Usually, the program costs $199—which means that each gathering costs just under $25. But thanks to our partners at the United Methodist Foundation of Michigan, this program is fully subsidized for young adults. 

When do the small groups meet?

Small groups will meet from March 11th to May 5th for 90 minutes at one of the consistent weekly meeting times below. You can choose whichever one of these times works best for you:

Tuesday 7.30pm-9.00pm Eastern Time 

Sunday 1.00pm-2:30pm Eastern Time

I have more questions!

Great. Please feel free to reach out to us with questions at hello@nearness.coop!

©
Nearness, all rights reserved.
Site by Maybe Ventures